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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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blog post.

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.

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 Tablespoon milk
  • 1 cup Japanese Panko
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon 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




vince

Wednesday 20th of March 2024

excited to try this recipe

Emma

Friday 8th of March 2024

Mother Forker*

Emma

Friday 8th of March 2024

ER MER GERD. J'adore these Air Fried Macaroni and Cheese Balls so god damn much - Sistahhh. Honey, you ate this recipe upppp - nearly as quick as I ate these god damn Air Fried Macaroni and Cheese Balls up!!! Amen Prase Be - Gurl they be making me speak le francais mother.

Tanya

Friday 8th of March 2024

Lol, thanks so much Emma! So happy you liked the recipe :)

Jane

Monday 31st of July 2023

Just made these with leftover homemade Mac & cheese. For those who complained about not being able to make a ball with their mac and cheese you really need the real cheese shredded and melted into the mac and cheese in order for it to bind together in a ball. The powdered stuff just isn't going to work well. Anyway I'm just getting ready to dig in with my marinara sauce and can't wait. BTW they are goooood !!

Tanya

Monday 31st of July 2023

Thanks Jane, so happy you liked them. I agree; homemade mac with real cheese makes all the difference.

Kim

Tuesday 2nd of May 2023

I tried this recipe. I couldn't get my Mac n cheese to stay in a rolled ball for any length of time.

LuAnne

Friday 12th of January 2024

I made the balls right after I cooked it & put in fridge overnight. I had to add a teeny bit of milk to get it creamier.

Tanya

Thursday 4th of May 2023

Hi Kim, that seems to be an issue if you're using boxed mac and cheese rather than the baked versions I have listed in the recipe. Did you happen to use one of those? My air fryer mac and cheese or my cheesy baked mac and cheese?