2 ratings

Air Fryer Macaroni and Cheese Bites

Cheese lovers rejoice!
Courtesy of Emily Paster

You know latkes, but did you know the original version of the potato pancakes were made of cheese? In this recipe, fluffy balls of macaroni and cheese are cooked in the air fryer with a few spritzes of oil. The appetizer is best served for holidays, game days and more. Dip them in applesauce or your favorite tomato sauce. 

Recipe courtesy of Emily Paster, West of the Loop.


  • 4 Tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1 Pound small pasta such as ditalini
  • 2 1/2 Cups milk
  • 1/4 Cup all-purpose flour
  • 8 Ounces Cabot sharp cheddar, such as Seriously Sharp, grated
  • Several dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 Teaspoon dry mustard
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper, prefearbly white pepper, to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Cups dry bread crumbs such as Panko
  • Applesauce or tomato sauce for serving (optional)


Butter a 9x13 baking dish.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions, undercooking it slightly. Drain.

Warm the milk in the microwave or in a small saucepan. (It is easier to incorporate warm milk into the sauce.) Set aside.

Make a roux. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for a few minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste.

Slowly pour the warm milk into the butter-flour mixture while whisking to make a smooth sauce. Continue to simmer over low heat until thickened, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the grated cheese a little bit at a time, and stir each addition into the sauce before adding more. (Adding the cheese all at once will make the sauce grainy.) Season with the Worcestershire, mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper

Return the drained pasta to the empty saucepan in which you cooked it. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and stir to combine.

Spread the macaroni and cheese into the prepared pan. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour and preferably overnight.

To make the latkes, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. With your hands, form the macaroni and cheese into 2-inch balls. You should be able to get about 36 balls. Place the formed balls onto the baking sheet and chill until firm, at least 15 minutes.

Beat the eggs with 2 tablespoons of water. Spread the panko bread crumbs on a plate.

Roll a pasta ball in the egg mixture then dredge the ball in the bread crumbs, pressing to make the crumbs adhere. Place the breaded fritter on a lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining balls.

Spray the balls with oil and, working in batches, place 6 in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Cook at 400F for 12-14 minutes, flipping once halfway through, until browned and cooked through. Repeat with the remaining balls.

Serve right away with applesauce or your favorite tomato sauce.