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


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


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.

Leave a comment:


  1. Averie @ Averie Cooks posted on June 27, 2013 at 12:15 pm (#)

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

    • Joanne Ozug replied on June 27th, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      Thanks Averie! They were fun to make!

  2. Myrtle posted on June 27, 2013 at 2:21 pm (#)

    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.

    • Joanne Ozug replied on June 27th, 2013 at 3:21 pm

      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. Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet posted on June 27, 2013 at 2:39 pm (#)

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

    • Joanne Ozug replied on June 27th, 2013 at 3:26 pm

      Thanks Anna, you have such adorable kids!

  4. Monica posted on June 27, 2013 at 2:49 pm (#)

    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! (:

    • Joanne Ozug replied on June 27th, 2013 at 3:40 pm

      Thanks Monica, we should clearly be friends! Mini sized foods are so fun =)

  5. Jennifer @ Not Your Momma's Cookie posted on June 27, 2013 at 3:24 pm (#)

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

    • Joanne Ozug replied on June 27th, 2013 at 3:43 pm

      I definitely did lol!

  6. Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) posted on June 27, 2013 at 3:44 pm (#)

    Holy cow! This looks so delicious!

    • Joanne Ozug replied on June 27th, 2013 at 10:27 pm

      Thanks so much Jocelyn! Anything with cheese and pasta is good right? lol.

  7. Nessa posted on June 27, 2013 at 7:47 pm (#)

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

    • Joanne Ozug replied on June 27th, 2013 at 10:29 pm

      Thanks Nessa! Oh man…apple pie. Now you’ve got me all excited for fall apples and lots of apple pie! lol.

  8. tanya posted on June 28, 2013 at 8:10 am (#)

    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. Angie posted on June 28, 2013 at 8:51 am (#)

    What a great party idea!

  10. Norma - Platanos, Mangoes and Me! posted on June 28, 2013 at 10:19 am (#)

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

  11. Cathy Pollak ~ Noble Pig posted on June 28, 2013 at 10:52 am (#)

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

  12. Rachel @ Baked by Rachel posted on June 28, 2013 at 11:33 am (#)

    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. Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking posted on June 28, 2013 at 12:08 pm (#)

    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. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef posted on June 29, 2013 at 9:42 am (#)

    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. Kiran @ posted on June 29, 2013 at 6:35 pm (#)

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

  16. Janet Britt posted on June 30, 2013 at 7:58 am (#)

    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.

    • Joanne Ozug replied on June 30th, 2013 at 3:25 pm

      I hope you enjoy the recipe Janet!

  17. Andrew posted on June 30, 2013 at 5:47 pm (#)

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

    • Joanne Ozug replied on June 30th, 2013 at 9:16 pm

      LOL! Better not take too many though =)

  18. Bill posted on July 10, 2013 at 9:46 am (#)

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

    • Joanne Ozug replied on July 14th, 2013 at 2:43 pm

      Thanks Bill! Hope you have some fun summer parties planned. I’m loving the weather!

  19. Erica posted on August 16, 2013 at 6:46 pm (#)

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

    • Joanne Ozug replied on August 18th, 2013 at 10:56 am

      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. Mitsy posted on September 20, 2013 at 8:46 pm (#)

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

  21. Stef posted on September 24, 2013 at 8:17 pm (#)

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

    • Joanne Ozug replied on September 25th, 2013 at 10:17 am

      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. Gail posted on September 27, 2013 at 10:52 pm (#)

    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!!!!!

    • Joanne Ozug replied on September 28th, 2013 at 1:09 pm

      That’s a great idea Gail, glad you made these your own! Fun idea.

  23. Lindsey posted on October 3, 2013 at 1:19 pm (#)

    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?

    • Joanne Ozug replied on October 3rd, 2013 at 5:15 pm

      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. Amanda posted on November 18, 2013 at 1:16 pm (#)


    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!

    • Joanne Ozug replied on November 18th, 2013 at 5:06 pm

      Hi Amanda, I think it would be better to bake them completely, store, then reheat with the oven at work. Enjoy!

  25. liz posted on February 20, 2014 at 2:27 pm (#)

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

    • Joanne Ozug replied on February 23rd, 2014 at 11:52 am

      Hi Liz, that would be fine, just make sure you reheat again before eating.

  26. Sherry Osborn posted on March 3, 2014 at 9:55 am (#)

    LOVE this recipe!

  27. Mia posted on August 11, 2014 at 10:54 am (#)

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

    • Joanne Ozug replied on August 11th, 2014 at 9:36 pm

      The recipe is for a mini muffin pan.

  28. Vera posted on October 11, 2014 at 6:00 pm (#)

    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.

    • Joanne Ozug replied on October 16th, 2014 at 6:00 pm

      Hi Vera, a wet mac and cheese would not work here, because it would not hold the shape. So just keep that in mind when you tweak. Enjoy!

  29. Candy posted on October 15, 2014 at 9:42 pm (#)

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

    • Joanne Ozug replied on October 16th, 2014 at 6:07 pm

      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.