Cheesy on the outside. Crisp on the outside. This super easy recipe for mac and cheese logs are a great after-school snack or appetizer for your next kids party! It's mac and cheese you can hold in your hands! Recipe with options for pan frying, air frying and baking in the oven!
Mike's Recipe Rundown
- Taste: Deliciously cheesy. I typically keep mine simple and kid friendly with some sharp cheddar cheese. Obviously, you can get creative with your cheese choices. We'll get into that more in a minute.
- Texture: Crispy on the outside, warm and gooey on the inside. It's an awesome mix that will delight your taste buds.
- Difficulty - Intermediate: There are some steps involved here, but nothing crazy hard. Not too much active time involved either, so it works well.
- Pros: We sneak some veggies in with celery, carrots and onions pureed and mixed into the cheese sauce. This gives you not only some added flavor, but some nutrition for your kiddos as well.
- Cons: I mean, this isn't a stick of celery snack for your kiddos. It's not something they should have every day, but it makes for a cool treat when they have friends over after school.
Mac and Cheese Logs Tips and Tricks
- There are three options of ways to cook this, and we'll provide all three below. Our preferred method is in the air fryer . It takes a little longer as you freeze your mac and cheese, but it's gives you the best blend of crispiness without bathing it in unhealthy oil. Of course, a pan fry gives you the crispiest finish while baking is your easiest and healthiest option.
- Feel free to get creative with your cheese blend, especially if you're making these as a party appetizer for adults. Smoked gouda cheese adds some awesome layers of flavor. That pairs well with beef or BBQ. Or, make add in a splash of buffalo wing sauce to give it some extra pizazz!
- If you have an Instant Pot , check our recipe for super easy mac and cheese. Just two steps and you're ready to eat!
Check out some of our other great recipes, like cajun shrimp and grits, smoked gouda mac and cheese, chicken tikka masala, or 29-hour, super tender sous vide chuck roast. Or, try one of my wife's favorites, my Bacon Lamb Sliders which are 100% flavor-bombs. .
When to make Mac and Cheese Logs
Our two favorite times to make mac and cheese logs are:
- When kids are over and we're looking for a different take on a traditional kid friendly side dish.
- When you're hosting or going to a party. These are especially great for tailgate parties, whether you're outside the stadium or just circling around the big screen with your closest fan-friends. Just try to serve them as warm as possible.
- Goes great with other kid friendly treats like homemade bagel dogs or homemade sloppy joes. When you're finished, cool off with delicious low calorie Arnold Palmer popsicles as a treat.
How to make Mac and Cheese Logs
As we said above, we're going to roll with three versions of this - pan fried, air fryer and baked. Each is okay in it's own special way, but they begin the same way.
Make Your Mac and Cheese
Before you begin, you obviously need to make your mac and cheese. You want to make it far enough it advance that it can cool in the fridge long enough to easily handle and shape into logs. Just use your favorite mac and cheese recipe. For me, that's my recipe for Instant Pot Mac and Cheese (also linked above).
Roll those logs!
When the mac and cheese is cool enough to form, shape them into logs, about two inches long and half and ¾ of an inch thick. Place the logs on a sheet of parchment paper on a medium sized baking sheet. The next step is where we start breaking up the method based on how you'll be cooking these.
Air Fryer Method
Note: This is our preferred method, and is what is photographed in this article.
If air frying your mac and cheese logs, place the baking sheet into the freezer for 1-2 hours prior to cooking. About ten minutes before you're ready to pop them in, turn your air fryer on to 400° and wait for it to get warm. Prepare breading duo with two seperate bowls - one with beaten egg and the other with your panko bread crumbs, table salt, black pepper and paprika, stirred together. Dip each log first into the egg, rolling it around to get it totally covered. Then, dip the log in the panko bread crumbs. Roll again to cover evenly.
Place mac and cheese logs in air fryer and cook for about 8 minutes, shaking the basket every few minutes. They're done when the inside is warmed through and the outside is a deep golden brown.
Pan Fryer Method
If pan frying, once you've formed the logs you will want to place them in the fridge (NOT the freezer) for another 30 minutes to hold form. Then, preheat oil in a medium sized pan. Dip each log first into a bowl with the beaten egg, then into a seperate bowl with your panko bread crumbs, salt, pepper and paprika. Oil is ready when it sizzles immediately when you drop a log in.
Fry logs for about 90 seconds per side, then remove to a plate lined with paper towel. Allow a couple of minute to cool and serve.
Place your formed logs into the fridge for 30 minutes to hold firm. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425°. Remove logs from fridge. Dip each log first into a bowl with the beaten egg, then into a seperate bowl with your panko bread crumbs, salt, pepper and paprika. Place logs onto a lightly greased baking sheet and place in center of preheated oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then flip over and bake for ten minutes more. Logs are done when outside is golden brown and inside is warmed through. Let cool for just a couple minutes, then serve.
Check out what else we're cooking
- Easy 2-Step Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
- Instant Pot Goulash
- Instant Pot French Dip Sandwiches (Slow Cooker Option)
- Air Fryer Chicken Cordon Bleu
- The Complete Guide to Sous Vide Pork Chops
Dipping Sauce Options
I would argue that these do not even need dipping sauces. But that doesn't mean that you can't add some for some extra flavor. Standard cheddar mac and cheese would go well with some ranch dressing. A light white cheese would go well some some warm marinara. And obviously, if you add some buffalo sauce, a chunky blue cheese is the only acceptable option.Print
Mac and Cheese that's crispy on the outside and warm and cheesy on the inside. Perfect side dish, snack or appetizer for parties!
- 3 cups cooked mac and cheese
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups panko bread crumbs
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp paprika
- ¼ cup vegetable oil (if pan frying)
Cook mac and cheese and cool until you can easily pick it up and form it. Form mac and cheese into logs, roughly two inches long and about ¾ inch thick. Prepare two bowls, one with beaten egg and another with panko bread crumbs, salt and pepper mixed.
Option 1: Air Fryer
Place logs on parchment paper on a baking sheet and into freezer for 1-2 hours. Preheat air fryer to 400°. Remove and dip first into beaten egg, then into bread crumb mixture. Roll around in each until fully covered. Place in air fryer and repeat until all logs are dipped. Cook for 15 minutes, shaking every few minutes.
Option 2: Pan Frying
Place logs in fridge for 30 minutes to hold shape. Preheat vegetable oil in a medium pan until warm enough that it sizzles when logs are dipped. Remove and dip first into egg mixture, then into panko bread crumbs. Cook for 90 seconds on each side, then remove to a plate with paper towel. Let cool two minutes before serving.
Option 3: Baked
Preheat oven to 425°. Place mac and cheese logs into fridge for 30 minutes. Remove from fridge and dip first into beaten egg before rolling in panko breadcrumb mixture. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and into center of preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping logs over halfway through. Let cool a couple minutes before serving.
Feel free to get creative with you mac and cheese mixes to bring some extra pizazz to the party. Smoked gouda makes for a unique flavor. Or, just add some buffalo sauce into your standard mac and cheese for some awesome heat!
- Prep Time: 2 hrs
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Appetizer
- Method: Air Fryer
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Party Food, Mac and Cheese Snacks, Tailgate Recipe