|September 26, 2022


Crisp, melt-in-the-mouth, and wildly addictive, mac and cheese balls may just become your new favorite appetizer from now on!

Creamy and rich, just like the classic dish, but with all the crisp edges your family will fight over, fried mac and cheese bites can be rightly called “the best of all worlds”.

You can start with the traditional recipe, but with just a couple of substitutions. Use white cheddar and Monterey Jack for that extra tang to cut through the richness of the fried mac and cheese balls. Instead of baking the pasta and cheese, scoop your macaroni balls and coat them with an egg-and-breadcrumbs mixture before deep-frying your macaroni and cheese balls to golden brown and gooey goodness. 

 And if you’re the calorie-conscious types who cringe at the mere mention of “deep frying”, you can simply use your Air Fryer to have equally delicious, zero-oil, air fryer mac and cheese balls!

 Ideal for any gathering, whether an engagement party or Super Bowl, these fried macaroni and cheese bites won't last long on the table!

Which cheese is best for Mac and Cheese Balls?

 This recipe for mac and cheese bites calls for white Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, but then cheese combos like mozzarella and Parmesan, or pimento cheese and white Cheddar also work equally well. Just use whatever cheese combos you prefer.


 Ideal for any gathering, whether an engagement party or Super Bowl, these fried macaroni and cheese bites won't last long on the table!

Print Recipe

How to make fried Mac and Cheese Balls

  • Active Time - 1 hr 25 mins 
  • Chill Time - 3 hours 
  • Total Time - 4 hours 25 mins 
  • Servings - 12

The first steps of these Fried Mac and Cheese Bites will be familiar to anyone who has made any homemade macaroni and cheese recipe before. You'll make the rich cheese sauce, but instead of baking the pasta dish, you'll head straight into the bites-making process.


  • 1 tbsp. - Unsalted butter
  • ⅓ cup (about 1 ½ oz.) plus 1 tbsp. - Flour
  • 1 ¼ cups - Whole milk
  • 8 oz. - Shredded white Cheddar cheese, (2 cups)
  • 8 oz. - Shredded Monterey Jack cheese, (2 cups)
  • 2 tsp. - Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. - Garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. - Black pepper
  • ½ tsp. - Cayenne pepper
  • 8 oz. - Elbow macaroni, cooked as per pkg. Instructions
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 large - Eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp. - Water
  • 2 ½ cups - Panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs), or normal breadcrumbs

Cooking Instructions

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan on a medium-high flame.  
  2. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for about a minute.  
  3. Gradually add milk, whisking constantly. Bring to a simmer on medium-high flame; simmer, whisking often, until the mixture is slightly thick and lightly coats to the back of a spoon, for about 3 minutes.  
  4. Reduce heat to low. Add Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, garlic powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and salt, stirring constantly until both the cheeses melt and the mixture becomes smooth in around 2 minutes.  
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the macaroni (the mixture should be thick). 
  6. Spread the mixture evenly in a lightly greased baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly on the surface. Chill until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours. 
  7. Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches into a large oven. Heat on medium-high to 350°F.  
  8. Scoop a small portion of the macaroni mixture into your hands using a tablespoon and roll it into a ball. 
  9. Place the ball on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat this process with the remaining macaroni mixture.
  10. Whisk eggs and water together in a shallow dish. Place breadcrumbs in a second shallow dish and place the remaining 1/3rd cup flour in a third shallow dish. Working with 1 ball at a time, dredge them in flour. 
  11. Roll each mac n cheese ball in the egg mixture; let the excess drip off. Roll in breadcrumbs, pressing the balls to stick. Return the ball to the baking sheet.
  12. Fry the macaroni balls in 6 to 8 batches, flipping them occasionally, until they turn golden brown on the outside and hot and melted on the inside, for about 4 to 5 minutes. 
  13. Transfer the balls to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain them. 
  14. Serve immediately.

FAQs on Mac and Cheese Balls Recipe

Why do mac and cheese balls come apart?

The ideal temperature for cooking mac and cheese balls is between 350-375˚F. If the temperature is too low, your crust won't seal quickly enough, and your balls will fall apart. If it's too hot, you risk having a cold center. 

Why won’t my mac and cheese balls stick together?

You just need to melt some extra cheese in the microwave or the stovetop. After this, just toss the crumbly mac and cheese in with the melted cheese, and it will bind everything together, making it easier to form balls.

How do you keep mac and cheese creamy?

Add more cheese. The final layer of cheese on top isn't just for looks. It also helps keep the spicy macaroni underneath from drying out during baking. Adding breadcrumbs also helps insulate the noodles, acting as a protective layer while baking while also adding a nice little crunch.

Why is cheese not melting in mac and cheese?

Sauces for macaroni and cheese generally require some kind of hard cheese, such as cheddar. The cheese should be grated, not cubed. Grated cheese melts in the sauce quickly and evenly. But cubes of cheese take longer to melt, so there are chances that your sauce gets overcooked before the cheese has melted.

How do you keep mac and cheese from separating?

To prevent mac and cheese from separating, ensure to grate the cheese so it melts quickly, stirs it into the hot milk mixture off the heat, and coat your noodles with the sauce as quickly as possible.

What milk is best for mac and cheese? 

Generally, whole milk is best for mac and cheese. Prefer whole milk as it makes a creamier sauce, but again, you can use reduced-fat milk without any issues.


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