Chicken-Fried Macaroni and Cheese

August  9, 2011
1 Ratings
Photo by Alpha Smoot
  • Serves a whole mess
Author Notes

My family and I occasionally order fried mac n' cheese from Swanky Frank's in Norwalk, Connecticut, or wherever else we spot the stuff. I've always wondered, "Can I make this at home??" So here's my version, sort of ramped up if you will, chicken-fried style. I adapted the dredging recipe from the Chicken-Fried Steak recipe over at Saveur. My kids prefer a milder cheese, so if that's to your liking, replace some of the sharp cheddar with a milder cheese like American, which has awesome meltability. —mrslarkin

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: You know mrslarkin for her scones and contest wins, but wait until you see what she does to macaroni and cheese!
WHAT: Cheesy mac is dredged in buttermilk and flour, then fried—and then gobbled.
HOW: Toss together a simple sharp cheddar sauce with macaroni, freeze it into a pan, cut it into squares, and give them the chicken-fried treatment.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Warning: This recipe may lead you to fry up mac n' cheese each time you make it—don't worry, we won't tell a soul. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • For the macaroni and cheese:
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup heavy cream or milk
  • 12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded (about 3 cups)
  • For the dredging:
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
  • 1 large egg
  1. To make the macaroni and cheese, cook macaroni to al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. Grease a 9- x 13-inch cake pan and set aside.
  3. In the same pasta pot, heat the cream and cheese over medium-low heat, stirring until creamy and smooth. Remove from heat.
  4. Add cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce. Mix very well.
  5. Spread macaroni and cheese into the greased pan, smoothing with a spatula. Freeze until firm for about 30 minutes, or refrigerate overnight.
  6. Cut macaroni in the pan into about 20 squares. A bench scraper works well. Just eyeball your lines (or use a ruler) and press directly downwards with the bench scraper.
  7. To dredge and fry the macaroni, heat 1/2-inch vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  8. In a shallow bowl, mix the flour, paprika, salt, and pepper.
  9. In another shallow bowl, whisk the buttermilk, Tabasco, and egg.
  10. Using a skinny and bendy metal spatula to remove a few macaroni squares from the pan at a time. Keep unused squares chilled. Dredge each square of macaroni in the flour mixture, then egg mixture, then flour mixture, shaking off the excess.
  11. Fry macaroni squares until golden, then flip and fry other side until golden, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towel-lined cooling rack set over a sheet pan.
  12. Sprinkle with some flaky sea salt if you’ve got it, or kosher salt is just fine, too. Serve hot with a spicy marinara or gravy, or just plain ol' ketchup.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Lauren Butler
    Lauren Butler
  • Niknud
  • sexyLAMBCHOPx
  • Bevi
  • Lizthechef

58 Reviews

Lauren B. June 19, 2015
What I love most about this recipe - besides the fact of its mere existence! - is that it's a way to "fix" macaroni & cheese where the cheese sauce separates into curds & whey. My cheese sauce separated when I made this but frying it kind of put it back together again. A miracle!
mrslarkin June 19, 2015
I'm so glad it worked for you, Lauren! I've read that if you put your separated cheese sauce in a blender, it will re-emulsify.
Niknud May 28, 2015
I think my heart just both the good and bad way. I may die (heavy cream! cheese!), but by God, I'll go out with a smile on my face.
mrslarkin June 5, 2015
Just like my Uncle Pino who kicked the bucket while sitting in his recliner, eating a plate of gnocchi, and watching RAI Uno. Is there a better way to go?
sexyLAMBCHOPx May 27, 2015
I still love Swanky Franks.
mrslarkin June 5, 2015
Us too! We have Swanky Frank's t-shirts.
Bevi October 13, 2011
How on earth did I miss this? This may have to grace the table when my daughter comes up. She will eat the whole thing and then insist on running 5 miles.
mrslarkin October 13, 2011
ha! thanks bevi!! good lord, i hope she doesn't eat the whole thing!!
Lizthechef August 13, 2011
I'm cheering from the sidelines, cholesterol, bp and all...Go for it!
mrslarkin August 13, 2011
Thanks so much, Liz! Moderation is the key here, of course!!
dymnyno August 12, 2011
Yes...I think that y'all would agree that this recipe is much better than the Iowa State Fairs new item,Fried Butter On a Stick!
fiveandspice August 13, 2011
Oh, I don't know. Deep fried butter may be the ultimate food achievement! ;)
mrslarkin August 13, 2011
fried butter???? omg i need to try that. It's gotta be frozen solid when they stick it in the fryer, no?
SKK August 12, 2011
I have been thinking about this amazing recipe since you posted it and want your feedback on a few ideas. Noticed you did not use butter. Do you think butter would make it richer?

Also, what is your thought on adding bacon?

Thank you again Mrs. Larkin for making recipes that appeal to the greater good!
mrslarkin August 12, 2011
You're welcome, SKK!!

Hmmm...I didn't even consider butter, as the cheese sauce is so smooth by itself. So I'm not really sure if butter would make it richer.

And bacon, well, bacon makes everything better, doesn't it?? ;) I'd definitely try that.

Your question has got me thinking that I should have specified in the instructions to use full fat cheese and whole milk (for those using milk). Low-fat = sub-par grainy mac n cheese, in my experience.
dymnyno August 12, 2011
You didn't tell us that you were apprenticing with Paula Dean!
hardlikearmour August 12, 2011
LOL. I just about spewed coffee all over the keyboard when I read this.
lapadia August 12, 2011
mrslarkin August 12, 2011
Heehee y'all! I think I left out a stick of buttah.
lapadia May 31, 2015
Simply heart-stopping, mrsL!
WileyP August 12, 2011
This is just about the most disgustingly unhealthy recipe I have ever seen, Mrslarkin. (I'm going to call it Mrs. Larkin's Artery Cloggers - Got any more like it?! LOL!)
mrslarkin August 12, 2011
Why thank you, WileyP! I think the key is not to eat the whole thing yourself! Share the wealth! ;)
checker August 11, 2011
I kind of had to walk away from this and come back to see if it was real it is that awesome.
mrslarkin August 11, 2011
Hee hee. I know what you mean, I still can't believe it.
arielleclementine August 11, 2011
Girl, you are the coolest! This sounds diabolically delicious! And thanks for recommending my gravy too :)
mrslarkin August 11, 2011
Haha! You are welcome, Gravy Queen!
wssmom August 10, 2011
LOVE your cheese food yum! This is incredible!
mrslarkin August 10, 2011
Hooray team cheese food! :)
gingerroot August 10, 2011
YUM! That's all I can really say about this (imagine my letters in bold, about 10 pts larger).
mrslarkin August 10, 2011
Yes, in fact I can imagine, because that's how big my butt has grown since eating this monster. Thanks g!
Sagegreen August 10, 2011
Oh my! This is how you spell scrumptious.
mrslarkin August 10, 2011
Thank you Sagegreen!!
nannydeb August 10, 2011
Oh, no you DIDN'T!!! Sounds awesome! I saw Paula Dean deep fry lasagna once and thought that was decadent!
mrslarkin August 10, 2011
Oh, yes I did! :) Thanks nannydeb.
SKK August 10, 2011
Thanks for taking one for the team and sharing this awesome recipe!
mrslarkin August 10, 2011
You're welcome, SKK! All for the greater good.
CheriDawn August 10, 2011
Oh, this sounds like Heaven! I am going to HAVE to try this. Thank you for sharing.
mrslarkin August 10, 2011
You're welcome, CheriDawn!
marynn August 10, 2011
The right day for this is gonna come along and I'll know it. All in good time, my pretty! Now, I'm armed. mrslarkin, I love your forthright style! And the green chili gravy nod.
mrslarkin August 10, 2011
Thanks marynn! Hope you like it!
dymnyno August 10, 2011
I know that since you made it ,it is very tasty, but oh my!...go and sin no more!!
mrslarkin August 10, 2011
:) I will try to be good from now on, dymnyno!
lorigoldsby August 10, 2011
Sometimes we cook to please ourselves, and sometimes to please the kids...the plastic wrapped cheese (or I may even sub velvetta) will make my niece and nephew happy and that in turn will delight me. Thanks MrsL for another "keeper"!
mrslarkin August 10, 2011
Thanks lorigoldsby! Love me some velveeta too!!