Mac and Cheese Canapés

These mac and cheese canapes, essentially baked mac and cheese bites, are made from macaroni and sharp Cheddar cheese and baked in mini-muffin tins. Perfect finger food for kids and adults. Cocktail party, anyone?

A grey plate half-filled with mac and cheese canapes, with a few resting beside the plate

Mac and cheese canapés? Yup. Why not? If you feel like being fancy schmancy, you can eat mac and cheese while holding your pinky finger aloft. We like to set them out on a fancy platter alongside flutes of Champagne as the effervescence cuts through the richness and serves as a playful sidekick to the fancy schmancy mac and cheese. For the full effect, plop the lovelies on a silver platter. And, as a favor to all the moms, the leftovers work magnificently in lunch boxes—minus the bubbly, natch. Originally published December 4, 2012.Renee Schettler Rossi

Why You Can't Use Your Favorite Mac And Cheese For This Recipe

Though it may be tempting to take your fave macaroni and cheese recipe and simply plop it in mini-muffin tins, don’t try it. [Editor’s Note: Trust us. We speak from experience.] The technique of making backed mini mac and cheese canapés requires a mac and cheese incarnation that’s not runny and ooey and gooey. Especially when you bear in mind that you’ll be serving these canapés to guests who will be holding them aloft, probably in the vicinity of your carpets and rugs. That’s all to say precisely why you need this recipe.

Mac and Cheese Canapés

  • Quick Glance
  • (4)
  • 25 M
  • 40 M
  • Makes 16 to 24
4.8/5 - 4 reviews
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Special Equipment: Mini-muffin tin



Preheat the oven to 425ºF (218ºC). Generously butter a 24-cup mini-muffin tin and, if desired, sprinkle the cups with breadcrumbs. (If you’re baking the canapés in batches, reserve some of the butter and breadcrumbs, if using, for the second batch.)

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until it’s just barely beginning to soften and is at the early stages of al dente. Drain the pasta, rinse it under cold water, and return it to the pot.

Meanwhile, melt the 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in the flour and cook, still stirring constantly, for 1 minute, or until the mixture turns slightly beige and is bubbly. Increase the heat to medium and slowly whisk in the warm milk. Bring to a boil, whisking almost constantly. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the cheeses to the sauce in 1/2-cup increments, stirring until the cheese melts before making another addition. Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir well.

Beat the egg yolk with the cream and mustard, if using, and stir it into the pasta. Season with salt and pepper, and press the mixture into the prepared mini-muffin cups. (You may not fill all 24 of the cups.)

Bake the canapés for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cheese sauce is bubbly and the tops are light brown. Let them rest for 5 minutes in the pan, then turn them out onto a platter and pass ASAP. The canapés can be baked, cooled, and refrigerated, tightly covered, for up to 2 days. Reheat them in a 375ºF (190ºC) until warmed through, 7 to 10 minutes.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

A lovely little mouthful! What can one say about the flavors as familiar to most of us as apple pie? Well, this cheesy, creamy, slightly crunchy bite was really quite delightful. I loved the addition of the mustard—made it feel a little more sophisticated—but I also think a little pinch of cayenne would go down a treat. A little time-consuming in that you need to make the cream sauce and then fill the fiddly little cups, but really all in all a good bit of nosh. I used ditalini pasta, as mac and cheese for me is always elbow macaroni, so I found this the best shape to hold the sauce and the perfect reminder of childhood. I think this is something most everyone can do and would be loved by all.

These are very tasty and not that hard to make. Do be sure to press the mixture into the mini muffin tins and to let them sit in the tin for at least 5 minutes, if not more, before placing them on your serving platter. Some of mine came apart when I was trying to get them out and I think it was because I didn’t press some of them in well enough or I didn’t let them sit long enough. Mine were perfectly baked after 12 minutes. I chose to use ditalini and used the optional Dijon mustard, which I think gave them a nice touch. I did reheat a few as directed and it worked perfectly. We all thought these were a fun way to make mac and cheese and would be a great appetizer.


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  1. Oops. Talk about autopilot. Discovered when I went in for a final kitchen cleanup that I didn’t use ditalini after all! It was De Cecco elbows No. 81, the small ones. Had bought them before I found the ditalini. Oh, well. They worked.

    And another couple of notes – when you’re making the very thick sauce, do not be surprised when seeming extra oil appears at the edges of the mixture. If you haven’t melted many real cheeses before (as opposed to things like Velveeta), you’ll learn that this always happens. Just keep going, it’s normal with this. Also, the barely al dente cook helps keep these little babes firm after they’re turned out of their pans. Also helps with the chewiness, which is part of the fun. I did freeze this first batch and thawed one out this morning. It was fine. I do think I may take my electric griddle to the party on a very low setting to put the canapes on, just a wee bit above room temp.

  2. I found the yummy bites tastier at room temp than hot–the cheese is cheesier then. Be aware that the sauce is VERY thick, mainly melted cheese with the flour roux only a starting point. Used ditalini, a little heavier on the Dijon (I often use dry mustard in my mac and cheese) and a shot of Cholula, just because. Not spicy hot even with all that. Yielded 18 for me. I will double the recipe next time as I’m making these for a large shower, and I will freeze them. Also will consider salting and peppering the buttered cups before I breadcrumb them; the very first taste is quite bland to me, especially when they’re still quite warm from the oven.

  3. These are insanely good as written, though you need to cook them until very crunchy to get them to pop out properly. I think they would be even better and hold together better if cooled before unmolding and then reheated on a cookie sheet.

    1. Hi Rebecca, you’ve got to be very generous with the butter in the muffin tins. That’s the key to popping them out easily. If you let them cool in the tins some of the cheese may adhere, so I fear it would work against you. Also, I find that times I don’t sprinkle the cups with breadcrumbs they are more difficult to remove. But I’m so glad you liked them! Ellen, author of Mac & Cheese

  4. I’m looking forward to making these for my dinner party on Saturday! I’m known for making Mac + Cheese, though I usually don’t follow a recipe. I’m wondering if this recipe would work well in regular sized muffin pans? I’m trying to keep this dinner low-cost, and I don’t own a mini muffin pan. People will actually be sitting down at a dining room table with an appetizer plate, so it’s okay that they wouldn’t be bite sized. Is there anything that I should change to make them larger?

    1. Kathryn, I don’t think there’s any problem with making them larger. The only thing you’ll need to do is adjust the baking time. Since we didn’t test for a larger canapé, you want to make sure that they’re cooked through and hold together. I’d suggest making the mac & cheese slightly ahead of time and baking off one to know exactly how long you should bake the rest. Have a lovely party!

      1. Thanks David! I did end up making them in a regular sized muffin pan, and they worked out perfectly! After cooking them for the 12 minutes, I checked them every 2 minutes and ended up pulling them out at 18. They were great, everyone loved them. I even messed up and only used 1 tsp of flour, instead of 1 Tbsp, and they were still delicious. This seems to be a pretty fool-proof recipe – my favorite kind!

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