Last updated on September 11th, 2023 at 02:10 pm
Stouffer’s mac and cheese is a favorite of every pasta lover. Although traditionally baked in an oven, it’s the perfect meal for when you want comfort food for dinner quickly.
However, you might be wondering if you can ever make your mac and cheese work in an air fryer.
The answer is a YES. You can cook your Stouffer’s mac and cheese in an air fryer. However, you’ll need to use an air fryer pan, so the cheese doesn’t dribble through the basket. Let’s look at how we can create the perfect air fryer mac and cheese.
How to Cook Stouffer’s Mac and Cheese in an Air fryer?
Stouffer’s mac and cheese is pretty easy to make. You can either buy the packaged version or make it from scratch yourself.
Here I’ll outline how to make the air fryer mac and cheese for both the store-bought and the homemade versions.
#1. Stouffer’s packaged Mac and Cheese
Stouffer’s mac and cheese contain all the ingredients you would generally need to make it from scratch.
These ingredients include cooked macaroni, milk, water, cheddar cheese, and seasoning.
Using a baking pan, you can cook your favorite mac and cheese in an air fryer without being scared of messing things up.
Take a look at the steps below:
- Unwrap the packaged mac and cheese
- Preheat the air fryer to about 290•F
- Pour the entire mix into the air fryer pan or any oven-safe bowl that can sit in your air fryer.
- Set the timing to about 4-6 minutes
- Stir continuously until fully cooked.
Your air fryer mac and cheese is ready to serve!
#2. Homemade Mac and Cheese.
You can also make a Stouffer’s replica from scratch. Cooking air fryer mac and cheese this way is similar to baking it in an oven.
In addition, delicious mac and cheese start with using the right ingredients. What are the various things you should know about each ingredient? I’ve explained this below:
First is the variety of macaroni noodles. With a wide variety to choose from, like elbow macaroni, penne, or even shells, you should note that the smaller the macaroni, the quicker it will soak up the sauce.
So as much as possible, go for small varieties. Most people use elbow macaroni anyway, and this is fine too.
#2. Heavy Cream:
Use the heavy cream to your taste, whether you prefer it thick and creamy or light and runny. It would be best to decide how much cream to add based on your preference.
Your choice of seasoning is also up to you. Salt, pepper, garlic powder, etc., works well for flavoring, but you can add any other ingredient for a burst of flavor. Please don’t overdo it, though.
This dish’s most popular cheeses are cheddar or gouda. You can use any other cheese you like, but I recommend using cheddar and gouda cheese in a 50-50 ratio.
Below is the air fryer recipe for homemade mac and cheese.
- Combine all the ingredients, add water and stir into a mixing bowl.
- Coat the air fryer pan with oil
- Pour the mixture into the pan.
- Preheat the air fryer to 350•F for 5 minutes.
- Put the pan in the air fryer and cook at 350•F degrees for 20 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, remove the pan from the air fryer and stir.
- Return the pan to the air fryer and cook for another 10 minutes till the noodles are slightly browned and tender enough.
- You can add extra cheese toppings for two minutes before removing them for some additional crispiness. But for a more crunchy air fryer mac and cheese, you can add some breadcrumbs on top shortly before removing the pan finally.
#5. Macaroni Cheese balls
Some people refer to macaroni cheese balls as “cousins” of the mac and cheese dish.
The good news is that you can also make the air fryer version. The process is similar, and I’ve outlined them below:
- Preheat the air fryer to 290•F
- Add the frozen mac and cheese balls to the air fryer
- Fry for about 7-10minutes. When done, it should be slightly brown.
Please note that when arranging the cheese balls in the air fryer basket, there should be spaces between every ball—without them overlapping.
How Long Does it Take to Cook Stouffer’s Mac and Cheese in an Air Fryer?
Making Stouffer’s air fryer mac and cheese typically takes six minutes. Air fryer mac and cheese balls also take roughly the same time.
With little or no preparation time aside from preheating your air fryer, it’s a pretty fast dish.
However, cooking homemade mac and cheese with an air fryer typically takes 20-25 minutes.
The estimated time for both the preparation and cooking time is as follows-
- Prep Time- 5 minutes
- Cook Time- 20-25 minutes.
- Here is a summary of the time taken to cook each dish
|Stouffer’s Mac and Cheese
|Homemade Mac and Cheese
|Mac and cheese balls
Let’s also consider what makes the air fryer more advantageous than other traditional methods for cooking mac and cheese.
Pros of Using an Air fryer for making Mac and Cheese
- First, it is the fastest method. Baking in an oven takes about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the quantity. But with an air fryer, you’ll be done in about 10 minutes
- The air fryer method allows the cheese to get cooked together with the noodles, not after.
- Additional flavor: The cheese has a better result because it takes on a baked flavor.
There are no downsides to using an air fryer as we know it. It gives an almost 100% result when compared to the taste. So it’s a welcome upgrade from baking in an oven.
Things to Consider to Cook Stouffer’s Mac and Cheese in an Air Fryer
There are a couple of things to always watch out for when making use of the air fryer method:
- Never put the mac and cheese directly into the air fryer basket. Aside from messing up the basket, most cheese would leak through the holes before the macaroni was ready.
- Never skip preheating: sometimes turning the mac and cheese mix directly into the pan is tempting, and cooking straight up. But the results are not entirely the same.
- The cooking process starts immediately in high heat when you preheat the air fryer before placing the food. Hence the flavors blend better. So always preheat the air fryer.
- Always use a cake pan that properly fits the air fryer. The 7-inch pan is the most common size for this. Also, ensure you don’t overfill the pan so the contents don’t spill over.
Usually, most air fryers come with the cake pan as an accessory.
- Smaller cheese sizes work best- it’s always best to use shredded cheese or tiny bits compared to block cheese. Shredded cheese melts faster and gives a better outcome.
- Ensure you don’t exceed the oven temperature limit stated on the package.
- To store leftovers, keep them in a covered plastic container. Then you can reheat them in a preheated air fryer when you need it.
Exploring the accessories in your air fryer set opens up another world of cuisines you can make more conveniently.
However, to cook mac and cheese in an air fryer, you must use an air fryer pan.
Alternatively, you can improvise with a size seven baking pan or an oven-safe bowl that fits well in your fryer’s basket.