Macaroni and Cheese Baked Cheese Balls

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I have a weakness for cheese and if it’s fried, even better.

Growing up in Minnesota in the dairy heartland, and neighbor to the great cheese producing state of Wisconsin, I great up eating copious amounts of cheese, including fried cheese curds.

Macaroni and Cheese Baked Cheese Balls

For those of you who have never had fried cheese, don’t start. It’s everything that coronary heart disease is made of and it tastes delicious.

Macaroni and Cheese Baked Cheese Balls

Then I lived in Chicago where the Greeks fry and ignite their cheese in the form of flaming saganaki and boy, that makes me shout, Opa!

After moving to and settling in San Diego, I have access to so many wonderful Indian restaurants with their fried paneer cheese.

I’ve never met fried cheese I’ll say no to. Show me an appetizer menu at a restaurant and if there’s mozzarella cheese sticks on it, that’s what I’m having, extra marinara sauce for dipping. Extra of the extra, please.

Macaroni and Cheese Baked Cheese Balls on blue plate

But these cheese balls aren’t actually fried and instead I baked them. I don’t fry in my house because frying stinks it up for days and the next morning I do not want to smell fried cheese or fried anything. Or smell whatever it was that I fried five days later.

These cheese balls start out with good old all-American Kraft Macaroni and Cheese from a box. I had a box with Spongebob Squarepants-shaped noodles, and these cheese balls are what became of it. I boiled the macaroni according the package directions and added a handful of extra shredded cheese, and extra butter and extra cream because powdered cheese in a packet needs some doctoring up, even though I have a nostalgic soft spot for the blindingly bright orange powder. If you have a favorite homemade macaroni and cheese recipe, by all means make it, or use your favorite storebought variety.

Macaroni and Cheese Baked Cheese Balls

After making your mac ‘n cheese, homemade or from a box, you must and I repeat must, put it into an airtight container and refrigerate it for at least 12 hours, up to 3 or 4 days because in order to shape the cheese balls prior to baking, and not have them turn into a literal cheesy hot mess in the oven while they bake, you need cold, thick, day-old mac ‘n cheese. I refrigerated mine for two days. It needs to congeal, set up, and get thick. If you’ve ever turned your nose up at cold, refrigerated, leftover mac ‘n cheese because it’s thick, gloppy, and solidified, that is exactly what you want. Now you know what to do what that kind of mac ‘n cheese in the future.

In the fifteen minutes preceding breading and battering, I put the container in the freezer so the mac ‘n cheese would be extra chilled prior to shaping the balls. When you’re ready to bake, get your assembly line of flour, two beaten eggs, and breadcrumbs lined up. I used Trader Joe’s breadcrumbs which aren’t seasoned, but use seasoned breadcrumbs or toss a few pinches of garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper, or whatever sounds good for seasoning plain breadcrumbs if you prefer them seasoned.

Macaroni and Cheese Baked Cheese Balls

Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with Silpats or aluminum foil and I really suggest lining your baking sheets for easier cleanup. Drizzle about one tablespoon of olive oil on each baking sheet and spread it around with your hands. Then, scoop out tablespoon-sized balls of mac ‘n cheese with a small cookie scoop. If you don’t have a cookie scoop, mine is $3.99 and I highly recommend it, but using a tablespoon and hand-shaping the mac ‘n cheese into domed mounds will work.  Whatever method you use, it’s a messy project; keep the paper towels handy.

Don’t make the mistake of initially scooping out or rolling your balls too large. What looks small before being breaded becomes much larger after the breading and battering process. You want your finished cheese balls in the golf ball-sized as opposed to the baseball-sized range.

Roll each ball through the flour, dip it briefly in the egg, and dredge it through the breadcrumbs. Repeat until your mac ‘n cheese is gone, placing about 10 balls on each cookie sheet. I made 20 balls in this batch from the 5.5-ounce box of mac ‘n cheese.

Ingedients - eggs, flour, breadcrumbs, mac and cheese

Bake for ten minutes at 425F, add one more tablespoon of oil to each baking sheet, flip all the balls over, and bake for another 7 to 10 minutes, or until they are golden brown, crispy, and crunchy on the edges.

Or bake until your smoke detector goes off and there’s a fairly high likelihood it will. There is something about baking at temperatures over about 400F and if any oil is present whatsoever, my smoke detector goes off and it’s so highly alarming. Pun intended. I hate that jarring, nerve-rattling screeching and I jump ten feet and my heart pounds. Just giving you a heads up so you can take a Zanax beforehand if necessary.

These cheese balls were worth the alarm bells. The outside was extra crunchy and crispy, which I attribute to the battering process as well as a very hot oven because the fiery and intense heat really sets up the coating and gives it crispness. The cheese balls need to get into, and out of the oven; no lingering in a moderate oven because there’s too much risk for the cheese to leak and ooze the longer they’re exposed to heat.

The macaroni noodles inside these golden nuggets lend texture and chewiness amidst the sea of molten, hot, warm, gooey and oozing cheese. Even with melted cheese, I like texture and the noodles gave me what I was looking for.

I ate them dipped in various condiments including barbeque sauce, ketchup, Ranch dressing, and Homemade Spicy Honey mMustard. I get around when it comes to condiments. Extra of the extra, please.

Macaroni and Cheese Baked Cheese Balls broken up

I really don’t think you’ll  have trouble polishing off a batch of these but if you do, leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator and reheated gently in the microwave or wrap them in plasticwrap and toss them into your lunch for the next day. Scott savored a few cheese balls the next day in his lunch.

I did all my savoring immediately after these photos were taken.

Macaroni and Cheese Baked Cheese Balls

Macaroni and Cheese Baked Cheese Balls

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Yield: 21

Macaroni and Cheese Baked Cheese Balls

Macaroni and Cheese Baked Cheese Balls

I love cheese sticks and cheese balls on the appetizer menu in restaurants and this is a way to take everyday macaroni and cheese and turn it into cheese balls, which are baked rather than fried. Don't skip the step of using well-chilled mac 'n cheese prior to baking them because you want the cheese to melt in your mouth, not all over the baking sheets. I promise these crispy 'n crunchy yet soft 'n gooey cheese balls are worth the wait.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 batch macaroni and cheese, prepared as directed and well chilled (1 box store-bought or your favorite homemade recipe, I used one 5.5-ounce box Kraft
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • about 1 cup breadcrumbs (seasoned if preferred; I used Trader Joe's which are unseasoned)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Instructions

  1. Prepare mac 'n cheese according to package directions. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, up to 3 days; I made these after 2 days. Chilling the mac 'n cheese is an instrumental step and cannot be skipped because the cheese needs to congeal, solidify, and dry out a bit prior to baking the cheese balls. You may be able to speed this process up and shortcut it a bit by freezing the cooked mac 'n cheese, but I have not tested it.
  2. About 15 minutes prior to preparing the cheese balls, place the container of mac 'n cheese in the freezer for a quick cold blast. Meanwhile, place flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs in 3 separate small bowls; set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 425F and line two baking sheets with Silpats, parchment paper, or aluminum foil (line baking sheets with something to save yourself cleanup work). Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on each baking sheet, smear it around with your hands; set baking sheets aside.
  4. Remove mac 'n cheese from the freezer and using a 1-inch cookie scoop or tablespoon-sized scoop, portion out and shape the balls, taking care not to make them larger than about 1-inch in diameter because after battering and breading, they become much larger in size. Depending on the type of noodles in your mac 'n cheese, how cold, or how cheesy the mac 'n cheese is, lightly hand-shaping the noodles into balls may be necessary rather than replying solely on a cookie scoop. Roll each ball through the flour, dip briefly in the egg, roll it through the breadcrumbs, and place it on baking sheet. Repeat until all balls have been battered, placing about 10 balls per baking tray.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes (don't be surprised if your smoke detector goes off), remove trays from oven and add 1 tablespoon of oil to each tray and smear it around, flip balls over, and bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until browned and golden. Remove from the oven and serve immediately; optionally serve with Homemade Spicy Mustard, prepared mustard, ketchup, chipotle mayo, or a favorite condiment.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

21

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 77Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 74mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 2g

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Comments

  1. Love them! My and I are cheese lovers. And I have been craving macaroni and cheese ball! I did use Italian crumbs and my homemade Cajun style flour. Thank you!

    Rating: 5
  2. During this COVID-19 health crisis , I have been trying very hard to be better at planning meals and repurposing leftovers. That’s how I came across this recipe. I also do not fry in my house, so it caught my eye. I followed it as closely as I could but my homemade mac/cheese has Ritz crackers on top, so I used crushed/buttered Ritz instead of the breadcrumbs. OMG!!!!!!!!! These little gems are delicious…. :)

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and glad you are planning/repurposing better these days and glad they turned out delicious!

  3. I made this tonight, and got rave reviews. Thanks for the recipe. I’m sure I’ll be using it forever. It was easy and awesome.

    Rating: 5
  4. You might want to consider using an oil with a higher smoke point if you keep tripping your smoke alarms. Grapeseed oil is pretty common, and has a high smoke point. Really enjoyed this recipe.

    Rating: 5
    1. This is a recipe from 2013. I have since moved onward and upward to a lovely home with a much better smoke detector :)

  5. You are absolutely hilarious and I must say We loved the Macaroni and cheese balls.Thanks for being such a breath of fresh air.

    Rating: 5
  6. All I needed to read to convince myself is that it has cheese in it. The process is quite not familiar to me, but I will try my best to do this! Can’t wait to enjoy these cheese balls! Thank you for sharing!

  7. Has anyone tried to prep these and freeze them to be baked at a later date? It seems that it would be most convenient to freeze them after battering them and popping in the oven right before people come over. Thoughts? I look forward to trying these.

  8. LOVE these!! Saw them at Trader Joe’s in the freezer section, unfortunately, I need them to be in gluten free form! But this can totally be converted!!! What’s your thought about baking them and then freezing them to just reheat/crisp up when I need that mac & cheese ball fix :-)

  9. Have a question: do you think i could use a very thin layer of crisco instead of oil? I, like you, have an extremely sensitive fire alarm (and live in apartment. Noting like annoying neighbors who already don’t like us!) and was wondering if maybe that could be an alternative to oil on the aluminum foil?

    1. I never use Crisco in this application (I only add it to melted chocolate to keep my chocolate soft!) so I really don’t know how it behaves when heated like this. If you find that it’s less likely to set off a smoke detector than olive oil, go for it. You could also try vegetable/corn/canola oil. They are probably less likely, too; and may have a bit better flavor. Lmk what you end up doing!

      1. Smoke points, yes. I didn’t even want to bring it all up. I mean…who cares if you set your smoke detector off. Your neighbors will live for 10 secs of loudness. Just make it and enjoy. They’ll survive, no doubt :) If you were running a biz out of your kitchen and did it every day, yes, getting really scientific about it all is practical. But you’re not. You’re making mac ‘n cheese. Enjoy! :)

  10. I tried these and they tasted pretty good! However I had trouble with the egg in that they fell apart a bit during that stage. Then because of that they didn’t get as breaded as they should. So they turned out but they don’t look as breaded as yours do. Any tips?

    1. If they fell apart when you were dipping them into the egg, then you probably should have made tighter balls or had them more chilled or try again with less ‘goopy’ mac and cheese. Try with more dried out/congealed/thickened mac n cheese.

      Reduce the sauce volume, chill more, add more noodles to the existing sauce volume – any number of things to get the balls more solid so they won’t fall apart.

  11. I just made these and they’re so good! I used some spicy mac n cheese I made last week (with a can of hot Rotel added) and they have just the right amount of kick. Next time I think I’ll have to add more shredded cheese and drain the Rotel first – it made the mac n cheese a bit watery and hard to form into balls that held together – but still very tasty!

  12. I have never liked the Kraft Mac N Cheese made with the powder, I like the deluxe. Am I going to have a problem with these melting and falling apart if I use my favorite?

    1. I haven’t tried it that way but I would say just make sure your leftovers are really…thick and congealed. Pretty much the opposite of how you’d ever want to eat it! Thick and gloppy and really well-formed/thickened from being in the fridge. If it’s soft or saucy, I can imagine that it would fall apart but not if it’s congealed. Please LMK how it goes!

  13. I had planned to make these for a little get together my stepdaughter wanted to have (several months ago). I had the Mac and cheese made but the get together fell through, so I tossed it in the freezer for later. I decided to pull it out this weekend and give it a shot. I formed the balls while the Mac and cheese was still slightly frozen and they held together extremely well. Both my husband and stepdaughter love cheese so these got great reviews–and of course I loved them too!

    1. I actually remember you telling me ages ago you were going to make these and assumed you did but now I understand what happened. Forming the balls while it was still slightly frozen sounds like a great idea and so glad your hubs and stepdaughter were happy little cheeseheads with this one :)

  14. I made these tonight and hubby and I thought they were really good! I love the idea of baking them vs. deep frying to save a few calories and fat. I was not able to shape into balls though b/c they started to fall apart. That may result in how cheesy/starchy (glue!) the mac & cheese is! Maybe, next time I will try a different version. I just cut them into cubes and they made it through the dipping stages well. Some of the cheese did bake out, but, with a little help I was able to remove them from the pans easily. Would love to incorporate some lump crabmeat into them next time, any suggestions?

    1. My mac ‘n cheese was pretty ‘dry’ as it goes, not overly ‘saucy’ so when it chilled in the fridge for a few days, it congealed and was pretty solid but if you had a saucy version to start with, I’d control it at that stage to make it less wet/saucy, so by the time it chills you have less liquid/mess to contend with :) As for the lump crabmeat, I would stir that in at the very end after you’ve cooked your mac n cheese and before the 2-day chill period. Then just bread as indicated. If you re-try, LMK how it goes! Thanks for the field report on this one!

  15. I made these tonight and they were AWESOME!!! I used the Kraft Homestyle mac n cheese (cheddar) with a handful of extra cheese because that’s how my kids like it, then it sat in the fridge for a few days. Freezer for 15ish minutes while I got the bowls of dip ready and made waffle batter. It mushed together really nicely for the balls and they stayed together in the oven great. I used panko bread crumbs and added 1 tsp of Morton’s Nature Seasoning. I also made alfredo from scratch for dipping. Unfortunately, I think I need to work out for an hour just to even out all of the cheese balls a little. ;)

    1. Thank you for trying this recipe, Lori, and for your detailed comment about what you did! I know it will be helpful to others who see it and I am so glad you loved them and the kids did too! And yes, a little extra gym time happens sometimes. For me, it’s not the mac and cheese that does me in; it’s the cookies :)

  16. I tried to make this and although the Mac and cheese was amazing (probably the best box I’ve ever made), it didn’t stay in the form of a ball. As soon as the cheese started to melt everything fell apart. I was thinking about shaping them, then putting them in the freezer until they are hard. Please help!!!

    1. Was everything EXTRMELY well-chilled? If you followed the directions on your mac and cheese box, made it to specification, then chilled it for at least a day or two, and then breaded it, not sure why it melted everywhere. Could just be that you bought/used a super cheesy version of mac n cheese? I didn’t have that issue with the Kraft I used. I would chill them, reshape them, bread them, try to bake them again and see if you can get the coating to firm up. Good luck!

  17. The reason your smoke alarm is going off is because you are using olive oil. Use vegetable oil next time – it has a higher smoke point than olive oil does – olive oil smokes/burns quicker than vegetable oil. Good basic recipe – thanks and good luck!

    1. Whether I use olive, vegetable, canola, coconut, or grapeseed – it goes off. World’s most sensitive smoke detector :)

  18. Oh I am so in love with these!! I love that you baked them instead of fried too. I had fried mac & cheese bites when I was in Vegas this summer and I’ve been wanting to recreate them and this looks like the perfect recipe!

  19. I did it! I did it! I made these and I LOVED THEM. Coming from someone who’s never had cheese curds, I now want them like crazy if they’re even remotely similar to these cheese balls. Holy moly. It was so stinkin’ easy to make these and they tasted so cheesy and crispy after they were baked–I loved it. I added a little panko to my breadcrumb mixture since I had a little extra to use up and I loved the added flaky crunch. These were so good, Averie!

    1. I am so thrilled they worked out so well for you! And that you made them! And now, one day, you need to have fried cheese curds. Well, maybe don’t even start :) Seriously glad these were a hit for you, Hayley!

  20. I am WI girl and yes I love my cheese curds!!! And that you bake these – yes I am going to be cooking up these!

  21. Averie that’s crazy! I run the Spanish programs in Chaska/Chan and my sister in law went to high school there. Small world! :)

  22. Your pictures just made me so hungry! Going to have to buy some macaroni so I can make these :)

  23. Dear AverieCooks.com,

    In response to this recipe, I pledge my eternal love to you.

    Sincerely, Me

    P.S. Do you think this recipe would work with panko breakdcrumbs?

    1. Probably would! I mean, breadcrumbs are breadcrumbs in an application like this. For some things it really matters but for these, I don’t really think it would :)

  24. I am a Wisconsin girl so I get your love of all things fried cheese! My husband is from Eden prairie–where are you from? Never would have guessed you were a midwest girl–you are so CA girl pretty! ;)

    1. My parents live in Chanhassen/Excelsior! Small world! I left MN in ’97 and have been living in a warm climate ever since. So after all this time, I sort of feel like I’ve lived two lives – one in MN and one out here!

  25. OMG Averie!!!! Those are the things that my dreams are made of!!

    My bf and I were talking about making gourmet mac and cheese soon, so these will have to be made with the leftovers!

    I adore all things cheese, and of course all things fried :-)

  26. I refuse to believe there are ppl out there that have never had fried cheese! Love everything about this recipe!!

    1. I know, crazy, right! But there are some people who write to say they’ve never had banana bread! So I take nothing for granted any more!

  27. This is brilliant! And it’s so nice to know that you’re a fellow cheese-lover! I admit to enjoying the occasional boxed version of macaroni & cheese (who can resist?). This recipe is right up my gooey, melted, cheesy alley. Love that it’s baked too! :D

    1. Baking is just so much better b/c it stinks less and less risk of grease burns on my forearms as I try to flip things while they fry. And oh yes, it’s even a little healthier :)

  28. Averie, all, could you possibly help with two questions:
    1) How much time is enough, so that we get a light golden brown colour? I see some burnt food parts on the picture (and I have home a kid with a sensitive stomach to burnt food).
    2) What low-caloric version of cheese would you suggest? In Europe, it’s camamber that is prepared this way. I’m looking for a less-fatty cheese and maybe you have a tip for me?

    Thank you so much! I look forward to trying out these nice balls.

    1. Well it’s going to depend on your oven. As I indicated in the recipe, “Bake for 10 minutes (don’t be surprised if your smoke detector goes off), remove trays from oven and add 1 tablespoon of oil to each tray and smear it around, flip balls over, and bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until browned and golden.” It also depends on how browned you like your food.

      I don’t know about low cal cheeses as I really don’t buy them but I’m sure whatever you have available & like will be fine.

  29. Very creative! My family would gobble these right up!! They loft there blue box mac and cheese and making them into balls is genius!!

    1. And if you ever have leftover mac ‘n cheese and wonder what to do with it, this takes care of that problem!

  30. I think you have been reading my mind! I looove cheese and fried cheese OMG! I have literally been dreaming about fried mac n cheese for weeks now! I think you have officially slapped me with cheesy inspiration!

  31. Whenever I hear of “fried” mac ‘n cheese, I think of this place called Sumo Grub http://sumogrub.com/. You can read it for yourself, but they have a six-food-under challenge that involves eating 6 deep-fried patties, tons of deep-fried oreos and twinkies, and–yes–deep-fried mac ‘n cheese, in about 30 minutes. I have to admit that after seeing my friends attempt this challenge, I’m much more a fan of your baked variety!

  32. How many times have I opened up my glass storage containers to find a brick of mac n’ cheese inside? Like you, I don’t want to waste, so I usually smush it around and heat it on the stove with milk and butter to make it creamy again. This recipe of yours is a great idea! My boys definitely like macaroni and cheese so this would be fun! On that note, I made mac n’ cheese for dinner tonight from scratch – BEFORE I read your post! :-) It’s bound to happen! :-)

    I do like cheese, but it does not like me. Growing up, however, we were all about Kraft out of the box, Velveeta cheese and really anything that came from a package! The Great White North where fresh food was not readily available in January when it was 40 below zero! We actually melted the Velveeta and used it for fondue! :-P

  33. Hey Averie,
    I got my new Olive Wood Paddle Board from West Elm today and boy is it gorgeous! Can’t thank you enough for posting about it last week. Just wish I’d ordered all 3, they are really beautiful. Thanks and have a safe wonderful day!

    Angela :)

  34. What a creative way to use Kraft macaroni and cheese. I think I lived on that for awhile when I was younger. I am so happy my smoke detector isn’t that sensitive, as it would be going off all the time.

  35. These are awesome Averie. I never know what to do with leftover mac and cheese. Nobody ever eats it, and I throw it away a week later. THIS IS GENIUS. Thanks!!!!!

    1. And now you’ll never have to waste it again. I’ve already had a few moms thank me. As a mom, we ‘get’ this. It’s like…now what?! Well, now, you know :)

  36. oh my gosh, these are what jason and i always get at restaurants! they’re so addicting! i love that you made it at home – we’re in trouble ;)

    1. Remember last week when you said something about cheese and I said wait, it’s coming…this was it!

  37. I know macaroni and cheese only from American movies as we don’t eat it in my country. I was always curious how it tastes :) Looks good for sure.

  38. This is heaven, in cheese form. I’m a HUGE fan of all kinds of fried cheese, but I’ve never had fried mac — going to fix that! :)

    1. I bet you make beer-related things with yours! my silpat was wondering why their was no sugar on it and salt instead? lol

  39. I’ve only had fried mac n cheese once! And it was at this little tiny restaurant ACROSS THE STREET from my apartment. SO close to the fried cheese. Love it. And oh… you guessed it… I dipped them in ketchup. Oh dear god I’m strange. Averie, yours are SO gooey…. so cheesy… so photogenic! Geez, how do you make friend balls of cheese look pretty on camera? And kraft mac n cheese… nothing beats it! when I was growing up my mom would mix it with canned tuna and that was literally my FAVORITE dinner.

    I love cheese. Especially brie and goat cheese. Goat cheese on salads with dried cranberries and pecans. Brie cheese melted with crescent rolls and apple slices. HEAVEN. I dig cheese.

    1. Suffice to say that this photo shoot was ummmm, not exactly point and shoot :) Girl. Well, you know. Brown. Fried, weird texture, highly contrasting colors, shiny yet dry, different surfaces. Yeah. FUN!

      Tuna + boxed mac ‘n cheese. Are you sure you didnt grow up in MN right next to me? I swear we have the same roots! My mom would make some mean canned tuna salad and Kraft. As a mom now, I get it :) Goat cheese, brie, dried cranberries. Ahh yes, this is the California good life. The rural MN life was all about some Velveeta, Jif, Kraft, and Chicken of the Sea :)

  40. You’ve just made me crazy to taste fried cheese. I’ll be visiting my daughter in Wisconsin next week, so I have a feeling I can find some there, and then I’ll come home and make yours.

    1. I wish you could bring me one home! Omg Ive wanted to fly back to MN or WI *just* for a cheese curd and come right back to sunny Socal weather!

  41. I knew there had to be something I could do with that leftover Kraft instead of just let it sit in my fridge for a week. These look great! :)

  42. What a fun recipe, my nieces would inhale these. :-) Cheese sauces are awesome, especially the raw vegan veggie-based blender versions.

  43. I am a new WI resident and ABSOLUTELY OBSESSED with fried cheese curds. As in, I am on a mission to find the best ones the city has to offer. A tough job, I know, but someone has to do it. I’ve always wanted to try making them myself (because really, can I have enough fried cheese? Probably, but I don’t want to), but share your aversion to stinking my tiny apartment up for days on end. What a fun twist and a creative idea for the cheese lovers – fried or otherwise – among us. Love!

    1. You live in WI now? Well, have fun eating your way thru all those cheese curds! The WI and MN (state fair!) cheese curds are my faves ever and I wish I could go back there just to have one bite – and then fly back to sunny San Diego. That weather….oh boy.

    1. Or as a party, either casual or more ‘fancy’ and put them on little toothpicks on a fancy tray. Lots of ways to take them!

  44. fried cheese snacks are my weakness too, and I love to make baked versions myself. while I have had mac + cheese balls, I have never made my own… yours look fantastic!

  45. My stepdaughter is having a few of her college friends over this weekend to watch movies and “hang out”. I was thinking I should make them a little something and this recipe came just in time! She loves cheese (so does my husband-a chip off the ole block!). So I’ll field test them on some 19 year olds. They sound great and fun to make too!

    1. They’re fun to make, just messing. Rolling around noodles in flour and eggs tends to be that way :) But I think these will be a hit, especially with a bunch of college kids! You could even make them more ‘fancy’ and serve them on fancy toothpicks with the fringey tops. I love those kinds of toothpicks. Lol

      Lmk how they go over!

  46. This is possibly the best thing ever. Ever!! TJ’s has mac and cheese balls as a frozen app that I LOVE but I’ve always wondered if I could recreate it at home… now I can and I’m SO doing this! Look how oozy and cheesy they are! And I love that you used Spongebob noodles. How come the shaped noodles seem to taste better than the regular ol’ elbow mac? Or is that just me? ;)

    1. I totally think the shaped noodles taste better! I really do! I swear when they expeller-press out the shapes, it must do something to the molecules of the food making it taste better. I am not even just saying that; I think the pasta improves when it’s in shapes like that! And yes I know those TJs balls and I’ve never bought them but have stared at them many times in the freezer case and now, I can just make my own!

  47. Haha I love that you warned us to take a Zanax beforehand. And I’m right there with you…I’ve never met a fried cheese that I don’t like. These would make me feel a smidgen better for indulging in them since they are baked. And they look just as good as fried, so hopefully I’ll fool my taste buds. :)

    1. The sound of my smoke detector is SO ridic loud! I live in a condo and it just SCREAMS and bounces off the walls of the fairly small space and it’s just insanity! I mean it’s over the top! Hope you enjoy the balls and yes, you will definitely be able to fool your tastebuds with the baked not fried version!

  48. Yay! No more leftover mac & cheese problem! My kiddos will love these little bites. If I won’t eat them myself first, that is :)

    1. Oh you know what I mean as a mom then…that sort of gloppy, god what am I going to do with this stuff but I’m too cheap to throw it out mac ‘n cheese…now you have a solution for it :)

      1. My toughts exactly! Us moms need tricks like this up our sleeves :) Thanks, Averie!

  49. Normally I’d say why bake over fry but in this case I can see the benefit. I don’t mind frying but I do totally understand your gripe about waking up to the previous days smell lol.

    1. And in my small condo it just seems to get trapped into the walls and like 5 days later I can still smell it..not even kidding. lol

  50. What do you mean “if” there’s a fried cheese on the menu?!? You mean that isn’t standard in San Diego? Here, there are at least three different fried cheese options on every menu. I think it’s a state law. ;)

    I would be afraid to make these and bring them to any family affair, because I think I’d lose and arm. Everyone would be grabbing for them before I could set the plate down. I want these NOW.

  51. Boxed mac and cheese is one of those things you can never re-create yourself, there’s just something about that powdered cheese! And big balls of breaded and baked mac and cheese, sign me up!! : )

  52. Jason would LOVE those. He is all about some boxed Mac n’ Cheese LOL. I haven’t had friend cheese in eons. I always loved fried mozz sticks though.

    1. I actually love boxed mac ‘n cheese. The nostalgic quality is just HUGE for me! Mozz sticks after a night of drinking, cmon, that’s the stuff that college & early 20something memories are made of :)

  53. These are great! I made something similar but in lasagna sized slices for an entree and put some marinara on top. I’m definitely doing these for our Christmas Eve appetizer spread!

    1. They would be great with some of those fancy toothpicks with the fringe on top. Spear them with those and put them on a tray with some pretty bowls of dip/marinara and you’ve got yourself mac ‘n cheese gone fancy :) I love your idea of a bigger slices/pan-sized. Probably a time saver!

    1. Thanks for the pin and honestly, if I could have a real fried hush puppy right now, omg I’d be so happy! There are two regional foods I love that are fried…cheese curds from MN/WI and hush puppies from the South. Soooo good!

  54. So you finally made them and didn’t even have to fry them. They look awesomeeeee! I know what you mean about frying. I fried last night and smelled it all night and now this morning as if it just happened. I need an industrial-strength exhaust in the kitchen.

    1. And the smell just gets embedded!!! into my small little condo walls for days! The air is so dry here and everything is so dried out and porous, it just soaks it up and it’s soooo stinky for like 5 days later!

  55. I have the same aversion to frying things in our house. It just makes everything stink for so many days. My husband runs an extension cord out to the deck and does his frying there when he has the fried snack cravings. My youngest absolutely loves mac and cheese and that is all he usually orders at any place we eat out. He was in 7th heaven when we tried the fried mac and cheese balls at Cheesecake Factory. I am going to be the best mom when I make him this awesome baked version! These look delicious and very easy to do:-)

    1. They’re a little bit of a project, just b/c you have to make all the balls and roll them, but if your son loved the CCF balls, you will definitely get mom of the year award for these! And what I wouldn’t give for a deck, yard, or anything. Urban condo high above the sky and whatever goes on in here, stays trapped in the walls! It’s just so gross to think about frying b/c it just lingers for like a week! Ick! haha!

      Keep me posted on if you end up making these!