Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 75 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Yield: 1 casserole
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
923 Calories
64g Fat
39g Carbs
49g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 923
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 64g 82%
Saturated Fat 34g 172%
Cholesterol 216mg 72%
Sodium 1383mg 60%
Total Carbohydrate 39g 14%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 49g
Vitamin C 12mg 61%
Calcium 863mg 66%
Iron 3mg 19%
Potassium 647mg 14%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Everyone's favorite comfort food casserole gets a delicious upgrade with the addition of chicken, hot sauce, chopped onion, and celery. Pepper jack cheese adds another layer of pleasant heat to the cheddar sauce. If you like a strong kick, feel free to customize the cheese sauce with extra hot sauce or add a generous dash of cayenne. You can use poached or baked chicken or buy a fully cooked rotisserie chicken and shred it for the dish.

The panko breadcrumb topping includes some crumbled blue cheese along with parsley for color. If you prefer Parmesan cheese, use that instead of the blue cheese, or finish the casserole with a plain buttered breadcrumb topping.

This is an excellent dish to make for a party or game day gathering or take it along to a potluck dinner. It will be an instant hit!

Ingredients

For the Breadcrumb Topping:

  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs

  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Pasta:

  • 8 ounces macaroni, or other small, tubular pasta

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

For the Chicken:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • 1 cup chopped onion

  • 1 cup chopped celery

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/3 cup hot sauce

  • 2 to 3 cups cooked chicken, shredded or chopped

For the Cheese Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 3 tablespoons flour

  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder

  • 2 cups half-and-half

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 1/4 cup hot sauce

  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

  • 1 cup pepper jack cheese

  • 1/2 cup sour cream

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Kosher salt, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients for buffalo mac and cheese

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Grease a 9- x 13-inch casserole or spray it with cooking oil spray. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

    greased baking pan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Make the topping. In a small bowl, combine the panko breadcrumbs with the chopped parsley, blue cheese (or Parmesan), and melted butter. Toss to blend the ingredients and set aside.

    topping for the macaroni and cheese

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Place a large saucepan of water over high heat and bring to a bowl. Add the salt and pasta. Reduce the heat to maintain a boil and cook the macaroni following package directions for al dente. Drain the pasta and then transfer it to a large bowl; set aside.

    pasta in a bowl

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Prepare the chicken. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery; cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until the celery is softened and the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.

    onions, celery, and garlic in the skillet

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Add the hot sauce and the shredded chicken to the onion and celery mixture and simmer for about 1 minute longer, or until hot. Transfer to the bowl with the macaroni and set aside.

    chicken mixture added to the pasta in the bowl

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Make the cheese sauce. Melt the remaining butter in a saucepan over medium heat (or use the same pan used to cook the macaroni). Add the flour and mustard powder and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

    flour mixture in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  8. Gradually whisk the half-and-half and milk into the flour and butter mixture along with the remaining hot sauce. Cook, stirring, until the sauce is thickened. Add the shredded cheddar and pepper jack cheeses to the sauce along with the sour cream. Stir until the cheese has melted and the mixture is smooth. Taste the sauce and add kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

    cheese sauce in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  9. Add the cheese sauce to the bowl with the macaroni and chicken mixture and stir until the ingredients are well combined.

    Combine the macaroni and cheese in a bowl

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  10. Turn the macaroni mixture into the prepared casserole.

    buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese to be baked

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  11. Bake, uncovered, for about 25 minutes, or until the breadcrumb topping is browned and the casserole is bubbling around the edges.

    buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese in a baking dish

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  12. Serve Buffalo macaroni and cheese with carrot sticks and a garnish of parsley or a drizzle of hot sauce.

    Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese in a baking dish

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Recipe Variations

  • Substitute the breadcrumb topping's blue cheese with grated Parmesan cheese.
  • In the cheese sauce, skip the milk and use more half-and-half.
  • Monterey Jack cheese is a good alternative to pepper jack cheese.
  • For a pop of color and extra flavor, add about 1/2 cup of diced red bell pepper.

Tips

  • For the hot sauce, choose something like Texas Pete, Frank's, or Tabasco Buffalo.
  • This Buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese casserole is a wonderful freezer meal. To make the freezer version, skip the breadcrumb topping and prepare the casserole up to the baking step. Line the baking pan long sheets of foil. Freeze the casserole until solid. Lift the frozen casserole out of the pan using the ends of the foil as "handles." Wrap the casserole tightly and store it in the freezer until baking day. When you are ready to bake, put the frozen casserole back in the same baking pan. Cover the casserole with foil and bake at 400 F for about1 hour, or until hot. Meanwhile, prepare the breadcrumb topping. Remove the foil and sprinkle the breadcrumb topping over the casserole. Continue to bake until the topping is lightly browned.