These Deep-Fried Macaroni and Cheese Balls are the ideal comfort food! Mac and cheese is formed into bite-sized balls, coated in breadcrumbs, then deep fried until crispy, crunchy, and golden!
Okay, admit it, we’re all a bit guilty of overindulgence around the holidays. So what’s the harm in over-indulging a little bit more with this deep-fried mac and cheese?
These fried mac and cheese balls are the epitome of comfort food and make the perfect addition to a holiday meal or an appetizer spread for a party.
Creamy mac and cheese packed into a crispy and crunchy, golden-brown, bite-size piece of deliciousness? Does it get any better than that?
What you need to make this recipe
- Bacon – cooked, drained, and crumbled to add a smoky flavor to the mac and cheese.
- Mac and Cheese – you can use whatever mac and cheese recipe you like! Pretty much anything will work! Try delicious smoked mac and cheese or creamy instant pot mac and cheese.
- Eggs – coats the outside of the mac and cheese balls to help the breadcrumbs stick and to help them crisp up nicely.
- Breadcrumbs – you can use plain breadcrumbs or Italian seasoned for a boost of flavor.
- Vegetable Oil – for frying!
How to make deep-fried macaroni and cheese
In a large bowl, mix the bacon into the mac and cheese. Cover and chill for 6 hours in the fridge.
Set up your rolling station by arranging the eggs in a bowl next to a bowl of breadcrumbs.
Remove the mac and cheese from the fridge and use a cookie scoop or your hands to form the mac and cheese into tight balls.
One at a time, dip each ball into the eggs, drain the excess, then roll them in the breadcrumbs.
Place the breadcrumb coated mac and cheese balls onto a baking sheet, then freeze for 4 hours.
When you’re ready to fry, fill a large pot with oil and heat the oil over medium-low heat until hot enough to fry. Preheat the oven to 180ºF.
Use a long-handled slotted spoon to dip the macaroni and cheese balls in the hot oil. Fry until golden-brown, then set over a rack on a baking sheet to drain and keep in the preheated oven to keep warm. Repeat with all the mac and cheese balls.
Allow the balls to cool for three minutes, then sprinkle with salt and serve hot!
What mac and cheese to use
This recipe works with pretty much any mac and cheese recipe you like! I love to make homemade mac and cheese (because it’s just better), but boxed mac and cheese will work as well if you’re shorter on time!
You can even mix it up with additional fillings. Try adding bacon, hot sausage, shredded chicken, or even swirl in some veggies (no one will know, I promise.)
How to bake mac and cheese balls
If you’d prefer to make baked mac and cheese balls, feel free! To do so, preheat the oven to 350ºF, line the mac and cheese balls on a lightly greased baking sheet, then bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden-brown and crispy. I recommend rotating them every few minutes so they cook evenly!
350 for 20-30 minutes, rotating every few minutes so they cook evenly
Tips, tricks, and notes for this recipe
You’ll want the chill whatever mac and cheese you use for around 6 hours in the fridge after you make it. This helps dry it out so it’s easier to form into balls.
After you dip the mac and cheese ball into the egg, let the excess drain off. You want there to be enough so the breadcrumbs can stick, but not so much that they just end up soggy.
For safety, make sure you leave a little bit of space at the top of the pot. The hot oil can splatter.
If you put too many mac and cheese balls into the hot oil, it will cause the temperature to drop. I would keep the limit at three so the oil stays hot and the mac and cheese balls get nice and crispy.
Can mac and cheese balls be made ahead of time?
Kind of! This recipe is a great way to use up leftover mac and cheese, so feel free to prep the pasta ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for 3-5 days or in the freezer for 1-2 months.
If it’s frozen, thaw it in the fridge when you’re ready to use it, then proceed with the recipe as instructed.
How to store
After the macaroni and cheese is deep-fried, it’s definitely best right away. If you do have leftovers, they will last for 3-5 days in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer.
To reheat, bake at 400ºF for 18-20 minutes or until warmed all the way through. I don’t recommend microwaving them because they won’t get as crispy.
More macaroni and cheese inspiration
- Smoked Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese
- Smoked Jalapeno Mac and Cheese
- Double Smoked Chicken Mac and Cheese
- BBQ Chicken Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
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Deep Fried Mac and Cheese Balls
- 1 lbs bacon cooked drained and crumbled
- 2 lbs mac and cheese see notes for my favorite mac and cheese recipes to use
- 2 eggs whisked
- 4 cups breadcrumbs
- Vegetable oil for frying
- In a large bowl, mix the crumbled bacon into the macaroni and cheese.
- Cover and chill for 6 hours in the refrigerator.
- Set up your rolling station by arranging the eggs in a large bowl next to a bowl with the breadcrumbs.
- Remove from fridge and with your hands or a large cookie scoop, form the mac and cheese into tight balls. You will have between 12 and 16 balls depending on how big you make them.
- Working one at a time, dip each ball into the eggs, turning to coat evenly. Drain any excess.
- Transfer to the breadcrumbs and roll the mac and cheese ball in the bread crumbs, coating evenly.
- Place the breadcrumb coated mac and cheese ball onto a baking sheet.
- Repeat the steps as needed.
- Arrange the baking sheet in the freezer to allow the balls to freeze in a single layer.
- After freezing for at least 4 hours, you can store the balls in an airtight container in the freezer until ready to fry.
- When ready to fry, fill a large heavy-bottomed pot with oil, leaving 2 inches from the surface of the oil to the top of the pot for safety.
- Heat the oil over medium-low heat until hot enough to fry.
- Preheat the oven to the warm setting, or 180 degrees.
- With a long-handled slotted spoon, dip a macaroni and cheese ball in. Fry, rolling as needed, until golden brown all over.
- Carefully remove the macaroni and cheese ball from the oil with a slotted spoon and set on a rack over a baking sheet to drain. Keep warm in the preheated oven.
- Repeat the steps, adding no more than 3 balls at a time, to keep the oil temp even, until all of the macaroni and cheese balls are fried. Allow to the last ball to cool at least 3 minutes before serving.
- Sprinkle the deep fried macaroni and cheese with salt and serve hot.
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I’m salivating after reading this! I love macaroni and cheese, and to have it like this puts a great new spin on it! Delicious.
Omg can we say yum?!?! I love deep fried Mac & cheese!!! So giving this a try!
I would love to try this variation of a baked mac and cheese. the pictures look tempting!
We are not a fan of mac and cheese here, but it sounds like a great thanksgiving treat
I’ve always been a fan of mac and cheese, but this is definitely something I’d like to try sometime with the kids.
Love your recipe! Can’t wait to make it for our Holiday Open House! They look soooo good!
What a fantastic idea. The kids and adults in my family would all love this. My son makes mac and cheese a few times a week for himself (he’s 17). I bet he’d like to change it up and try this
Ooh my kids and hubby would be all about this recipe! It looks like the perfect comfort food for a cold winter day 🙂
OMG I’ve been craving mac and cheese for the past few days and this just made me more hungry! I am eating mac and cheese for sure today
Santa is bringing an air fryer to our house and I would love to give these a try! They look so good!
Id love to try this with an air fryer!
Oh gosh, I think fried mac and cheese sounds amazing!! I need to make these ASAP!!
Look like an interesting appetizer or side dish, probably making this for my Xmas party dinner. Lets see if I succeed the experiment on this weekends.
It’s all in the par-freeze 😉
These look like an excellent appetizer to bring to my family’s Christmas. Awesome, thanks!
it’s great idea to try and utilize leftovers. I wouldn’t go for deep fried things regularly but it could be a nice change
it looks like you are all geared up for holiday, babe!