Recipe Review

I Tried the Hot Cheetos Mac & Cheese Donut TikTok Is Obsessed With

published Nov 11, 2020
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Credit: Nicole Rufus

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos hold a very special place in my heart. While they’re no longer a regular indulgence for me, they were my snack of choice for many years. The sight of fingers covered in flaming red Cheeto powder will always be a source of deep nostalgia.

It’s not every day you come across a macaroni and cheese donut coated in Flamin’ Hot Cheetos like the one in this viral TikTok from user SoFloFoodie. The first time I watched it I was a bit horrified, but honestly quite intrigued at the same time. I mean Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are delicious, and so is macaroni and cheese, so maybe they were onto something? Plus, the video has more than three-million views! Ultimately, the intrigued part of me won out, and I decided to give it a try.

How to Make the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Mac & Cheese Donut

The TikTok video doesn’t include a recipe for the mac and cheese, and I knew right off the bat I wouldn’t be consuming many of these donuts, so I decided to use this oven-baked recipe. That way, I could try the donuts and then eat the rest as normal mac and cheese. Once it was done cooking on the stovetop, I scooped out a bit for the donuts and then baked the rest in a smaller dish.  

The first step for my recipe test was molding the mac and cheese into donuts, which proved to be harder than I anticipated. I initially thought chilling the mixture first would help, but ultimately found the most effective method to be shaping them while the macaroni is still fairly warm. This way, the melted cheese can help it stick together. For each donut, you’ll lay down a piece of plastic wrap, place a few large spoonfuls of macaroni in the center, then wrap the plastic wrap all the way around the macaroni and pat it down into a disc shape. Place these discs in the fridge for one to two hours.

Once the macaroni has completely chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and remove the plastic wrap. Then cut out a hole in the center of each disc to create a donut shape. You can use a knife or any small, circular object in your kitchen that’s suitable. Next you’ll crumble up Flamin’ Hot Cheetos for the coating: Place them in a zip-top bag and use a bottle or rolling pin to crush them up until they’re fine enough to coat the donut. You’ll also need two eggs (beaten) and flour for the breading.

Now it’s time to fry. Heat a pot of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Dip each donut in the eggs, then the flour, then the eggs again, and finally into the crushed Cheetos. Once the oil is hot, gently lower in the donuts and cook for one to two minutes per side. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool slightly.

Credit: Nicole Rufus

My Honest Review of the Hot Cheetos Mac & Cheese Donut

Although I was a bit skeptical about the donut, I still expected it to taste amazing — if not overly indulgent. But in the end, I was pretty disappointed. In the process of crushing them up and then frying them, the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos really lost their flavor. I was prepared for a fiery burst when I bit into the donut, but the coating wasn’t spicy at all and lacked that distinct Flamin’ Hot Cheetos taste. Ultimately, I think I prefer to get my Flamin’ Hot Cheetos fix straight from the bag and enjoy my mac and cheese separately.

If You’re Making the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Donuts, a Few Tips

Overall, these were a fun project, and close to being delicious. If I were to do it again, I would consider the following:

1. Roll the donuts in Flamin’ Hot Cheetos a second time. In addition to the initial coating, rolling the donuts in Cheeto powder after they’re done frying might help that flavor really come through.

2. Amp up the mac and cheese mixture. Using other flavorful cheeses (in addition to the cheddar) and adding spices like paprika could help bulk up the flavor of the entire donut.