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Air fryer mac and cheese

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When the cold nights start to draw in we love nothing more than a big hearty dinner. Lately I’ve been experimenting with my air fryer recipes more and I’ve adapted my own bacon, mac and cheese pasta bake recipe to work in the air fryer. This air fryer macaroni and cheese is crispy on the top while being soft, creamy, cheesy and delicious on the inside!

This is one of those amazing hearty meals where you can feed a crowd, on a budget, and is great served with some air fryer vegetables and maybe a side of air fryer frozen chicken nuggets too.

We love making big family style meals, where everyone can serve themselves, and where I can just put the leftovers directly in the fridge and enjoy them in the days to come with minimal fuss and effort.

Macaroni cheese cooked in the air fryer in a ceramic dish being served up on a utensil

Ingredients for mac and cheese in the air fryer:

Makes 2 dishes of air fryer mac and cheese – the recipe prep time is about 10 minutes and it’s quite simple!

Cheese sauce:

  • 50 g butter
  • 50 g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (or 2 minced cloves)
  • 600 ml whole milk
  • pinch Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt and pepper
  • 300 g cheddar cheese

Other ingredients:

  • 400g macaroni or other pasta of choice

Topping:

  • 30g sharp cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 30g parmesan (grated)
Air fryer cookies and a glass of milk

Method for air fryer mac and cheese:

First up you’re going to want to make sure you’ve got a baking dish that is suitable for use in your air fryer and bit enough to fit inside the air fryer. As I have the Ninja Foodi OL750UK I just remove the air fryer basket and cook in the main cooking pot itself.

Cook your pasta for 8 minutes, until it is firm but not completely soft.

Drain this and set to one side.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the flour in.

Cook for one minute.

Add in the salt, mustard and a pinch of nutmeg. Slowly add the milk, while whisking, until fully combined. Then remove the sauce from the heat.

Add the cheddar cheese and then place it back on the heat, stirring continuously until it is melted. Add black pepper and stir through.

Add the pasta to your cheese sauce, then add to the serving dish. I find that this recipe makes two baking dishes full of macaroni cheese, suitable for fitting in my air fryer, and so I freeze one for use another day for an easy and simple dinner.

Top with the cheese mix, or another topping of your choice (see below for some suggestions).

Cook in the air fryer at 180C (360F) for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

There is no need to stir during cooking, or turn over, but do check it around the 15 and 20 minute mark to make sure the top is not burning. As each air fryer is different. Check my air fryer tips for some other tips and tricks to using the air fryer too!

A plate piled high with air fryer frozen chicken fries cooked until they're crispy and delicious!

Alternative pasta types if you don’t have macaroni / elbow macaroni on hand:

If you’re trying to put together a meal using items that you already have at home then you can use any type of pasta really. Some of my favourite suitable alternatives to macaroni would be conchiglie, penne, farfalle, torchio, rigatoni, fusilli or ziti. You could just use noodles or any type of pasta that you have to hand.

Want to add a little extra special flavour to your dish?

We love to add a little cooked meat. Sometimes I’ll make some air fryer bacon beforehand and use that. I’ve also used leftover whole roast chicken, bacon lardons, chorizo or even just some chestnut mushrooms to bring some more flavour to the dish.

A Ninja Foodi OL750UK multi-cooker on a kitchen worktop.

Topping ideas for your mac and cheese:

While I love to use a cheese mix on the top you could also use breadcrumbs, panko or just normal white bread, or you could use polenta or something similar. Anything that’ll go golden brown and bring a bit of crunch to the dish is a welcome addition.

I’ve even seen people who will crunch up a packet of crisps and add this to the top alongside the cheese mix.

How to reheat mac and cheese in the air fryer:

If you’ve got a macaroni and cheese dish which has already been cooked you can definitely reheat this in the air fryer.

I’d look to follow similar cooking times to above, around 15-20 minutes at 180C (360F) and just check at the 10 and 15 minute marks to make sure it’s not burning.

Obviously you want the dish to be piping hot when you serve it and make sure you use a dish suitable for air frying.

Air fryer green beans that have been topped and tailed, in a stoneware bowl

Want to serve some other air fryer goodies alongside this?

Why not take a look at my air fryer side dishes OR try out some of these great recipes:

If you’re looking to get the most from your air fryer these these are some of my favourite air fryer accessories and cookbooks:

Something to note about air fryer recipes is that all air fryers have different sizes, depths and as such the cooking times can vary. All air fryer recipes on this website are intended as a guide, and not a guarantee that the timings will be perfect. Enjoy!

Air fryer potato recipes - air fryer cheese fries, air fryer diced potatoes, air fryer hasselback potatoes, air fryer frozen potato wedges, air fryer loaded fries and air fryer baked potatoes

How to make air fryer macaroni and cheese:

Air fryer mac and cheese

Delicious creamy macaroni cheese made in the air fryer.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword air fryer, cheese, macaroni, pasta
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 464 kcal

Ingredients

Cheese sauce:

  • 50 g butter
  • 50 g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder or 2 minced cloves
  • 600 ml whole milk
  • pinch Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt and pepper
  • 300 g cheddar cheese

Other ingredients:

  • 400 g macaroni or other pasta of choice

Topping:

  • 30 g sharp cheddar cheese grated
  • 30 g parmesan grated

Instructions

  1. Find a baking dish that is suitable for use in your air fryer.

  2. Cook your pasta for 8 minutes, until it is firm but not completely soft.

  3. Drain this and set to one side.
  4. Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the flour in.
  5. Cook for one minute.
  6. Add in the salt, mustard and a pinch of nutmeg. Slowly add the milk, while whisking, until fully combined. Then remove the sauce from the heat.

  7. Add the cheddar cheese and then place it back on the heat, stirring continuously until it is melted fully. Add black pepper and stir through.

  8. Add the pasta to this sauce, then add to the serving dish. I find that this recipe makes two baking dishes full of macaroni cheese and so I freeze one for use another day for an easy and simple dinner. (4 servings total)

  9. Top with the cheese mix, or another topping of your choice (see above for some suggestions).

  10. Cook in the air fryer at 180C (360F) for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.
  11. There is no need to stir during cooking, or turn over etc, but do check it around the 15 and 20 minute mark to make sure the top is not burning. As each air fryer is different. Check my air fryer tips for some other tips and tricks to using the air fryer too!

Note: All calorie information is for demonstration purposes only and is based on the specific uncooked ingredients that I used when creating the recipe.

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Macaroni cheese cooked in the air fryer in a ceramic dish
Recipe Rating




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