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 Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese 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 does it! This buffalo chicken mac and cheese takes the flavors you love and enhances them with tender pasta and a creamy, seasoned cheese sauce.
- It’s a simple recipe, but the possibilities are endless! 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… So many options!
- The creaminess of the cheese sauce really balances the heat of the buffalo sauce, so this is perfect 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!
Key Ingredients for Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
Pasta – Elbow macaroni is a classic mac and cheese option, but this dish works with any type of pasta you can imagine! I used cavatappi this time because I just love how it looks. Use whatever you like best!
Shredded Chicken – A rotisserie chicken makes buffalo chicken mac and cheese even easier! If you’d rather cook your own chicken, that’s totally fine. We’ve got a post all about the best way to cook and shred chicken breasts, which would work perfectly for this recipe. You could also use cooked breaded chicken strips, cut into bite-size pieces.
Buffalo Sauce – If you’re using store-bought sauce, you want to make sure it’s buffalo sauce and not just regular hot sauce. Want to make your own? We’ve got a recipe for that, too!
Milk – Milk keeps the cheese sauce nice and creamy. For a richer sauce, you can use heavy cream or half-and-half instead of milk. If you want to use a non-dairy milk, just make sure it’s unsweetened!
Cheese – I went the classic route here, choosing cheddar and mozzarella for my buffalo chicken mac and cheese. The really great thing about this recipe, though, is you can change things up to make it perfect for you! Pepper jack cheese would be a great touch, especially if you like things a little spicier. Swiss or gouda would also be incredible!
- 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
- 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
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Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
- Baking dish
- Cooking spray
- Small bowl
- Large pot (for cooking pasta)
- Large skillet
For the Chicken
- 1 ½ cups shredded rotisserie chicken approximately ¾ pound
- ¼ cup buffalo sauce plus more for topping
- 2 tablespoons ranch dressing or blue cheese dressing
For the Mac & Cheese
- 8 ounces cavatappi or preferred pasta
- ¼ cup butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour see Notes
- 2 cups milk see Notes
- ¼ teaspoon dried mustard
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅓ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese plus more for topping
- ¾ cup shredded mozzarella plus more for topping
- ranch or blue cheese dressing optional, for topping
- chives optional, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Grease baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. In small bowl, mix together shredded chicken, buffalo sauce, and ranch dressing. Set aside.
- Cook pasta according to package instructions until just al dente. Drain water but do not rinse pasta.
- In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour, stirring constantly until roux becomes light brown.
- Reduce heat to low. Gradually whisk in milk, then let mixture simmer 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Remove skillet from heat. Whisk in dried mustard, garlic powder, salt, shredded cheddar, and shredded cheese. Stir until cheese is completely melted, then return skillet to heat.
- Add al dente pasta and shredded chicken to cheese sauce, stirring until well distributed. Transfer mixture to greased baking dish and top with additional cheese if desired.
- Bake buffalo chicken mac and cheese 20 to 25 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned. Remove from oven, top with a drizzle of buffalo sauce, ranch or blue cheese dressing, and chives. Serve warm.
- Milk: For an even creamier sauce, use heavy cream or half-and-half. If you want to use a non-dairy milk, be sure it’s unsweetened!
- Make it Gluten Free: Use gluten-free all-purpose flour and gluten-free pasta.
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Jasmine Comer is a food photographer and recipe developer from North Carolina. She grew up in the kitchen watching her mom cook all types of delicious meals. In 2016 she established Lively Meals, a food blog where she creates healthy recipes. This led to creating recipes for other blogs as well. In her free time she enjoys exploring new places and spending time in nature. Ultimately she’s grateful to be doing work she loves—cooking good food and sharing it with people.