Let’s hear it for another appetizer recipe! I haven’t made one in quite a while and felt the need. These Fried macaroni pizza poppers are packed full of gooey cheese, mini pepperoni, and the perfect homestyle thick and hearty RAGÚ® sauce. The breadcrumb crust adds the perfect crunch after being fried!
You’ll want a thick and flavorful sauce for this appetizer. I think pizza sauces can be too runny for this recipe and anything runny will make our poppers fall apart in the frying process. That would be a total bummer!
If you’ve ever had fried macaroni and cheese bites, these are sort of similar. I feel like these poppers would be their cousin. The mozzarella cheese leaves the fried poppers gooey and stringy when you bite into them. There are little pockets of sauce that gives some flavor and color. If you would like a little more tangy sauce, do like I did and add a little dish of sauce for dipping. There’s also a whole bag of mini pepperoni tossed into the recipe.
- 1 lb elbow macaroni
- 4 T . butter
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 + 1/2 cups milk
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 tsp . garlic powder
- 1 cup shredded colby jack cheese
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 5 oz . bag mini pepperoni slices
- 1 cup Ragu Homestyle Thick and Hearty traditional sauce
- 1 cup vegetable oil for frying
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
- Ragu Homestyle Thick and Hearty traditional sauce for dipping
- Prepare macaroni according to the box instructions. Be sure to use a large saucepan. While the macaroni is cooking work on the next step.
- In a medium saucepan, add in the butter. Let it melt completely while occasionally swirling the butter in the pan. That will prevent the solids from burning.
- Add in the flour as soon as the butter is melted and stir. Let it cook for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Remove from the heat and add in the milk gradually while stirring. I would start by adding small amounts so no clumping happens.
- Once you get all the milk added and made sure it's smooth, add in the salt and pepper to taste and garlic. Stir.
- Pour the mixture into the large saucepan you used to hold the macaroni. At this point my macaroni is hanging out in my strainer cooling down a bit so it's free.
- Place over medium/low heat and add in both of the cheeses and stir. Keep stirring until the cheese is melted. Turn off the heat.
- Add in the macaroni and mini pepperoni. Stir to coat the macaroni completely.
- Spray a 9x13 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- Pour half of the macaroni mixture into the prepared pan and spread out.
- Add all of the sauce on top of the layer of macaroni.
- Pour the rest of the macaroni mixture on top. I placed 12 mounds of the mixture on top of the sauce and press it down. That helped keep the sauce in the center of the poppers.
- Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight. This will give it time to firm up and make it easy to slice.
- Heat about 1 cup of vegetable oil into a fry pan over medium heat until it reaches between 335 and 345 degrees.
- Have three shallow bowls laid out like an assembly line. Add the 3/4 cup of flour and salt and pepper into the first bowl. Stir to combine.
- Add in the eggs into the second bowl. Whisk well to combine.
- In the last bowl, add in the seasoned breadcrumbs.
- Slice the macaroni into bite size pieces. I got 56 squares and a few scraps.
- Roll the bite size macaroni square into the flour, then the egg mixture, and lastly into the breadcrumbs.
- Place the breaded poppers onto a place, ready for frying.
- Once the oil is ready, add about 4 - 5 poppers into the pan. Don't load the pan, otherwise our oil temp. will drop and we'll just have greasy poppers.
- Let the poppers brown on each side. It will take about 2 - 3 minutes. I would check them often, because it could be quicker depending on the temperature of your oil.
- Once the poppers are fried, place on a paper lined wire rack to drain.
- Place the fried macaroni pizza poppers on a serving dish with a bowl of thick and hearty sauce for dipping.
Find out what other flavors and more about Ragu Homestyle sauces here!