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Air Fried Macaroni and Cheese Balls

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These Air Fried Macaroni and Cheese Balls are perfect for any day of the week. Air fry them for a healthier version of your favorite appetizer.

macaroni and cheese balls in air fryer basket

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Full Recipe Ingredients/Instructions are available in the 
recipe card at the bottom of the post. 
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The Air Fryer is pretty amazing when it comes to my fried favorites, especially appetizers. I’ve done air fryer egg rolls, chicken wings, and bacon-wrapped chicken bites. It was about time I did another favorite of mine, macaroni and cheese balls. 

Whether you call these mac and cheese bites or balls, these are a must-try in your Air Fryer. 

Traditionally, these bites are deep-fried but I figured why not give it a go in my Air Fryer. It’s healthier, less messy, and pretty easy. So let’s get right to it. 

The Kind of Mac and Cheese needed for this recipe

Before I get into the making of this dish, I’d like to discuss the right kind of macaroni and cheese to make this work. You’ll need leftover mac and cheese that has been cooled and refrigerated in a bowl or pan so that it sticks together. That will make the balls easier to roll and hold together. 

You will also need a mac and cheese that has a cheese sauce that will thicken once refrigerated. Most macaroni and cheese will do this but some may not. Baked macaroni and cheese usually thickens up once refrigerated.

 If you’re making the macaroni and cheese the same day you make the bites, you will need to cook it, let it cool, and refrigerate it for about 4 hours.

I’ve made this recipe with both this creamy baked macaroni and cheese and this Air Fryer Mac and Cheese leftovers. 

How to Make Air Fried Macaroni and Cheese Balls

First, using your leftover refrigerated macaroni and cheese, take large chunks, about 2 Tbsp, and roll into balls. Set aside.

rolled up macaroni balls on a baking sheet

Create a dredging station by adding egg and milk to one bowl, whisking to combine. Then in another bowl, add panko breadcrumbs, garlic salt, salt, and cooked chopped bacon. The bacon is optional in this recipe, I’ve made it with and without, both yummy. 

dredgins station of eggs, panko, and macaroni and cheese balls in front of air fryer basket

Grab a macaroni and cheese ball and place in egg and milk mixture, coating the entire ball, then add to the panko mixture, then add to a lined parchment paper cookie sheet. Repeat for all the balls and then place in the freezer and freeze for 30 minutes. 

coated macaroni and cheese balls

When your 30 minutes are up, remove the macaroni and cheese balls from the freezer. Preheat your air fryer to 360 degrees. Place the macaroni and cheese balls into your air fryer basket in a single layer, making sure they don’t touch. Air fry for 8-10 minutes until light and golden on the outside. Remove, serve, and enjoy. 

ProTip: These are good on their own but are even more amazing with a dipping sauce. I like Sweet Thai Chili Sauce while my daughters opt for Bbq. Hubby eats them as is without any dipping sauce.

Looking for Ideas of what to Serve this with? Try these out:

Watch this video tutorial and see how I make these mac and cheese bites from start to finish.

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4.8 from 5 votes

Air Fried Macaroni and Cheese Balls

These Air Fried Mac and Cheese Balls are fried to perfection in the Air Fryer. A much healthier version of your favorite mac and cheese appetizer.
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Keyword air fryer mac and cheese bites, macaroni and cheese balls
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Freezer 30 minutes
Total Time 48 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 887kcal
Author Tanya

Ingredients

  • 4 cups leftover macaroni and cheese refrigerated
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 cup Japanese Panko
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 slices cooked bacon chopped finely (optional)

Instructions

  • Using your leftover refrigerated macaroni and cheese, take large chunks, about 2 Tbsp, and roll into balls. Set aside.
  • In a bowl, add egg and milk and whisk to combine. Then in another bowl, add panko breadcrumbs, salt, garlic powder, paprika, and chopped bacon if using, and stir to combine.
  • Grab a macaroni and cheese ball and place in egg and milk mixture, coating the entire ball, then add to the panko mixture, then add to a lined parchment paper cookie sheet. Place in the freezer and freeze for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat your air fryer on 360 degrees. After the 30 minutes, remove the macaroni and cheese balls from the freezer and place them into air fryer basket in a single layer, making sure they don’t touch. Air fry for 8-10 minutes until light and golden on the outside. Remove, serve, and enjoy.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 887kcal | Carbohydrates: 116g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 96mg | Sodium: 2539mg | Potassium: 569mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 402IU | Calcium: 345mg | Iron: 6mg
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Recipe Rating




Alexandra

Saturday 21st of November 2020

I plan on making these for thanksgiving but I won’t have time to make them the day of so I’ll have to make them the day before. Anyone know how I should reheat them the day of? I may or may not have access to an air fryer.

Tanya

Sunday 22nd of November 2020

Hi Alexandra, I would form the macaroni balls and dredge them and place them in the freezer per the instructions. You can do that part the day before. When it's time to cook them for Thanksgiving dinner, place them in the air fryer. They may just need to cook for a couple of minutes longer since they will be frozen longer. With no air fryer, I would do 400F in a pre-heated conventional oven for about 10-12 minutes.

KatieBell

Friday 2nd of October 2020

Well I definitely couldn’t get it to work for easy Mac 😂 BUT I just mixed it all together anyway and air fried and it was still delicious!! Definitely going to try with a different macaroni but 10/10

Tanya

Saturday 3rd of October 2020

lol, Thank you KatieBell. I haven't tried it with easy mac but that's good to know.

Cynthia

Friday 21st of August 2020

I had to freeze the Mac n cheese before I breaded it, but the extra time was WORTH IT!! I can’t wait to try this recipe over and over!

Tanya

Friday 21st of August 2020

Thank you Cynthia! So glad you liked the recipe.

Jenny

Saturday 18th of July 2020

So good ! I used yesterday's homemade mac n cheese made with smoked gouda and cheddar.

Tanya

Monday 20th of July 2020

That sounds delicious Jenny!

Emily

Saturday 4th of July 2020

Made these with homemade dairy-free Mac and cheese and they were incredible! We misted ours with avocado oil before putting them in the fryer, and they were incredible. Thanks for sharing!

Tanya

Saturday 4th of July 2020

Thank you Emily! So glad you liked them :)

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