Arby’s new Fried Mac ‘N Cheese Bites fail to deliver on one crucial promise. They are indeed fried, filled with cheese, and bite-sized, so the false advertising lies in promoting the presence of macaroni.
When my first bite of my Bite revealed an oozing cheese-filled center with nary a noodle in sight, I wanted to give Arby’s the benefit of the doubt. It seemed plausible that the cheese was just so abundant that it was obscuring the noodles beneath it, and in what world is cheese that’s too abundant a bad thing? But then the next bite also didn’t show off any hidden macaroni, and I realized I couldn’t taste or even feel any in my mouth, either. All my senses were telling me that underneath the fried coating was nothing but soft, creamy cheese. When I went so far as to tear my next Fried Mac ‘n Cheese Bite apart, I did finally find a single morsel that appeared to be a noodle, but I know I would not have noticed it if I hadn’t gone very far out of my way to look for it.
According to Arby’s online Ingredients Guide, the pasta that these allegedly contain is ditalini, which, being shaped like tiny tubes, is consistent with the small piece I was able to unearth. But it’s not possible to overstate how little ditalini appeared to be used in these, and how little the ditalini subsequently impacted my eating experience.
Now, let’s back up a bit. One order of what I would more accurately call “Fried Cheese Bites” comes with four piping hot pieces, which, with their diminutive size, perfect roundness, and brown exterior, look a bit like Swedish meatballs. The fried coating is made from panko breadcrumbs and applied thickly and consistently, providing a robust crisp that is a nice contrast to the gooeyness inside.
The immediate flavor profile the cheese gave me was sharpness: taking into account its bright color as well, it was easy to guess that cheddar was involved. It was also no surprise to find out from the aforementioned Ingredients Guide that another key component is cream cheese, which definitely made itself known in the silky, spreadable texture and notes of tanginess in the filling (not to mention the whiter patches among the sea of yellowy-orange). I must admit though, I would not have guessed that two other cheeses were even involved, much less realized that they were parmesan and fontina.
My preference for mac and cheese bites is to be more mac-forward, with the cheese present as a thick sauce coating the noodles rather than its own entity running the show. So, while these were decently tasty, they weren’t really what I was hoping for. And honestly, the small portion size (and comparatively large price) makes them seem even less worthwhile. They wouldn’t be a filling snack on their own, and even eaten as a side, they seem much less satisfying than their closest cousin on the Arby’s menu, mozzarella sticks. Maybe they’d be more exciting if you slid them into your burger or sandwich to add some extra zing? In any case, if you’re a mac and cheese devotee like me, I can see why you’d like to give these a try. I’m just not sure why you would order them a second time.
Purchased Price: $4.29
Size: 4 pieces
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 280 calories, 18 grams of fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 620 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 8 grams of protein.