My family is crazy about macaroni and cheese. So, naturally, I am always trying to find new ways to prepare it. This recipe features macaroni and cheese in a completely unique way – the pasta is secured into a little muffin-sized bites.
That’s right – this mac and cheese is made in a miniature muffin tin! Who knew macaroni and cheese could be so fun?!
My little one year old absolutely loved these cups and they were easier for him to eat than regular macaroni and cheese. I made these in a miniature muffin tin so they would be smaller for him to eat and I think they look cuter that way.
I love miniature pop-able foods. These would also be the perfect football or party appetizer. These are so much easier to make and serve rather than trying to dish up a bowl of mac and cheese for all your party guests! And with party season among us, and lots of football games, this recipe is definitely going to come in handy.
To start out, boil some macaroni pasta in a pot over medium high heat. To make these healthier, you could substitute whole wheat pasta. Boil the pasta for only 7 minutes and then drain. It will finish cooking later!
Next, you make the easy sauce that holds these cups together. First off, I start by melting the butter in a pan over medium heat.
After that I whisked in some flour to thicken the mixture along with a few spices. I like adding a little bit of spice to my macaroni and cheese, but if you like it plain, feel free to omit the spices.
Whisk the mixture briskly and it will form a thick dough-like substance. Then is when you know it’s ready for some milk.
Slowly add milk into the mixture whisking constantly. I used 2% milk and would recommend sticking with either 2% or whole milk. Once the milk is nice and thickened in the mixture, it’s finally time for the cheese. I stirred in freshly grated cheddar cheese.
I don’t like to use the pre-grated cheddar cheese because it tends to make these a bit greasy and oily. So, if possible, grate your own cheese for this meal!
The mixture will be super thick – this is good. It will help hold all the noodles together and keep the macaroni and cheese muffin in one piece.
Then it’s time to stir in all that pasta you already partially cooked and drained. It will be a little bit tough to stir, but keep stirring and mixing until everything is well combined. The cheese is thick, but again, it’s important to not try and thin it out or the muffins won’t stick together.
Once the pasta and cheese mixture are well integrated, use a cookie scoop to scoop the mixture into a well greased miniature muffin tin.
Then press the mixture into the tin. You’ll want to really press hard and make sure the macaroni and cheese are packed in together well.
Once the cavities are all filled and everything is packed in there really well, these little guys are ready to be baked.
Bake them at 400 degrees F for 10-12 minutes and then remove them from the oven. I like to sprinkle a little bit of extra cheese on top and then let that cheese melt and the cups cool a little bit.
You want to let them cool for at least 10 minutes before removing them from the muffin tin. While they cool they also finish setting up and really mesh together so they don’t fall apart.
Then use a spoon to loosen the edges, scoop ’em out, and enjoy. These are best while hot, so eat up!
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons white flour
- ½ cup 2% or whole milk
- 8 ounces cheddar cheese, freshly grated
- Grease a miniature muffin tin really well with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cook the pasta for seven minutes in a small pot of boiling water.
- Drain the pasta and then using the same pot, return it to the heat and turn the heat to medium low.
- Melt the butter and add the paprika, pepper, and garlic powder. Add the flour and stir the mixture for two minutes whisking constantly.
- While continuing to constantly whisk, slowly stir in the milk.
- The mixture will be very thick, but that's what will keep these together. Just make sure you have stirred out any lumps.
- Remove the pot from the heat and add the cheese and drained pasta, stirring it all together until the cheese and sauce are evenly mixed together.
- Using a cookie scoop, scoop the mixture into the prepared muffin tin. Press the mac and cheese down really well so they will hold together
- Bake the mac and cheese cups for 10-12 minutes. If desired sprinkle a little more cheese on top.
- Remove them to a wire rack to cool for at least 10 minutes, then carefully run a plastic spoon around the edges to loosen and carefully remove.