Mac and Cheese Bites

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Mac and cheese bites, those delightful morsels of creamy, cheesy pasta goodness, are a snack or appetizer that brings sheer comfort to any occasion.

A stack of mac and cheese bites on a plate.
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A person holding up a small Mac and Cheese Bite.

Easy Mac and Cheesy Bites

Macaroni and Cheese Bites take the beloved classic, macaroni and cheese, and transform it into a portable, poppable treat. These bite-sized wonders are more than just a convenient way to enjoy mac and cheese; they’re a testament to the creativity and versatility of this beloved dish.

At their core, mac and cheese bites typically consist of cooked macaroni noodles generously coated in a creamy cheese sauce. What sets them apart is their bite-sized form and crispy exterior. After being cooked to perfection, the mac and cheese mixture is often chilled or even frozen to help it hold its shape. It’s then breaded or coated with a crunchy layer, which can be made from breadcrumbs, panko, or even crushed crackers. This outer layer adds an irresistible texture, creating a satisfying contrast to the creamy interior.

The beauty of mac and cheese bites lies not only in their taste but also in their adaptability. You can customize them to your heart’s content by adding ingredients like crispy bacon, diced jalapeños, or chopped herbs for an extra layer of flavor. They can be baked or fried, depending on your preference for that golden, crispy finish. Dip them in marinara sauce, ranch dressing, or any of your favorite condiments, and you have a delightful appetizer that’s perfect for parties, game day, or simply as a fun twist on a classic comfort food. Mac and cheese bites are a bite-sized indulgence that combines nostalgia and innovation, making them a beloved treat for all ages.

Cheesy mac and cheese bites on a white plate.

How to Make Mac and Cheese Bites

To make this recipe, we will need the following ingredients:

  • Elbow Macaroni: The base of the dish, providing a classic pasta texture and flavor.
  • Butter: Used to make the roux, it adds richness and helps thicken the cheese sauce.
  • All-Purpose Flour: Combined with butter, it forms the roux that thickens the milk into a creamy sauce.
  • Onion Powder: Adds a subtle, savory depth without the texture of fresh onions.
  • Garlic Powder: Infuses the dish with a warm, aromatic flavor.
  • Salt: Enhances all the flavors in the dish.
  • Black Pepper: Adds a slight kick and depth to the cheese sauce.
  • Milk: The liquid base for the cheese sauce, it creates creaminess.
  • Sharp Cheddar Cheese: Provides a strong, tangy cheese flavor, which is a key component of any great mac and cheese.
  • Yellow Cheddar: Offers a milder, buttery cheese flavor and adds to the creamy texture.
  • Bread Crumbs: Used for coating, they give the bites a crispy, golden exterior.
  • Eggs: Bind the ingredients together, ensuring the bites hold their shape.
  • Crumble Bacon: Adds a smoky, savory crunch that contrasts nicely with the creamy texture.
  • Green Onion: Offers a mild, slightly peppery taste and adds a pop of color for garnish.

Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, we will use this process:

Cook Pasta. Start by boiling your elbow macaroni according to the package instructions, but aim for them to be slightly undercooked. You don’t want them mushy because they’ll cook more in the oven later. Drain them and set aside.

Make Sauce. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour to create a roux. Cook for about a minute until it turns a light golden color. Slowly pour in the milk while continuing to whisk. Allow the mixture to thicken, which should take about 3-5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the shredded sharp cheddar and ½ cup yellow cheddar, and spices. Keep stirring until the cheeses have melted into a creamy, dreamy sauce.

Mix. Combine the cheese sauce with the cooked macaroni. Stir until the macaroni is evenly coated in that cheese sauce. Add the eggs and 1/3 cup of bread crumb, mixed until all the ingredients are well combine.

Prep Pan. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Grease a mini muffin tin. Take a teaspoon of breadcrumb and press it into the muffin cups.

Combine Bites. Top with a spoonful of Mac and Cheese. Garnish with the rest of the grated cheese and bacon crumbles. Pop the muffin tin into the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the bites are golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven, garnish with green onion and serve them warm.

A stack of mac and cheese bites on a plate.

Tips and Tricks for Perfect Mac and Cheese Bites

Macaroni Texture: Cook the macaroni al dente. Since it will be baked again, you don’t want it too soft initially.

Cheese Choices: Use a mix of cheeses for depth of flavor. Sharp cheddar adds tanginess, while a softer cheese like Gouda or Fontina can provide creaminess.

Roux Base: Start with a classic roux (butter and flour) for your cheese sauce to ensure it’s thick and creamy.

Seasoning: Don’t forget to season your cheese sauce well with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.

Chill the Mac and Cheese: Before forming the bites, chill the prepared mac and cheese in the refrigerator. This makes it easier to shape into balls or cubes.

Breading: Dip the bites in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs for a crunchy exterior. Season your breadcrumbs with Italian herbs or other spices for extra flavor.

Bacon or Add-ins: For a flavor twist, add crumbled bacon, diced jalapeños, or even tiny broccoli florets into your mac and cheese mixture.

Freezing: If you have time, freeze the breaded bites before baking or frying. This helps them hold their shape and prevents cheese leakage.

Cooking Method: You can either deep-fry for maximum crispiness or bake for a healthier option. If baking, spray or brush with oil to help them crisp up.

Serving Hot: Serve them fresh out of the oven or fryer for the best texture.

Dipping Sauces: Offer a variety of dipping sauces like marinara, ranch, or a spicy aioli to complement the flavors.

Size Matters: Keep the bites small and uniform for even cooking and a good cheese-to-crunch ratio.

Don’t Overcrowd: When frying or baking, don’t overcrowd the pan to ensure each bite cooks evenly.

FAQs

What type of cheese is best?

A mix is ideal. Sharp cheddar for flavor, mozzarella or fontina for creaminess, and Parmesan for a nutty taste.

Can I use boxed mac and cheese?

Yes, but homemade allows for better flavor customization and a creamier texture.

How do I prevent the bites from falling apart if frying?

Chill the mac and cheese mixture thoroughly before forming the bites. Freezing them for a short time before cooking can also help.

Can I fry instead of baking?

Absolutely. Baking is a healthier option, but frying adds a fabulous crunch. Chill before frying for best results.

Whats the best way to reheat leftovers?

Reheat in an oven or air fryer to maintain crispiness. Microwaving may make them soggy.

Can I add other ingredients?

Definitely! Try adding bacon bits, jalapeños, or even small broccoli florets for extra flavor.

Can I make this gluten free?

Use gluten-free pasta and breadcrumbs.

Can I make this ahead of time?

Yes, you can prepare and bread them, then freeze. Fry or bake directly from frozen, adding a few extra minutes to the cooking time.

Can I use other types of pasta?

Elbow macaroni is traditional, but any small pasta shape should work.

How do I know when they are done baking or frying?

If baking or frying, they’re done when they’re golden brown and crispy on the outside.

If frying, what temperature should I fry at?

Use a thermometer to keep your oil at the right temperature, around 350°F (175°C), and don’t overcrowd the pan.

Mac and Cheese Bites on a white plate.

What to Serve With Mac and Cheese Bites

Fresh Salad: A light, crisp green salad with a tangy vinaigrette balances the richness of the mac and cheese bites.

Vegetable Platter: Serve with a variety of raw, grilled, or roasted vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, or broccoli.

Soup: A tomato soup or a light vegetable soup pairs nicely and makes for a comforting meal.

Sliders or Mini Burgers: For a hearty party spread, pair them with sliders. The contrast between the mini burgers and cheesy bites will be a hit.

Chicken Wings or Strips: These can be a great addition, especially for a casual gathering or game day feast. Try crispy baked wings or air fried chicken strips for easy recipes.

Dipping Sauces: Offer a range of dipping sauces like marinara, ranch, barbecue, or honey mustard for added flavor. Our french fry sauce is also a great dip for these!

Fruit Salad: A refreshing fruit salad can cleanse the palate and provide a sweet contrast.

Coleslaw: A tangy and crunchy coleslaw complements the creamy and soft texture of the mac and cheese bites.

Chili: A hearty chili alongside mac and cheese bites can make for a fulfilling meal.

Grilled Meats: If you’re barbecuing, these bites can be a unique and delicious side to grilled meats.

Baked Beans: A classic bean bake side that pairs well with the cheesy goodness of mac and cheese bites.

Garlic Bread: For an indulgent, carb-heavy feast, garlic bread is a great addition.

Try these other favorite recipes:

Mac and Cheese Bites on a white plate.

Mac and Cheese Bites Recipe

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Mac and cheese bites: a delightful, cheesy appetizer that is incredibly easy to make.

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A stack of mac and cheese bites on a plate.
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Mac and Cheese Bites

Delicious, cheesy baked macaroni and cheese bites from scratch.
Course Appetizers
Cuisine American
Keyword appetizer, cheese, macaroni, pasta, starter
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 24 bites
Calories 119kcal
Author Courtney O’Dell

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup yellow cheddar divided
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup crumble bacon
  • 1 green onion

Instructions

  • Start by boiling your elbow macaroni according to the package instructions, but aim for them to be slightly undercooked. You don’t want them mushy because they’ll cook more in the oven later. Drain them and set aside.
  • In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour to create a roux. Cook for about a minute until it turns a light golden color. Slowly pour in the milk while continuing to whisk. Allow the mixture to thicken, which should take about 3-5 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to low and stir in the shredded sharp cheddar and ½ cup yellow cheddar, and spices. Keep stirring until the cheeses have melted into a creamy, dreamy sauce.
  • Combine the cheese sauce with the cooked macaroni. Stir until the macaroni is evenly coated in that cheese sauce.
  • Add the eggs and 1/3 cup of bread crumb, mixed until all the ingredients are well combine.
  • Preheat your oven to 375°F. Grease a mini muffin tin. Take a teaspoon of breadcrumb and press it into the muffin cups.
  • Top with a spoonful of Mac and Cheese. Garnish with the rest of the grated cheese and bacon crumbles.
  • Pop the muffin tin into the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the bites are golden brown and crispy.
  • Remove from the oven, garnish with green onion and serve them warm.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 119kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 250mg | Sugar: 1g

About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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