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Mac and Cheese Bites are full of pasta and cheese in a mini, poppable form. They have a crunchy breadcrumb topping and are a huge hit at parties.
If you can make macaroni and cheese, you can easily make these mac and cheese bites! Whip up a batch using my simple recipe below, or transform leftovers you have on hand.
These little mac and cheese bites are so fun and unique. They make a great appetizer or side dish for any meal.
Table of Contents
Ingredients for Mac and Cheese Bites
- Macaroni – I use the smaller elbow macaroni because it will fit better in the cups. Small shells would work, but nothing larger than that.
- Roux – This is the flour and butter base of the cheese sauce that thickens it.
- Seasonings – Garlic powder and dry mustard powder. The garlic gives flavor while the mustard powder provides an ever so slight tang; a nice contrast to the creaminess of the cheese.
- Milk – I use nonfat milk, but any will work. For a creamier texture, use whole fat or even half and half.
- Cheese – Lots of sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated off the block. There is also cream cheese for added creaminess. It also helps to hold the sauce together.
- Salt and pepper – I don’t list amounts for the salt and pepper because its a personal taste. The cheeses can be quite salty, so you may or may not need to add more.
- Topping – I felt like this appetizer needed a crunchy element, so I added some grated Parmesan cheese and Panko breadcrumbs mixed with a little bit of melted butter. The butter will help the panko get golden and crispy.
How to Make Mac and Cheese Bites
- Boil macaroni. Heat water in a large pot and add salt. Cook the macaroni according to al dente package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Make the cheese sauce. Start by making a roux with butter, flour and seasonings in a large saucepan. Pour in the milk (warm up the milk in the microwave first) and whisk to combine, then simmer until thick. Stir in the cream cheese until it melts, then remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cheddar cheese. Finally stir in the macaroni.
- Make the bites. Spray a 12-count muffin pan generously with nonstick cooking spray and spoon the mac and cheese mixture into the cups. Press down lightly.
- Add breadcrumb topping. In a small bowl, combine panko bread crumbs, melted butter, Parmesan cheese and dried parsley. Sprinkle on top of the mac and cheese cups.
- Bake. Make sure your oven is preheated to 400℉ and bake for 15 minutes. Let cool for several minutes before serving.
Yes! The full batch in the recipe makes roughly 4 cups of macaroni and cheese. If you have leftovers from another recipe, this is a great way to use them up. Keep in mind that you may not be able to get as many but they will still be delicious.
The blue box mac and cheese is a childhood favorite. You can use it, but I have found that just following the box instructions doesn’t make it creamy enough. I always stir in 1-2 pieces of American sliced cheese to make it creamier. This would also help hold the baked bites together.
Yes – make the macaroni and cheese, scoop them into the muffin pan, cover and refrigerate. You bake them the next day (within 24 hours). Remove the pan from the fridge and let it sit on the counter while you preheat the oven to take the chill off.
Once you’ve removed the bites from the muffin pan, arrange them on a pretty white platter or on a wood cutting board and sprinkle with fresh minced parsley.
Storage and Reheating
Storage: Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.
Freezing: I don’t recommend freezing because the structure doesn’t hold up well and the pasta tends to absorb some of the moisture.
Reheating: These are delicious cold, but you can reheat in the oven or microwave. If reheating in the microwave, do so gently to avoid them breaking apart.
- For smaller bites, use mini muffin tins.
- If you are worried your mac bites won’t hold together enough when you bake them, try whisking in an egg and stirring it into the mac and cheese. This will help bind it together better.
- This is a finger food so they aren’t creamy like a regular bowl of macaroni and cheese would be.
- The key to good flavor is to make sure to salt the water generously before boiling your pasta.
More Delicious Appetizer Recipes
Mac and Cheese Bites
- 2 cups elbow macaroni uncooked
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- ½ teaspoon dry mustard powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 cups milk
- 2 ounces cream cheese
- 2 cups freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese divided
- Salt & pepper to taste
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan
- ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon butter melted
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley or 2 teaspoons fresh minced
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Cook macaroni to al dente in salted water, according to package directions. Drain pasta into a large colander and set aside.
- Melt butter in the pot over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour, dry mustard and garlic powder and cook for several minutes, stirring often, until lightly golden; 2-3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat milk in a microwave safe bowl for 1 minute. Pour into the flour mixture. Whisk often as it comes to a simmer. Do not boil. The sauce will thicken as it simmers; about 5 minutes.
- Stir in cream cheese until melted.
- Remove from heat and add cheddar cheese, stirring constantly until completely melted. Stir pasta into the cheese sauce.
- Spray a 12-count muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon mac and cheese evenly into the cups.
- In a small bowl, stir together Parmesan, breadcrumbs, parsley and melted butter. Sprinkle on top of pasta and press down lightly.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until the tops are golden and crispy. Cool 5 minutes before transferring to a serving platter.