Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese Casserole combines the creamy richness of the cheese and the unexpectedness of the spice. We like this recipe because it adds a twist to the traditional baked mac and cheese. It’ll leave a surprise for the entire family!
We greatly value our casserole recipes, because of how easy they are to make. They are perfect for freezing and are great to reheat or serve as leftovers. Similar casserole recipes include Best Mac and Cheese Casserole, Cheesy Crack Chicken Casserole, White Pizza Casserole, and Chicken Hash-brown Casserole.
Baked Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese Casserole
This Baked Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese recipe is the ultimate comfort food made with chicken breasts, macaroni pasta, cheddar cheese, and hot sauce. Then, topped with crunchy bacon and perfectly baked till golden brown and bubbly.
I like to add some bacon bits on top for some crunchy texture. However, feel free to skip it or use bread crumbs instead. This is a rich and creamy dish for the whole family to enjoy. Also, it is super easy to make and ready in 30 minutes.
This is also a great make-ahead dish or to serve at parties for larger crowds. Like a good traditional baked mac and cheese, it includes parmesan, mozzarella, cheddar, and cream cheese.
In addition, make sure that the macaroni is cooked al dente because that will ensure that the pasta is prepared the perfect way so that it’s moist and not over-cooked. This is great for all ages, so if you have guests over it’s the perfect thing to whip up if anyone is hungry!
You no longer have to sit and wonder what the perfect dish for a little family gathering is because this is it.
- Chicken: This recipe calls for chicken breasts. However, you can easily use leftover chicken, rotisserie chicken, or shredded chicken.
- Macaroni: I go with elbow macaroni as they perfectly absorb the sauce, and just work the best here.
- Cheese sauce: You will need unsalted butter, olive oil, flour, milk, heavy cream, sour cream, cheddar cheese.
- Seasoning: Garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, mustard powder, salt, and black pepper.
- Buffalo sauce or hot sauce.
- Bacon: Used for the crunchy topping.
- Green onion: To garnish.
How do you make Buffalo mac and cheese?
This is one of the easiest, yet very delicious meal that you can quickly make at home. For exact measures and steps, please follow the recipe card steps below. Also, watch the recipe video attached, and see how simple this recipe is!
- Preheat the oven: First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a casserole dish.
- Cook pasta: Next, in a large pot, cook pasta until just tender. Ensure to cook the pasta al dente because it will continue to cook while baking.
- Make the cheesy sauce: In a large saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter. Then, add the flour and stir to combine. Next, add the milk and heavy cream along with seasoning. Simmer and add the sour cream, buffalo sauce, and cheddar cheese.
- Assemble: Next, add the cooked pasta into it. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Then, pour into a prepared casserole dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
- Bake: Lastly, pop it in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes till golden brown and bubbly.
This Chicken Macaroni and Cheese Casserole is great comfort food that is super easy to make and can be enjoyed year-round. To rotate from it from time to time, feel free to adjust some of the ingredients. Some of our favorite variations of it are:
- Other proteins: While chicken works great here, you can swap it with other meats. Some great alternatives would be, shrimp, Italian sausage, turkey, or beef.
- Cheese: Alternatively, swap the cheeses from time to time. Gouda, Fontina, or Gruyere, are great as well.
- Add some crunchiness: For a crunchier texture, you can add some panko breadcrumbs on top.
- Use other pasta: This recipe works best with short pasta type, but feel free to go with what you have available. Pretty much any short pasta will work here. For example, use cellentani, macaroni, fusilli, penne, or small shells.
- Seasoning: In addition, feel free to use your favorite seasonings. For extra flavor add some ranch dressing or Italian seasoning.
- Other sauces: From time to time, I like using blue cheese dressing or homemade alfredo sauce as the base sauce for this cheesy goodness.
What is buffalo sauce?
It is basically a mixture between melted butter, hot sauce, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic. You have probably tried it before with buffalo wings (also known as hot wings) at various restaurants.
I like making my own, homemade buffalo sauce and store for later use.
This way, I can incorporate it on various dishes and have it handy whenever I need it.
What is the best cheese to use to make this homemade casserole?
Depending on the types of cheeses you enjoy, a cheese that melts easiest is the best option. I enjoy using cheddar, sharp cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack and pepper jack cheeses, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese.
They give this dish a nice color and a very rich and creamy texture. If you decide to go with a cheddar type, I recommend going with a medium sharp version. Also, aged cheeses tend to separate when they melt. For that reason, I tend to avoid using the aged version.
How do you keep the chicken moist while cooking it?
First, ensure NOT TO over-cook the chicken as it will taste rubbery. Also, it is best to check the internal temperature of the chicken. It is fully cooked at about 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Will the spice overpower the flavors of the chicken and the cheese?
It depends on how you want to make it, but if you stick to the recipe it will be the perfect balance of flavors.
What to serve with it?
This dish is very versatile, and can be served as it is, or with various pairings. Some suggestions would be:
Make ahead instructions:
Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese Casserole is a great make-ahead dish because it stores well for later use, and is also super easy to assemble. To make it ahead, follow these steps:
- Assemble the dish as per the steps below.
- Then, pour macaroni mixture into a casserole dish.
- Tightly cover with aluminum foil, and refrigerate it for up to 2 days.
- Prior to baking, let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Then, bake it uncovered.
How to freeze it?
- To freeze, transfer the mixture to a buttered 9-by-13-inch freezer-to-oven baking dish.
- Then, cover tightly with aluminum foil and wrap in plastic wrap.
- Freeze for up to 6 months.
- Bake, frozen, and covered with foil, at 350°F, for 1 hour.
- For the best flavor, go with freshly grated cheese. Also, you can combine a few types for a richer taste.
- As stated above, you can use any short typed pasta. The best fit here would be cavatappi, elbow macaroni, or cellentani.
- Similarly, you can use other meat. For an even quicker assembly, go with leftover or rotisserie chicken.
- Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- Our favorite sauces to use are Frank’s Red Hot and Buffalo Wild Wings. However, you can use whichever sauce you love the most.
Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese Casserole
- 1 pound elbows macaroni (cooked per box directions, aim for al dente)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 tablespoons butter (unsalted)
- 1 lb chicken breast (cut into cubes)
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups milk
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream (or light cream)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika (optional)
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 cup Buffalo sauce
- 4 cups cheddar cheese (or combination of cheddar, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese) (freshly grated or buy pre-shredded)
- 10 slices bacon (cooked)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish with butter or with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Cook pasta per box directions, aim for al dente. Drain, but don't rinse, mix with olive oil, and set aside.
- Place a large saucepan over medium heat and once it's hot add the butter. Stir and melt the butter, carefully not to burn it.
- Add chicken and cook stirring until golden brown.
- Add the flour and whisk until fully combined.
- While still whisking, little by little add the milk, stirring to combine. Take your time and don't rush through this step. Add the cream next.
- Add onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, mustard, salt, and pepper.
- Stir over low-medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, and let it simmer for about 2 minutes.
- Stir in Buffalo sauce and sour cream until fully combined. If the sauce is too thick, add more milk or some chicken broth. Taste and adjust the sauce for salt and pepper.
- Remove pan from heat and add the 4 cups of cheddar cheese, one cup at a time, stirring after each addition.
- Once the cheese is fully melted, add the cooked macaroni and gently stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to the prepared casserole dish. Level the top with a spatula.
- Sprinkle 1 cup of mozzarella cheese evenly over the surface and top with chopped cooked bacon if using.
- Bake the casserole uncovered in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Until the top is golden brown and bubbly.
- Remove from oven and let it rest for 15 minutes before serving.
- Serve topped with extra bacon and if desired chopped parsley.