A recipe for creamy, comforting macaroni and cheese made with cream cheese, pepper jack, chicken, tangy Buffalo sauce and packed with LOADS of flavor. Grab yourself a bowl! I love this dish.
Oh my. Dang.
This. Stuff. ROCKS!
I mean, I knew it was going to be good, but seriously. It knocked my socks clean off. I had purchased a bag of orecchiette noodles for the new cookbook I'm working on and had some leftover. I rooted around in the fridge to see what sorts of other ingredients I had on hand, wondering what I should make with these fluffy shell shaped noodles.
I came across a package of ground chicken and a container of crumbled blue cheese and the light bulbs started going off. Chicken. Blue cheese. Noodles. Hmmm.
I always have Buffalo sauce on hand, or at least hot sauce, which can easily be combined with a bit of melted butter for a quick homemade Buffalo sauce. So yeah, this recipe was born and even though it was the first time I made it, it has quickly become one of my favorite recipes. I mean, wow! Check it out!
Easy Creamy Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese.
Come on! Look at this stuff. The photo turned out GREAT, but it's hard to NOT capture the awesomeness that is this recipe. I probably sound like I am gushing a bit too much, and maybe I am, but hey. Maybe it's just because I'm hungry right now and wish I had another bowlful. Totally.
Get in my belly, mac and cheese.
Truly, it's quite the comfort food, so if you're expecting a low calorie meal here, sorry (not sorry). It is rather decadent with plenty of cheese - cream cheese and pepper jack to be exact, all swirled up with the hot noodles and cooked chicken.
We start, though, with a flavor base of onion, peppers and garlic cooked down with the ground chicken. You're free to use whatever peppers you have a hankering for. Go for habaneros or ghost peppers if you're looking for HEAT. I used a couple serrano peppers and jalapeno peppers, which are ALWAYS on hand here. #MikesJalapenoObsession continues.
You can use chopped chicken as well if you'd like instead of ground. It's just what I had on hand and it came out GREAT.
Season up the mix with brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne, paprika, a bit of salt and pepper, then some tomato sauce, Buffalo sauce, a couple tablespoons of ACV. Cheeses.
Don't forget a bit of the pasta cooking water, which will help everything mix together and get nice and creamy.
When you swirl the whole thing together, yeah, CREAMY is the optimal word here. Add in extra Buffalo sauce for more of that ZING factor we all crave. I know I do! More for me, please!
Top the whole thing with fresh herbs for a freshness pop, crumbled blue cheese because blue cheese and Buffalo sauce are best buddies, and spicy chili flakes because "spicy chili flakes". They make everything shine a little for the tongue. Flavor blast!
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did. Off to make another batch. Let me know how it turns out for you. Send pics! Share on social media!
-- Mike H.
Easy Creamy Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese – Recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3-4 spicy chili peppers, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1-1/2 pounds ground chicken
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons cayenne powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 cup Buffalo sauce
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 8 ounces cooked pasta (I used orecchiette) with ¼ cup reserved pasta boiling water
- 6 ounces cream cheese
- 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese (or more as desired)
- FOR SERVING: Fresh herbs and crumbled blue cheese
- Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat and add olive oil. Add the onion and peppers and cook about 5 minutes to soften them.
- Add the garlic and cook for another minute, stirring.
- Add the ground chicken and cook about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the meats are cooked through.
- Stir in the brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne, paprika, salt and pepper, tomato sauce, Buffalo sauce and vinegar. Stir and simmer about 5 minutes to bring the flavors together. If your sauce is too thin,
- cook a bit longer to thicken. You can easily let this simmer and let the flavors develop even more.
- Next, add the cream cheese with the reserved pasta boiling water and stir until the cheese is melted through.
- Add the cooked noodles and stir.
- Stir in the shredded pepper jack cheese a bit at a time until it is melted through.
- Remove from heat and sprinkle with fresh herbs and crumbled blue cheese.