Two-bite Mac and Cheese Cups
These mini Mac and Cheese Cups are a fun hors d’ouerve for parties, and they’re easy to make using a mini muffin pan.
This is mac and cheese turned into fun finger food!
Seriously though, as a dish that you normally have to eat with a bowl and spoon, there is something really enjoyable about setting out a platter of these at a get together.
People always rave about these little bites.
If you’ve seen recipes for baked pasta “pies” in the flavor of pasta carbonara, or classic red spaghetti, this is sort of like a mini version of that, with all the flavor of macaroni and cheese.
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 😂
And since you all know I’m addicted to making recipes in my muffin tins (see Chicken Wonton Bites, Bacon Egg Cups, and Thanksgiving Stuffing Cups), it was time to take this American classic and present it in a fun, new way.
How to Make Mac and Cheese Cups:
As with any dish with few ingredients, it’s important to use good quality components. This dish is all about the CHEESE!
I usually opt for a sharp cheddar, either white or yellow, depending on my mood.
After you’ve grated your cheddar, melt a few tablespoons of butter with some paprika in a big pot:
Add flour to make a roux, then whisk in some milk, al dente macaroni, and your cheese.
That’s it, six ingredients! Pasta, butter, cheese, milk, flour, and paprika. So easy.
Cram big moundfuls of the macaroni into the cups of a mini muffin pan (affiliate) and get ready to send them into the oven:
Bake them until they’re bubbly and gooey, and top them with some snipped chives or chopped scallion greens:
Let them cool for about 10 minutes before attempting to take them out of the pan, then serve promptly while warm.
They will dry out and get cold if left out too long, so try not to make them too far in advance.
Mac and Cheese Bites
- 8 oz elbow macaroni
- 2 tbsp salted butter
- 1/4 tsp paprika (use smoked paprika if you have it)
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese grated
- chopped chives or scallions for garnish
- butter for greasing the pan
- 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 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!
Post updated in May 2019. Originally published June 2013.