Potato Chip-Crusted Macaroni and Cheese Bites

IngredientsCheese, Pasta
Menu PartAppetizer/Small Plate
Cuisine TypeAmerican

Chef Traci Des Jardins
San Francisco

A customer favorite—mac and cheese—is transformed into appetizer size by cutting the chilled mixture into cubes. The cubes are then coated with panko and crushed potato chips and deep-fried to create a crunchy crust. To contrast with the richness of the recipe, chef Des Jardins pairs the bites with a refreshing tomato jam.


Mac and Cheese Bites
10 tbsp. butter
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
5 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups each grated white cheddar, provolone, Swiss and Monterey Jack cheese
1 1/4 tsp. cayenne
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
10 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
5 cups panko bread crumbs
5 cups crushed potato chips
8 large eggs, beaten
Rice bran oil, for deep frying

Spicy Tomato Jam
2 cups sliced white onions
8 garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
4 qt. canned crushed tomatoes with juice
1 tsp. cayenne
6 tbsp. hot pepper sauce, or to taste
2 tbsp. kosher salt


  1. Prepare Mac and Cheese Bites: In large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over med. heat, melt butter. Stir in 1 1/4 cups flour to make a roux; cook about 5 min., stirring frequently.
  2. In a separate saucepan, bring cream to a simmer. Slowly pour hot cream into roux, whisking constantly. Cook 5 min. or until thickened, whisking frequently. Add cheeses and cayenne; season with salt and pepper. Cook over low heat until cheeses melt to a smooth consistency, whisking frequently to prevent scorching.  Remove from heat and keep warm.
  3. Cook macaroni in 4 gal. heavily salted boiling water for 2 min. less than directions state. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain well.
  4. Fold macaroni into warm cheese sauce; cook over low heat, stirring constantly with wooden spoon, until macaroni is tender.
  5. Coat a shallow hotel pan lightly with nonstick cooking spray; pour mixture into pan and spread in an even layer. Refrigerate, covered, until firm. 
  6. Cut around edge of pan to release macaroni. Unmold onto a cutting board; cut into 1 1/2-in. cubes.
  7. In food processor, pulse panko and potato chips until roughly the same size.  Dust macaroni cubes lightly with flour, dip into eggs and toss in panko-potato chip mixture to coat completely. Place on parchment paper-lined sheet pan; refrigerate until needed.
  8. Meanwhile, prepare Spicy Tomato Jam: in large saucepan over med. heat, sweat onions and garlic in oil. Add tomatoes and cayenne; cook over med. heat until reduced to 6 cups. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Add salt and hot pepper sauce and puree in food processor or blender. Set aside.
  9. Heat oil in deep fryer to 350 F. For each serving, to order, deep-fry 3 macaroni cubes in hot oil about 4 min. or until crust is golden brown. Drain on paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Serve with 1/4 cup Spicy Tomato Jam.

Photo courtesy of California Milk Advisory Board

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