December 4, 2022

Irkaimboeuf

Food never sleeps.

Mini Meatball Mac and Cheese

6 min read

This mini meatball mac and cheese combines two of my favorite comfort foods in one dish, is quick and easy to make, and will be a huge hit with the whole family.

Mini Meatball Mac and Cheese in bowl foodiecrush.com

I’m an enthusiastic cheerleader for finding ways to combine my favorite dishes into one. Just like my chicken marsala gnocchi, chicken piccata pasta, and my lasagna soup, this mac and cheese with mini meatballs marries two of my all-time favorite comfort foods. Plus, isn’t everything better in pasta-form?

I love my baked mac and cheese, and my creamy Instant Pot mac and cheese, but this recipe may one-up them. The mini meatballs are a mixture of ground beef and ground pork, for the ideal savory flavor combo and texture. I bake them until golden brown, which only takes 7-10 minutes because they’re so small. The cheese sauce is homemade but really easy, with the whole dish coming together in just about 30 minutes, perfect for even the busiest of weeknights. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s comfort food at its finest.

Meatballs ingredients foodiecrush.com

What’s in This Mini Meatball Mac and Cheese

For the mini meatballs, you’ll need:

  • Ground beef
  • Ground pork
  • Dry breadcrumbs
  • Eggs
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Garlic
  • Parsley

For the mac and cheese, you’ll need:

  • Pasta (such as elbow macaroni, shells, or rotelle)
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Whole milk
  • Cheddar cheese—a medium cheddar cheese is my pick
  • Fontina cheese—or other white melty cheese
  • Parsley
Meatballs ingredients foodiecrush.com

How to Make This Mini Meatball Mac and Cheese

This comforting mac and cheese meatball dinner is a breeze to make, especially since you can make the mac and cheese while the meatballs bake in the oven. Everything comes together in about 30 minutes!

Make the Mini Meatballs

Mix your meats. Add the ground beef, ground pork, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, eggs, garlic cloves, parsley, salt, and pepper to a medium-sized bowl. Use your fingers to get into the mixture and mix until combined.

Scoop and shape. Use a melon-baller (or a rounded 1/2 tablespoon measuring spoon) to achieve the perfect-sized mini meatball. Scoop balls of the meat mixture, then shape them by lightly rolling between the palms of your hands into small balls. Roast them at 450°F for 7-10 minutes so they’re golden on the outside but still juicy on the inside.

Meatballs foodiecrush.com

Make the Creamy Mac and Cheese

Cook the pasta about 1-2 minutes less than suggested so pasta is al denté.

Make a roux. Melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk briskly for about 2 minutes to cook the flour.

Make the creamy, cheesy sauce. Pour in the milk, whisking continuously to prevent any lumps. Keep whisking until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat then stir in cheese until smooth and add salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble and serve. Pour the cooked pasta into the pot with the cheese sauce. Add the mini meatballs and stir well to combine everything. Top with parsley and serve.

Mini Meatball Mac and Cheese cheese sauce foodiecrush.com

What are the 3 Best Kinds of Cheese for Mac and Cheese

The best mac and cheese recipes are those that feature at least two different types of cheese. You need at least one cheese with a bite, like sharp cheddar, Parmesan, and/or Gruyere. Avoid cheeses like mozzarella, which are too bland and get lost in a dish like mac and cheese. Choose cheeses that are going to lend themselves well to melting, resulting in a silky, creamy sauce, and not a greasy one.

Other Cheeses You Could Use

Here are some additional cheeses you could try:

  • Gruyere
  • American
  • Havarti
  • Monterey Jack
  • Gouda
  • Swiss
  • Provolone
  • Muenster
  • Brie
Mini Meatball Mac and Cheese in bowl foodiecrush.com

What are the Best Meatballs Made of

The best meatballs are made with fresh ground beef (somewhere between 80 and 85% lean), and ground pork, bread or bread crumbs, and a binder (like egg). However, chicken and turkey also make great meatballs (just make sure the turkey meat has some dark meat, or else they might turn out rather dry). You don’t need much in the way of seasoning. I swear by the classic, usual suspects—salt, pepper, garlic, Parmesan, and parsley.

Tip: If using bread instead of breadcrumbs, use good old-fashioned white sandwich bread. Soak it in milk or buttermilk for about 10 minutes to add the most moisture possible.

Is it Better to Bake or Fry Meatballs

In some meatball recipes like my BBQ meatballs, I first fry them and then finish cooking them by simmering them in a sauce. But for a recipe like this, frying them really isn’t necessary. Baking meatballs is quick and easy, and still imparts excellent flavor and texture. Plus, there’s no risk of the meatballs sticking to the pan, ensuring an easier cleanup).

Mini Meatball Mac and Cheese close up foodiecrush.com

Tips for Making the Best Mac and Cheese

When cooking your pasta, be sure to cook it just until al denté. I find cooking it 1-2 minutes less than what the box instructions dictate is perfect (you want your pasta to have a nice bite and not be mushy).

For the best cheese flavor, buy a block of cheese and shred it yourself. The pre-shredded cheese that comes in bags is often coated in cornstarch to prevent the cheese from sticking to itself. That added cornstarch can make the cheese sauce grainy, which you definitely don’t want.

Mini Meatball Mac and Cheese in skillet foodiecrush.com

What to Serve with This Mac and Cheese

Part of the beauty of this meal is that it’s designed to be a one-and-done, but if you want to feel more virtuous, here are some veggies that could go with:

If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.

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Print

Mini Meatball Mac and Cheese

This mini meatball mac and cheese combines two of my favorite comfort foods in one dish, is quick and easy to make, and will be a huge hit with the whole family.

Course Main Course

Cuisine American

Keyword mac and cheese, meatballs

Prep Time 30 minutes

Cook Time 30 minutes

Total Time 1 hour

Servings 10

Calories 769kcal

Ingredients

For the Meatballs

  • ½ pound ground beef
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • 1 cup dry bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese , grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 small garlic cloves , pressed or minced
  • ¼ cup parsley , minced
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Mac and Cheese

  • 1 pound small pasta , such as elbow macaroni, shells, or rotelle
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk , divided
  • 4 cups medium cheddar cheese , shredded
  • 2 cups fontina cheese , shredded
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • minced parsley , for serving

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 450°F.

  • Add the ground beef, ground pork, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, eggs, garlic cloves, parsley, salt, and pepper to a medium-sized bowl. Use your hands to combine until well mixed.

  • Use a melon baller (or a rounded 1/2 tablespoon measuring spoon) to scoop balls of the meat mixture and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Lightly roll between the palms of your hands into small balls and reset on the sheet pan.

  • Bake for 7-10 minutes or until lightly browned and just cooked through. Set aside.

For the Mac and Cheese

  • Cook the pasta about 1-2 minutes less than suggested so pasta is al denté. Drain the water and set the noodles aside.

  • In a deep bottom saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk briskly for about 2 minutes to cook the flour. Pour in the milk, whisking continuously to prevent any lumps. Keep whisking until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in cheese until smooth and add salt and pepper to taste.

  • In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta with the cheese sauce. Add the mini meatballs and stir well to combine everything. Top with parsley and serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 769kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 46g | Saturated Fat: 24g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 172mg | Sodium: 761mg | Potassium: 477mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1257IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 662mg | Iron: 2mg

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