Make buffalo chicken mac and cheese in 30 minutes or less on the stove top - it's the perfect weeknight comfort food meal! Macaroni and shredded chicken are coated in a creamy and flavorful buffalo cheese sauce, with green onions and blue cheese sprinkled on top.
Looking for a flavorful twist on a classic mac and cheese? Look no further. This buffalo chicken mac and cheese is made with shredded chicken, a rich cheddar cheese sauce, and flavorful buffalo sauce. It turns out creamy and perfectly seasoned with just a hint of heat.
The best part about this recipe is that it's ready in 30 minutes and made entirely in one pot on the stove top. It's perfect for busy weeknight dinners - just grab a rotisserie chicken from the deli on the way home.
Serve buffalo chicken mac and cheese as a family meal, on game day, or any time you're craving some hearty comfort food.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Cooked chicken - A shredded rotisserie chicken, cooked and cubed chicken breasts, or canned chicken can all be used in this recipe. Or, omit the chicken for a meatless buffalo mac and cheese.
- Macaroni - Can be substituted with any medium sized pasta. Shells or penne are great options.
- Butter - Can be salted or unsalted.
- All-purpose flour - Necessary to make a roux, along with the butter, which thickens your cheese sauce.
- Salt and pepper - Adds flavor to the cheese sauce.
- Milk - Use whole milk for a richer, thicker cheese sauce. A higher fat milk also helps prevent the sauce from getting grainy or curdling. I do not recommend using 1% or skim milk in this recipe. Whole milk can be substituted with half & half for an even richer sauce.
- Shredded cheese - I used sharp cheddar cheese, but gruyere is another great option. I highly recommend buying a block of cheese and grating it yourself. Most pre-shredded cheeses are coated in a powder to prevent clumping. When melted, it adds a grainy texture to the sauce.
- Buffalo sauce - Adds the buffalo flavor to your mac and cheese.
- Toppings - Green onion and blue cheese crumbles are optional toppings, but highly recommended for added flavor and texture.
How to make a smooth cheese sauce
- Allow the butter and flour to cook for a minute or two before adding additional ingredients. This creates a roux. The roux helps thicken the sauce and coats the proteins in the cheese and milk, preventing them from clumping together.
- Use a high quality cheese that's shredded fresh from a block, not pre-shredded in a bag. Pre-shredded cheeses are coated in anti-clumping powders that add a grainy texture to sauces when melted.
- Remove the sauce from the stovetop before adding and melting the cheese. When cheese is melted at too high a heat, it can curdle.
- Use whole milk (or half & half) for best results. The high fat content of whole milk helps coat the proteins, preventing them from clumping together.
- Add the buffalo sauce last. Adding acid to a cheese sauce can cause it to curdle, especially if the sauce is very hot. Adding it last prevents this issue.
Buffalo chicken mac and cheese is the perfect dish to add your favorite toppings to! Here are a few of our favorite topping ideas:
- Crumbled blue cheese
- Sliced green onion
- Ranch dressing
- Buffalo sauce
- Crumbled bacon
- Toasted panko bread crumbs
- Chopped chives
What to serve with mac and cheese
Want to stretch this meal even further? Serve your buffalo chicken mac and cheese with a side dish or two, or as a side dish itself! This recipe can stretch to easily serve six or more as a side dish.
Side dishes for buffalo chicken mac and cheese:
- Roasted frozen cauliflower
- Chopped kale avocado salad
- Buttery stovetop biscuits
- Parmesan roasted frozen broccoli
- Roasted zucchini and squash
Mains for buffalo chicken mac and cheese:
- Oven roasted brats
- Patty melt with secret sauce
- Cheesesteak style sloppy joes
- Oven baked ribs
- Baked chicken drumsticks
Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
- 6 ounces elbow macaroni, uncooked
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups (340 g) milk
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 8 ounces (227 g) sharp cheddar cheese, freshly shredded
- ¼ cup buffalo sauce
- 16 ounces cooked chicken, shredded or cubed
- ½ cup blue cheese, optional
- 2 diced green onions, optional
- In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, cook macaroni according to package directions for al dente pasta. Drain and set aside.
- Return saucepan to stove and over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and stir to combine, creating a paste. Cook for about 1 minute. Add milk and whisk constantly until smooth. Cook until mixture thickens slightly. This can take anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes.
- Remove cream sauce from heat. Add salt, pepper, and shredded cheese. Stir until cheese has melted. Last, add buffalo sauce and stir to incorporate.
- Add cooked macaroni and chicken, stirring to coat.
- Optionally, top with blue cheese and diced green onions before serving.
- This recipe serves four if served as a main course, or six if served with additional sides or another main.
- Cooked, shredded rotisserie chicken can be used in this recipe, or leftover chicken or turkey you have on hand. Chicken can also be omitted for a meatless mac and cheese.
- I highly recommend shredding your own cheese for this recipe. Pre-shredded store bought cheese is often coated in anti-clumping powder that, when melted, can add a grainy texture.
- Leftovers will keep for about 3 days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.