Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese is not my creation. Even though I did not look up a recipe for this, I know this combination exists. However, this is my recipe, handed down to me by my grandmother. When I became the holder of this recipe, I changed it up a little. My grandmother would not make a cheese sauce. She would use mayo, buttermilk, and lots of cheese. As strange as it sounds, it was delicious, but it was also a heart attack in a pan. I made it her way for several years, and it was always a hit.
Then one day, I started taking cooking classes and learned about bechamel sauce, which in turn lead to this cheese sauce. I’ve made it this way ever since. I do take out an insurance policy against having a grainy sauce that comes in the form of cream cheese and Velveeta. If your sauce-making skills are top-notch, you can forgo those two items. I use them because it keeps my anxiety down while making this sauce.
Well, back to making this recipe. One day, I decided to jump into the kitchen to see the food I have and what I could do with them. I was standing with the refrigerator door open, looking at a bottle of Frank’s Red Hot, a pack of boneless skinless chicken breast, and several varieties of cheese at my disposal. I was trying to decide if I wanted cheese or buffalo chicken strips. Suddenly, it dawned on me! I can have both. What if I mixed Buffalo chicken with cheese, mac & cheese that is. Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese was born. If you need a suggestion on how to cook the chicken, give this a peek.
I have made this several times and forgot to take great pictures of it. Please excuse my lack of foresight.
- 6 oz. pepper jack cheese grated, 2 oz. set aside
- 6 oz. sharp cheddar or Colby cheese, grated, 2 oz. set aside
- 6 oz. Monterey Jack cheese grated, 2 oz. set aside
- 2 oz. cream cheese cold and cubed
- 2 oz. Velveeta cold and cubed
- 3-4 cups whole milk
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 7 tbsp unsalted butter 3 tbsp separated
- 1 tsp dried mustard powder
- ½ lbs elbow macaroni
- 1 lb cooked chicken breast meat cubed or shredded
- ¼ - ½ Franks' Red Hot or wing sauce of choice
- ½ cup of blue cheese crumbles - optional
- 2 to 4 tbsp ranch dressing - optional
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- In a 6-quart pot, bring 6-8 cups of water to boil over high heat
- Combine all the grated cheese keeping the 2 ounces aside for topping
- In a 3-quart pot, melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Once melted, add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds
- Add flour and whisk together continuously for 3 minutes. Do not let the roux brown
- Whisk in one cup of milk and simmer until thickened
- Slowly whisk in the 2 cups of milk. If the mixture is very thick, add more milk until desired consistency. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium
- Meanwhile, add a generous amount of salt to the boiling water in the 6-quart pot, add pasta while stirring. Cook until just al dente per package instruction.
- Whisk the cream cheese and Velveeta in 3 patches into the milk mixture until smooth.
- Stir in the buffalo sauce, per your liking
- Drain pasta and transfer to a large bowl and chicken.
- Place on a sheet pan and bake for 30 minutes or until bubbling and all the cheese has melted.
- Drizzle with ranch dressing if using.
- Let rest for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.