Fried mac and cheese balls are super crispy on the outside, creamy and cheesy on the inside, and have the best crunch. These easy to make appetizer version of creamy mac and cheese are the best bite-sized comfort food ever. They are perfect for a cozy lunch or dinner, or a game day snack, and the best way to use leftover mac and cheese.
Making fried mac and cheese balls is also a great way to use leftover mac and cheese from your Thanksgiving dinner. Some other ways I use up Thanksgiving leftovers every year are with leftover turkey wild rice soup, baked mashed potato spring rolls, and cranberry sauce oat bars.
Ingredients in Mac and Cheese Balls
These fried bite-sized appys only require:
- macaroni and cheese - cold mac and cheese that has been refrigerated for at least 4 hours. This is a great way to use up and leftover stovetop mac and cheese with white cheddar or baked mac and cheese.
- egg - to bind the breadcrumbs onto the balls.
- panko breadcrumbs - to coat the mac and cheese balls. I prefer the texture of panko breadcrumbs, but you can use regular breadcrumbs as well.
- vegetable oil - for deep frying.
How to Make the Best Fried Mac and Cheese Balls
- Shape the mac and cheese balls. Scoop out a spoonful of mac and cheese using a cookie scoop and shape into a 1.5-inch ball. Repeat with with all mac and cheese. You should get about 18 mac and cheese balls.
- Coat the balls. Place beaten egg into one bowl, and panko breadcrumbs into another bowl. Coat each ball into the eggs and then dredge in panko to fully coat.
- Deep fry. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat until shimmering and sizzling hot, about 4 minutes. Carefully add the mac and cheese balls, about 4-5 at a time (you will have to fry in batches). Fry until golden and crispy on all sides, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up any excess oil. Serve hot.
Tips and Alternate Cooking Methods
- How to freeze: Arrange uncooked, assembled mac and cheese balls in single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Freeze for 1 hour, then transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. You can deep fry directly from frozen.
- How to air fry mac and cheese balls: Assemble the balls as directed in the recipe, then spray lightly with cooking spray oil. Place the balls in an even layer in an air fryer basket (you will have to do this in batches as to not overcrowd the basket). Air fry at 350 F for 15 minutes until crispy.
- How to bake in the oven: Assemble the balls as directed in the recipe, and place on a half sheet baking pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Bake in a 350 F preheated oven for 20-30 minutes, until crispy on the outside. Rotate them every 5-10 minutes to ensure even cooking.
More Bite-sized Appetizers
- Baked Mozzarella Sticks
- Easy Homemade Chicken Nuggets
- The Best Breaded Air Fryer Fried Chicken Wings
- Baked Mashed Potato Spring Rolls
- Baked Sweet Potato Wedges with Honey Mustard
- Vegetarian Stuffed Mushrooms
- Baked Turkey Meatballs
Did you make this recipe? I would greatly appreciate a comment and rating below, letting me know what you thought of the recipe. You can also snap a picture and tag me on Instagram @aheadofthyme or share it on the Pinterest pin so that I can follow along.