Fifteen Spatulas

Two-bite Mac and Cheese Cups

Mac and Cheese Cups Recipe @fifteenspatulas

Now you can hold mac and cheese in your hands.

You’re welcome.

Seriously though, how cool are these macaroni and cheese cups? Bring them to your 4th of July party and I promise people will rave about these little bites. We Americans have a crazy obsession with macaroni and cheese. You just can’t go wrong with it.

I mean, can you think of a more American dish? A burger, possibly…but no, I think mac and cheese wins.

Macaroni and Cheese Cups @fifteenspatulas

And since you all know I’m addicted to making appetizers in my muffin tins (evidence here), it was time to take this American classic and present it in a fun, new way.

The trick to pulling these off is to make them more cheesy than saucy. That way they hold together, and you can hold your mac and cheese cup in one hand and your glass of wine in the other! That’s classy. We’re setting new standards today.

Macaroni and Cheese Cupcakes @fifteenspatulas

As with any dish with few ingredients, it’s important to use good quality components. This dish is all about the CHEESE!

In this recipe I like to do a blend of Cracker Barrel Aged Reserve for an earthy, aged sharp flavor, and Cracker Barrel sharp yellow as well (because that one is my favorite). They each have different flavor profiles and team up nicely to add two dimensions of cheesiness to this appetizer.

…plus, I confess that I always have a really hard time deciding which kind of Cracker Barrel cheese to use. I have six different kinds in my fridge right now. I’m not kidding. So my solution in these kinds of situations is to use more than one.

Cheddar Mac and Cheese Cups @fifteenspatulas

You guys know that I only specify brands for ingredients if it’s essential, and Cracker Barrel is the way to go here. They’ve been committed to cheesemaking for the past 60 years, and they really know their cheese.

After you’ve grated your cheddar, melt a few tablespoons of butter with some paprika in a big pot:

Cheddar Cheese Mac and Cheese Bites @fifteenspatulas

Add flour to make a roux, then whisk in some milk, al dente macaroni, and your cheese.

That’s right, six ingredients! Pasta, butter, cheese, milk, flour, and paprika. So easy.

Cram big moundfuls of the macaroni into muffin cups and get ready to send them into the oven:

Mac and Cheese Bites @fifteenspatulas

Bake them until they’re all bubbly and gooey, and top them with some snipped chives or chopped scallion greens:

Baked Mac and Cheese Cups @fifteenspatulas

Let them set up and cool for about 10 minutes before attempting to take them out, then serve up the cheesy goodness.

I hope you all have a great Independence Day! Cheers to America. I truly feel so blessed to live in this country.

And PS, if you’re not from America, make these anyway =) You’ll love them!

Two Bite Mac and Cheese Cups Recipe

Yield: 24 mac and cheese cups

Ingredients:

8 oz elbow macaroni
2 tbsp butter
¼ tsp paprika
2 tbsp flour
½ cup milk
8 oz Cracker Barrel aged reserve, grated
4 oz Cracker Barrel sharp cheese, grated

Directions:

Grease a nonstick mini muffin pan very well with butter or nonstick cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat, then cook the pasta for 2 minutes less than the package says. My elbow macaroni said to cook for 7 minutes, so I drained it after 5. After you've cooked and drained the pasta, return the empty pasta pot to the heat and turn the heat down to medium. Melt the butter and add the paprika. Add the flour and stir the mixture around for 2 minutes. While whisking, add the milk. The mixture will be very thick, but that’s intentional. Just make sure you have stirred out any lumps. Remove the pot from the heat and add the cheeses and drained pasta, stirring it all together until the cheese and sauce are well distributed.

Portion your mac and cheese into the muffin cups, either with a spoon or a 3-tbsp cookie scoop. Pack the mac and cheese into the muffin cups with your fingers really well. If you don’t pack the mac and cheese down, they won’t hold their shape when you take them out after baking, and you certainly don't want them to fall apart.

Bake the mac and cheese cups for 15 minutes until bubbling and gooey. Remove them to a wire rack to cool for at least 10 minutes, then carefully run a plastic knife or toothpick (assuming you need to not destroy the nonstick coating on your pan) around the edges to loosen. Remove the mac and cheese cups from the pan and garnish with chopped chives or scallion greens. Enjoy!

Disclosure: I am currently a brand ambassador for Cracker Barrel Cheese. I only work with brands that I would tell you about regardless of whether or not I was working with them. I have been compensated for my time but all opinions are honest and my own.

48 comments on “Two-bite Mac and Cheese Cups

  1. OMG TOO Cute!!! I know my hubs and daughter will love these!

  2. These are so cute!!! I only have one question: does the cheese sort of congeal along the sides, or get too crispy? I feel like that might be a problem, because when I make mac ‘n’ cheese, for the most part, it’s amazing mac ‘n’ cheese, plain and simple, but along the edges where the pan heats up it gets crispier.

    • Thanks Myrtle! Mine weren’t crispy on the sides at all. It’s not ooey gooey dripping with cheese sauce either because these are intentionally more cheesy than saucy, but they aren’t crispy. Somewhere in the middle! Hope that helps =)

  3. I love this! My kiddos will go crazy for these cups!

  4. Aw these mac & cheese cups are so adorable! I love mini-sized foods, and mini mac & cheese that you can hold in your hands? I’ll be more than happy to eat that! (:

  5. Oh, yum!! Mac and cheese is my fave, so I would probably eat too many of these 😉

  6. Holy cow! This looks so delicious!

  7. Nothing says America like mac and cheese! Oh, and apple pie :) Looks delicious.

  8. These could be dangerous! I can see snacking on these before they even make it to the table! My kids would be thrilled to eat mac and cheese with their hands!

  9. What a great party idea!

  10. Norma - Platanos, Mangoes and Me!

    I am in so much love…i cannot wait to try these…thanks so much!!!

  11. Heck yes I love, love these and my kids are going to really appreciate them!! They are so cute!!

  12. I’ve seen a ton of variations on this and it always makes me want to make some. Not sure why I haven’t yet! Yours are adorable. Such a fun idea :)

  13. Oh yeah, these look awesome! I love a little two-bite treat and mac ‘n cheese is a perfect idea for an easy, hearty appetizer! Great recipe, Joanne. Enjoy your weekend!

  14. I made 3-cheese mac and cheese yesterday and it was the first mac and cheese I’d made in years. We have a young one visiting and I figured I couldn’t go wrong if I had mac and cheese as a backup. I love your little cups and wish I’d thought of that yesterday. :)

  15. These are way too cute, Joanne!! Definitely would make a hit in a party!!

  16. Can’t wait to make these. Don’t know how many will be left for other people to have!!! Thanks for the great new way to eat my favorite comfort food.

  17. So tiny…they’re like mac and cheese vitamins.

  18. Great idea for one of my favorite foods. I love this idea for a party! Great photos and awesome post!

  19. Can I make these the night before to bring to a party?

    • Hi Erica, Sure, just make sure to refrigerate them overnight to avoid spoilage, and they may need to be warmed up a bit before the party. I’m not a fan of them cold, but room temp is fine.

  20. Mine were so greasy they dripped all over my oven. They look cute but I hate cleaning my oven.

  21. Can these be made in advance and frozen? Love the idea for my casual wedding!

    • Hi Stef, while I haven’t done it, cheese generally doesn’t freeze well (after it has thawed it has a watery, clumped texture), so I don’t recommend this dish to be frozen. I hope you have a wonderful wedding though, congratulations!

  22. I made these and pushed the center down a bit to form a “well”, then baked them a little then added hamburger bbq that I had left over and then baked them until done. yum!!!!!

  23. I want to make these for a card game on Saturday – I’m worried after baking they would be dried out – do they lose moisture?

    • Hi Lindsey, they’re not saucy mac and cheese cups, but I wouldn’t call them dry (it depends on your standards I suppose). The noodles don’t get hard, if that’s what you’re wondering.

  24. Joanne,

    I want to take these to an office casual luncheon. Do you see any qualms with making them to the point of baking and then storing overnight in the fridge? There is an oven at work I can bake them the 15 min required before the luncheon begins. I just wouldn’t have time to do all the prep at work. Thanks!

  25. does it make a difference if you cook these a day early?

  26. Sherry Osborn

    LOVE this recipe!

  27. Did you use a mini muffin pan or the regular size muffin pan?

  28. I am going to try this, but based on the pictures, it looks very dry so I will probably adjust the ingredients to my taste.

  29. Can these be made ahead and then reheated? They look awesome

    • Yes, I have done that. I’m not sure I would recommend that for a party though, as reheating can be tricky. If you microwave too long they can fall apart or get too dry.

Comments are closed.