Mac and Cheese Balls make a tasty side dish, appetizer or finger food! All the great taste of macaroni cheese, but in crispy bites for a fun twist on the classic recipe. They can be fried, baked or air fried.
Comfort food - with a twist!
Mac and Cheese Balls are a fun way to enjoy the comfort food classic. You can use leftover macaroni cheese, or make it fresh.
In this recipe, mac and cheese is rolled into balls, coated with breadcrumbs and fried. It gives them a crispy exterior with a soft, gooey, cheesy centre. Serious food bliss.
We serve it as a side dish or as an appetizer. It's also a great bite-sized finger food for a party - just put them on cocktail sticks.
You can make the cheesy mac fresh, or use leftovers!
This is one of those recipes that my kids cheer for. Seriously.
They absolutely adore macaroni and cheese (hey, what kid doesn't?), but always ask me to make extra so we can turn the leftovers into mac n cheese balls.
I'm always happy to. This is soooo quick and easy to make using up leftover mac n cheese.
Just roll, chill, coat and fry. Voila - Mac and Cheese Bites that the whole family will love.
And the kids love love love rolling up the balls. Almost as much as eating them.
Why you'll love this recipe
Use up leftover macaroni and cheese, or make a fresh batch from scratch.
A fun way to serve the classic comfort food.
Perfect as a side, finger food or appetizer.
Try it for Christmas, Hanukkah, or Thanksgiving as an alternative side dish to the usual macaroni and cheese.
This recipe is a perfect game day recipe for Superbowl or a tailgate party.
Switch up the flavors by providing a variety of dips.
Fried Mac n Cheese Bites
I don't deep fry very often, but every now and again a recipe comes along that makes you just want to heat up a pot of oil.
You can make this recipe in an air fryer or baked in the oven, but I usually just go for it and deep fry them!
They get evenly crispy on the outside, and lovely and creamy soft inside. Bliss!
But don't worry if you want to make them healthier - you can bake them or cook them in an air fryer too.
Serve these fried macaroni and cheese bites on their own, or with dip!
Step by step tutorial
This recipe is really easy. Seriously. Just follow these step by step instructions on how to make mac and cheese balls for perfect results.
Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for the full ingredients list and method.
Cook the macaroni according to package instructions, then drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pot and add the flour.
Whisk the flour into the butter and cook for 1 minute.
Add the milk, a little at a time, stirring constantly, until it forms a thick sauce.
Stir in the cheese and mustard powder (if using).
Stir and heat until the cheese melts.
Mix the cheese sauce into the cooked macaroni.
Spread the mixture into a lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Roll the mac n cheese into balls, then chill for another 30 mins.
Prepare a bowl each of breadcrumbs and beaten egg.
Roll each ball in the egg, then coat with the breadcrumbs.
Heat the oil in a large pan and carefully add each ball to the hot oil with a slotted metal spoon and fry the balls, in batches, for about 1 minute each or until golden. Drain on paper towel.
Heat the oil in a large pot to 355°F / 180°C.
Carefully, lower the balls into the oil (with a metal slotted spoon) and fry the balls, in batches, for about 1 minute each or until golden.
Remove and drain on paper towel.
Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C.
Line a cookie sheet with baking paper or foil and lightly grease it with oil.
Place the prepared balls on it and bake for 10 minutes, then turn them all over and cook for another 7 minutes or until they're golden all over.
Set the air fryer to 'bake' or 375°F / 190°C.
Add the balls to the air fryer and cook for 10 minutes, then turn and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until the bites get golden and crispy all over.
Swap half the milk for heavy cream (double cream) for a super creamy cheese sauce.
Add some chilli flakes to the macaroni and cheese for a little heat.
Instead of breadcrumbs or panko, roll the balls in crushed crackers, cornflakes or cheese crackers.
For gluten-free mac and cheese bites - use gluten-free elbow macaroni, flour and breadcrumbs.
TIP: I love using crushed rice cakes instead of gluten-free breadcrumbs.
Try adding dried herbs to the breadcrumbs before rolling for extra flavor. 1 tsp each thyme and rosemary would be delicious. Garlic powder would be great too.
More finger food recipes
If you love serving Mac and Cheese Bites at parties, you'll love serving these other finger food recipes too!
Herb & Garlic Stuffed Mushrooms
Caponata alla Siciliana Crostini
Get the recipe
Mac and Cheese Balls⠀⠀
- 2 cups (300g) elbow macaroni
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 ½ cups (375ml) milk
- 1 cup (125g) grated cheddar cheese
- 1 tsp mustard powder (optional)
- 2 eggs beaten⠀⠀
- 1 ½ cups (200g) breadcrumbs
- Oil for frying⠀⠀
- Cook the macaroni according to package instructions, then drain.⠀
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan, then whisk in the flour and cook for 1 min.⠀⠀
- Pour in the milk in stages, whisking between additions until it forms a thick sauce.
- Stir in the mustard powder (if using) and the cheese until it melts, then add the cooked pasta and stir to coat.⠀⠀
- Spread the pasta onto a cookie sheet lined with baking paper or oiled foil, and place in the fridge for 30 mins to set.⠀⠀
- Roll the mac n cheese into balls, then chill for another 30 mins.⠀⠀
- Dip each ball in the egg then coat in the breadcrumbs.⠀⠀
- Heat the oil in a large heavy frying pan to 350°F / 180°C.⠀⠀
- Add the balls to the hot oil carefully, using a slotted spoon and fry the balls, in batches, for about 1 minute each or until golden. Drain on paper towel.