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+ servings
Mac and Cheese Bites
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
35 mins
4 hrs
Total Time
5 hrs 35 mins

These delicious mac and cheese bites are melty in the center and crunchy on the outside. They are deep-fried until beautifully golden brown.

Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: mac and cheese bites
Servings: 40 (1.5 inch) balls
Author: Tania
Homemade Mac and Cheese
  • 0.75 pounds elbow macaroni
  • 3 cups Cooper® Sharp White Pasteurized Process American Cheese (grated)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (plus more to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder (plus more to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup Italian style bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Vegetable oil for frying, enough to fill 3-4 inches deep in the pan
Make the Mac and Cheese
  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

  2. In a medium saucepan (I used a 3 quart), melt butter over medium to medium-low heat. Once melted, add the flour and whisk constantly for about 3 minutes, until thickened and nutty. This is called a roux.

  3. Gradually, add the milk, stirring until there are no lumps. Increase heat to medium and bring to a light simmer, whisking. It will thicken up.

  4. Add the cheese and stir until melted and incorporated. Stir in the cooked pasta. Let cool and refrigerate in an airtight container for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Make the Mac and Cheese Bites
  1. Form 1.5 inch balls with the cold mac and cheese, pressing to make them compact. Lay them on a sheet pan and put it back in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Note: they need to stay a bit cold (but not frozen) so they retain their shape well.

  2. Prepare your breading station: In a shallow bowl, add the flour. Then, in a second shallow bowl, whisk the eggs. In a third shallow bowl, combine the panko bread crumbs, Italian bread crumbs, and 1 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

  3. Get the oil ready: Heat the vegetable oil (3 to 4 inches deep, or enough for the mac and cheese bites to fully submerge) in a deep large Dutch oven until the oil’s temperature reaches 360 to 375 degrees F. Tip: Use a candy thermometer to measure the oil’s temperature.

  4. While the oil is heating, assemble the mac and cheese bites: coat each ball in flour first, then the whisked eggs, and then the bread crumb mixture. Press slightly to make sure the bread crumbs adhere well.

  5. Deep fry: Fry in small batches for about 3 minutes or until evenly golden brown. Tip: every time you add food into the oil, the temperature drops. Increase the heat to get it back closer to 360-375 degrees F.

  6. Transfer to a large plate lined with paper towel to drain excess oil. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes
  • Special equipment: large cast iron Dutch oven, candy thermometer.
  • Oil: The type of oil you use is very important. Use oils with high smoke points, such as vegetable oil or peanut oil.
  • Make sure the mac and cheese is a bit cold (not frozen). This way, they will retain their shape very well when frying.
  • For deep frying, use a cast iron Dutch oven since it retains heat a lot better than other materials. You can also use a deep fryer.