This Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese is deliciously spicy, ridiculously cheesy, and basically the best comfort food ever. It makes for a wonderful dinner (with a salad on the side!) and is also perfect for serving in appetizer-sized portions at parties.
(This recipe for Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese was originally published in June 2010, but has been updated with new photos and content in 2019).
Not only do I remember the first time I had buffalo chicken mac and cheese, but I’m also old enough to remember when mac and cheese was just mac and cheese and there weren’t a trillion add-ins and riffs on it. But I have to say, I like living in a world where there are a trillion riffs on it and the mac and cheese options are virtually endless. Trust me, I have quite a few of them here on this blog!
Anyway, the first time I had buffalo chicken mac and cheese was at the now defunct Mac & Dylan’s restaurant in Boston NINE long years ago. I came home and almost immediately made my own version. And now, nine years later I’m revisiting it, making some updates to it, and providing you with new, more visually appealing photos.
This dish is everything you want from mac and cheese combined with everything you want from buffalo chicken. It’s ridiculously cheesy, super flavorful, and a little bit spicy. I call this comfort food at its best! Not only is it great to serve for a weeknight or weekend dinner (since I only cook for two, I ended up freezing A LOT of it!), it’s also fun for a dinner party or even for serving in individual little cups for a cocktail party appetizer. Basically, you can’t go wrong with this mac and cheese!
BUFFALO CHICKEN MAC AND CHEESE RECIPE
Firs things first, I have to tell you not to be intimidated by the mega-ingredient list for this recipe. You’ll have a lot of the ingredients already. And like I said, it’s worth it. You can also feel free to make any modifications you want, especially in terms of what types of cheese you choose to use. This particular combination is perfectly dreamy to me, but I also really don’t think you can go wrong.
If you really like spicy and you have access to Yancy’s Fancy cheeses, go out and get their Hot Stuff Buffalo Wing cheese immediately. We’ve been eating it for years and I used it as one of the cheeses in this buffalo chicken mac and cheese. If you can’t find it, you can easily substitute with Monterey Jack. And if you want a more mild mac and cheese, use more cheddar instead.
I definitely wouldn’t say this buffalo chicken mac and cheese recipe is difficult to make, but it is a little bit time consuming and does dirty a couple dishes. I just want to keep it real for you if you are planning to make this after a long day or work.
You’ll start by cooking your macaroni in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water. I cook mine until just before it’s al dente… The macaroni will cook more in the oven, so you don’t have to worry too much. I also keep the pot out once I drain the macaroni so I can use it later in the recipe. No need to clean it yet or get out another pot!
Then you’ll need to bread and fry the chicken. I dunk the chicken in a breadcrumb and spice mixture, then in eggs, and then back in the breadcrumbs.
Once it’s cooled a bit, I’ll cut it into bite-sized pieces and toss it in a big bowl with buffalo sauce… I like Frank’s Red Hot best in case you’re wondering!
Now, melt the butter in the same pot you used to cook the macaroni. And add the onions and garlic and cook while stirring for about 6 minutes, until onions are soft, but not browned.
Add the flour and stir for 2 minutes. Then whisk in milk and bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Reduce the heat and simmer the sauce for about 2 minutes. Add all the cheeses, paprika, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper. Whisk until all the cheeses melt and sauce is smooth, about 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and add in the macaroni and about 3/4 of the chicken pieces. If your pot isn’t large enough, you can toss everything together in a separate large bowl.
Now transfer the macaroni mixture into a 9×13 baking dish. I told you this makes a lot of mac and cheese.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees until heated through, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven, top with remaining chicken pieces, and drizzle more hot sauce over the top if desired. Bake 5 more minutes.
And serve. With additional crumbled blue cheese on top for a little touch of coolness.
Oh hi, spicy plate of buffalo chicken mac and cheese heaven.
This is really amazingly indulgent and feels like such a special treat. I mean, it basically combines two of Americans all-time favorite foods into one delicious dish. It’s cheesy, and spicy, and packed with SO much flavor.
But you might want to serve a nice big salad on the side. Or some kind of green vegetable. Not that I would judge you if you didn’t.
Like I said, bring this to the next party you go to and you’ll be a very popular person.
Or just make it for yourself and have a big bowl when you’re having a sort of down day. It will cheer you right up. Not that I’m encouraging you to eat your emotions. Just try not to eat the whole thing at once, OK? Like I mentioned, it freezes well, so you can practice a little bit of portion control… AND enjoy this buffalo chicken mac and cheese on a semi-regular basis without putting in all the work.
What’s your dream mac and cheese combination?
If you’re as obsessed with buffalo chicken as I am, definitely check out my recipes for Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese and Buffalo Chicken Meatballs. And this Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Bread from Never Not Hungry looks out of this world amazing!
Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
- 1 lb. elbow macaroni
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 Tbsp cayenne
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 2 tsp salt, divided
- 2 tsp pepper, divided
- 2 large eggs
- 1 lb. chicken cutlets
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1 cup buffalo sauce (I recommend Frank's Red Hot), plus more for drizzling
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 cups chopped onions (about 2 medium onions)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups 2% milk
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup crumbled blue cheese, plus more for topping if desired
- 1 cup buffalo spice cheese (can substitute with Monterey Jack)
- 2 Tbsp paprika
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add macaroni to it. Cook until just about al dente. Drain. Keep pot out to use later in recipe.
- Meanwhile, in a shallow bowl, combine breadcrumbs, cayenne, cumin, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper.
- Lightly beat the eggs together in a separate shallow bowl.
- Dip chicken cutlets in bowl with breadcrumbs to coat. Then dip in eggs to coat, allowing excess to drip off. Dip in breadcrumbs again to coat. Place chicken on a plate and repeat with all the cutlets.
- In a large skillet, heat canola oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chicken tenders and cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides. Repeat with all the chicken and move to paper towels to drain and cool a bit. Once cooled enough to handle, cut into 1-inch pieces and toss in a bowl with buffalo sauce.
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Using the pot you boiled the pasta in, melt 6 Tbsp of butter over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, while stirring, for about 6 minutes, until onions are soft, but not browned.
- Add flour to the pot and stir for about 2 minutes. Whisk in milk and bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Reduce the heat and simmer sauce for 2 minutes. Add all the cheeses, paprika, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper. Whisk until the cheese melts and sauce is smooth, about 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add macaroni to pot. Also, mix in about three quarters of the chicken pieces. If your pot isn't big enough, you can mix everything in a separate large bowl instead.
- Transfer the macaroni mixture into a 9x13 baking dish. Bake macaroni and cheese uncovered until heated through, for 25 minutes.
- Top macaroni and cheese with remaining chicken pieces, drizzle with some more buffalo sauce if desired, and bake for another 5 minutes. Top with additional crumbled blue cheese if desired.
- If you want your mac and cheese to be a little less spicy, don't use the buffalo spice cheese and instead replace with more cheddar. You can also cut down on the amount of buffalo sauce you're tossing the chicken in.