This TGI Friday’s Fried Mac and Cheese copycat takes mac and cheese to a new level. Creamy and cheesy with a crispy coating.
What’s better than mac and cheese? Mac and cheese fried until golden and crispy. This definitely isn’t a food you’d want to eat often. But if you’re hosting a football party and want a food to impress, you’ll have people talking about these mac and cheese balls and maybe even fighting over the last one.
This recipe is based off of Todd Wilbur’s Fried Mac and Cheese TGI Friday’s copycat recipe and it has multiple stages so you’ll want to plan in advance. But it is so good, you won’t regret the time spent on it.
Homemade mac and cheese is chilled to firm it up and then shaped into balls. Once the balls are formed, they are frozen for a few hours. Next they are coated in flour, dipped in an egg mixture, and coated with breadcrumbs. Then it’s back into the egg mixture and into the breadcrumbs a second time. Once fully coated it’s best to let them sit at room temperature for 10 minutes or so to thaw some. Otherwise you risk the outside browning before the middle parts gets warm.
A little cheese sauce is drizzled on top for a finishing touch. If you really wanted to take this fried mac and cheese over the top, you could add bacon.
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Fried Mac and Cheese
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup milk
- 4 ounces shredded medium cheddar
- 4 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 3/4 to 2 cups cooked elbow macaroni, cooked to al dente
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups plain bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 to 10 cups vegetable oil
- pizza sauce for serving
- In a small saucepan, whisk together 1 cup milk and 2 tablespoons flour. Place over medium-low heat.
- Add cheeses, butter, 1/4 teaspoon salt, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Stir until cheese melts. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
- Set aside 2 tablespoons of the sauce to drizzle over the fried mac and cheese balls.
- Add cooked macaroni to the rest of the cheese sauce, stirring well. Taste for seasoning and add a little more salt if desired.
- Pour mixture into a greased 8x8-inch pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Too much longer and it will be hard to shape into balls.
- Use a small ice cream scoop to form balls. You will need to use your hands some to shape them. You should get about 16 balls. Place in a baking pan lined with wax paper and freeze for about 2 hours.
- Whisk together egg and one cup of milk in a bowl.
- Place one cup of flour in a bowl.
- Combine bread crumbs and 1 teaspoon salt in a third bowl.
- One at a time coat ball in flour, then in egg mixture. Coat with bread crumb mixture, then back in egg mixture and 1 more time in bread crumbs. Let balls sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes, while you heat up the oil. You want them to thaw some so that they will get warm all the way through.
- Heat oil to 350 degrees. Fry 4 to 5 balls at a time, for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown.
- Drain on paper towels. If desired, place them in a 200 degree oven to keep warm.
- Heat the 2 tablespoons of cheese sauce that was set aside. Place in a plastic bag. Snip the corner and drizzle over mac and cheese balls.
- Serve warm with pizza sauce.
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