Rich and creamy buffalo chicken mac and cheese is comfort food perfection. With just enough heat, balanced beautifully by an incredible cheese sauce, this tender pasta dish is the perfect side for BBQs, potlucks, or your next family dinner.
🔥 What Makes This Recipe So Good
- Have you ever had buffalo chicken dip? Have you ever wondered if there could possibly be a way to make buffalo chicken dip EVEN BETTER? Well, this buffalo chicken mac and cheese does exactly that! It takes all the classic buffalo wing flavor you love and enhances them with tender pasta and a creamy cheese sauce.
- It’s a simple recipe with so many possibilities! Change up the cheeses. Mix up the pastas. Use a lot or a little buffalo sauce. Add in diced jalapeños, cayenne pepper, or red pepper flakes. Don’t be afraid to get creative and really make this dish your own.
- The creaminess of the cheese sauce really balances the heat of the buffalo sauce, so this is great for anyone in your group that’s a little heat-averse. Of course, if you’re a big fan of spicy, you can always use more buffalo sauce on the chicken or on top of the finished mac and cheese!
👩🏼🍳 Chef’s Tips
- When it’s time to add the cheese, move the skillet off the heat first and let the mixture cool just a little. If it’s too hot, the cheese can seize when it hits the liquid, making the sauce clumpy and gritty instead of smooth and creamy.
- Prepackaged shredded cheese contains anti-clumping additives that can make it hard to melt, or can give the sauce a grainy texture. For the best sauce ever, buy a block of cheese and shred it yourself! It’s super easy to do and can make a big difference in your overall buffalo chicken mac and cheese experience.
- Don’t overcook the pasta! When you first cook it, only cook it until it’s al dente. The noodles should be tender but still firm. If you overcook it the first time, it’s only going to get more overcooked once you put it in the oven.
- For a really nice, crisp texture that compliments the creaminess of the buffalo chicken mac and cheese, top the mixture with panko breadcrumbs before putting it in the oven! I like to coat the panko with a little melted butter first so it’s got a richer flavor. It also helps it crisp up better in the oven. Just be careful not to burn it!
🍗 Love Buffalo Chicken? Try These Recipes!
- Buffalo Chicken Salad
- Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Dip
- Buffalo Chicken Sliders
- Keto Buffalo Chicken Dip
- Instant Pot Buffalo Chicken Dip
- Healthy Creamy Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Ranch (Whole30, Paleo)
- Buffalo Chicken Fries
- Paleo Buffalo Chicken Casserole with Ranch and Cauliflower Rice (Whole30, Low Carb)
- Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Wings in Buffalo Sauce
- Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas
- Buffalo Chicken Tacos
For the Chicken
- 1 ½ cups shredded rotisserie chicken approximately ¾ pound
- ¼ cup buffalo sauce
- 2 tablespoons ranch dressing or blue cheese dressing
For the Pasta
- 16 cups water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 pound uncooked cavatappi or preferred pasta
For the Cheese Sauce
- ½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- ½ cup all-purpose flour see Notes
- 1 ½ cups whole milk at room temperature
- 2 ½ cups half and half at room temperature
- ½ tablespoon salt more or less to taste
- ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper more or less to taste
- 3 cups shredded fresh cheddar cheese at room temperature, divided
- 3 cups shredded fresh mozzarella at room temperature, divided
Serving Suggestions (All Optional)
- ranch dressing or blue cheese dressing
- buffalo sauce
- blue cheese crumbles
- chopped fresh parsley
- 9×13 casserole dish 3-quart dish
- Cooking spray or butter
- Small mixing bowl
- Silicone spatula or wooden spoon
- Large pot
- Large mixing bowl
- Large saucepan
- Silicone spatula or large wooden spoon
- Preheat oven to 325° Fahrenheit.
- Lightly grease casserole dish with cooking spray or butter, making sure to cover entire bottom of dish and inner sides of dish. Set aside.
For the Chicken
- Add 1 ½ cups shredded rotisserie chicken, ¼ cup buffalo sauce, and 2 tablespoons ranch dressing to small mixing bowl. Mix ingredients together until well incorporated and chicken is coated in buffalo sauce and dressing. Set bowl aside.
For the Pasta
- Add 16 cups water to large pot. Place pot on stovetop over medium-high heat and bring water to boil.
- Once water begins to boil, add 1 tablespoon salt and stir to incorporate. Continue heating pot until water resumes boiling.
- Add 1 pound uncooked cavatappi to boiling salted water and stir to incorporate. Boil pasta according to package instructions, reducing cook time by 1 minute.
- When pasta is al dente, pour pasta and water into colander and drain well. Transfer drained pasta to large mixing bowl and set aside.
For the Cheese Sauce
- Place large saucepan on stovetop over medium heat. Add ½ cup unsalted butter and heat butter until melted.
- Once butter has melted, add ½ cup all-purpose flour and whisk vigorously to incorporate butter and flour into mixture resembling wet sand. Simmer mixture over medium heat approximately 1 minute, whisking often, until mixture has thickened and become lightly golden.
- Remove saucepan from heat and let mixture cool slightly, then slowly add 2 ½ cups half and half in small increments. Whisk well after each addition, until ingredients are fully combined and mixture is smooth, before adding more half and half.
- Once all half and half is incorporated, repeat process with 1 ½ cups whole milk. Whisk constantly until ingredients are combined into smooth mixture.
- Return saucepan to stovetop over medium heat. Simmer mixture, whisking frequently, until very thick. Consistency should resemble slightly thinned condensed soup.
- Remove saucepan from heat. Add ½ tablespoon salt, ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, 1 cup shredded fresh cheddar cheese, and 1 cup shredded fresh mozzarella. Whisk until cheeses are completely melted and mixture is smooth.
- Pour smooth cheese mixture into bowl with prepared pasta and stir to fully incorporate pasta and sauce. Add buffalo chicken mixture to bowl and gently fold chicken into pasta.
For the Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
- Transfer half of pasta mixture to prepared casserole dish. Spread pasta mixture out evenly to cover bottom of dish.
- Top pasta layer with 1 cup shredded fresh cheddar and 1 cup shredded fresh mozzarella, sprinkling cheeses evenly across dish.
- Transfer remaining half of pasta mixture to casserole dish, covering layer of shredded cheeses completely.
- Top second pasta layer with 1 cup shredded fresh cheddar and 1 cup shredded fresh mozzarella, sprinkling cheeses evenly across dish.
- Place casserole dish in preheated oven. Bake dish 15 minutes, or until shredded cheeses are melted and bubbly, and top of mac and cheese is lightly golden brown.
- When mac and cheese is baked as desired, carefully remove casserole dish from oven. Set aside and let rest 3 to 5 minutes.
- If desired, top mac and cheese with drizzle of ranch dressing and/or buffalo sauce, blue cheese crumbles, and/or chopped fresh parsley. Serve dish warm.
- Cheeses: It’s best to use fresh cheddar and fresh mozzarella that you shred yourself, rather than the prepackaged, preshredded cheeses. Those typically contain starches and fillers to prevent the cheese from clumping, but those additives keep the cheeses from melting well. They can also give the cheese sauce an unpleasant gritty or grainy texture.
- Dairy Products: Make sure your half and half, whole milk, and cheeses are at room temperature before starting the recipe. Cold dairy products can curdle or separate if they’re added to hot ingredients or if they’re heated too quickly.
Number of total servings shown is approximate. Actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes.
Nutritional values shown are general guidelines and reflect information for 1 serving using the ingredients listed, not including any optional ingredients. Actual macros may vary slightly depending on specific brands and types of ingredients used.
To determine the weight of one serving, prepare the recipe as instructed. Weigh the finished recipe, then divide the weight of the finished recipe (not including the weight of the container the food is in) by the desired number of servings. Result will be the weight of one serving.