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Fried Mac and Cheese Recipe

This TGI Friday’s Fried Mac and Cheese copycat takes mac and cheese to a new level. Creamy and cheesy with a crispy coating.

Hand picking up a Fired Mac and Cheese ball.

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.

Fried Mac and Cheese with a bite removed to show inside.

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.

Fried Mac and Cheese

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.

Fried Mac and Cheese Balls

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.

Hand holding mac and cheese ball.

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More Fried Foods We Love:

Hand picking up a Fired Mac and Cheese ball.

Fried Mac and Cheese

This TGI Friday’s Fried Mac and Cheese copycat takes mac and cheese to a new level. Creamy and cheesy with a crispy coating.
PREP: 3 hours
COOK: 30 minutes
TOTAL: 3 hours 30 minutes


  • 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 8×8-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.


Calories: 205kcal
Author: Christin Mahrlig
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: fried, mac and cheese

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Originally Published Aug 20,2015.

Sharing this recipe with The Weekend Potluck.

Recipe adapted from: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3: The Secret Formulas for Duplicating Your Favorite Restaurant Dishes at Home

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19 thoughts on “Fried Mac and Cheese Recipe”

  1. All I can think is I’ll do the first part. Instead of flour, use Panko crumbs. Then pop them into my air fryer. Might make these tomorrow..

  2. My goodness these look incredible! I cannot wait to make these. Great photos! xo, Catherine

  3. Errhhmagherddd – this looks amazing! I’ve never tried mac n’ cheese this way before and I love the idea! Perfect for a party or potluck – Pinned ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. Fried balls of mac and cheese??? My goodness how fun! These would definitely be perfect for football season!

  5. Shashi at RunninSrilankan

    Oh heavens Christin!!! These sound amazing and don’t get me started on how mouthwatering they look! I’ve never had fried mac and cheese before – so I am coming over!

  6. Kristi @ Inspiration Kitchen

    I’ve had fried Mac & Cheese once before, and it was divine! It never occurred to me to make it at home, but Christin, I have to say…you are making me very hungry. These are so snackable!

  7. Consuelo | Honey & Figs

    Oh my!! I don’t think these could look any tastier! Fried mac & cheese? In cute ball form? With cheese sauce on top? DYYYYYYINGGGG. You’ve outdone yourself this time girl!

  8. Anu-My Ginger Garlic Kitchen

    Wow! What a stunning idea of making mac and cheese balls! SUPER gorgeous and delicious!

  9. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more beautiful mac and cheese in my life! These look mouthwatering! So fun with the cheese sauce too!

  10. I love fried mac and cheese, but haven’t ever attempted my own at home before. These look so great, definitely would love to give these a try!

  11. Christin, these look like the perfect bites, and I can tell they would go so fast! Fried mac & cheese has to be about the best thing ever!

  12. The Surprised Gourmet

    This looks delicious and we really enjoy mac and cheese at our house. I make a dish from scratch that everyone loves. I’ll have to give it a try like this.

  13. Arpita@ The Gastronomic Bong

    These little Mac and cheese croquettes look glorious.. lip smacking gooooood!! Yumm

  14. Medha @ Whisk & Shout

    I pinned this right away! Your mac looks heavenly and this is soooo indulgent ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice

    This sounds SO good, Christin! I used to get fried mac ‘n cheese as an appetizer years ago, so I’m loving this version!

  16. Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary

    Fried Mac and Cheese Balls WITH a cheese sauce on top? Oh my SWOON! This is totally decadent and seriously delicious! An absolute MUST have for football season for sure! Pinned! Cheers, girl! And thanks for making me STARVING! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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