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Buffalo Mac n Cheese
Three cheeses and a kick of spice makes this comfort favorite a whole new story. When blended together, they make for a creamy, cheesy, spicy dream — one spoonful will just not do the trick.
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus more for greasing
- 1 1/2 Cup sliced shallots
- 1 1/2 Pound shell pasta
- 1 Cup shredded Kerrygold Aged or other medium-sharp Cheddar
- 1 Cup shredded Kerrygold Vintage or other sharp Cheddar
- 1 Cup shredded smoked Gouda
- 1/2 Cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 Cup half and half
- 2 Tablespoons hot sauce
- 1 Cup plain breadcrumbs
Calories Per Serving665
Folate equivalent (total)80µg20%
Buffalo Mac n' Cheese - Recipes
Photo from Elizabeth Griffin
When it gets cold outside you'll probably be opting for hot, delicious meals that will satisfy your taste buds and warm you up. This twist on a classic comfort food is the perfect option. Make buffalo mac 'n' cheese in an hour by using pre-cooked rotisserie chicken. This recipe is perfect for those looking to make a meal their whole family will love without hassle and stress. Plus, it's easy to make, delicious, and a little spicy (but not too spicy).
Get more recipes from The Dish on Oz.
How do you make cheese sauce for buffalo chicken mac and cheese?
The buffalo sauce part of this dish will go into the slow cooker with the chicken. I suggest starting with less and adding more once the dish is done if you are unsure how spicy you would like it.
While I often make cheese sauces right in the slow cooker (see my cheesy buffalo chicken pasta) this time I'm suggesting taking the few extra minutes to make it on the stove.
If you've never made cheese sauce before it's really just melting butter and whisking in some flour to create a thickener/paste. Let the flour cook a few minutes. Then slowly add milk and let it thicken and simmer. Finally, stir in shredded cheese.
Be sure you use cheese you've shredded yourself from the block when making cheese sauces. Pre-grated cheese has an anti-caking agent that will leave you with a grainy sauce.
WHAT BUFFALO SAUCE SHOULD I USE?
What transforms this mac and cheese recipe into BUFFALO Mac and Cheese is the addition of buffalo hot sauce. Buffalo Sauce isn’t just any hot sauce. It is the spicy hot sauce served with wings and is essentially hot sauce with the addition of melted butter, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and garlic. I use it all the time in recipes like:
So, if you buy a bottle – it will not go to waste! For this Buffalo Mac and Cheese recipe, I use Frank’s hot WINGS Sauce -NOT their Frank’s original sauce. You’ll want to look for “Wings” on the label. The Wings sauce is spicier, smoother, richer, rounder and less of a pure cayenne punch – it is just plain more delicious in my opinion (hello butter!).
You can use a different brand of Hot Wings Sauce, but try and use Buffalo Wings Sauce and not just hot sauce or it won’t taste the same or as intended. If you choose to use another hot sauce, you will want to add more to taste because the wings sauce is quite spicy.
Healthy Buffalo Chicken Mac And Cheese
Okay, I can’t wait any longer. Let’s make this macaroni and cheese!
For this recipe, here are the ingredients you will need:
- Whole wheat shell noodles (cooked al dente)
- Chicken stock
- 1% milk
- Granulated garlic
- Onion powder
- Hot sauce
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Grated romano (or parmesan)
- Shredded buffalo chicken (check out my slow cooker recipe!)
- Panko bread crumbs
How To Make Homemade Mac and Cheese With Buffalo Chicken
I would recommend that you cook the shredded buffalo chicken and the whole wheat pasta ahead of time so they’re ready to go when you are in the mood for the dish.
While the oven is preheating to 350 degrees, it is time to make the roux that we will use to thicken up the cheese sauce for the pasta dish.
In a medium to large pot, melt the butter and then whisk in the flour until it thickens into a roux. This only takes about 1-2 minutes. Then whisk in the chicken and stock consistently until the roux is completely dissolved. Cook until it’s bubbly, about 5-7 minutes. This could take a little longer just keep an eye on it and when it starts to boil (but not a roaring boil) then add the other ingredients.
After it starts to boil. stir in the granulated garlic, onion powder, salt, and hot sauce. Continue cooking until the sauce is hot, steamy, and starting to bubble. It will be getting a little thick at this point.
At this point remove the pot from the heat and stir in both cheeses. Stir together until it’s smooth, and then stir in the shredded chicken. Give it a few stirs until the shredded chicken is evenly distributed among the sauce.
Time to Put The Whole Dish Together!
Pour the cooked pasta into an 9 x 13 baking pan coated with cooking spray. Add the buffalo chicken sauce in with the pasta and mix everything together. You can also do this in a separate bowl before adding it to the baking pan, but I’m always trying to minimize the number of dishes I have to wash!
Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Remove the foil and then cook for another 10 minutes or until bubbly.
Let sit for 3 minutes or so, and then serve it up with a side of Caesar salad or roasted broccoli.
Make This Mac And Cheese Ahead Of Time
The chicken for this recipe can be (and should be) made ahead of time and frozen to save you time when you need a quick dinner. Or, you can make the entire mac and cheese recipe ahead of time and freeze it in portions.
You can also assemble and freeze all the ingredients individually before baking. Let them thaw overnight in the refrigerator then proceed with cooking instructions!
Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
This buffalo chicken mac and cheese combines ground chicken with healthier chickpea pasta, a low fat buffalo cheese sauce, and bubbly monterey jack cheese. Each serving has 34 grams of protein with just 31 grams of carbs, and you should be able to have dinner on the table in about 30 minutes.
I&rsquoll walk you through the full recipe below and cover ingredient substitutions and tips for cooking as we go. You can find a printable recipe card at the bottom of the post if you&rsquore familiar with my recipes and ready to get cracking!
Cook your choice of macaroni in salted water.
Any type of pasta will work here, but I&rsquom a fan of Banza&rsquos chickpea pasta. It&rsquos higher in protein and fiber, gluten free, and has great texture and flavor. I&rsquove used it in everything from my chicken fajita pasta bake to queso mac and cheese with chipotle ground beef.
The only tip I have for this step would be to avoid cooking your pasta too early. The recipe calls for cooking it just shy of al dente, about 5 minutes. If you need to prep ingredients or work slowly, maybe hold off adding the pasta to the water until you have the ground chicken cooked.
Cook ground chicken with diced onion and minced garlic.
Speaking of cooking ground chicken, this step is straightforward enough. You can omit the onion if you have picky eaters around, but the serving sizes may be slightly affected. And since the onion will release some moisture as it cooks, you may need to use a bit of olive oil for cooking the chicken.
If you&rsquod rather use chicken breast, you could make the chicken from my shredded buffalo chicken nachos recipe.
(Optional) Add ranch seasoning.
Since you already have two major flavor components of ranch&mdashgarlic and onion&mdashin the mix, I&rsquove listed this ingredient as optional. It adds a hints of buttermilk, dill, and saltiness. But the buffalo sauce is plenty salty, so you can just salt to taste before topping with shredded cheese at the end.
Add buffalo sauce.
I used the same Frank&rsquos RedHot sauce that I used for my buffalo air fryer tuna cakes and 45-calorie buffalo chicken bites. If you wanted to make your own, here&rsquos a recipe for homemade buffalo sauce from Mike at Chili Pepper Madness.
Since the recipe doesn&rsquot call for any oil, you may have some sticky bits depending on the cookware you use. The buffalo sauce should help deglaze the pan to get those off before reducing the heat.
Mix fat free Greek yogurt with cheddar powder and add to the cooked buffalo chicken.
What is cheddar powder?
If you&rsquore unfamiliar with recipes like my 30-minute cheeseburger soup or air fried cheesy potatoes, cheddar powder is essentially dehydrated cheddar cheese. Think: powdered peanut butter.
You can use cheddar powder as a dry ingredient or seasoning, but my favorite way to use it is reconstituting in some kind of liquid for sauces like the cheese sauce for this buffalo chicken mac and cheese. It makes a creamy cheese sauce with a fraction of the fat and calories of traditional cheese sauces.
Where to buy cheddar powder
Your best bet is to order some on Amazon (I&rsquove included it on my recommended ingredients Amazon list). Some specialty stores may carry it but if you&rsquore in a pinch, you can steal a package from other boxed mac and cheese.
Add the cooked pasta and fold everything together.
If you&rsquore using chickpea pasta, you&rsquoll want to go straight from draining to the pan as it can stick together a bit as it cools to room temp. You can toss drained pasta in a little olive oil to help prevent this if your timing is off.
And if you love this buffalo ground chicken and wanted something else to use it for, you could plug it into my buffalo chicken stuffed peppers recipe.
Top with freshly grated cheese and broil &rsquotil bubbly.
The recipe calls for monterey jack, but you can use mozzarella or any softer melting cheese. I&rsquove honestly never broiled blue cheese, but I&rsquom guessing that&rsquod be a fine substitute.
Top with some green onion and you&rsquore ready to rock!
If you have any questions about this buffalo chicken mac and cheese, feel free to leave a comment or join my Facebook group. There are more than 14,000 healthy home cooks in the group to help out!
Tips and Tricks
- Make it a meal & add some chicken, add in shredded or chopped chicken. Rotisserie works great!
- Don’t overcook the noodles on the stove top, they will continue to cook in the oven.
- Frank’s Hot Sauce is my preferred hot sauce, but you can add your favorite variety.
- For chicken:
- Whisk first 6 ingredients in deep medium bowl to blend. Place milk in second bowl, eggs in third bowl, and ground cornflakes in fourth bowl. Working with 4 chicken strips at a time, place in flour mixture and toss to coat. Dip same chicken strips into milk, then eggs, then cornflake crumbs, coating with each arrange on sheet of foil.
- Pour oil into heavy medium saucepan to depth of 2 inches. Attach deep-fry thermometer to side of pan heat oil to 335°F to 350°F. Working in batches, add coated chicken strips to hot oil and fry until golden and cooked through, turning occasionally, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer chicken strips to paper towels to drain. Cut strips into 1-inch-long pieces.
- Cook macaroni in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain transfer to very large bowl. Mix in green onions and oregano.
- Melt 6 tablespoons butter in same large pot over medium heat. Add 3 cups chopped onions and garlic. Cover sauté until onions are soft but not brown, stirring often, about 6 minutes. Add flour stir 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and simmer sauce 2 minutes. Add all cheeses, paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Whisk until cheeses melt and sauce is smooth, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, if desired. Mix cheese sauce into macaroni. Mix in chicken pieces. Mound mixture in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. DO AHEAD Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir hot pepper sauce and remaining 2 tablespoons butter in small saucepan over medium heat until butter melts spoon 4 tablespoons over macaroni in dish. Bake macaroni uncovered until heated through, about 30 minutes, or 45 minutes if made ahead. Serve, passing remaining butter and hot-sauce mixture separately.
Buffalo Mac 'N' Cheese
This recipe is all the fun of hot buffalo wings and the comfort of a piping hot bowl of creamy mac.
plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Use a cheese grater to finely shred 2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese. Set aside.
- Cook 12 ounces elbow pasta or shells as label directs, but add 3 cups shredded carrots to pasta just before draining. While the pasta cooks, start the next step.
- Heat 1/2 cup low-fat milk, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder on medium until hot. Slowly stir in the shredded Cheddar, and 1 3/4 cups crumbled blue cheese until melted and smooth. Remove from heat.
- Whisk in 3/4 cups plain nonfat Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup hot pepper sauce, and 1/8 teaspoon salt.
- Toss the cheese sauce with the cooked pasta and carrots. Top with chopped parsley, if desired.
About 475 cals, 24 g protein, 50 g carbs, 20 g fat (12 g sat), 3 g fiber, 920 mg sodium.