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Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Balls

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Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Balls

If you’re looking for a tasty snack or appetizer, air fryer mac and cheese balls are the answer. You only need some leftover mac and cheese, a few basic ingredients, and your trusty air fryer.

This easy recipe transforms simple mac and cheese into crispy, cheesy bites that everyone will love. Just coat your mac and cheese balls in breadcrumbs, pop them into the air fryer, and you’ll have a delicious treat in no time. These are perfect for parties, family gatherings, or just an afternoon snack.

Ready to make your own air fryer mac and cheese balls? Let’s dive into the steps and tips to get the perfect crunch and gooey center every time.

Exact Ingredients (+ Possible Substitutes)

Macaroni and Cheese: You can use homemade or store-bought mac and cheese. If you need a substitute, try using a creamy risotto or another cheesy pasta dish.

Eggs: Beaten eggs help the bread crumbs stick. If you’re allergic to eggs or prefer vegan options, use flaxseed meal mixed with water.

Panko Bread Crumbs: These make the balls extra crispy. Regular bread crumbs work too, but panko is crunchier.

Seasonings: Basic seasonings like salt and garlic powder add flavor. You can adjust these to your taste or try adding other spices like paprika or cayenne for a kick.

Cooking Spray: Use non-stick cooking spray to ensure your mac and cheese balls don’t stick to the air fryer basket. If you don’t have cooking spray, brush the balls lightly with oil.

A simple ingredients table can help organize your prep:

IngredientAmountPossible Substitutes
Macaroni and Cheese2 cupsCheesy pasta, risotto
Eggs2 beatenFlaxseed meal + water
Panko Bread Crumbs1 cupRegular bread crumbs
Salt1/2 tspAdjust to taste
Garlic Powder1/2 tspOther spices like paprika
Cooking SprayAs neededLight oil brushing

Following these instructions ensures a tasty and crispy result!

Instructions

Step 1: Prepare Ingredients
Gather your ingredients. You will need the following:

  • Leftover mac and cheese
  • Beaten eggs
  • Panko bread crumbs
  • Regular bread crumbs
  • Salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Nonstick cooking spray

Step 2: Form the Balls
Scoop spoonfuls of leftover mac and cheese and roll them into balls. Place these balls on a clean plate and freeze for about 30 minutes.

Step 3: Preheat Air Fryer
Set your air fryer to 360°F (175°C) to preheat.

Step 4: Bread the Balls
In a bowl, mix panko, bread crumbs, salt, and garlic powder. Dip each frozen mac and cheese ball into the beaten eggs, then roll them in the bread crumb mixture to coat them evenly.

Step 5: Arrange in Air Fryer
Lightly spray your air fryer basket with nonstick cooking spray. Place the breaded mac and cheese balls in the basket in a single layer. Make sure they do not touch each other.

Step 6: Cook the Balls
Cook for 6-10 minutes depending on your air fryer. Open the air fryer halfway through and flip the balls. Lightly spray the flipped side with nonstick cooking spray and continue cooking until golden brown.

Step 7: Serve
Once cooked, remove the mac and cheese balls from the air fryer. Let them cool slightly before serving. Enjoy these tasty bites with your favorite dipping sauce.

Tips, Tricks & Storing

Tips for Perfect Balls:

  1. Freeze Before Frying: Freeze the mac and cheese balls for at least 30 minutes before air frying. This helps them hold their shape.
  2. Lightly Spray with Oil: Use a light coat of non-stick cooking spray to get a crispy outside.
  3. Flip Halfway: Turn the balls halfway through cooking to ensure even crispiness.

Tricks for Great Flavor:

  • Season Your Breadcrumbs: Add garlic powder, salt, and other seasonings to your breadcrumb mix for added flavor.
  • Cheese Variations: Experiment with different cheeses or cheese blends for unique tastes.

Storing and Reheating:

  • Refrigerate: Store leftover mac and cheese balls in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Freeze: For longer storage, freeze the balls in a single layer on a baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer them to a zip-top bag. They can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Reheat: To reheat, use the air fryer at 350°F (175°C) for 5-7 minutes until heated through and crispy. Avoid microwave reheating, as it can make them soggy.

Extra Tips:

  • Use parchment paper in your air fryer to prevent sticking.
  • Ensure your air fryer basket isn’t overcrowded. Cook in batches if necessary.

Using these tips and tricks, you’ll enjoy delicious and crispy mac and cheese balls every time.

Recipe Variations & Serving Suggestions

Recipe Variations

Spicy Twist: Mix some chili flakes or hot sauce into the macaroni and cheese before forming the balls.

Bacon Lover: Add chopped, crispy bacon to the mixture for extra flavor.

Cheesy Boost: Try using different types of cheese like mozzarella, cheddar, or gouda to enhance the taste.

Herb Infusion: Add fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, or parsley to the breading mix for a flavorful twist.

Serving Suggestions

Dipping Sauces: Serve with a variety of dips like marinara sauce, ranch, or spicy mayo for extra zest.

Side Options: Pair with a fresh salad or vegetable sticks to balance the richness of the mac and cheese balls.

Garnish Ideas: Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese, chopped chives, or a dash of paprika before serving.

Party Platter: Serve alongside other snacks like chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, or mini sliders for a fun party platter.

Feel free to get creative and make these air fryer mac and cheese balls your own with these variations and serving ideas!