Deep-Fried Mac & Cheese Shells

Total Time

Prep: 45 min. Cook: 15 min.


20 appetizers (2-1/2 cups dipping sauce)

Updated: Apr. 24, 2022
I created this deep fried mac and cheese recipe for my husband. He describes this recipe as unbelievably delicious because of the crispy deep-fried coating on the outside and the creamy richness on the inside. —Shirley Rickis, The Villages, Florida
Deep-Fried Mac & Cheese Shells Recipe photo by Taste of Home


  • 2 cups uncooked small pasta shells
  • 20 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 package (16 ounces) Velveeta, cubed
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1-1/4 cups 2% milk, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Oil for deep-fat frying


  1. Cook pastas separately according to their package directions for al dente; drain. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add Velveeta, cheddar cheese, cream and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Cook and stir over low heat until blended. Remove from heat.
  2. In another large saucepan, combine small pasta shells and half the cheese mixture; set aside. For dipping sauce, stir 1 cup milk into remaining cheese mixture; keep warm.
  3. In a shallow bowl, whisk eggs with remaining milk. In another shallow bowl, mix bread crumbs with remaining Parmesan cheese. Place flour in a third shallow bowl. Fill each large shell with scant 1/4 cup pasta mixture. Dip in flour to coat all sides; shake off excess. Dip in egg mixture, then in bread crumb mixture, patting to help coating adhere.
  4. In an electric skillet or a deep fryer, heat oil to 375°. Fry shells, a few at a time, 1-2 minutes on each side or until dark golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with dipping sauce.

Deep-Fried Mac & Cheese Shells Tips

How do you make the mac and cheese stick together?

To make the mac and cheese stick together, set it aside to cool slightly after assembling so that it firms up and hold its shape. Also, when stuffing the shells, use a spoon to fill and compact the mixture firmly but gently.

What is the best cheese combination for mac and cheese?

The best cheese combination for mac and cheese includes Velveeta for its smooth melting quality, cheddar for its sharpness and Parmesan for its nuttiness. Have fun experimenting with other contrasting cheese flavors and textures, like Gruyere, Gouda and even cream cheese!

How should I serve deep-fried mac and cheese?

You can serve Deep-Fried Mac & Cheese as a hearty appetizer or make it a meal alongside a crisp green salad, cooked broccoli or sauteed green beans. Check out more ooey-gooey mac and cheese recipes! Research contributed by Mark Neufang, Taste of Home Culinary Assistant

Nutrition Facts

1 appetizer with 2 tablespoons dipping sauce: 340 calories, 23g fat (10g saturated fat), 72mg cholesterol, 451mg sodium, 21g carbohydrate (3g sugars, 1g fiber), 12g protein.