Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese Casserole is the perfect comfort food that combines two beloved classics – mac and cheese and buffalo chicken. This dish is creamy, cheesy, spicy, and oh sooo delicious! It’s a real crowd-pleaser perfect for family dinners.
Why this recipe works
Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese Casserole is a great way to combine two classic comfort foods into one dish. The rich, creamy cheese sauce is the perfect complement to the spicy buffalo sauce and shredded chicken. The combination of flavors and textures in this dish is sure to satisfy your taste buds and leave you feeling full.
What is Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese Casserole
Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese Casserole is a baked pasta dish that combines cooked elbow macaroni with a rich, creamy cheese sauce, buffalo hot sauce, and shredded chicken. The casserole is then topped with a layer of shredded cheese and baked until bubbly and golden brown. The result is a deliciously comforting Chicken Mac and Cheese Casserole with a bit of a spicy kick.
Best ingredients for Chicken Mac and Cheese Casserole
- Elbow macaroni: Elbow macaroni is the perfect pasta shape for this dish as it holds onto the sauce well and has a great texture.
- Heavy cream: Heavy cream gives the sauce its rich, creamy texture.
- Unsalted butter: Unsalted butter is used to make the roux for the cheese sauce, which gives it its thick and velvety texture.
- All-purpose flour: All-purpose flour is used in the roux to thicken the cheese sauce.
- Garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper: These spices give the cheese sauce its delicious flavor and add a bit of heat and depth to the dish.
- Cheddar cheese: Cheddar cheese gives the dish its classic mac and cheese flavor and adds richness to the sauce.
- Mozzarella cheese: Mozzarella cheese adds creaminess and a stringy texture to the sauce.
- Buffalo hot sauce: Buffalo hot sauce adds the spicy kick that sets this dish apart.
- Chicken: Cooked, shredded chicken adds protein and a savory flavor to the dish.
- Fresh parsley: Fresh parsley adds a bit of brightness to the finished dish.
How to make Chicken Mac and Cheese
Please note: This is just an overview – the full ingredients and directions are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: Make the sauce. Heat the heavy cream over medium heat until it starts to steam. In a separate large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk until the mixture turns golden brown. Add spices and whisk until combined. Slowly pour the hot cream into the butter mixture, whisking constantly. Add the shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheese and stir until the sauce is melted and smooth.
Step 2: Make buffalo chicken. In a separate bowl, combine buffalo sauce with shredded chicken. Add to the cheesy sauce.
Step 3: Stir in pasta. Add the cooked macaroni to the sauce and stir until well-coated. Pour the mac and cheese mixture into the prepared baking dish.
Step 4: Finish with cheese and bake. In a small bowl, mix cheddar and mozzarella cheese. Spread the cheese mixture on top of the mac and cheese. Bake until the top is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly. Let the mac and cheese casserole cool for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh parsley and enjoy!
Storing and freezing tips
Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese Casserole is a great dish to make in advance and store for later. Here are some tips on how to store and freeze this delicious casserole.
- Store leftover casserole in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Reheat individual portions in the microwave or oven until heated through.
- Let the casserole cool to room temperature before freezing.
- Divide the casserole into individual portions before freezing for easy reheating later.
- Wrap each portion tightly in plastic wrap or place them in freezer-safe containers with lids.
- Label and date each portion so you can keep track of what’s in your freezer.
- Freeze the casserole for up to 3 months.
When you’re ready to reheat the frozen casserole, you have a few options:
- Microwave: Remove the plastic wrap and microwave the casserole on high until heated through.
- Oven: Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Remove the plastic wrap and place the casserole in a baking dish. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until heated through.
By following these tips, you can enjoy Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese Casserole whenever you want, whether you’re storing leftovers or freezing portions for later.
Top tips for the best Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
- Use quality ingredients: This recipe relies on a few key ingredients, so make sure they are high quality. Choose freshly shredded cheese and use a good-quality buffalo hot sauce.
- Don’t overcook the pasta: Cook the pasta until it’s al dente. Overcooked pasta can become mushy and will not hold up well in the casserole.
- Use heavy cream: The heavy cream adds richness and creaminess to the sauce. Don’t substitute with milk or half-and-half, as they will not give you the same results.
- Add the chicken to the sauce: Adding the chicken to the cheese sauce ensures that each bite is full of flavor. Be sure to shred the chicken finely so that it evenly distributes throughout the casserole.
- Top with extra cheese: Adding extra cheese to the top of the casserole not only looks delicious but also adds extra flavor and texture.
- Let the casserole cool slightly before serving: Letting the casserole cool for a few minutes before serving allows the cheese to set and prevents the dish from being too runny.
Can I make Chicken Mac and Cheese ahead of time?
Yes! You can prepare the casserole up to the point of baking, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. When you’re ready to bake it, remove the plastic wrap, and bake as directed.
Can I freeze the Mac and Cheese Casserole?
Yes! You can freeze the casserole either before or after baking. To freeze before baking, prepare the casserole as directed, cover tightly with plastic wrap or place it in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Check my blog post for more freezing tips.
Can I use a different type of pasta?
Absolutely! This recipe works well with other small pasta shapes like penne, rigatoni, or fusilli.
Can I use a different type of cheese?
Yes, you can use different types of cheese to suit your taste. However, the combination of cheddar and mozzarella cheese gives the casserole its signature gooey texture and cheesy flavor.
Did you make it?
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