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.
Without further ado, I give you: Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese.
P.S. If you are looking to veganize this recipe, I suggest using this cheese sauce.
- 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.
- Remove from cheese mixture from heat, and in small batches, add the remaining grated cheese, minus the amount set aside. Whisk after each addition until cheese is melted. If needed, place the pot back on the heat briefly.
- Stir in the buffalo sauce, per your liking
- Drain pasta and transfer to a large bowl and chicken.
- Pour the cheese sauce into the pasta and chicken. (it may seem like there is too much sauce)
- Transfer into 8x8 baking pan or larger, sprayed with cooking spray, top with remaining shredded cheese, blue cheese crumbles (if using), and butter
- 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.