Fried Cheese Curds with Buttermilk Ranch – Cheese curds are dipped in a beer batter and fried to golden perfection. Served with a homemade buttermilk ranch made with chives, dill, and parsley.
I hadn’t really made any fun homegating recipes for you this season so today’s is one you can serve for any watch party – football, baseball, basketball, heck, you can even serve them for movie night! These Fried Cheese Curds with Buttermilk Ranch are addicting and something everyone will enjoy.
What are cheese curds?
In the simplest sense, cheese curds are cheese before it is aged. It is very popular is dairy-focused parts of the country (Wisconsin and Vermont, for example) and served in the popular Canadian dish called poutine. I first had them at a pub in Wisconsin where they were served fried. And man, were they delicious. But they have to be served fresh out of the fryer or the cheese will quickly turn firm and rubbery.
Making fried cheese curds
Cheese curds are fine on their own but they are taken to a whole other level when they’re fried. Their firm texture melts to gooey perfection, while the batter puffs up and gets slightly crispy on the outside.
To make the fried cheese curds, all you need is a pot of hot oil and some wet tempura batter. The batter is made from rice flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, egg, mustard, and a lager beer. The curds are coated in flour and then dunked in the batter before heading for the hot oil.
The flour coating on the curds is important so that the batter sticks to the curds without sliding off. You also want to make sure the excess batter drips off to keep the batter from spreading in the hot oil.
Making homemade buttermilk ranch
Homemade ranch dressing is entirely worth the effort. There is just something about the fresh herbs and lemon juice that transforms ranch dressing to something magical.
To make homemade buttermilk ranch, all you need to do is whisk sour cream, mayo, buttermilk, herbs, spices, and lemon juice together. That’s it! However, time is your friend when it comes to homemade ranch – it only gets better the longer it sits. So you may want to consider making it the day before you need it.
Tips & Tricks
- Separate the cheese curds before frying. You want to make sure to let the excess batter drip off the cheese curds and fry them one-by-one to ensure they don’t stick together when frying.
- Dutch oven. For frying, make sure you use a heavy-bottom pan, like a Dutch oven. These pans retain heat better.
- Enough oil is important. Add enough oil so that it’s 3 inches deep. This ensures the cheese doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan, but rather floats as it fries.
- Heat the oil up slowly. I keep my burner on medium until the desired temp is reached. If you heat too fast, the oil could get too hot and it takes a while for that temp to drop.
- Keep them warm. Keep the fried cheese curds warm in the oven at about 200 degrees to keep the fried cheese nice and gooey in the center.
Fried Cheese Curds with Buttermilk Ranch
For the cheese curds:
- ¾ plus 2 tablespoons cup all-purpose flour divided
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ cup rice flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
- 1 large egg
- ¾ cup lager beer
- 1 pound cheese curds
- canola oil for frying
For the herb buttermilk ranch:
- ⅓ cup mayo
- ½ cup sour cream
- ¼ cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parlsey
- ½ tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon celery salt
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- Begin heating the oil. Place 3 inches of canola oil into a Dutch oven. Add a candy thermometer to the side of the Dutch oven, making sure it doesn't touch the bottom. Heat oil to 375 degrees.
- In a medium bowl, whisk beer, mustard, and egg together. In another medium bowl, whisk rice flour, ¾ cup of all-purpose flour, baking powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt together. Slowly whisk into the egg mixture until no lumps remain.
- Add remaining 2 tablespoons of flour to another medium mixing bowl. Add all curds to the bowl and toss with the flour.
- Once the oil is hot, dip curds into wet batter and then place in the hot oil to fry. Fry 6-8 at a time, making sure to monitor the temperature so it doesn't dip too low. Raise heat, if necessary to maintain temp. Fry for 90 seconds or until the coating turns golden brown, but before any melted cheese starts to ooze out.
- Remove from oil and let drain on metal rack topped with paper towels. Serve hot with homemade buttermilk ranch for dipping (see recipe below).
For the buttermilk ranch:
- Whisk mayo and sour cream together until smooth. Add in buttermilk, chopped chives, parsley, and dill. Finish with lemon juice and spices. Let chill so the flavors can build.