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Deep-Fried Mac & Cheese Shells

I created this deep-friend mac and cheese recipe for my husband, who loves mac & cheese. He describes this recipe as "unbelievably delicious" because of the crispy deep-fried coating and the creamy richness on the inside. —Shirley Rickis, Lady Lake, Florida
  • Total Time
    Prep: 45 min. Cook: 15 min.
  • Makes
    20 appetizers (2-1/2 cups dipping sauce)


  • 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


  • Cook pastas separately according to 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.
  • In another large saucepan, combine small pasta shells and half of the cheese mixture; set aside. For dipping sauce, stir 1 cup milk into remaining cheese mixture; keep warm.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Test Kitchen Tips
  • Sharp cheddar cheese has been aged longer than regular cheddar. As cheese ages, its flavor becomes more pronounced. Using aged cheese in a recipe can add complexity and rich flavor, even to humble favorites like mac ’n’ cheese.
  • In Europe, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Parmesan are considered the same cheese. But in the U.S., Parmesan is a generic term that may not come from Italy’s Parmigiano-Reggiano region. Using the authentic Italian cheese (in a lesser amount than the original’s ½ cup) ensures a cheesy richness in the makeover with less fat and calories.
  • Check out our top 10 ooey-gooey mac and cheese recipes.
  • 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.

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