buffalo chicken mac and cheese

In the famous words of Jessica Simpson, “I’m sorry. I don’t eat buffalo.” Well Jess, I don’t either. It’s a tad gamey for my taste. But buffalo chicken? Wings drenched in a spicy, smoky, unnaturally orange sauce? Bring ‘em on by the plateful. Give me a cold beer, some celery and a side of blue cheese dressing and you’ll see one happy (and very messy) gal.

Trouble is, buffalo wings alone do not a meal make, no matter how much I wish they would. They’re especially not a meal for the family, and completely wrong for a toddler who thinks bones are for chewing and sticking up one’s nose. Luckily, word on the street is that folk are combining this spicy treat with another comfort food of fattening proportions: mac n cheese. Now that is a meal I can get behind. Buffalo chicken + mac n cheese = dinner.

Honestly, when I first spied this recipe from Food Network, I thought it might be a tad overkill. Homemade mac n cheese all on its own can sometimes be too rich for my blood*. So when attempting my own version, I decided to lighten it up a tad by using whole milk instead of half-and-half, reduced fat cheddar, and light sour cream.

*Raise your hand if you laughed and called me a hypocrite right there. After all, I am the one who makes bacon cinnamon rolls. My blood is probably half butter by now.

The result was still incredibly rich, but I didn’t feel so bad about its creamy noodles passing my lips, or the lips of my family. I also tweaked a few other small details: I omitted the panko (because I don’t believe in crunchy mac toppings), decreased the butter, and left out the parsley and garlic (because, quite honestly, I was being lazy).

Creamy cheese sauce, shredded chicken spiked with buffalo sauce, crunchy bits of celery, and a layer of blue cheese. Serve with some celery sticks or a salad topped with blue cheese dressing and your family will be doing an interpretive dance in your honor.

I’ll stop talking now. You’ve got to go. You must get to the grocery to snatch up the ingredients for this (slightly) sinful dish.

And Jessica Simp, I think you’d make an exception for this buffalo. But a quick FYI: it’s buffalo chicken mac n cheese. Not buffalo chicken of the sea. But I’m sure you already knew that.

-RDG

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese, Slightly Lightened adapted from the Food Network

printable recipe

If you love the spice of buffalo sauce, feel free to add a bit more! If you can’t multitask (I can’t), and your macaroni gets stuck together while waiting in the colander, run warm water over it to un-stick before using.

  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2-3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken (I bought a grocery store rotisserie bird to use)
  • 3/4 cup buffalo sauce (Frank’s is a widely available and tasty brand—look for it on the condiment aisle)
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 1/2 cups milk (whole or 2%—nonfat might make the sauce too runny)
  • 1 lb reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2? cubes
  • 8 oz pepper jack cheese (reduced fat if you can find it), shredded
  • 2/3 cup light sour cream
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease or spray a 9×13? baking dish. Boil the macaroni in a large pot of salted water just until al dente, about 6-7 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

2. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet or pot over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken and add 1/2 cup of the buffalo sauce. Cook 1 minute more then remove from heat.

3. In another pan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and mustard until smooth. Whisk in the milk and remaining 1/4 cup buffalo sauce and stir until thickened, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the cheddar and pepper jack cheeses until melted, then stir in the sour cream until smooth.

4. Spread half of the pasta into the bottom of the baking dish, top with the chicken mixture, then top with the remaining pasta. Pour the cheese sauce over as evenly as possible (a large ladle works nicely). Sprinkle with the blue cheese and set the entire baking dish on top of a cookie sheet before placing in the oven (the sauce may bubble and dribble out the sides of the pan). Bake until bubbly and slightly browned on top, about 30-35 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before inhaling.


Comments

  1. Yum yum yum. Damn you. ;)

    • My daughter is studying in Shanghai at Tonji University. She was hungry for a home cooked meal and wants to make this when she comes home in July. she emailed me the recipe. I making it tonight in her honor. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Seems like a good variant to building the casserole would be to mix the macaroni into the cheese sauce right before you layer it. Takes care of the problem with the mac sticking if it’s been sitting (it’ll break right up when you stir it into the sauce) and you don’t have to worry about that messy “pour the sauce over the built casserole” thing. Layer of mac + cheese sauce, the chicken, another layer of mac + cheese sauce, bleu cheese. Simple.

    • I initially thought that too, Chris, but I determined that going that route would saturate the noodles too thoroughly and lead to mushy pasta. I’m glad that I did it the way that the original recipe intended.

      @ Melis: you can kick me tomorrow :)

  3. Love this version of mac & cheese!

  4. Hungry now :(

  5. buffalo chicken cheese very nice

  6. The Fatbloke says:

    Well as “buffalo sauce” isn’t big on this side of the atlantic, it’d handy to have a recipe for that as well.

    I’d guess that recipes for “mac ‘n cheese” would also be different, because I certainly wouldn’t make any cheese sauce with cream. Pretty much a basic bechamel sauce, made with “semi-skimmed” (2%) milk and then add the cheese too taste. Not even a sniff of cream…..

    Apart from that, it does sound wonderful…..

  7. just made this and it was beyond delicious! YUM!!! :)

  8. What a fabulous recipe!! this sounds like a great variation.

  9. Your beautiful photos really show off what a delicious dish this is!

  10. This is a wonderful recipe, thanks so much for sharing. You did a great job with the images too.

  11. I think my husband would swim in that casserole dish. Making this for dinner tomorrow!!

  12. I would pay a lot to eat it now, comfort food at its best

  13. How on earth did you manage to format this page so that it is impossible for me to copy it into notepad or Word so that I can use it for dinner next week? I think I’m going to have to resort to using a screen shot in order to save this.

    It sounds like a great recipe, which just makes this all the more frustrating.

  14. This is so so good! And it makes so so much. Can it be frozen and still yield the yummiest of results when reheated? Yes? No? Thoughts?

    • Erica, I’ve never tried freezing this particular mac and cheese myself but I’m sure it would be just fine! I would freeze unbaked, then it probably needs at least 1 hour or more in the oven to cook. Let me know if it works for you!

  15. I made this tonight for dinner and I must say it was AMAZING!!! I loved it and so did my boyfriend. GREAT recipe!

  16. homecook'n n train'n says:

    oh my gosh I was so not prepared for how much this makes! I had to put it in two dishes!! AND I forgot to melt the flippin cheddar cheese so I chunked it into cubes and spread it evenly into the two dishes and HOPED the stuff melts!!!! It’s in the oven now. I’ll let ya know if I wrecked it. If ya don’t hear from me again I did alright ;) p.s. thanks for sharing!

  17. Jen Moulton says:

    I never post comments, but I have to say I found your recipe and I have made this dish SO MANY TIMES!! I love it! I have adapted it several times because I was out of this or that and it works EVERY TIME! I have added cream cheese instead of sour cream (in milk mixture), or used both.

    So you are a wonderful evil genius! Thanks for sharing

    • Thanks for finally chiming in, Jen! I’m so glad you like it. Cream cheese seems like an “evil genius” addition—maybe you are too! xo

  18. I cooked this recipe on Friday night. It was a HIT!!!! Absolutely delicious and I will definitely make this again. Thank you for the wonderful recipe!

  19. That looks amazing!!!

  20. I’ll be trying this recipe, for sure – thanks for sharing it.

  21. This looks amazing. YUM!

  22. Bookmarked! I almost licked my computer screen. :)

  23. My husband and I are both huge wings fans…and I absolutely LOVE mac and cheese…sooo I’m thinking we’re going to have to make this tonight! I’m SO happy stumbleupon brought me to your website, I’m excited to look through the rest of your recipies! Thanks again!!

  24. Well worth the fat induced heart attack! Nothing a little beer couldn’t cure.

  25. The presented recipe seems nutritious and tasty as well but can I use beef in place of chicken?

  26. mac & cheese good, buff chix good, combined together = GOOD

  27. Buffalo Chicken mac n cheese is a great idea!

  28. Holy jeebus. YUM. This looks and sounds incredible. And I agree… buffalo is rather gamey. Or so I hear… :)

  29. Looking at the header I thought it would be too heavy, but since your saying that it isnt actualy, I am willing to give it a try. I have never tasted buffalo before but I am certain that I d like it. thx for sharing!

  30. Melissa T. says:

    Wow! I really love your blog. First time I have ever commented on one and as I have become addicted to Stumbleupon and Pinterest recently (yes, I am late to the party) I have been viewing A LOT of them. Your pictures are spectacular! I want to make all your recipes and you are very funny! If I had a blog, I would want it to be just like this one, but since I don’t, I will happily continue to follow yours!Thanks! Really awfully nice!

  31. Anna Gregory says:

    Just wanted to say I have made this a few times now since coming across your blog via StumbleUpon and hubby & I love it!!! Thanks!!! Will have to check out your other recipes! :)

    Anna

  32. julie nyland says:

    I made this tonight, and my boyfriend said this was the best f’ning thing I have ever made! lol He absolutely loved it, thanks for the recipe, I will definitely be making this again!

  33. I blog frequently and I seriously thank you for your content.
    This great article has really peaked my interest. I’m going to bookmark your website and keep checking for new information about once per week. I subscribed to your Feed as well.

  34. william elan says:

    I didn’t know Franks made a buffalo sauce.

Trackbacks

  1. […] rainy day gal & buffalo chicken mac and cheese – StumbleUpon 2/3 cup light sour cream 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese 8 oz pepper jack cheese (reduced fat if you can find it), shredded […]

  2. […] Food Network.com, though in the interest of full disclosure, I originally learned about it from Rainy Day Gal, who linked to the original Food Network recipe on her blog […]

  3. […] 4) Favorite Meal: Buffalo Macaroni Cheese […]

  4. […] buffalo chicken mac and cheese | rainy day gal […]

  5. […] 2/3 cup light sour cream 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese 8 oz pepper jack cheese (reduced fat if you can find it), shredded buffalo chicken mac and cheese | rainy day gal […]

  6. […] rainy day gal & buffalo chicken mac and cheese – StumbleUpon 2/3 cup light sour cream 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese 8 oz pepper jack cheese (reduced fat if you can find it), shredded 1. Preheat your oven to 350F. […]

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