Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese combines two favorite comfort foods in one irresistible dish. If you love macaroni and cheese and hot wings, you’re going to go nuts for Buffalo Mac and Cheese!
Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese: AKA Why Being an Adult is (Sometimes) Awesome
Let’s begin with a VIQ (Very Important Question): If you order buffalo chicken wings, are you asking for a side of ranch dressing or blue cheese dressing?
The correct answer, of course, is BOTH. We’re adults. We get ALL the dipping sauces.
And you know what? Why settle for buffalo wings or mac and cheese when we can have both?
If we have to pay bills and pluck gray hairs and buy wrinkle cream, we should at least get to combine all our favorite foods in one dish!
This Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese is the kind of food I want to curl up with on a long, cold winter day. It delivers all the warm, tongue tingling heat of buffalo chicken wings in a rich, creamy mac sauce. Ladle it into a bowl, swirl a little extra hot sauce (or ranch, or blue cheese) on top, and dig in!
How To Make Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
This recipe is based on our favorite Creamy Mac and Cheese recipe. If you’re looking for a simple stove top mac and cheese that’s great for kids and adults alike, that’s the one! Here, we’ll follow the same basic steps, but with the added flavors of chicken and buffalo wing sauce!
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions then drain and set aside.
- Tip: I add about a Tablespoon of Kosher salt to the water. It’s key for making flavorful noodles that don’t taste like boiled nothing.
- While the pasta is cooking, make your roux. A roux is simply a mixture of equal parts fat (in this case butter!) and flour used to thicken sauces and gravies.
- To make the roux, melt butter in a large saucepan. When the butter is melted, add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Whisk in the flour and cook for a few minutes, whisking constantly, until the mixture is slightly thickened and puffed.
- Lower the heat to simmer and slowly whisk in warm milk a little bit at a time. Whisk continuously until all the milk is added. Turn the heat back up to medium and continue to cook, stirring often, until the mixture is thickened and coats the back of the spoon.
- Tip: Warm milk is easier to incorporate into the flour mixture and results in a smoother sauce. Don’t skip that step!
- Stir in shredded cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses until melted. Remove from heat, and stir in the hot sauce, ranch or blue cheese dressing, and onion powder. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the chicken and most of the green onions, reserving a few for the top.
- To serve, place the buffalo mac in a bowl then drizzle with additional hot sauce, green onions, and blue cheese crumbles, if desired.
Variations and Tips for Buffalo Mac and Cheese
- You can use any kind of pasta for this recipe. I prefer penne, corkscrews, shells, or macaroni.
- Most pasta comes in a 16 ounce box, but I’ve called for 12 ounces of pasta for this recipe. This results in a very creamy, saucy macaroni and cheese. If you prefer, feel free to use the entire 16 ounces. I usually cook the whole box, then reserve some for my kids that I can toss with a less spicy version of the sauce.
- Speaking of less spicy, feel free to crank the heat up or down on this recipe as you see fit. As is, it’s got a subtle tingle that’s nicely balanced with the cheese. You can increase the amount in the sauce itself, or just serve additional buffalo sauce on the side for those who like it hot.
- As stated above, you can use either ranch or blue cheese dressing in this recipe. My kids prefer the ranch, but I like to serve the finished dish with blue cheese crumbles.
- Want to make Baked Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese? Pour the finished recipe into a casserole dish. Mix up 2 Tablespoons melted butter and 3/4 cups Panko bread crumbs and cover the top. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. This is like a spicy version of my Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese.
- Use leftover rotisserie chicken to save time. Prefer crispy chicken? Bake up some frozen chicken tenders for the top! Or if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can make your own Baked Chicken Tenders.
What to Serve with Creamy Buffalo Mac and Cheese
Typically hot wings come with a side of celery, which can be a nice crisp/healthy contrast to the wings, but is quite boring. If you want to jazz it up a bit, try serving a Vegetable Platter with Herbed Greek Yogurt Dip.
Other favorite sides include
- 12 ounces penne pasta
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 2 cups milk, warmed
- 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese
- 1/3 cup buffalo wing hot sauce
- 1/3 cup Ranch or Bleu Cheese dressing
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- 2 cups chopped chicken
- 6 green onions, chopped
- Additional hot sauce and blue cheese crumbles, for serving
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Boil the penne according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Whisk in the flour and cook for a few minutes, or until the mixture is slightly thickened and puffed.
- Lower the heat to simmer and slowly whisk in the warm milk a little bit at a time. Whisk continuously until all the milk is added. Turn the heat back up to medium and continue to cook and whisk until the mixture is thickened and coats the back of the spoon.
- Stir in the cheeses until melted. Remove from heat, then stir in the hot sauce, dressing, and onion powder. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- In a large bowl or the pot where you cooked the noodles, stir together the pasta, cheese sauce, chicken, and green onions. Drizzle with additional hot sauce and blue cheese crumbles, if desired.
For more details, tips, and substitutions check out the body of the post.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 731Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 182mgSodium: 619mgCarbohydrates: 52gFiber: 1gSugar: 5.6gProtein: 40g