Macaroni and cheese is a favorite food of both children and adults alike. That's just one of the reasons it's a perfect dish for family meals, get-togethers, or parties. If you're looking for a unique way to make (and eat) your next mac and cheese meal, you've come to the right place! In this post, we're going to show you how to make Mac and Cheese Cups (or cupcakes as some call them) in a muffin tin.
Our Macaroni and Cheese cups are made from scratch with the perfect combination of ingredients like elbow macaroni, real cheddar cheese, and homemade, toasted garlic butter breadcrumbs. The result are handheld bites that hold together well and are deliciously cheesy and moist on the inside.
Before starting this recipe, you'll want to verify that you have the following ingredients:
- Elbow macaroni - You will need 2 cups of dry pasta that you will cook.
- Cheddar cheese - Adds a classic flavor and taste to you macaroni.
- Mozzarella cheese - Adds some flavor, but is used more for the texture helping these keep their "muffin shape"
- Whole milk - Adds creaminess to the mixture.
- Egg - Helps to bind the ingredients.
- Butter - Adds flavor and creaminess to this dish.
- Spices - You totally need to spice these up or they will be bland! Dry mustard powder, paprika, black pepper, salt, onion, and garlic powder.
🍽 Equipment and Supplies Needed
We used the following equipment and supplies to make this recipe. Items that are optional or can be substituted will be noted.
- 6-Quart stockpot - To boil pasta until al dente.
- Strainer - To remove water from the pasta pan.
- Silicone Muffin pan (12-count size) - Helps these to pop out easily.
- Ice cream scoop - to scoop mixture into muffin pan wells.
- Wooden spoon - To mix the macaroni and cheese mixture.
- Non-stick baking spray- I used this be extra cautious and it worked like a charm!
- Skillet - To toast the panko garlic breadcrumbs.
💭 Recipe Tips
This recipe is easy to make if you know the right tips and tricks! Here are my tips for ensuring your Mini Mac & Cheese Cups come out perfectly.
We used extra sharp and mozzarella cheese in this recipe. While I am always game for more cheese, 3 cups of shredded cheese is what this recipe calls for. However, you can skip the mozzarella and add all cheddar, or your preferred blend.
I do believe freshly grating your cheese makes a huge difference when making any macaroni and cheese dish. While my mozzarella was bagged, the cheddar was grated in my food processor using the grating blade.
For recipes like these that might stick, I always use my Trudeau Silicone pan. In fact, I need to invest in another because they are that good! If you use a standard muffin tin, you will need to ensure they are well-greased with nonstick baking spray, shortening, or lard.
The toasted garlic panko bread crumbs really transformed this recipe from blah, to hurrah! I totally recommend going the extra step to make these. However, they are optional.
Be sure to allow your mac & cheese cups to cool for at least 15 minutes before removing them to ensure they are well-formed. I do not recommend using a cupcake liner which will have your macaroni and cheese sticking to it.
Want to ensure your macaroni and cheese cups are not dry inside? Add ½ cup of sour cream to the mixture. Simply use just ½ cup of milk, half and half, or heavy cream instead of the whole cup of milk.
If you want to store your Macaroni and Cheese Cups, just follow these easy steps.
Store macaroni and cheese portions in an airtight container (once fully cooled) and refrigerate for up to 4 days for best taste. To reheat, simply microwave on a microwave-safe plate for 1 minute per cup.
Remove mac & cheese cups from the muffin pan, and line them on a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Freeze for 4-6 hours until frozen, and then store them in an airtight container or zippered bag for up to 3 months.
To enjoy, thaw in the refrigerator until no longer frozen. Heat (uncovered) in the microwave for 1 minute per cup.
Follow the recipe below to make Muffin Tin Mac & Cheese! This recipe makes 12 SERVINGS, but you can adjust the recipe card for other serving sizes.
You might also enjoy our Macaroni & Cheese Baked in Crescent Dough Bites.
Mac & Cheese Cups (Cupcakes)
- 6-quart stockpot
- wooden spoon
- ice cream scoop
- silicone muffin pan
- 2 cups elbow macaroni uncooked
- 1 ½ cups mild cheddar cheese
- 1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large egg beaten
- ½ teaspoon dry mustard powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
Garlic Butter Panko Topping
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs unseasoned
- 1 tablespoons butter
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- Adjust oven rack to the middle position. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray your muffin tin with nonstick spray.
- Over low heat, melt butter. Once melted, add breadcrumbs, and garlic powder. Continuously stir crumbs until they are lightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil, and add your macaroni. Cook for about 8-10 minutes or until al dente. You do not want to overboil your noodles or they will be gummy.
- Remove pasta from heat and strain out excess water. Return pasta to the pan. Add the butter, milk, spices, cheeses, and egg. Mix until cheese is melted and everything is evenly combined.
- Using an ice cream scooper, fill coated muffin tins with macaroni and cheese. Sprinkle on an even amount of panko crumbs to each muffin.
- Bake cups for 25-30 minutes. Cups will be golden brown and feel formed to the touch.
- Allow cups to cool for at least 15 minutes before carefully popping them out.