This creamy Air fryer mac and cheese is a game-changer for anyone who loves this classic comfort food. It’s easy to make, delicious and easily adaptable to suit your taste. If you are one who loves crunch toppings on yours, you can also achieve this with the air fryer.
The best part is that you do not need to precook the noodles and whether you’re making it for a family dinner or a potluck, this dish is sure to be a crowd-pleaser and we are about to show you how to make it in easy steps.
Table of Contents
Creamy Air fryer Mac and cheese Recipe
There’s nothing quite like a bowl of warm and comforting mac and cheese. A classic dish that many of us have grown up with, and for good reason - it’s delicious!
The question here should be have you ever tried making it in an air fryer? This Air fryer mac and cheese recipe is super easy to make and is almost hands free.
It’s the perfect way to get that crispy, crunchy texture on the outside while keeping the cheese gooey and melted on the inside. It’s seriously one of the ultimate comfort foods you can make in the air fryer.
Why this recipe is so good
- Air fryer Mac and cheese is easy to make, requires minimal cleanup and is beginner friendly.
- You can customize it with different types of cheese or add-ins like bacon bits, ham chunks or jalapenos. And If you’d love to top it off with breadcrumbs and cheese, the air fryer gives it a crispy, crunchy texture that’s irresistible with no need to turn on the oven.
- Mac and cheese is a crowd pleaser that’s perfect for potlucks or a backyard family gathering.
- A little help for you: Cooking Mac and cheese in the air fryer can help clear up space in the oven or stovetop to make other dishes especially during the holidays.
Ingredients (with Substitutions)
- Elbow macaroni: Substitute with your favorite short pasta varieties.
- Cheese I used a combination of cheddar cheese and Cream cheese in this recipe. Feel free to use your Favorite combination of cheeses including velveeta cheese.
- Heavy cream: You can substitute heavy cream with evaporated milk, fresh milk, or half and half to make air fryer mac and cheese. If you do, add 2 tablespoon of butter to compensate for the fat in the heavy cream.
- Black pepper
How long to cook
It takes about 30 to 35 mins to cook Mac and cheese in the air fryer. This depends on a few factors like the type of container it’s cooked in. The type of air fryer you have and the temperature at which you cook it. Use that following as a guide and add more time as needed. All are cooked at 360°F
Aluminum cake pan: 30 mins covered with foil 5 mins uncovered.
Dark colored pan: 30 mins covered with foil and 2 to 3 mins uncovered.
Glass dish: 35 mins covered with foil check at 30 mins to be sure the liquid is still enough. 5 mins uncovered.
How to make mac and cheese in the air fryer
This is an overview of the recipe with step by step photos. Scroll down to the end of this post for a printable recipe card with the amount of ingredients and full recipe instructions.
Transfer all ingredients into an 8 inch aluminum pan. Cover tightly with foil.
Create a ‘sling’ with aluminum foil make sure the ends are long enough to create an overhang this will help you lift out the dish when it’s cooked.
Next place filled and covered pan in the air fryer and air fry at 360°F covered for 30 mins.
Remove the foil, stir and continue cooking at 360°F for another 5 mins. The noodles should be fully cooked by now. If it’s not, add a couple more minutes.
Stir and serve.
- A side salad or air fryer vegetables such as air fryer green beans and mushrooms, air fryer frozen Brussels sprouts or air fryer beets.
- Garlic bread or dinner rolls for a carb overload
- Meats, fish and seafood: Air fryer boneless chicken thighs, Greek chicken souvlaki, air fryer trout or salmon, air fryer Cajun shrimp or Jerk shrimp
How to store and reheat
- Store any leftover mac and cheese in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days
- Except your mac and cheese is topped with breadcrumbs, there’s no need to reheat in the air fryer. Simply into the microwave and reheat stirring every 30 seconds until it’s heated through
Air frying Tips
- No need to preheat.
- If your cooking pan doesn’t have a handle, consider placing a thick strip of aluminum foil at the bottom of the air fryer that’s long enough to create an over hang. This will help you pull lift out the pan when the Mac and cheese is ready.
- Cover the Mac and cheese with foil for the first 30mins this will trap stream and help the food cook evenly without drying it out.
- If you are using a dark colored pan, it’s likely to cook in less time than stated in this recipe because darker pans absorb and retain more heat than light colored pans. You may need to adjust timing downwards by 5 mins.
- For mac and cheese with breaded toppings, add your topping in the last 2 to mins of cooking.
Here you’ll find answers to common questions about this recipe. If your question isn’t answered, please leave us a comment below and we’ll gladly answer them.
The most common pasta variety used for Mac and cheese is usually elbow macaroni but you can use any short pasta if your choice, such rotini, penne, etc.
Definitely! You can use leftovers to make mac and cheese balls.
A block of Sharp cheddar cheese shredded at home is what I used for this recipe. Feel free to use store bought shredded cheese if you prefer.
You can use your favorite combination of cheeses included mozzarella cheese, Mexican cheese and even Velveeta cheese.
Nope. Surprised? You do not need to precook the pasta. It cooks to perfection in the air fryer. That’s why you need to ensure that it’s tightly covered with foil. The hot steam is what cooks the noodles.
Yes you can make this ahead of time. Follow the instructions in this recipe, then let it cool completely before storing in an air tight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
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Tools used for this recipe
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This creamy delicious air fryer mac and cheese recipe is super easy and is about to be your favorite way to make this classic dish. Hope you enjoy it with your favorite people.
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Air Fryer Yum’s Pro Tip! Air fryer temperatures may vary depending on size, make and model. When making a recipe for the first time, start with less time, check for doneness then add more time as needed.
Air fryer mac and cheese
- 8 oz elbow noodles
- 1 ½ cup water
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoon cream cheese
- 8 oz Sharp cheddar cheese (shredded at home)
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Place a foil sling at the bottom of basket make sure it has an over hang. This will help you pull out the cake pan. Skip this step if your pan has a handle.
- Add noodles, grated cheddar cheese, cream cheese, heavy cream, water, black pepper, salt and mustard to cake pan. Stir to combine.
- Cover tightly with foil then place cake pan in the air fryer basket over the sling. Fold the over hang of the sling on top of the cake pan.
- Set temperature to 360°F and cook for 30 mins.
- After 30 mins remove foil stir the Mac and cheese and cook fo another 5 to 7 mins uncovered then stir and serve
- At this point it may look wet, don’t worry it will thicken as it cools.
- If you’d like to add some breading at the top, do so in the last 2 mins of cooking.
- You can use store bought pre shredded cheese if that is what you prefer. However, be aware that pre shredded cheeses have anti caking agents that can make your mac and cheese thicker. Therefore, you may need to add extra liquid when using pre shredded cheese.
Did you make this air fryer mac and cheese recipe? Awesome! Please rate it by clicking the stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ when you leave a comment below. If you loved it please share the link to this recipe with family and friends and in you favorite Facebook group.