Learn how to make Trader Joe’s Mac and Cheese Bites in the air fryer! This mac and cheese bites air fryer recipe makes a delicious appetizer or snack. Cheesy elbow macaroni is breaded with a crispy panko coating for some serious carbs on carbs comfort food goodness. Best of all, you can air fry frozen mac and cheese balls in only 10 minutes. (Talk about near-instant gratification!)
Trader Joe’s mac and cheese balls are a wildly popular product that debuted in 2010. They contain a melty, gooey blend of cheddar, gouda, Havarti, and Swiss cheeses and elbow pasta. Hugging each bite of cheese-lovers goodness are crisp and golden brown panko bread crumbs.
If you’re a fan of Trader Joe’s diner mac n cheese, you need these stuffed mac and cheese bites in your life. I’m thinking the only way you could probably make them better is by wrapping them in bacon.
It’s true that Trader Joe’s mac n cheese bites are not the most nutritious thing you could be eating. However, if we’re going to be indulging, I know I want the food to be good. And these mac and cheese bites from Trader Joe’s were definitely delish in my book.
I was actually surprised at how tasty these were. I normally have lower expectations for frozen foods, but IMVHO these were restaurant quality.
You can also make air fried mac n cheese balls with Stouffer’s mac and cheese bites, the ones from Costco, or your favorite brand. (Don’t forget to adjust the air fryer time if they’re differently sized than the TJs ones.)
That said, the mac and cheese balls from Trader Joe’s are my favorite for this recipe. They come in a relatively small package too, making it (slightly) easier to portion control.
- ⭐ Benefits of Making Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Balls
- 🥘 Mac and Cheese Bites Air Fryer Ingredients
- 🔪 How to Air Fry Trader Joes Mac and Cheese Bites
- ️⏲️ Cooking Time and Temperature
- 🌡️ Leftovers
- 🍅 Dipping Sauce for Mac and Cheese Balls
- 📋 Calories, Net Carbs, Protein
- 💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
- 👩🏻🍳 Other Air Fryer Trader Joe’s Recipes
- The Disclaimer…
- 📖 Recipe
⭐ Benefits of Making Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Balls
Why make mac and cheese balls in the air fryer? Here are a few reasons to love this easy air fryer recipe:
- Snack or appetizer: Mac and cheese balls tend to be a huge hit with kids (and everyone else). Serve them at your next party or potluck, and watch them disappear fast!
- Fast: Speaking of fast, you can air fry mac n cheese balls in only 10 minutes. You don’t even have to preheat the air fryer to make these. It’s so quick, you’ll never make them in the oven again!
- Easy: These are SO much easier than homemade mac and cheese bites, even if you take shortcuts with Kraft or Velveeta. Plus, you don’t end up with a ton of them, so it may be easier to portion control.
- No added oil: Frozen mac and cheese balls are already pretty high calorie. You spare yourself the mess, cost, and calories associated with added oils when you air fry. You don’t even need cooking spray for these!
- Perfectly crispy: These air fryer frozen mac n cheese balls are perfectly crisp with a leak-free coating. The textures and flavors in this finger food are out of this world.
🥘 Mac and Cheese Bites Air Fryer Ingredients
All you need for this recipe is a box of frozen macaroni and cheese bites and an air fryer. I also recommend having some warmed tomato sauce for dipping. (I have other dip suggestions below!)
Remember to check the food early and often the first time you try a new air fryer recipe. Cooking times may vary between the Ninja Foodi, Kalorik, Philips, Nuwave, Pampered Chef, Actifry, Instant Pot Vortex, Cosori, Breville, and other air fryers. Keeping an eye on the food will ensure you always have air frying success!
🔪 How to Air Fry Trader Joes Mac and Cheese Bites
Put your frozen macaroni and cheese balls in a single layer in your air fryer tray or basket. I could fit the entire box of 10 on the tray. Don’t crowd them for the best results.
️⏲️ Cooking Time and Temperature
How long do you cook mac and cheese bites in an air fryer? What temperature to air fry mac n cheese balls? Air fry frozen mac and cheese bites for a total of 10 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200C).
If you have an air fryer oven, you want to use the top rack position. You don’t have to flip them. They should crisp up on all sides if they aren’t crowded.
Allow Trader Joe’s mac n cheese balls to cool for 2-3 minutes before serving. They’re very hot!
For the best texture, only air fry the mac and cheese balls you’ll eat so there are no leftovers. Cooked mac and cheese bites can be left in a covered container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat leftover mac and cheese bites in the air fryer for 2-3 minutes at 350F (177C).
🍅 Dipping Sauce for Mac and Cheese Balls
What dips go with mac and cheese bites? Here are some delicious options:
- Warm marinara sauce
- BBQ sauce
- Buffalo sauce
📋 Calories, Net Carbs, Protein
One serving of air fryer mac and cheese bites has 190 calories, 17 grams net carbs, and 7 grams protein. This nutrition information is for 3 Trader Joe's mac and cheese bites without dip. Nutrition information will vary depending on your portion size.
💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 3 recipe (weight maintenance and active lifestyles). Mac and cheese balls are a high fat food that are loaded with white flour. Most would agree this ultra-processed food isn’t the most healthy option out there.
When it comes to treat foods, I try to maintain a balance where I get to have the ones I enjoy most occasionally. I really think these mac n cheese bites are delicious, so I fit them in once in a while. There are some other very common “fun foods” I’m not so enamored with (cough, cough) and those I rarely or never eat.
The package for Trader Joe’s mac and cheese bites lists number of servings as 3.5, or about 3 bites per person. I think a realistic serving size is more like half the box (5 bites).
Many ultra-processed foods have 10-20 servings per package. It should be easier to practice portion control here simply because you’re getting fewer servings in the package.
Trader Joe’s mac n cheese balls get about 50% of their calories from fat. Only 28 of the 190 calories per serving come from protein.
If you wanted to integrate these into a balanced (and hopefully filling) meal, enjoy a small serving, and add in some lean protein and veggies. The mac and cheese bites count as a high-fat starch (i.e., grains). There’s really no need to add more starchy foods, such as noodles, rice, or bread.
Can you fry mac and cheese bites? You could, but these are already very high fat and I don’t recommend it. They’ll be healthier and less greasy if you skip the deep frying and air fry them instead.
Now that you’ve read this Trader Joe’s mac and cheese bites review, you know I think this product is delicious! This is one of the best Trader Joe’s products I’ve tried and I hope that they’re never discontinued. That said, everyone’s taste preferences are different, so you’ll need to try them yourself to decide.
I recommend making air fryer Trader Joe’s butternut squash mac and cheese bites! Air fry at 400F (200C) for 10 minutes. This is the same air frying temp and time as regular mac and cheese bites.
I’m not aware of any vegan frozen mac and cheese balls you can get from a store. You’ll have to go the homemade route for 100% plant-based mac n cheese balls. Here’s a recipe for vegan mac and cheese bites from School Night Vegan.
Need Trader Joe’s mac and cheese bites cooking instructions but missing the packaging? You can bake Trader Joe’s mac n cheese bites in an oven or toaster oven preheated to 425F (218C) for 17-19 minutes. Remove all the packaging, and put them in a single layer on a cookie sheet before oven baking. Let cool for 2-3 minutes before enjoying.
I don’t recommend microwaving Trader Joe’s mac and cheese bites because the breading won’t crisp properly. The few extra minutes you spend air frying this product will be worth it, I promise. If you must microwave, try wrapping in a paper towel to absorb moisture and microwaving in one-minute increments until cooked through.
👩🏻🍳 Other Air Fryer Trader Joe’s Recipes
Looking to cook more frozen foods from Trader Joe’s in the air fryer? If so, don’t miss these popular air fryer recipes:
- Trader Joe’s Orange Chicken in the Air Fryer
- Trader Joe’s Fish Nuggets in the Air Fryer
- Air Fryer Samosas
And if you’re a mac and cheese fan, I bet you’ll LOVE this smoked mac and cheese.
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats no sugar post. Let's get cooking!
Trader Joe’s Mac and Cheese Bites Air Fryer Recipe
- 1 box Trader Joe's mac and cheese bites
- dipping sauce (optional)
- Put the frozen macaroni and cheese balls in a single layer in your air fryer basket or tray. Don't overcrowd them!
- Air fry frozen mac and cheese bites for a total of 10 minutes at 400°F (200°C). (Use the top rack if you have an air fryer oven.)
- Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes before serving with dipping sauce.