Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Balls

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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
Air fryer mac and cheese balls are so good!

Recipe Tips

Before you make these mac n cheese balls in the air fryer, you should quickly 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 we recommend using leftovers. If you don’t have any leftovers, you can make mac and cheese but will have to cool it 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 might take some practice and a bit of extra force. It’s kind of 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 would recommend that you don’t skip this step!
  • 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.

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 just how we made our macaroni and cheese balls in the air fryer!

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: Make sure to use cooled mac and cheese. Using freshly made mac and cheese will not work as well since it is usually not as sticky.

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

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

Add 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 cold mac and cheese and form it into a firm ball using your clean and dry hands.

You might have to squeeze quite a bit so that the noodles adhere to one another.

mac and cheese ball in bowl of egg wash on counter
Coat the ball in 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 mac and cheese. In the end, you should have 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 get golden brown.

uncooked mac and cheese balls in black air fryer tray on counter
Place the mac and cheese balls into 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 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 for enjoying!

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

Storage Tips

You can store leftover air-fried mac and cheese balls in a sealed container in the fridge.

The outside should stay relatively crispy since they don’t have a ton of moisture inside but don’t expect them to be as crispy as when they are fresh out of the air fryer.

To reheat, we’d recommend the air fryer again since the microwave might make them soft.

Related Recipes

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

breaded mac and cheese balls on white plate with chopped parsley

Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Balls

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 18 minutes

Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Balls are the perfect cheesy, crispy snack. A great use for leftover mac and cheese, these breaded balls make for a tasty snack or appetizer!

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

  1. Get two bowls. Crack the egg in one and whisk it with a fork. Add panko breadcrumbs, salt, garlic powder, and black pepper to the other bowl and mix these ingredients together with another clean fork.
  2. Take approximately 1/4 cup (or slightly less) of cold mac and cheese and form it into a firm ball using your clean and dry hands. You might have to squeeze quite a bit so that the noodles adhere to one another.
  3. Roll the mac and cheese ball in the egg and let any excess egg drip off. Then roll the mac and cheese around in the panko breadcrumbs until completely coated.
  4. Place the fully breaded mac and cheese ball on a clean, dry plate and repeat the steps with the rest of the mac and cheese. In the end, you should have 8-9 small breaded balls.
  5. Preheat the air fryer to 380 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Lightly spray the mac and cheese balls with oil spray - this will help them get golden brown. Place the breaded balls into the preheated air fryer so they are not touching.
  7. 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). Since every air fryer cooks slightly differently, your exact cooking time can vary.
  8. 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 fully and then place it in the fridge for a couple of hours before working with it.
  • You can use homemade or store-bought mac and cheese - it's completely up to you. When we made the recipe to photograph it, we used "Kraft Dinner" mac and cheese (available in Canada) which is the same as "Kraft Macaroni and Cheese" available in the USA.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 318Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 633mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 2gSugar: 6gProtein: 9g

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. The exact values can vary depending on the specific ingredients used.

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