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 ¾ 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 9x13 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
- ¼ 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
- ½ 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.
Jessica @ How SWeet says
This would seriously be my husbands dream meal!
I love buffalo sauce - this sounds so good! Yesterday I (sort of) made made mac and cheese, ok it was mac and beans, but it satisfied the craving! Here's the recipe: http://bit.ly/aOKtfO
I'm a newbie blogger, just wanted to pop in and say hi!
Julie Q says
This should be banned in 24 states because of how good it looks
Oh my goodness you sold me on this one! First of all, I can't seem to leave Panera wihout getting mac and cheese there now I'm so in love with it. And then you add all this extra stuff? I'm in. Must make soon!
No, no, NO -- that looks too good!!!!! I would like a big helping, please, with an ice-cold beer. Right now. Please!
Liz @ Dogs & Wine says
I want to be friends with it. <3
This looks soooo good. Even though my apartment is currently 85 degress I think it would be worth breaing a sweat to cook this beauty!
Oh sweet lord that looks AMAZING! I have it bookmarked!
My kids are HUGE mac and cheese fans. We'll have to try this one.
One of our favs is Cheeseburger Mac. Just add a cup of ketchup, cooked ground beef, and onion powder to taste to a regular Mac and cheese recipe.
Wow - this looks incredible! I am not usually a huge fan of buffalo wings, but I could definitely get used to eating this dish.
oh, heck yeah 🙂 fabulous!
Oh My Gosh... I can not WAIT to make this... yum yum yum yum yum!! Two of my very favorite things... Thanks for the recipe 😀
The YUM FACTOR is very high for this dish, I can tell just by looking at it!
Despite my not liking mac & cheese (yes, how un-American of me), I've been thinking about this recipe all day long.....it may need to be made Saturday night...and, I know the Yancey's Fancy cheese, and can find it here... 🙂
Kristen @ Change of Pace says
Oh my gosh that looks incredible! My husband would love it and he isn't a fan of mac-n-cheese. He'd have to add bacon to it too though haha 🙂
Simply Life says
wow! I am so impressed! Anything that has smoked gouda cheese is something I want to eat all the time!
Rachel @ Fork it over, Boston! says
Between the Frank's Red Hot and the Yancey's Fancy cheese, this really brings back memories of living in Rochester, NY 🙂 I'm slowly starting to like cheese, but it has to be hard and light-colored, so my dream mac & cheese would have to be some sort of asiago/white cheddar/gruyere combo with spicy sausage and maybe something green and leafy, like spinach.
Kelly P says
Oh. My. Goodness.
seriously this is making me drool. you ladies are torturing my taste buds and my waistline, haha.
I might have to tone down the heat a little, but it sounds delicious. I never thought of adding chicken planks to the macaroni, but I think I'd like it.
The Duo Dishes says
It has protein, calcium and healthy carbs all in one. This should fit the bill for everyone! Put bacon, gouda and/or lobster in any mac & cheese, and it's a party. Love mac & cheeses with different ingredients.
I know several people who will follow you anywhere you go ;-). It looks and sounds delicious. My favorite is a Mexican-style with pepper jack cheese. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary
Sophie @ yumventures says
This may be the most amazing thing ever. Buffalo sauce on everything!!!
Can this be mailed to me? 🙂 It looks amazing!
looks SO good!!!! i bet it would be so interseting to make a mac and cheese with goat cheese-my fav!!!
Beth @ DiningAndDishing says
Oh my, I had buffalo bleu mac and cheese once and it was seriously TO DIE FOR!! We had a place in Cleveland called Cheddars which was all different kinds of mac and cheese combos and seriously amazing. I'd say the buffalo bleu topped my list though 🙂
omg that looks AMAZING. Brilliant creation!
Made it tonight for my husband (Libby Merrill's brother)... If we weren't already married I think this could have led to a proposal. Thanks, ladies!
Mmm, this looks fantastic!
Sana's Mom says
I had been eye-ing this recipe for a week before finally caving in and giving it a go. It is soooooooo Good! I scaled it down by half, since it is only two of us, but I'm wishing I didn't as the Hubby ate up most of it today. This recipe is better than the one from Food Network. Thanks for sharing!
Just had some Buffalo Bleu Mac & Cheese in San Francisco. It was the most awesome mac & cheese I have ever put in my mouth. Went looking today for a recipe and stumbled on this...I am making it tonite! It look delicious.
I can't wait to make this. I LOVED Max & Dylans while I lived in Boston and have been craving their buffalo chicken mac and cheese since I moved away 6 months ago. Thanks so much!
I tried this recipe last night and it was amazing! I love your blog and your recipes!
@Becky Thank you!! I'm glad you enjoyed the mac and cheese 🙂
Wow! Perfect for the superbowl party!
This looks amazing! However my boyfriend does not love onions. Will it ruin the dish to eliminate or maybe even reduce the amount? Often I can get away with chopping them fine and hiding them and he doesn't know but I'm not sure that will work with this amount.
HI @Jessica! I think this dish would be just fine without onions! Shouldn't be a big deal at all 🙂
We love this recipe! I first made it in 2010 and it was such a hit. I’ve made it several times now. Completely worth the effort and makes great leftovers! We literally just made this last month; my 6yo recently discovered he likes buffalo chicken and Mac and cheese is his absolute favorite!
@Lauren- I'm so happy to hear that!! I made a few improvements to the recipe when I re-published it (mostly in how the chicken is incorporated into the mac and cheese), but let me know if you prefer the old recipe and I can send it to you!