Baked Mac and Cheese Bites

Say hello to dreamy baked mac and cheese bites! Made with muenster, asiago, and sharp cheddar for an indulgent, three cheese dish. Homemade breadcrumbs are sprinkled on top for extra crunch, too! This is the perfect recipe to serve at holiday gatherings or large parties.

This post has been sponsored by American Beauty® Pasta. All thoughts and opinions are my own; I never feature a brand that I don’t love! 

Baked mac and cheese bites in a muffin tin

What type of pasta should you use?

When it comes to mac and cheese, you can get creative and use pretty much any shape of pasta, but I like to keep it classic with elbow macaroni. So for this recipe, I’m using American Beauty® Elbows. It’s the perfect partner for mac and cheese! I love how American Beauty® has been serving up delicious pasta made from high-quality wheat since 1916–over 100 years now! You can find this product at your local grocery store in the pasta section or online. Click here to shop now!

Ingredients laid out on white backdrop

Is mac and cheese healthy?

Although mac and cheese is a dish that’s typically higher in calories, saturated fat, and sodium, don’t let that discourage you from enjoying this classic comfort food every so often. It’s all about balance! My advice is to be mindful of the portions and pair your pasta with a veggie-filled side dish like a leafy green salad, roasted broccoli, or sauteed asparagus.

This dish keeps the portions in check by being baked into bite-sized form. Each bite contains just 150 calories while packing in 7 grams of protein.

When it comes to the mac and cheese, there are a few better-for-you swaps you can try too. You can use skim milk instead of whole milk to slash the saturated fat content. Finally, pump up the veggies by sneaking in some riced cauliflower. You’ll seriously never know it’s there!

Where do you find cauliflower rice?

You can buy cauliflower rice in the fresh or frozen section. You can also find shelf stable ones online. If you’d rather save money and buy a head of cauliflower, you can make your own and freeze any leftovers. I found that about a quarter of one large cauliflower head makes the 2 cups of cauliflower rice needed for this mac and cheese recipe.

Close up of cheesy bites

How do you make mac and cheese bites?

  1. Start by toasting your bread. This is an easy way to make your own breadcrumbs. Skip this step if you are using store-bought breadcrumbs.
  2. Then, make your cheese sauce. We are using three cheeses to create the creamiest, most delicious macaroni. We are using different ounces of cheeses, so be sure to ask your cheese counter to weigh it or weigh it yourself on a scale at home to be precise.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the American Beauty pasta. Boil it in salted water for 6-8 minutes until it reaches al dente. This creates simply perfect pasta which is ready to be combined with the sauce.
  4. Then, mix everything together. If your pot is large enough, add the pasta right over the cheese sauce and stir to combine. If not, use another dish to combine everything together.
  5. Finally, divide and bake. Add the cheesy pasta to muffin liners. Be sure to fill it just under full so it doesn’t fall over the sides. Top with homemade breadcrumbs and bake to bubbly perfection!
American beauty pasta next to baked mac and cheese bites

What type of baking liners should I use?

I recommend using foil muffin liners because they are more sturdy and peel the easiest. I’ve also tried paper and they work fine too—just be sure to peel carefully so you don’t end up with any leftover wrapper. 

I’ve made this recipe without liners and I find it turns out messy. If you’re in a pinch without any liners, make sure to let the baked mac and cheese bites fully cool before attempting to remove from an unlined tin.

What if I don’t have a regular sized muffin tin?

If you don’t have a regular muffin tin, you can use a mini muffin tin, too. It will just make a lot more bites.

If you don’t have any muffin tins, you can use a 2-quart baking dish. This will result in a pan of mac and cheese rather than the bites. You can also create a combination by doing some bites and then spooning the rest into a baking pan.

Holding pan of cooked pasta

Can you make this recipe ahead of time? 

Cooking a large dish on the day of a party is the last thing you want to do. You can make this recipe ahead of time by dividing the combined cheese sauce and pasta among the muffin tins and storing in the fridge. When you’re ready to serve them, simply bake and they’ll be ready to go!

How do you store these bites?

You can store cooked bites for up to 5 days in the fridge. This recipe makes a lot, so feel free to freeze them to enjoy at a later time. You can freeze bites for up to 6 months. Thaw in the fridge and microwave to reheat.

Close up of mac and cheese bites on blue backdrop
Baked Mac and Cheese Bites

Baked Mac and Cheese Bites

Yield: 30 regular sized muffin cups
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Say hello to dreamy baked mac and cheese bites! This is the perfect recipe to serve at holiday gatherings or large parties.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups uncooked American Beauty® Elbows (about 12 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 3 cups dairy milk of your choice (skim milk, 1% milk, or 2% milk)
  • 2 cups riced cauliflower
  • 4 ounces muenster cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces asiago cheese, shredded
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3 slices 100% whole wheat bread (or can substitute 2 cups whole wheat breadcrumbs)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line regular-sized muffin tins with paper or foil liners and lightly grease liners. 
  2. If making homemade bread crumbs, add bread slices to a sheet pan and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Let cool then break up into small pieces. 
  3. In a large pot, bring water to a boil and cook macaroni to al dente according to package instructions, about 6-8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, in another very large pot, melt butter on medium heat. Stir in salt, pepper, and flour until there’s no clumps remaining.
  5. Slowly pour in milk and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 2 minutes, stirring often, then reduce to low heat and stir in riced cauliflower. Add all the muenster, asiago, and sharp cheddar cheeses and stir until creamy. Sauce should be slightly thick. 
  6. Pour drained pasta into cheese sauce and gently stir to combine.
  7. Distribute macaroni among muffin cups, filling just below the top. If you have extras, pour into a regular glass baking pan and bake with the cups.
  8. Top with bites with breadcrumbs and bake for 15-20 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.
  9. Take out of the oven and let cups rest for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. 
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 30 Serving Size: 1 bite
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 150Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gSodium: 175mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 7g

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