Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese on your table in 20 minutes!
This Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese is your favorite mac and cheese made even better with buffalo hot sauce for the perfect amount of spice! It’s crazy creamy without any heavy cream or butter (but with a secret ingredient instead!), and is so bursting with flavor you will be licking your plate! It’s loaded with juicy chunks of chicken and you can even add veggies and panko topping. It is the perfect weeknight meal you will make again and again and again!
Buffalo Mac and Cheese
Macaroni and cheese has to be the most comforting foods on the planet. From Million Dollar Macaroni and Cheese, Salsa Verde Mac and Cheese, Chili Mac, and now this Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese – they have my heart, and usually my waistline. BUT this Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese is lightened up! It’s creamy, cheesy, loaded with flavor and is intoxicatingly delicious without all the guilt!
I have been meaning to share this Buffalo Macaroni and Cheese recipe for a while now, but today (just after Turkey Day) seemed perfect because not only is it quick and easy to make for guest and/or family but you can swap the chicken out for turkey. Now you have a reason – the reason – to be excited to devour all those turkey leftovers – now creamy cheesy leftovers – with bacon!
The star of this Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese is the sauce. It is an outrageously delicious combo of Buffalo Hot Wings Sauce, a rainbow of spices, my secret ingredient, light cream cheese, sharp cheddar and mozzarella for a flavor packed creamy, cheesy sauce with completely customizable heat. Add in the bacon and chicken and you have one irresistible cheesy buffalo bite after bite.
Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese with LESS FAT!
This Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese is so outrageously delicious, you’ll want to claim the entire skillet – and that’s okay because it is lightened up! This mac n’ cheese recipe has a secret ingredient in its creamy, cheesy buffalo sauce that helps make it lighter – it will blow your mind. Are you ready?
Instead of making a roux with butter/flour or using heavy cream, I use creamed corn! Its natural creaminess adds the perfect body to the sauce without adding any fat (okay, well 1 gram) – seriously life changing and soooo good! I use this secret in my Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder as well and it is epic.
Our Buffalo Mac and Cheese Sauce is creamified further with lightened cream cheese, sharp cheddar cheese and mozzarella – because every macaroni and cheese needs the depth of flavor of at least two cheeses. If you want an even lighter Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese, you can add less cheese – and you will still have creamy deliciousness just not as cheesy.
What is Buffalo Sauce?
Buffalo Sauce is is the spicy hot sauce served with hot wings. It dates back to 1963 when Teressa Bellissimo served a plate of wings in her family-owned restaurant smothered in her own special sauce.
The Sauce is different than just regular hot sauce. It is essentially hot sauce with the addition of melted butter, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and garlic. It is smoother, richer and should be a pantry staple. I use it all the time in recipes like:
- Slow Cooker Honey Buffalo Meatballs
- Honey Buffalo Hot Wings
- Buffalo Chicken
- Honey Buffalo Ribs
- Buffalo Chicken Foil Packet
- Buffalo Chicken Burritos
What Hot Sauce is best for Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese?
For this Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese, I recommend Franks Buffalo Hot WINGS Sauce. This is different than just Franks traditional hot sauce – look for the “Wings” on the lable.
The Buffalo Wings Sauce boasts a more rounded flavor and less of pure cayenne punch. 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.
How to Make Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
- Heat one tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat in a large nonstick skillet. Saute onions for 5 minutes or until softened and slightly golden. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds.
- Turn heat down to medium and stir in creamed corn, cream cheese, 1/2 cup milk, 2-5 tablespoons buffalo hot sauce and spices.
- Stir until cream cheese is melted, then stir in cheddar cheese and mozzarella cheese until melted.
- Add chicken, bacon and pasta and stir until evenly coated, adding additional milk if needed to reach desired consistency. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.
Tips to Make Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
- More Cheese: this recipe is nice and cheesy but because it is ‘light” it has less cheese than other recipes. You are welcome to add the recommended amount of cheese – then add more!
- Cheese Varieties: you can mix up the cheeses. I’ve paired cheddar with mozzarella but you could also swap in pepper jack, Gruyere and even American.
- Hot WINGS Sauce: make sure you’re using Buffalo hot WINGS sauce and not just original hot sauce – you can taste the difference.
- Customize Heat: you can add more or less depending on how spicy you like it at your house. Remember you can always add more hot sauce but it is hard to take it away so start with less.
- Blue Cheese: the blue cheese is optional but I love the added tang that cuts through some of the heat
- Chicken: adding chicken makes it a meal but you can also omit it or swap it for ground turkey or ground beef.
- Veggies: This Buffalo Mac and Cheese is a great canvas to throw in any veggies you have on hand such as broccoli, bell peppers, zucchini, peas, etc.
How Spicy is this Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese?
The beautiful thing about making your own Buffalo Mac and Cheese is you can customize the heat. Individuals can even add more hot sauce to their own individual servings.
In this Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese recipe I find 3 tablespoons Franks Buffalo Hot Wings Sauce is average heat, 4 is if you like things a little spicy (this is what I use) and 5 is for the very spicy lover.
WHAT CHICKEN SHOULD I USE FOR THIS RECIPE?
You will want about 2 cups cooked chicken for Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese recipe. You can use:
- rotisserie chicken: I love the juicy flavor and convenience.
- cook your own chicken: if you keep frozen chicken breasts on hand, you are always ready to go. I’ve included instructions on how to cook chicken below.
- leftover chicken: leftover chicken from any recipe works great, even if it has some seasonings already.
How Do I Cook Chicken for Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese?
If you want to cook your own chicken for this Buffalo Mac and Cheese recipe, it is super easy! You will need 1 pound, which is roughly 2 medium size chicken breasts.
- Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat.
- Once very hot, add chicken and cook, undisturbed for 3-5 minutes, or until browned on one side.
- Flip chicken over, cover, and reduce heat to medium.
- Cook for approximately 5-7 more minutes (depending on thickness of chicken), or until chicken is cooked through.
- Remove to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes before chopping into bite size pieces.
Can I add Panko Topping?
- 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Directions: Melt butter in olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet. Add panko and stir to coat. Continue cooking until crumbs become golden brown. Evenly sprinkle over Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese.
Can I make Buffalo Mac and Cheese Ahead?
Yes! You can completely make this Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese Ahead of time and reheat it in the oven until hot and bubbly. If you make the mac and cheese ahead of time, make sure the pasta is short of al dente that way it doesn’t seep up the sauce or get mushy when reheated.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH BUFFALO CHICKEN MACARONI AND CHEESE
We love this Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese with a big salad or any of the following:
- Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese Ranch
- Cucumber Tomato Salad
- Strawberry Avocado Broccoli Salad
- Perfect Fruit Salad
- Creamy Grape Salad,
- Pina Colada Fruit Salad
- Sweet Moist Cornbread
- Roasted Broccoli,
- Roasted Cauliflower
- Sauted Brussels Spouts
Lightened Up Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese AKA the ultimate creamy comfort food that is guaranteed to be a family favorite and YOUR favorite to eat and make!
Looking for more easy pasta recipes?
- 30 Minute Spaghetti Bolognese
- Sun Dried Tomato Pasta with Chicken
- Cheesy Penne
- Lighter Cheesy Taco Pasta
- Tortellini Al Forno
- Lemon Chicken Pasta
- Italian Chicken Orzo
Want to try this Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese Recipe?
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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com
Carlsbad Cravings Original adapted from my Beefy Buffalo Macaroni and Cheese
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