Last updated November 23, 2014

I just created the best appetizer I’ve ever made – a macaroni and cheese cupcake with a savory cream cheese frosting. The macaroni is creamy, the cupcakes have a crunchy panko crust and the frosting is to die for.

I’ve been working on this recipe on and off for a few months.

My first attempt included a macaroni and cheese with fancy ingredients like port wine, truffle oil, crème fraiche and brie cheese. It was good but rich, and the cupcakes didn’t hold up.

This weekend, I mastered a basic super creamy cheddar macaroni and cheese and was inspired to try these cupcakes again.

Attempt 1: I scooped mac-n-cheese into a mini muffin cup liner, topped it with panko and baked it.

Result 1: The mac-n-cheese didn’t stay together and some stuck to the liner. It just wasn’t very easy to eat.

Attempt 2: I sprayed the mini muffin pan with Pam and coated it with panko crumbs.

Result 2: It kind of worked, but was messy to hold because it didn’t have a liner.

Finally, I thought to combine the techniques.

Attempt 3: I rolled the mac-n-cheese into a ball and coated it with breadcrumbs. Then, I placed it in a muffin liner.

Result 3: Perfect. The mac-n-cheese stayed together and it didn’t stick to the liner. Plus, it had a nice crunch in every bite.

Mac-n-Cheese Cupcakes from ZestuousBut you can’t have a cupcake without frosting right?

I make a mean almond buttercream icing, but that wasn’t going to work on mac-n-cheese. I knew I wanted to use cream cheese, but I had to find a way to add volume and airiness to the frosting.

Heavy cream, enter stage left. Whipped cream and cream cheese make a delicious icing, but they’re usually combined with sugar and vanilla.

I whipped the cream to soft peaks, massaged the pack of cream cheese and dumped it in the cream and continued to whip it until combined. Then, I folded in some mustard and salt. Perfect, perfect, perfect!!!

It’s so light and creamy, a perfect accent to mac-n-cheese.

When making this appetizer, you can make the cupcakes in advance and let them cool to room temperature. Then, just before serving, whip up the frosting and pipe on top.

Mac-n-Cheese Cupcakes with Savory Cream Cheese Frosting

Mac-n-Cheese Cupcakes with Savory Cream Cheese Frosting


  • 4 cups prepared mac-n-cheese
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Savory Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 8-oz. block cream cheese
  • 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. yellow mustard

Roll about one tablespoon of mac-n-cheese into a ball, and then roll it in panko breadcrumbs to coat.

Place in a mini muffin cup liner in a mini muffin pan.

Bake in a 400-degree oven for 8 minutes.

Allow to cool.

Savory Cream Cheese Frosting

Make this just before serving.

Whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form.

Massage the cream cheese packet to make sure it’s soft and dump it into the bowl.

Beat on high until the frosting becomes stiff.

Fold in the salt and mustard.

Place the frosting into a piping bag and pipe onto the cooled mac-n-cheese cupcakes. Serve and enjoy.