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Mac and Cheese Bites

These delicious mac and cheese bites are melty in the center and crunchy on the outside. They are deep-fried until beautifully golden brown.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time35 mins
Refrigeration4 hrs
Total Time5 hrs 35 mins
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: mac and cheese bites
Servings: 40 (1.5 inch) balls
Author: Tania

Ingredients

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

Breading

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup Italian style bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Frying

  • Vegetable oil for frying, enough to fill 3-4 inches deep in the pan

Instructions

Make the Mac and Cheese

  • Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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

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

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.