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The bacon-crusted mac and cheese lava cake you have to see to believe

Inspiration for this glorious, cheesy, magma-filled macaroni and cheese “cake” comes from Josh Elkin’s mac ‘n’ cheese lava cake. When we saw this over-the-top creation, we just had to take a crack at making one ourselves. Do yourself a favor, and take a stroll through the rest of Elkin’s drool-worthy concoctions, but don’t do it when you’re hungry.

Let’s get right to the recipe. First things first: To get started, we need some homemade mac and cheese.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

The cheese sauce gets its start by melting the butter.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

Then add the half-and-half, milk, salt and pepper.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

Add garlic powder, and stir.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

Add the cheese.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

And then stir.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

Then add flour to thicken up the sauce a bit. And then — you guessed it — stir again.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

Add the cooked macaroni.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

Then give the mac and cheese a stir.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray, and add the macaroni. Reserve some of the macaroni and cheese for use later. Chill in the refrigerator for about two hours.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

Using a knife or thin spatula, cut around the sides of each muffin space, and gently remove the mac and cheese cake.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

Using a knife or spoon, make a “well” in the middle of each cake.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

Cut Velveeta cheese into small pieces.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

Pack the Velveeta cheese into the well of each cake.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

Use the reserved mac and cheese to cover the Velveeta cheese on each cake. Reshape the cakes if needed. Chill the cakes in the fridge.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

Dice the cooked bacon bits.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

Prep all the breading ingredients by putting them into bowls.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

Cover the top and sides of the cake with bacon bits.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

Lightly dredge the cake in flour.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

Dip the cake into the egg, and then dredge it in the seasoned breadcrumbs.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

Cover all sides with the seasoned breadcrumbs.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

Lastly, dredge the cake in panko breadcrumbs.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

Heat the oil and, using a large spoon, carefully lower a cake into the oil.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

Turn the cake over so all sides will brown. The cake will brown quickly.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

Remove the cake from the oil onto a plate with a rack on it. Repeat the cooking process for the remaining cakes.

cut-mac-n-cheese-lava-cakeImage: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

Just before serving, warm the cake in the microwave for about 20 seconds or more if needed so the cheese in the middle is melted. Cut a piece from the cake just large enough so that the molten lava cheese can flow out.

mac and cheese lava cake
Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows; Graphic: Tiffany Egbert

Serve while hot. But careful, it’s as hot as magma, for goodness’ sake.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

Mini bacon-crusted macaroni and cheese lava cakes recipe

Yields 7

Prep time: 40 minutes | Cook time: 30 minutes | Inactive time: 3 hours | Total time: 4 hours 10 minutes


For the macaroni and cheese

  • 3 cups cooked (al dente) elbow macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 dashes salt
  • 4 dashes ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 2 teaspoons flour

For the lava cake

  • Cooking spray
  • Prepared macaroni and cheese (from recipe above)
  • 3/4 cup diced Velveeta cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup diced cooked bacon bits
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1-1/2 cups garlic- and herb-seasoned breadcrumbs (or other seasonings)
  • 1-1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 cups canola oil (amount may vary depending on size of pan used)


For the macaroni and cheese

  1. Heat a medium-size pan on low to medium heat. Add the butter, and stir.
  2. Add the half-and-half, milk, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Continuously stir.
  3. Add the cheddar and mozzarella cheese. Continuously stir.
  4. Add flour, and stir.
  5. Add the macaroni, and stir.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat in preparation to make the lava cake.

For the lava cake

  1. In a muffin tin, spray cooking spray into 7 muffin spaces.
  2. Ladle macaroni and cheese into the spaces that have cooking spray in them. Reserve the remaining macaroni and cheese for use later.
  3. Chill the macaroni and cheese in the muffin tray and the reserved macaroni and cheese in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  4. Using a knife, cut around the edges of each muffin space to carefully remove each macaroni and cheese “cake.” Set on a plate with the bottom side up. They may need to be reshaped at the top (which was the bottom when it was in the tin).
  5. Carefully cut out a “well” from the middle of each cake. Use a small spoon if needed to make the well large enough for additional cheese to be placed (the “lava”).
  6. Into the well of each cake, add about 1-1/2 tablespoons of the Velveeta cheese.
  7. Use the reserved macaroni and cheese to cover the top of the cake. Pack the additional macaroni and cheese tightly, and reshape the cake if needed. Chill the cakes in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.
  8. To each cake, add salt and pepper. Sprinkle the bacon bits on the top and sides of each cake.
  9. Dredge each cake in flour, then dip them in the egg, then dredge in the seasoned breadcrumbs and panko breadcrumbs.
  10. To a medium-size pot, add canola oil. Make sure the level of canola oil is not higher than 1/3 of the depth of the pot. Heat the pot on low to medium heat.
  11. Drop a small piece of panko breadcrumbs into the oil; when it sizzles, use a large spoon to carefully lower the cake into the oil. The oil should not get too hot — make sure it stays at about 325 degrees F.
  12. Using the large spoon, carefully turn the cake over to the other side while in the oil. It will brown quickly. Carefully remove the cake from the oil, and lay it on a cooling rack while cooking the remaining cakes.
  13. Make sure to constantly watch the oil to make sure it’s not too hot. If the oil gets too hot, remove the pot from the heat, and let it cool before frying the remaining cakes.
  14. Just before serving the cakes, put each one in the microwave for about 20 seconds or long enough for the cheese in the middle to melt. Then make a cut at the top of the cake, and cut down toward the bottom to let out the “lava.”
21 Drool-worthy ways to reimagine mac and cheese
Image: Gina Matsoukas/SheKnows

More macaroni and cheese recipes

Fried mac and cheese balls
Baked gnocchi mac ‘n’ cheese
Philly cheesesteak mac and cheese

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