Cheesecake Factory Fried Macaroni and Cheese Balls Recipe {Copycat}

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Cheesecake Factory Fried Macaroni and Cheese Balls. If you know, you know! White cheddar macaroni and cheese formed into balls, then battered and deep fried. Served over a creamy marinara, this is one of the restaurants most popular appetizers and I am here to show you how to make them right in your very own home! It’s a lot easier than you may think.

How to make Fried Mac and Cheese Balls from Cheesecake Factory

How do you make deep fried mac and cheese balls? Well it takes just a bit of planning as you’ll need to make the macaroni and cheese the day before as it needs to chill at least 8 hours. It then becomes firm enough to cut and roll into balls. Spread it into a baking dish that you have prepared with cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap.

You can get my recipe for White Cheddar Mac and Cheese right here! But be sure to use elbow macaroni for your pasta. I am using just half of that original recipe for my 8″ square baking pan.

Ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe

First decide how large you want to make the balls. Cheesecake Factory serves four per person and it’s a LOT for one person as an appetizer. In the end after much experimentation, we decided that they could have been smaller and recommend getting 24 out of an 8″ square baking dish as show above.

Once divided, simply form them into a ball which is easier now that they have chilled over night. Roll them into flour, then egg mixed with a bit of water and seasoned with salt and pepper. Finally, into the Panko bread crumbs. Make them all at once because frying happens fairly quickly.

Low them into a pan with about 2″ of vegetable oil and move them around frequently.

Eventually, they will be evenly golden as you keep moving them around the pan. If your oil gets too hot, a trick is to add more of the balls which will take that temperature down quickly.

Remove the balls to a paper towel lined plate to both drain and cool. They are extremely hot at this point and need to set up for a few minutes before enjoying.

If you over fry them, the cheese will start oozing out.

What type of sauce is served with this appetizer

The Cheesecake Factory serves them on a bed of Creamy Marinara. We’re using Private Selection® Creamy Rose Tomato & Cream Sauce available at Fry’s (which might be Kroger in your area). I found several brands available in different grocery stores. Be sure to warm it before serving.

Serve four to a plate on top of that warmed creamy marinara and top with just a bit of shredded parmesan. The last thing is that sprig of fresh Italian flat leaf parsley for garnish and you are ready to enjoy!

The center is creamy and warm. The exterior crisp and that sauce…just makes it special.

Leftovers can be stored in the fridge. If you have an air fryer, that would be perfect for reheating otherwise, place into an oven at about 350 degrees just until heated through.

Did you make my Cheesecake Factory Fried Macaroni and Cheese Balls. Leave me a comment below and let me know what you thought. You can also tag me with your photos on Instagram @aimee_stock I love seeing your creations 🙂


Cheesecake Factory Fried Macaroni and Cheese Balls

Cheesecake Factory Fried Macaroni and Cheese Balls
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4 servings (or more depending on size)


  • 1 Large stock pot
  • 1 8" square baking dish
  • 1 Cooking Spray


  • 1/2 recipe White Cheddar Mac and Cheese (see blog post for link) – PREPARE WITH ELBOW PASTA, not Cavatappi
  • 1/2 c All Purpose Flour
  • 2 large Eggs with a little water added
  • 1 c Panko Breadcrumbs
  • Salt to taste, add to the egg mixture
  • Pepper to taste, add to the egg mixture
  • Shredded Parmesan
  • Italian Flat Leaf Parsley Sprig for garnish
  • Oil for frying


  • DAY AHEAD: The first step is to prepare the White Cheddar Mac and Cheese with ELBOW pasta (see blog post for recipe). I am using a half recipe in an 8" square baking pan, but feel free to make more with the whole recipe. I would recommend a 9×13" baking pan in that case. CHILL OVERNIGHT.
  • The next day, cut the macaroni into portions. The size is up to you but we recommend about 24 for the perfect size. Roll into balls.
  • Place each ball immediately into all purpose flour, then an egg wash made of 2 eggs, salt, pepper and a splash of water and finally, roll in panko bread crumbs. Make all of the balls before heating your oil.
  • Heat about 2" of oil in a heavy bottomed stock pot over medium high heat. Test a few panko breadcrumbs in the oil to be sure they sizzle. Add 4-6 balls using a spider or slotted spoon.
  • Move the balls around so they fry evenly on all sides. Take care not to over cook or the cheese will begin to ooze out.
  • Remove with a spider or slotted spoon and place onto paper towels to drain and set up. They are extremely hot at this point and should cool slightly prior to serving.
  • Warm the creamy marinara in a small sauce pan and plate it. Serve 4 balls per person. Top with shredded parmesan and garnish with fresh parsley.


Refrigerate any leftover balls and reheat using an air fryer or oven at 350 degrees just until heated through.
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