Mac and cheese is more than just a dish – it's a comforting hug in a bowl that many of us hold close to our hearts, especially as the nights start drawing in and the weather gets colder.
Yet it's also a dish that's ripe for a makeover, which is exactly what this air fryer mac and cheese balls recipe has done.
It takes the creamy, cheesy goodness we all love and covers it in a crispy, golden shell, thanks to the magic of the best air fryers. The results are bite-sized morsels of comfort food that are perfect for parties, appetizers, or even just a snack.
Below, I show you how to create the ultimate air fryer mac and cheese balls. They take a bit of time to make, but they're more than worth the extra effort.
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Air fryer mac and cheese balls recipe
The air fryer mac and cheese balls recipe I have followed is from the AllRecipes TikTok channel. It's been watched 77,000 times and counting.
Air fryer mac and cheese balls ingredients
The original recipe contained both Panko and regular, seasoned breadcrumbs but this made the balls heavy so I now opt for just the one type.
- 1 macaroni and cheese dinner mix
- 1/4 cup / 60ml milk
- 4 tablespoons margarine
- 3/4 cup / 60g shredded Cheddar cheese
- 2 eggs (beaten)
- 1/2 cup / 60g Panko breadcrumbs
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of garlic powder
Air fryer mac and cheese balls method
To make air fryer mac and cheese balls you will need the following:
- Air fryer – I used the Tower Vortx 9 Litre Duo Capacity Basket Air Fryer with Smart Finish 5.2L and 3.3L
- Mixing bowl
- Separate bowl for the beaten eggs
Step 1: Cook the mac and cheese dinner kit according to its instructions. I used a microwaveable mix.
Step 2: Pour the mac and cheese mix into a mixing bowl and add the milk, margarine, and cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted.
Step 3: Allow to cool and then transfer the bowl to the refrigerator for at least two hours, or until the mixture has become firm.
Step 4: Form the chilled mac and cheese into balls and place them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Freeze for one hour. You can skip this step but your mac and cheese balls may not hold together as well. They still taste as good though!
Step 5: Preheat your air fryer to 350F / 175C.
Step 5: In one bowl place the beaten eggs. In a second separate bowl, mix the panko breadcrumbs, salt, and garlic powder together.
Step 6: Dip each frozen mac and cheese ball into the beaten eggs, then coat with the breadcrumb mixture. Place them in the air fryer basket, making sure they're as evenly spaced as possible.
Step 7: Cook in the air fryer for six to eight minutes. Turn over and continue to cook until golden brown. This should take around four more minutes.
Air fryer mac and cheese balls wrap-up
I've tried countless air fryer recipes, but these mac and cheese balls stand out. They're cheesy, salty, and soft on the inside, while the outside is crispy and crunchy. They do require a bit more effort than other recipes I've tried, but the result is more than worth it.
You can make the mac and cheese balls as small, or as big as you like too, depending on who'll be eating them, and you can experiment with the flavors in the breadcrumb mix. Adding parmesan is a favorite of mine and my children.
If you're still sitting on the fence and wondering whether to buy an air fryer, you may want to read our article to decide whether air fryers are worth it.
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Victoria Woollaston is a freelance science and technology journalist with more than a decade’s experience writing for Wired UK, Alphr, Expert Reviews, TechRadar, Shortlist and the Sunday Times. She has a keen interest in next-generation technology and its potential to revolutionise how we live and work.