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Complete with a crunchy breadcrumb topping, this Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese is the next level of comfort food. It’s loaded with two different kinds of cheese, tender shredded chicken and classic hot buffalo flavor!
The Ultimate Buffalo Mac and Cheese Recipe
This easy recipe combines spicy buffalo chicken and creamy macaroni & cheese into one crave-worthy meal. There’s no better way to use up last night’s leftover chicken. Every bite of this comforting dinner will make you fall more and more in love with it.
Topped with a crispy layer of toasted panko breadcrumbs, this hearty pasta dish has everything you love about both buffalo chicken and homemade mac and cheese. It uses sour cream to make it extra velvety, and you can load it up with the cheeses of your choice. It’s finished off with a drizzle of blue cheese dressing and extra hot sauce!
Gather These Ingredients
The ingredient lineup for this mac and cheese can be flexible to the items you have in your kitchen. Here’s what we’ll be working with:
- Elbow Macaroni: Cooked.
- Onion: Diced.
- Garlic: Freshly minced.
- Celery: Finely chopped.
- Chicken: Cooked and shredded. Rotisserie chicken works great.
- Unsalted Butter: You’ll need some for the mac and cheese itself and some for the breadcrumb topping.
- All-Purpose Flour: To thicken the cheese sauce.
- Whole Milk: Any kind of milk will work, but whole-fat milk provides the most creaminess.
- Sharp Cheddar & Mozzarella Cheeses: Shredded.
- Sour Cream: Or plain yogurt.
- Frank’s Hot Sauce: You can use another brand of hot sauce if preferred.
- Panko Breadcrumbs: These Japanese-style breadcrumbs are designed to be extra crunchy.
- Blue Cheese Dressing: Or crumbled blue cheese.
- Fresh Parsley: Chopped.
- Green Onion (Optional): Thinly sliced, to garnish the dish.
What Kind of Pasta Should I Use?
Any type of pasta will work for this recipe, but I recommend using something smaller than rigatoni. It’s best if the noodles have a shape or texture that will hold onto the sauce. You can use gluten-free pasta if needed – just be sure to use 1:1 gluten-free flour and gluten-free breadcrumbs as well.
How to Make Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
This dish starts off on the stove and comes together in the oven. It’s the same method used to make classic mac and cheese!
Prep for Baking: Preheat the oven to 375°F and spray a 2-quart casserole dish or a 9×13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Cook Pasta: Cook your macaroni according to the package directions.
Cook Onion, Garlic & Celery: Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion and let it cook alone for 4 minutes, then add the garlic and celery. Cook for another 2 minutes.
Add Flour & Milk: Stir in the flour and cook for a minute, then whisk in the milk and continue stirring until the mixture is slightly thickened.
Remove From Heat & Add Cheese: Remove your saucepan from the heat and add the cheese, stirring until it’s melted.
Add Sour Cream & Hot Sauce: Stir in the sour cream and hot sauce.
Add Chicken & Pasta: Add the chicken and cooked noodles, stirring to combine. Pour the mac and cheese into your prepared casserole dish.
Make Breadcrumb Topping: Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and stir it into the panko, then spread the mixture evenly over the mac and cheese.
Bake: Bake for 15 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and the top is lightly browned.
Add Blue Cheese & Hot Sauce: Remove your mac and cheese from the oven and drizzle it with blue cheese dressing and extra hot sauce.
Garnish & Serve: Garnish with parsley and green onion. Serve while hot.
Follow These Tips
Now that you know how to make buffalo chicken mac and cheese, take note of these tips to help streamline the process. Let’s make it as yummy as possible!
- Use Multiple Cheeses for Added Flavor: I like to use at least 2 different cheeses in my buffalo mac so that the hot sauce doesn’t outshine the cheese. Monterey jack and sharp cheddar are a great duo, and so are sharp cheddar and shredded pepper jack.
- Avoid Overcooking the Pasta: It’s better for your pasta to be slightly underdone rather than overcooked. It will continue to soften up a bit in the oven.
- What Can I Use Instead of Breadcrumbs? Common pantry substitutes for the panko include crushed crackers, tortilla chips, pretzels and Corn Flakes.
- Bake in Two Pans if Needed. If you don’t have a large enough pan or casserole dish, you can split your mac and cheese into two separate ones. Don’t overfill your pan, or the cheese could bubble up over the sides and make a mess in the oven.
- Blue Cheese vs Blue Cheese Dressing: Blue cheese has a stronger flavor than blue cheese dressing, so keep that in mind when it’s time to top your mac and cheese. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with either one.
What to Pair with Buffalo Chicken Pasta
Want to serve your buffalo mac and cheese with a stellar side dish? Refer to the recipes below.
- Green Beans: These Sweet and Spicy Green Beans will compliment your mac and cheese perfectly. They’re easy to make with just a few kitchen staples.
- Salad: Any side salad is bound to go great with a crowd-pleasing dish like this buffalo mac. Whip up my Watermelon Mandarin Feta Salad for a burst of freshness!
- Roasted Potatoes: Seasoned with fresh garlic, lemon, thyme and more, these Crispy Roasted Potatoes are quite a treat. They pair wonderfully with any entree, including this mac and cheese.
- Superbowl Favorites: If you are making this for game-day, serve it alongside some Jalapano Cheddar Pretzles and Cheese Dip or with some Ham and Cheese Sliders.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge once they’ve cooled to room temperature. They will last for up to 5 days. Reheat large portions in a 375°F oven for 15-20 minutes, covering the pan with aluminum foil to prevent the topping from over-browning. Individual servings can be reheated in the microwave.Print
Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
- Prep Time: 40 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 8
Complete with a crunchy breadcrumb topping, this Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese is the next level of comfort food. It’s loaded with two different cheeses, tender shredded chicken and classic hot buffalo flavor!
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 3 cups chicken, cooked and shredded (rotisserie works great)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, divided
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups whole milk
- 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 3/4 cup Frank’s hot sauce
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup blue cheese dressing or crumbled blue cheese
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley (optional)
- thinly sliced green onion for garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375°F and spray a 2-quart casserole dish or 9×13 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Cook the macaroni according to package directions.
- In a large saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons of butter, and cook the onion for 4 minutes, then add the garlic and celery and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Next, stir in the flour and cook for a minute, then whisk in the milk and continue stirring until it’s slightly thickened.
- Remove from the heat and add the cheese, stirring until melted, then add the sour cream and hot sauce. Then stir in the chicken and cooked noodles. Pour into the prepared pan.
- To make the topping, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter and stir into the panko, then spread over the mac and cheese.
- Bake for 15 minutes until bubbly and the top is lightly browned.
- Remove and drizzle with blue cheese dressing and extra hot sauce, then garnish with parsley and green onion. Serve while hot.
Storage & Reheating: Once cooled, refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container and store for up to 5 days. Reheat large portions in a 375°F oven for 15-20 minutes, covering the pan with aluminum foil to prevent the topping from over-browning. Individual servings can be reheated in the microwave.
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: buffalo mac and cheese, mac and cheese with chicken, buffalo chicken pasta
More Easy Chicken Recipes
Hungry for more chicken? Check out the easy dishes below!