Mac and Cheese Pancakes
Golden brown, mega cheesy, and perfect for picky eaters, these mac and cheese pancakes are a guaranteed winner. They’re the best way to repurpose leftover mac and cheese!
Friends: mac and cheese pancakes. Need we say more?
(Okay, we will say more—this is a food blog, after all.)
While mac and cheese pancakes definitely appeal to the younger crowd, they’re the kind of comfort food recipe that evokes all those warm, fuzzy nostalgic feelings for adults too. And let’s be honest, there’s a good reason so many kids love mac and cheese: it’s hard to beat that simple combination of cheese and carbs.
Because they can be made with leftover mac and cheese, these pancakes are a perfect breakfast to whip up the day after you’ve had mac and cheese for dinner, but their savory flavor makes them a delicious option any time of day. You can even pack them up in a lunchbox for a tasty alternative to the traditional PB&J!
About this mac and cheese pancake recipe
Instead of a traditional buttermilk pancake batter, these mac and cheese pancakes are a bit more like a fritter, with the mac and cheese being held together by a light batter and some additional cheese. Scoop it onto the griddle, flatten it with the back of a spoon, and the pancakes turn a lovely shade of golden brown, with just a little bit of crispiness.
Although you could totally top these with maple syrup if you want that sweet-and-savory contrast, we like serving these pancakes with sour cream and sliced green onions, a drizzle of hot honey, or chili crisp for a little crunch and heat.
What you need
- Wet ingredients: Milk, egg, vegetable oil or melted butter
- Dry ingredients: All-purpose flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, kosher salt
- Also: Cooked macaroni and cheese, shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Optional toppings: Green onions, chives, sour cream, hot honey, cheese sauce, chive butter
About the macaroni and cheese: While you can use any kind of macaroni and cheese to make these mac and cheese pancakes, we recommend either homemade or mac and cheese from a restaurant. The boxed variety works too, but it’s not as rich and cheesy since the sauce is much thinner.
How to make them
Make the batter. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, and oil until the mixture is smooth.
Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on top of the wet ingredients, then gently toss them together before stirring into batter.
Fold in the mac and cheese and shredded cheese.
Tip: Tossing the dry ingredients before stirring them into the wet ingredients keeps you from having to use another mixing bowl to mix the dry ingredients separately. It’s our little trick for making one-bowl pancakes and minimizing clean-up!
Prepare the griddle. Set a griddle or large skillet over medium-low heat. If it’s not non-stick, add butter or oil to the pan to prevent the mac and cheese pancakes from sticking.
Cook the pancakes. Add 1/4 cup of batter to the griddle for each pancake. Use the back of a spoon or spatula to press the batter down and spread it to about 1/2-inch thick.
Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the bottom is golden brown, then flip the pancakes and cook the other side for 3 to 4 minutes.
Tip: These pancakes are thick, which means they need to cook low and slow. If you increase the heat, the outside will burn before the insides are cooked through.
The only difference is the color! Orange cheddar is usually colored with an ingredient called annatto, which is a seed that comes from the achiote tree. Although many people perceive there to be a difference in flavor, there actually isn’t one as long as you’re comparing cheddars of the same age.
Cheddar pairs well with Parmesan, gruyere, gouda, Monterey jack, and more. You can also pair different varieties of cheddar together; for example, you might use a more mild cheddar for its superior melting abilities, and an aged or smoked cheddar for its flavor.
How to make these mac and cheese pancakes your own
These mac and cheese pancakes are amazing as-is, but here are some tips to help you switch things up a bit and make the recipe your own.
- Make them spicy. Try stirring some black pepper or red pepper flakes into the batter. We recommend starting with 1/4 teaspoon and adding more to taste.
- Add some bacon. Cook a few pieces of bacon and crumble them into the batter for some crunch and bacon-y flavor.
- Pair them with a sauce for dipping. You can make these the size of silver dollar pancakes and pair them with marinara or aioli for dipping, like a cheesy restaurant appetizer!
- Add some Tex-Mex flair. Fold diced jalapeños, poblanos, or roasted Hatch chiles into the batter, then serve the pancakes with salsa and sour cream.
Make Ahead Ideas
Make your favorite homemade mac and cheese the night before, setting aside what you need for making the pancakes the next day.
These mac and cheese pancakes can be refrigerated for 3 to 4 days in an airtight container, or frozen for up to 3 months. If you freeze them, place parchment paper between the layers to keep them from sticking to each other.
Reheat mac and cheese pancakes in the microwave until they’re warmed through, or in a 350ºF oven; place them on a sheet pan and cover them with foil to keep them from drying out.
More cheesy breakfast recipes
- Cheesy Italian Quiche with Bacon
- Zucchini Fritters with Cheddar and Chives
- Goat Cheese Waffles with Chives
Get the Recipe: Mac and Cheese Pancakes
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups cooked macaroni and cheese (leftover works well)
- ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Optional toppings: green onions, chives, sour cream, hot honey, cheese sauce, chive butter
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together milk, egg, and oil.
- Add flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt to the top of the wet ingredients. Gently toss dry ingredients together before stirring into batter. Mix until just combined.
- Fold in macaroni and cheese and cheddar cheese.
- Heat a griddle over medium-low heat. If desired, add a bit of butter or oil to the pan to keep the pancakes from sticking.
- Add batter to hot pan by ¼ cup portions. Spread to an even layer of desired thickness (we recommend about ½ -inch). Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown. Flip and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes or until cooked all the way through and golden brown on both sides. These are thick and need quite a bit of time to cook through, so turn the heat down as needed to keep them from burning on the outside before they are cooked all the way through.
- Makes about 10 pancakes.
- Nutrition information will vary based on what type of macaroni and cheese you use. Nutrition information does not include toppings.
- Like a little heat and want to make these more savory? Try stirring in black pepper or red pepper flakes into the batter. We recommend starting with ¼ teaspoon and adding more to taste.