Perfectly crispy and cheesy fried macaroni with a flavorful breadcrumb topping. Take one bite of these fried mac and cheese balls and you’ll be in heaven!
I didn’t think I could love macaroni and cheese any more than I already do until I tried this fried version. You could say that anything tastes great deep fried and you’d probably be right, but fried macaroni is pretty much brilliant. Now I’m hooked!
I blame a couple of my girlfriends for this yummy recipe! One night a couple of good friends invited me to go out to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. I am always game for a good piece of cheesecake. Well, we didn’t just have cheesecake. I was introduced something amazing: fried mac and cheese. Pretty much life changing!
This is one of those recipes that I always feel should be started with a disclaimer: “I can not be held responsible for excessive calorie intake!” But boy, is it delicious. Perfectly crispy and cheesy fried macaroni balls with a flavorful breadcrumb topping. Definitely not a “light” dish, but 100% worth the indulge!
How to make fried mac and cheese
- NOODLES. Cook the macaroni noodles according to directions on package. Drain and rinse with cold water. Then set aside.
- SAUCE. In a pan, melt the butter over medium-heat. Then sprinkle in flour and whisk together. Cook for about 2 minutes. Add in warmed milk and whisk until there aren’t any lumps. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in cheese until melted and smooth. Then pour cheese over the noodles and stir to combine. Pour mixture into a shallow pan and refrigerate for 2 hours, so that it sets up enough to form into balls.
- FORM. Use your cookie dough scoop to form the balls and then place on a lined cookie sheet and freeze (overnight is good). You want them nice and frozen.
- COAT. In a shallow bowl, whisk together 1 egg and 1 Tablespoon of milk. Mix breadcrumbs and seasoning together and place in a shallow bowl. Dip the macaroni balls into egg wash and then cover with breadcrumb mixture.
- FRY. Heat oil in a large pot to 350°F and fry the mac and cheese balls until they are golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Turn them halfway to evenly brown. Remove and set on baking sheet lined with paper towels. Serve them with a little marinara sauce (or ketchup) and enjoy while warm!
Favorite dipping sauces
Marinara is my absolute favorite, but any of the below taste delicious:
- Breadcrumbs. If you don’t have breadcrumbs in the pantry, make your own homemade breadcrumbs with any leftover bread you have laying around.
- Seasonings. Feel free to mix in some additional seasonings like garlic powder, onion powder or some paprika.
- Use fresh grated cheese. Grate your own cheese instead of using the pre-shredded bags (which have additives that don’t melt as well). This will give you the perfect gooey cheese that’s perfectly melted.
- Chill the macaroni. This step is the key to success. Once you make the macaroni, it needs to chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. This makes it easier to form into balls. You’ll also need to freeze the macaroni balls overnight before coating/frying. You want them nice and firm.
- Make sure oil isn’t too hot. Be sure your oil isn’t too hot so they don’t cook too fast. You want them to heat through so you don’t end up with frozen macaroni in the middle.
More recipes to try:
- Baked macaroni and cheese
- Smoked gouda mac and cheese
- One pot bacon and chive macaroni
- Slow cooker mac and cheese
Fried Mac and Cheese
Optional: Marinara sauce for dipping
- Cook macaroni according to directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
- In a pan, melt the butter over medium-heat and sprinkle in the flour. Whisk together. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Add in warmed milk and stir to get rid of lumps. Cook until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add in cheese, stir until melted and smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Pour cheese over macaroni and stir to combine.
- Pour into a shallow pan and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Form macaroni and cheese into balls using a cookie or ice cream scoop. Place on a wax paper lined cookie sheet and freeze overnight, or until cold and firm.
- Mix together egg and 1 Tablespoon milk to make a wash in a shallow bowl. Mix breadcrumbs and seasoning together and place in a shallow bowl. Dip macaroni and cheese balls into egg wash and then cover with breadcrumb mixture.
- Heat oil in a large pot to 350°F and fry macaroni and cheese balls until they are golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Turn them halfway to evenly brown.
- Remove and set on baking sheet lined with paper towels. Enjoy while warm with marinara!
- Be sure your oil isn’t too hot so they don’t cook too fast. You want them to heat through so you don’t end up with frozen mac & cheese in the middle!
- Extras can be stored in the freezer.
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
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Adapted from Food Network.