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Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Balls

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Cook Time8 minutes
Total Time18 minutes
Cooking Temperature380 degrees Fahrenheit

The exact cook time can vary. Read below for our tips!

Want to use up some leftover macaroni and cheese? Air fryer mac and cheese balls are definitely worth the effort!

Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, these tasty mac and cheese balls in the air fryer make a great snack or appetizer!

mac and cheese balls on white plate with chopped parsley around
These mac and cheese balls are so good!

Ingredients

Here are the ingredients that you’ll ned to make these mac and cheese balls:

  • Macaroni and Cheese – This recipe works great with leftover cold mac and cheese. The mac and cheese should be on the dry side, not too saucy.
  • Egg – For the coating.
  • Panko Breadcrumbs – For the coating. Alternatively, use regular breadcrumbs.
  • Salt – For flavor; add more or less to taste.
  • Garlic Powder – For extra flavor.
  • Black Pepper – For flavor; add more or less to taste.
  • Oil Spray – To help the mac and cheese balls crisp and get golden brown.

Recipe Tips

Before you make these mac n cheese balls in the air fryer, take a moment to read through these recipe tips so that you know all the tricks and tips for success!

  • It’s important to use cold mac and cheese that is quite sticky – that’s why we recommend using leftovers. If you don’t have any leftovers, you can make mac and cheese, but you will have to let it cool in the fridge for a couple hours before working with it.
  • You can use homemade or store-bought mac and cheese – it’s up to you.
  • Forming the balls in your hand may take some practice and a little extra strength. It’s a bit like modeling clay. Just keep squeezing the noodles in your palm.
  • When rolling the mac and cheese balls in the egg and breadcrumbs, remember to be gentle!
  • We use avocado oil in a spray bottle to help the breading get a little extra brown. We don’t recommend skipping this step!
  • Don’t overcrowd the air fryer. Otherwise, the mac and cheese balls may not crisp and brown evenly.
  • Since every air fryer is different and the size of your mac and cheese balls might be smaller or larger than ours, the exact cooking times might vary slightly. The balls are done, when the breading is golden brown and crispy.

We use this air fryer for our recipes and it has been great.

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Step by Step Instructions

If you’re wondering how to make air fryer mac and cheese balls, you can follow the recipe process photos in this section.

This way, you can see exactly how we made our macaroni and cheese balls!

If you don’t like visuals, you can skip ahead to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

white bowl of orange mac and cheese on white counter top
Start with cooled mac and cheese in a bowl.

Reminder: Be sure to use cooled macaroni and cheese. Using freshly made mac and cheese will not work as well because it is usually not as sticky.

Also, make sure the mac and cheese you use isn’t too saucy. This would make it difficult to form balls.

bowls on white counter top of macaroni and cheese egg and breadcrumbs
Prepare the breading station.

Get two bowls. Crack the egg into one and whisk it with a fork.

Add the panko breadcrumbs, salt, garlic powder, and black pepper to the other bowl and mix these ingredients together with another clean fork.

ball of macaroni and cheese formed in hand over top of bowls and counter top
Form the mac and cheese balls.

Take approximately 1/4 cup (or slightly less) of the cold mac and cheese and form it into a firm ball with your clean, dry hands.

You may need to squeeze a little to get the noodles to stick together.

mac and cheese ball in bowl of egg wash on counter
Dip the ball in the egg.

Roll the mac and cheese ball in the egg and let any excess egg drip off.

mac and cheese ball in bowl of breadcrumbs on white countertop
Then coat the ball in panko.

Then roll the mac and cheese around in the panko breadcrumbs until completely coated.

breaded mac and cheese balls on grey plate sitting on white countertop
Place the breaded mac and cheese balls onto a plate.

Place the fully breaded mac and cheese ball on a clean, dry plate and repeat the steps with the rest of the macaroni and cheese.

You should end up with 8-9 small breaded balls.

mac and cheese balls on grey plate with oil spray bottle in front
Lightly spray the balls with oil spray.

At this time, preheat the air fryer to 380 degrees Fahrenheit.

Then lightly spray the mac and cheese balls with oil spray – this will help them turn golden brown.

uncooked mac and cheese balls in black air fryer tray on counter
Place the mac and cheese balls in the air fryer.

When the air fryer is hot, place the breaded balls into the air fryer so they are not touching.

cooked mac and cheese balls in black air fryer tray on counter
Air fry the balls until the breading is golden brown.

Air fry the mac and cheese balls at 380 degrees Fahrenheit for about 8-9 minutes total until they are golden brown and fully heated through.

Gently flip them halfway through the cooking time and spray them with more oil spray (if desired).

Since every air fryer cooks slightly differently, your exact cooking time can vary.

breaded mac and cheese balls on white plate with chopped parsley
These crispy mac and cheese balls are ready to be enjoyed!

When done, carefully remove the mac and cheese balls from the air fryer and serve. Enjoy (but be careful, they are hot)!

Storage Tips

These mac and cheese balls definitely taste best frest, but you can store any leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

They will likely get slightly soft due to the fridge moisture, but you can reheat them in the air fryer to bring them back to life.

Related Recipes

For more homemade, deliciously breaded air fryer foods, have a look at these recipes!

breaded mac and cheese balls on white plate with chopped parsley

Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Balls

Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Balls are a delicious, cheesy dish made from leftover mac and cheese. These breaded balls make for a tasty snack or appetizer!
5 from 2 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 18 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 2 cups mac and cheese, cooked and cooled (see notes)
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, optional
  • avocado oil spray

Instructions

  • Get two bowls. Crack the egg into one and whisk it with a fork. In the other bowl, add the panko breadcrumbs, salt, garlic powder, and black pepper and mix well.
    1 large egg, 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • Take about 1/4 cup (or slightly less) of cold mac and cheese and form it into a firm ball using your clean, dry hands. You might have to squeeze a little so that the noodles adhere to one another.
    2 cups mac and cheese
  • Roll the mac and cheese ball in the egg, allowing any excess egg to drip off. Then roll the mac and cheese around in the panko breadcrumbs until completely coated.
  • Place the fully breaded mac and cheese ball on a clean, dry plate and repeat the steps with the remaining mac and cheese. In the end, you should have 8-9 small breaded balls.
  • Preheat the air fryer to 380 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Lightly spray the macaroni and cheese balls with oil spray – this will help them turn golden brown. Place the breaded balls into the preheated air fryer. They should not be touching.
    avocado oil spray
  • Air fry the mac and cheese balls at 380 degrees Fahrenheit for 8-9 minutes total until they are golden brown and fully heated through. Gently flip them halfway through the cooking time and spray them with more oil spray (if desired). Because every air fryer cooks slightly differently, your exact cooking time can vary.
  • When done, carefully remove the mac and cheese balls from the air fryer and serve. Enjoy (but careful, they'll be hot)!

Notes

  • This recipe works best with leftover mac and cheese that you stored in the fridge. If you don’t have any leftovers, you can make some mac an cheese – but make sure to let it cool completely before working with it.
  • Don’t use macaroni and cheese that is too saucy. It would be difficult to form into balls.
  • You can use homemade or store-bought mac and cheese – it’s completely up to you. When we made the recipe to photograph, we used “Kraft Dinner” mac and cheese (available in Canada) which is the same as “Kraft Macaroni and Cheese” available in the US.
  • Don’t overcrowd the air fryer. Otherwise, the mac and cheese balls may not crisp and brown evenly.
  • Since every air fryer is different and the size of your mac and cheese balls might be smaller or larger than ours, the exact cooking times may vary slightly. 

Nutrition

Calories: 318kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 633mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g

This nutritional information has been estimated by an online nutrition calculator. It should only be seen as a rough calculation and not a replacement for professional dietary advice.

Cuisine American
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This recipe was contributed by
Lisa is the founder and main creator for Simply Air Fryer. As the author of two successful food blogs, she's usually found measuring ingredients, trying out new combinations, or hiding behind the camera snapping photos of food. She bought her first air fryer over 2 years ago and has since used it over 350+ times. With the help of her trusty sidekick (husband), she's created and tested lots of recipes for Simply Air Fryer.

2 thoughts on “Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Balls”

  1. Hello Lisa… I made your cheese balls and my wife, daughter and granddaughter loved them. As you pointrd out, it was a little tricky preparing them so I did a little twist you may want to incorporate into your notes.

    I used refrigerated boxed mac and cheese and after attempting to roll them I portioned them and put them in the freezer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, they rolled and held like a charm. I then did the egg and panko per the recipe. Next time I’ll probably go 15 minutes in the freezer.

    End result… cripsy, gooey and delicious!

    Kind regards,

    Nick

    Reply

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