Did you know that handheld mac and cheese was a thing? It's a delicious thing and an on-time thing in this era of safe and socially-distant celebrations when we're making everything to-go. I actually first made baked mac & cheese muffins for a Christmas party a few years back and they were such a hit. This version has been tested a couple of times since then, including at our intimate family Thanksgiving dinner last month and it is solid. If you're looking for a unique side dish, you're in the right place, boo! Let's get into how to make single-serve mac & cheese cups.
- Brown Butter Roasted Garlic Mac & Cheese
- Deluxe Bacon Mac & Cheese
- Cheesy Brussels Sprouts & Rice Casserole
Perhaps the best thing about this baked mac & cheese muffins recipe is that you can customize the mac and cheese to your taste and still get great results. I've used this method with soul food mac & cheese as well as my brown butter roasted garlic mac and it's always a winner. The difference is just in the delivery. Make it into individual mac & cheese bites by using a muffin tin. Also known as mac & cheese cups or mac & cheese muffins, I refer to them as single-serve baked mac & cheese...although it's difficult to eat only one.
The Best Kind of Cheese for Baked Mac & Cheese
There isn't really a best cheese for making macaroni and cheese. But I do recommend mixing it up. Even if it's simply using two different kinds of cheddar. Smoked gouda and spicy jack cheese are also faves.
While we're talking about cheese, here's a pro tip for making the best baked mac & cheese: don't use pre-shredded cheese. You know the bagged stuff you find in the dairy section at the supermarket? It contains anti-caking agents that keep the shreds from sticking together. And that's kind of counterproductive to making creamy, ooey-gooey baked macaroni and cheese. So shred the cheese yourself. I recommend using the shred disc attachment of a food processor to make quick work of it. My food processor isn't even a fancy one and it shreds all the cheese I need for this muffin tin mac & cheese recipe in under a minute!
Tips for Reheating Mac and Cheese
Mac & cheese is always one of the last things I make for a meal because it doesn't tend to reheat as well as other sides like mashed potatoes or green beans. On the flip side, I really enjoy baked mac & cheese most the next day. And I think it's because I prefer a firmer mac & cheese. Here are a few tips for reheating macaroni and cheese.
- If you want your mac & cheese to stay as moist as possible, reheat it in the oven rather than the microwave. Per the above, I'm a microwave gal myself.
- To retain moisture, cover the mac & cheese before reheating. Either loosely with a microwave-safe top in the microwave or with foil in the oven.
- With either method, add a splash of milk or cream to your mac and cheese portion (one tablespoon per cup of pasta) before reheating.
- It's best to reheat only the mac & cheese about to be eaten because the more times macaroni and cheese is reheated, the dryer it gets. So these baked mac & cheese muffins are actually ideal for reheating.
- I recommend sprinkling a bit more shredded cheese on top once it's all done but that's up to you.
Like any good mac & cheese recipe, this one needs to set just a bit before serving. So let these chill out in the pan for a few minutes before handling if you truly want grab-and-go mac & cheese. Otherwise, they'll fall apart in your hands. Sharing is caring so pin this baked mac & cheese muffins recipe on pinterest. Thanks for reading!
How to Make Baked Mac & Cheese Muffins
Classic mac & cheese made with cheddar and parmesan and baked into handheld muffins perfect for parties.
- 2 cups uncooked macaroni shells
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk
- 2 teaspoons mustard
- sea salt to taste
- white pepper to taste
- 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 2 ½ cups sharp cheddar shredded and divided
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-count muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.
In a large pot of salted, boiling water, cook shells just shy of al dente (about 6 to 7 minutes).
Meanwhile, melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in flour to form a roux and cook for about one minute.
Slowly whisk in milk until incorporated. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until thickened (about five minutes), stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
Stir in mustard and season with sea salt and black pepper to taste. Stir in parmesan cheese and 2 cups of cheddar cheese until sauce is smooth then fold in the cooked shells.
Fill prepared muffin tin with mac & cheese mixture and sprinkle half of remaining cheese over the top of each muffin. Bake for 20 minutes or until tops are golden and bubbly.
Let muffins sit in pan for 10-15 minutes in order to cool slightly before handling. Otherwise, they will fall apart.
Repeat baking process with remaining mac & cheese mixture. Should make 24 muffins in total.
- Store refrigerated in an airtight container and reheat individual portions with a splash of milk or cream.