These cheesy minis are ooey-gooey with just a touch of crab for an elegant twist that makes them the perfect party appetizer!
When I was a kid my grandmother used to make mac & cheese for us when we went to visit. I’m not talking about something that comes from a box or out of the freezer, I’m talking about real cheesy delicious baked mac & cheese from scratch! Even since then, homemade mac & cheese has always been one of my favorite things. I love to mix it up with different types of cheese and different things added in.
While mac & cheese may not exactly be part of your New Year’s healthier eating plan, I believe indulgences are an important part of life, so I’m sharing one of my favorite indulgences – Crab Mac & Cheese!! I mean, what’s not to like about crab, creamy cheese and pasta!! And since Super Bowl Sunday is coming up in less than two weeks, it’s a good excuse to make some super tasty appetizers, gather up some friends, turn on the game and enjoy a fun evening!
I fashioned these into mini bites so you can either serve them as a party appetizer or if you are in the mood for comfort food you can grab a couple of them for lunch or dinner. The nice part about making them minis is you can decide how many you want to cook (or reheat) at one time. They are absolute gooey, cheesy perfection!!
notes from the kitchen
- Since these are cooked in a mini muffin pan these can be pre-assembled, refrigerated for a few hours, and cooked right before the guests arrive. Since the sauce is dairy based, this is one that I don’t recommend freezing.
- The recipe is designed to make about 3 dozen bites, however if you want more you can always double it. They will keep in your refrigerator for 2-3 days after baking. For best results when re-heating, place them in the oven at 250 degrees for 10-15 minutes.
things may want for this recipe
Mini Muffin Pans – Mini muffins tins are a super handy kitchen tool. I’d recommend enough to make at least 24 minis. I happen to like the 12 per pan size as they are easy to store and sometimes I only want to make 12 minis!
Coconut Oil Spray – I’ve switched to mostly using coconut oil spray when I need non-stick for cooking. Look for one like Spectrum that is expeller pressed. You can also use standard coconut oil to grease pans like the muffin tins if you prefer not to use a spray.
- 1/2 pound mini elbow pasta
- 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 tbsp salted butter
- 1 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cups 2% milk
- 2 cups grated cheese pick your favorite types
- 4 oz lump crab meat
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain well.
Spray 36 mini muffin cups with coconut oil spray, or coat with coconut oil. Sprinkle the bottom of each muffin cup with a small amount of panko.
In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 2 minutes. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper and whisk until combined.
Whisk in the milk and cook until small bubbles form at the edges of the pan; about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and add the cheese, stirring constantly until smooth. Add the pasta and crab, stir until coated with the cheese sauce.
Using a small dough scoop add about a tablespoon of the mixture to each muffin cup. Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges of the pasta begin to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Carefully remove each bite from the muffin tin and serve immediately.