Cheesy Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Bites
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One of the most famous bar snacks worldwide has to be Mac and Cheese Bites. Deliciously creamy Mac and Cheese, encased in a golden crispy breading. Served alongside some yummy dipping sauce. It’s one of the best snacks going around to pair with a few drinks with friends. We’ve had some fun with this recipe and have prepared an awesome interpretation of this staple recipe, and that is our Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Bites!

The amazing Air Fryer has taken over the cooking world and we can happily admit that we are one of the converted. These devices are so amazing to have in the kitchen. They are a healthier way to fry foods and it is amazing that the hot air circulation in these things can replicate the frying and deep frying that you would typically expect from cooking in oceans of Oil!

Now, we have nothing against Oil cooking. In fact, when cooking this recipe, we prepared some in Oil and some in the Air Fryer to compare the differences. Both are great, but for this recipe we’ll be sharing the Air Frying technique

What difference does Air Frying the Mac and Cheese Bites have vs. Deep Frying or Shallow Frying in Oil?

There are two major differences that we have noticed when cooking the Mac and Cheese Bites in an Air Fryer compared to Oil Frying

1. The Color is a lot lighter

This makes total sense as when frying anything in hot oil, over time it will get darker. Especially when you are deep frying an ingredient that is coated in Breadcrumbs. Naturally, the crumbs will go darker the longer they cook. The color of the coating is actually a big indicator to check whether something is cooked or not. So that does make Air Frying a little more challenging, as you’ll need to solely rely on a Thermometer to check that the dish is fully cooked through

Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Bites comparison
You can see the difference in color between the Oil Fried (left) and Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Bites (right)

2. Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Bites are much lighter than their Oil cooked cousins

They are lighter in both texture and overall volume. It is amazing to see just how much heaviness the Oil does add to a dish. The Air Fried Bites were lighter in weight, as they are carrying less volume from the Oil. They are also lighter in texture. Which is good and bad. You ‘may’ be able to convince yourself that you’re eating healthier, which is true. However, you are still eating fried Mac and Cheese so who are you kidding?!

They also become a little bit more delicate to move around. The Oil Fried balls were denser, which made them easier to plate. You just need to be a little bit more careful with the Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Bites as they are prone to breaking when handled too much!

The secret ingredient to make the perfect Mac and Cheese

For those familiar with our Perfect Mac and Cheese recipe then you know what’s up. The secret to getting the best Mac and Cheese is using Dijon Mustard. Adding Dijon Mustard creates an amazing depth of flavor and zing that compliments the sharpness of the cheese so well. It elevates the flavor of all the ingredients in the dish and simply tastes amazing

Our second secret to the best Mac and Cheese is perhaps a little more controversial. We’re not fans of baking the dish once it’s cooked. Simply add the Pasta into the beautiful cheesy béchamel sauce and you’ve got a perfect Mac and Cheese. There is simply no real value that baking the dish at that point. The only addition I could think of is it adds texture. Well, we’re doing that anyway by frying it all up with Breadcrumbs in a delicious bite sizes piece of goodness!

Create the Bites and fry when the Mac and Cheese is cold

Trust us on this, it makes the process so much easier when the Mac and Cheese is cold. Our recipe creates a luxurious, creamy Mac and Cheese. So, if you were to try to shape it into a ball and go through the breading process immediately it would be a disaster!

Once the Mac and Cheese is cold, the sauce solidifies which makes it so much easier to craft into balls, then ultimately bread and fry. Once the Mac and Cheese heats up during the cooking process it will naturally go back to being creamy and luxurious

A nice solution could be to double the quantities in this recipe, then eat Mac and Cheese the night before along with a beautiful Steak Dinner. Then use the leftovers to create our delicious Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Bites

Add Mozzarella stuffing inside the balls for added decadence and ‘Insta-worthy’ moments

Who doesn’t love a good cheese pull? Well, you’re in luck with this recipe. For very little hassle you can create an amazing cheese pull moment which also adding even more luxury to the dish. Simply cut up a square of Mozzarella and stuff it into the middle of the Mac and Cheese Bites and you’ll be rewarded with the most amazing, cheesy glory when you break into one!

Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Bites Cheese Pull
Stuffing the center of the Mac and Cheese Balls with Mozzarella results in an unbelievable Cheese Pull!

Recipe Details

Servings

4 – 8 people

Prep time

10 minutes

Cooking time

50 minutes

Total time

1 hour

Cheesy Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Bites Recipe

Ingredients

For the Mac and Cheese

  • ½ box Cavatappi or Macaroni Pasta (8 oz)
  • 2 tbsp. Plain White Flour
  • 2 cups Whole Milk
  • 1 cup Gruyere Cheese, grated
  • 1 cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
  • ½ cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon Mustard
  • Salt

For the Breading

  • ½ cup Breadcrumbs
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 250g / 8 oz. of Mozzarella, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 tbsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large pot of boiling water, add a generous amount of salt (2 – 3 tbsps.) then add the Pasta. Cook until al-dente, where it is cooked but still has a little bit of bite and chew to it. Approximately 8 minutes. Strain and set aside
  2. Melt the Butter in a large pot over medium heat, then add the Flour. Still until well combined and the flour is cooked, approximately 2 minutes
  3. Add the Milk and whisk well to combine, removing any lumps created by the Flour. Reduce the heat to low and continue to stir until the Milk has begun to thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon. This will take approximately 15 – 20 minutes
  4. Add the Dijon Mustard and all the Cheeses and stir well to combine. Add 1 tbsp. of Salt and check for seasoning. Adjust the seasoning if necessary before adding the pasta, as it will be much easier to do so at this stage
  5. Add the Pasta, mix well and then set aside to cool. Once the Pasta is cold you can begin to make the Mac and Cheese Bites

To make the Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Bites once your Mac and Cheese is done

  1. Creating your breading station by filling 3 medium sized bowls. The first with All-Purpose Flour, Salt, and Pepper. The second with the beaten Egg, and the third with the Breadcrumbs
  2. With your clean hands, create a ball of the cooked Mac and Cheese, just slightly larger than a golf ball. Insert one piece of Mozzarella into the ball and then work the Mac and Cheese around the Mozzarella so it is completely encased. Compact the ball so it is tight
  3. Dip the ball into the Flour, then Egg wash, then finally the breadcrumbs. Ensure that it has been well covered with each ingredients before moving to the next station. Repeat the process until you’ve run out of Mac and Cheese
  4. Set your Air Fryer to 280 degrees then place as many Mac and Cheese balls as you can fit into the Air Fryer without overloading it. Spray with a coating of Canola Oil Spray and cook for 4-5 minutes, turning once
  5. Remove from the Air Fryer and serve immediately along with your favorite sauce. We’ve used Kewpie Mayonnaise in our photos. Our delicious Marinara Sauce is another great option

Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Bites Top View
Delicious balls of Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Bites with some dipping sauce. Absolutely delicious

You can follow this exact recipe if you are deep frying or shallow frying the Mac and Cheese Bites in Oil. Just ensure the Oil is between 350 – 375 before frying and cook until the outside is a dark golden brown, which should take about 5 minutes

There you have it, our amazing Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Bites Recipe which we know you’ll just love! To top off the feast, why not pair this dish with some other bar food classics such as the following:

Or, just make a bunch of amazing Southern Side Dishes and have yourself a southern feast!

Happy Cooking!

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