Crispy and golden on the outside and rich and gooey on the inside, these mac and cheese bites are the ultimate appetizer or side dish. They’re everything you love about creamy, comforting mac and cheese, but turned into fried finger food!
Easy Fried Mac and Cheese Bites
Mac and cheese is one of my all-time favorite foods. It’s rich, comforting, and so perfectly cheesy. But sometimes it’s fun to try new twists on old classics, and that’s exactly what this mac and cheese bites recipe is.
These fried cheesy treats are golden brown and super crispy on the outside, but on the inside, they’re loaded full of gooey melted mozzarella and parmesan cheese, perfectly seasoned with garlic and onion. There’s so much flavor in the melty cheese and the seasoned Panko breadcrumb coating, and this fun finger food is surprisingly easy to make!
Why You’ll Love These Mac ‘n’ Cheese Bites
- Easy. This is an easy recipe to make. It takes a little bit of time to make because you need to cool the pasta in the fridge and then fry each bite, but it’s a straightforward recipe – nothing fancy shmancy about it.
- The ultimate party food. I’m always on the lookout for good finger food for parties, and this just might be my favorite recipe yet. It’s easy to make a large batch, and they’re still delicious even as they cool down.
- Adjustable flavors. This recipe is for a deliciously simple mac and cheese, with all the flavor coming from mozzarella, parmesan, garlic, onion, and Italian seasoning. You can always adjust the recipe to add any flavors that you like in mac and cheese, including vegetables, meats, and spices.
Mac And Cheese Bites Ingredients
Here are all the ingredients you’ll need to make this crispy and gooey mac and cheese recipe. Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the page for the exact amounts of each ingredient.
For the Mac and Cheese:
- Elbow macaroni
- Mozzarella cheese: For best results, shred your own cheese, but pre-shredded works great too.
- Parmesan cheese: I recommend grating your own parmesan, which has a much better texture than store-bought shredded cheese.
- Butter: Make sure to use unsalted butter.
- All-purpose flour
- Milk: Whole milk is best for this recipe.
- Garlic powder and Onion powder
- Salt & Pepper
For the Breading:
- All-purpose flour
- Panko breadcrumbs – You can use regular breadcrumbs if they’re all you have, but Panko breadcrumbs will make the mac and cheese bites lighter and crispier.
- Italian seasoning
How to Make Mac and Cheese Bites
Here’s how to make this easy and comforting finger food. It’s a surprisingly easy recipe!
- Cook the pasta. Boil a pot of water and cook the macaroni until al dente, following the instructions on the package. Drain the pasta and set aside.
- Make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk constantly for about 1 minute. Slowly pour the milk into the saucepan while whisking. Turn the heat to low, and add both cheeses. Stir until the cheese is completely melted.
- Finish the mac and cheese. Add the garlic powder and onion powder, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the macaroni to the cheese sauce and stir until the pasta is evenly coated.
- Transfer it to a baking sheet. Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap or parchment paper, then pour the mac and cheese onto it. Spread the mac and cheese evenly over the baking sheet. Cover it with plastic wrap and put in the fridge until firm, at least 2 hours.
- Prep the breading. Prepare your breading station by placing flour in one bowl, beaten eggs with Italian seasoning and salt in a second bowl, and breadcrumbs with a pinch of salt in a third bowl.
- Shape. Take scoops of mac and cheese from the baking sheet and roll them into bite-sized balls. Roll each mac and cheese bite in the flour, dip it into the eggs, and add it to the breadcrumbs.
- Heat oil and fry. Heat your vegetable oil in a deep skillet for frying. Place the mac and cheese bites in the hot oil and fry until crispy on each side. This should take about 2-3 minutes per side.
- Drain. Remove the mac and cheese bites from the oil and rest on a paper towel to absorb the excess frying oil. Cool slightly, then serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
Can I Use Leftover Mac and Cheese for this Recipe?
If you have leftover mac and cheese, then you can absolutely use it to make these bites. This recipe will work with any kind of mac and cheese that you have.
Can Mac And Cheese Bites Be Prepared in Advance?
Yes! Once you’ve assembled the mac and cheese bites, you can store them in the fridge for up to 24 hours and fry them whenever you’re ready. You can even assemble them and freeze them for up to 3 months.
Tips for Success
Here are some tricks and tips to help you make the best crispy fried mac and cheese bites.
- Cook the flour thoroughly. When you make the roux, cooking the flour for a minute or so is important. Cook while whisking and then you can add the milk.
- Add the milk very slowly. When you start to add the milk to the mac and cheese, start with a slow pour. If you add the milk too quickly, it won’t emulsify, and the cheese sauce will break. Drizzle in the milk while constantly whisking, and once you’ve added a bit of it, you can start to pour the rest in more quickly.
- Use the dry hand method. Breading food can get messy quickly. To minimize the mess, use the wet hand and dry hand method. Use one hand to coat the dry mac and cheese balls in flour and put them in the egg. Use your other hand to ensure the mac and cheese is coated in egg and transfer it to the breadcrumbs. Use your dry hand again to coat the mac and cheese bites with the breadcrumbs.
What to Serve with Fried Mac ‘n’ Cheese Bites
I always serve gooey mac and cheese bites with a dipping sauce, such as ranch, marinara, or Yum Yum Sauce. And because mac and cheese is such an iconic side dish, I love to serve this crispy recipe alongside some classic meaty entrees. Here are a few of my favorites.
- Easy Instant Pot Ribs
- Pan Seared Cajun Butter Chicken Thighs
- Instant Pot Pulled Pork
- Slow Cooker Barbecue Beef Brisket
How To Store & Reheat Leftovers
- Leftover mac and cheese bites can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Reheat them in a 350˚F oven for 10 minutes or in a 350˚F air fryer for 5 minutes.
- To freeze fried mac n cheese bites, make sure they’re completely cooled, then store them in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can reheat them in the oven or air fryer directly from the freezer, though you’ll need to add a few extra minutes of cooking time.
More Side Dishes To Try
I love side dishes. They’re easy, tasty, and a great way to take a good meal and make it great. Here are a few more of my favorite side dish recipes.
- Garlic Butter Roasted Asparagus
- Parmesan Crusted Potatoes
- Easy Homemade Biscuits
- Romano Beans in Garlic Butter Sauce
- The Best Homemade Cornbread
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Mac and Cheese Bites
For the Mac and Cheese:
For the Breading:
- Cook the elbow macaroni to al dente according to the instructions on the package, then drain and set aside.
- Add the butter to a large saucepan and melt over medium heat. Add in the all-purpose flour and whisk constantly for about 1 minute. Gradually pour the milk in while whisking, making sure that no lumps form.
- Reduce the heat to low and add the mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Stir until the cheese is entirely melted. Add the garlic powder and onion powder, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Adjust the seasonings as necessary.
- Combine the macaroni with the cheese sauce, and stir until well incorporated.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or plastic wrap. Transfer the mac and cheese to the baking sheet and spread it out evenly.
- Cover the mac and cheese with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
- Set up your breading station and place the flour in one bowl, the eggs beaten with salt and Italian seasoning in a second bowl, and the breadcrumbs with a pinch of salt in a third bowl.
- Take portions of the chilled mac and cheese and shape them into bite-sized balls. Roll each macaroni ball in the flour, then dip the mac and cheese ball into the beaten eggs, and then coat it in the breadcrumbs.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large, deep skillet.
- Carefully add the mac and cheese bites to the skillet and fry until golden brown and crispy all over, about 2 minutes per side.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the mac and cheese bites from the oil, and let them rest on a paper towel to drain the excess oil.
- Cool slightly, then serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
- You can use leftover macaroni and cheese for this recipe.
- You can store the assembled mac and cheese bites in the fridge for 24 hours or in the freezer for 3 months and then fry whenever you’re ready to serve them.
- To avoid lumps, take your time with cooking the flour and when adding in the milk and cheese. The sauce needs to be rich and smooth.
- Use vegetable, canola, or peanut oil for frying, not olive oil.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 days or in the freezer for 3 months. Reheat in a 350˚F oven for 10 minutes or in a 350˚F air fryer for 5 minutes.