Baked Mac and Cheese Bites

by | Nov 14, 2023

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

This post was first published on October 3, 2021. It was updated on November 14, 2023 to include new photos and helpful tips.

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. It’s the perfect partner for mac and cheese! I often use American Beauty® which 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.

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!

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese Bites

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 elbow 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.

Holding pan of cooked pasta

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.

How to make bread crumbs for mac and cheese

Skip the store bought stuff and make your own breadcrumbs. Simply rip up whole grain bread slices into pieces. Then, toast them for 10 minutes at 350 degrees until slightly golden. Finally, use your hands to crush them up into smaller pieces to sprinkle over the mac and cheese before baking.

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
American Beauty Mac and Cheese Bites 3 scaled

Baked Mac and Cheese Bites

Mackenzie Burgess, RDN
Say hello to dreamy baked mac and cheese bites! This is the perfect recipe to serve at holiday gatherings or large parties.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 24 to 30 regular sized muffin cups
Calories 150 kcal


  • 3 cups uncooked elbows pasta, about 12 ounces
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 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 cauliflower rice
  • 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 1 cup regular whole wheat breadcrumbs)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line regular-sized muffin tins with paper or foil liners and lightly grease liners. 
  • 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 pea-size pieces. 
  • 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.
  • Meanwhile, in another very large pot, melt butter on medium heat. Stir in salt, pepper, and flour until there’s no clumps remaining.
  • 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. 
  • Pour drained pasta into cheese sauce and gently stir to combine.
  • Distribute macaroni among muffin cups, filling just below the top (about ~1/3 cup macaroni per muffin). If you have extras, pour into a regular glass baking pan and bake with the cups.
  • Top with bites with breadcrumbs and bake for 15-20 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.
  • Take out of the oven and let cups rest for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. 


Serving: 1biteCalories: 150kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 7gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gSodium: 175mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2g
Tried this recipe?Tag us @cheerfulchoices and let us know how it was!

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