Fried Mac and cheese bites, made with five-cheese Mac and cheese mixed with BBQ pulled pork, for the ultimate game day appetizer!
Classic fried Mac and cheese bites, taken up a few notches! Five cheese homemade Mac and cheese, slow cooker BBQ pulled pork, combined and breaded in crispy spiced panko and fried until perfectly golden. Hungry yet?
This post is sponsored by Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q. As always, all opinions here are my own.
Y’all! I just made the BEST appetizer ever! When Stubb’s Bar-B-Q Sauce came to me and wanted to partner on an extreme tailgating recipe, I was so excited. I’ve been a fan of their Bar-B-Q sauce for a long time now, and I’ve been toying with the idea of a pulled pork BBQ mac and cheese… so why not combine all three things into one fun appetizer?!
Are you a tailgating fan? I like it, but what I enjoy more is extreme tailgating at your own game day party! You can relax more, not have to deal with the unpredictable weather, and can have a wide variety of food options, like these fried mac and cheese bites.
Normally I’m a mac and cheese purist, and don’t like other condiments or flavors going on with my good ol’ mac and cheese. BUT, once I tried adding the spiced pulled pork that’s been tossed in plenty of Stubb’s Original Bar-B-Q Sauce, well, let’s just say it was a lightbulb moment!
While the BBQ pulled pork mac and cheese is delicious on its own (hello fun dinner idea!), here are a few ways that I made these extreme. I took my traditional baked mac and cheese, and bumped it up to a 5-cheese version… that’s right, FIVE cheeses! I added extra Stubb’s Original Bar-B-Q Sauce to the pulled pork. Instead of a bowl of mac and cheese, I breaded and fried it. Lastly, I drizzled the fried mac and cheese bites with BBQ sauce!
I love using Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q Sauce for this recipe. Their sauces are made right with quality, gluten free ingredients, and have NO high fructose corn syrup. For this recipe I used the Original flavor, which we love because Stubb’s doesn’t have any overly sweet flavor. The Original flavor is perfectly balanced!
Look how crispy that breading is!!! For this recipe I use panko breadcrumbs that have been spiced up a bit with salt, pepper, dried parsley and cayenne pepper.
OTHER BREADING OPTIONS:
- Instead of making your own spiced panko, consider adding some of Stubb’s Bar-B-Q Legendary Spice Rub
- Use a mix of panko and traditional breadcrumbs
- Finely crush up some crunchy potato chips (original or BBQ flavor would be excellent) and use that as a sole breading option, or mix with some panko
This recipe may seem daunting at first, because you have to make the mac and cheese, plus the pulled pork… combine them, chill it, THEN fry the mac and cheese bites. But, you can easily use leftovers to make this recipe, make the mac and cheese and pulled pork ahead of time, or even use store bought ingredients. In the recipe notes section, I’ll detail these options for you!
As with other fried recipes, there are some tricks and tips that will help you fry easily at home, without a fancy deep fryer. This recipe also has a couple of other tips, due to the soft nature of mac and cheese.
- Refrigerate pulled pork mac and cheese until firm (or overnight), then use an ice cream scoop to form ball shapes.
- Place balls onto a wax paper lined plate or baking sheet, then freeze about 30 minutes. This helps the mac and cheese hold it’s shape during the frying process.
- Grab a large enameled cast iron pot (even regular cast iron works well here), and fill it up with a few inches of oil (I use peanut, canola, or sunflower oil to fry)
- Heat over MED heat until it’s 360 degrees F (use a thermometer for more accurate measuring)
- Bread mac and cheese bites by tossing in flour, dipping in egg wash, then rolling (and pressing to coat) in panko.
- Fry for around 3 minutes, stirring gently to turn every so often, until golden brown.
- Carefully remove bites with a slotted spoon (or a spider – my fav!), to a cooling rack (with paper towels under it to catch the grease)
You can totally do this!
The next time you’re up for some extreme tailgating at your own game day party, give these BBQ Pulled Pork Fried Mac and Cheese Bites made with Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q a try! I promise, they’re SO worth the effort!!
- Cast Iron Pot – Great pot for so many things… soups, chilis, frying… you name it!
- Frying thermometer – Never have to guess what the oil temperature is again!
- Spider – The BEST tool for removing food from the hot oil… it’s also great for pasta!
- Condiment bottle – Perfect for drizzling the bbq sauce, plus they’re great for cookie icing, olive oil, etc.
- Gloves – I use these gloves when handling raw meat, and when breading, like in this recipe. Easy cleanup for the win!
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- 1 recipe Homemade Mac and Cheese (using the Five Cheese Variation in recipe notes section) , prepared, but NOT baked
- 3-4 lb boneless pork shoulder (or butt), netting removed
- 2 yellow onions, sliced
- 5 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 Tbsp light brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
- 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 cups Stubb's Legendary Bar-B-Q Sauce (Original flavor)
FRIED MAC AND CHEESE BITES:
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs + 1 Tbsp water, beaten together
- 2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 3-4 cups canola, sunflower, or peanut oil
- minced fresh parsley, for garnish
- additional Stubb's Original Bar-B-Q sauce, for drizzling and dipping
- To the bottom of a slow cooker (I use a 6 qt size), add onions and garlic. Top with chicken stock.
- Combine brown sugar, chili powder, salt, cumin and black pepper and rub all over pork shoulder. Place pork on top of the onion mixture in slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH for 6-7 hours, or LOW for 8-10, until pork is fork tender.
- Remove pork from slow cooker and place in large mixing bowl. Shred using two forks, discarding any pure fat pieces. Stir in Stubb's Original Bar-B-Q Sauce and set aside.
- Add pulled pork to prepared mac and cheese, stirring to thoroughly combine. Cover and refrigerate for several hours until firm, or overnight.
MAC AND CHEESE BITES:
- Scoop large golfball sized balls of the cold mac and cheese (an ice cream scoop works perfectly!), and use hands to form into complete ball shape. Place onto wax paper lined plate or baking sheet. Repeat with remaining mac and cheese. Place plate or baking sheet in freezer for 30 minutes.
- Add oil to dutch oven or large heavy bottomed bot. Heat over MED heat until oil temperature measures 360 F degrees.
- While oil is heating up, add flour, egg mixture and panko to three shallow bowls. To panko bowl, add parsley, cayenne and a pinch of salt and pepper, stirring to combine. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and place a wire cooling rack on top; set aside.
- Remove Mac and cheese balls from freezer and roll, one at a time, in flour (shaking off the excess), then dipping in egg mixture, then rolling (and pressing lightly to coat) in the panko mixture. Repeat with remaining balls.
- Place half the balls on a clean wax paper lined plate and refrigerate (or freeze), while frying the other half. You don't want to let the balls get too warm, or they could start to fall apart during the frying process.
- Add Mac and cheese balls, 4-5 at a time to the hot oil, gently nudging the balls as they fry, so all sides are fried equally. Fry for approximately 3 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Gently remove fried balls and place onto prepared wire rack to cool. Repeat with any remaining balls.
- Serve hot, drizzled with a bit of Stubb's Original Bar-B-Q Sauce, sprinkled with parsley, and with extra BBQ sauce for dipping.
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