Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Blue Cheese

by Andie Mitchell on February 9, 2011

 

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Given the amount of love and affection you, my dear friends, paid to the buffalo chicken rolls I baked last week, and given that creamy homemade macaroni and cheese is one of those dishes we’d all love to eat competitively at a state fair, I figured it wise to combine the two.

Now, I’ve done a lot of this sort of ‘if ‘X’ is great, and ‘Y’ is also fabulous…why not pair ‘em?!’ The minor problem that arises from this kind of query is that I’ve ended up alone in my kitchen dipping salty kettle cooked potato chips into peanut butter and slathering jam on top of grilled cheese sandwiches a time too many.

This one, though, well this is a good one. And it makes sense.

 

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

 

Now, there are a few considerations I took before tossing the cheesy macaroni, buffalo chicken, and blue cheese together. First, though many people claim to love buffalo chicken and blue cheese, they may not actually love real crumbled blue cheese. I find that lots of folks much prefer blue cheese dressing, which has hints of traditional blue pungency and bite, but is a world milder. I’d even bet that most folks wouldn’t notice if you swapped ranch dressing with the blue cheese in the cup where they’re dipping buffalo chicken tenders. The point is this: blue cheese is fabulous and lovable, but it’s not universally beloved. I find that it’s a bit too potent to mix into the sauce for your mac and cheese, but is just lovely when crumbled into the hot dish. This way, while you’re chewing away on creamy mild macaroni, you get a burst of blue cheese every now and then. It’s a very nice change in taste and texture.

The second consideration: I don’t love the idea of blending the hot sauce too evenly into the creamy cheddar sauce that I’ve coated my macaroni with. Hot sauce is naturally bold, and its flavor will overpower all others while you’re eating. So just as I prefer crumbling blue cheese on top of the dish rather than mixing, I like to take a similar approach to the spicy chicken. I fold it ever so gently into the saucy macaroni.

Altogether, these simple recipe considerations make the flavors of the dish pop. The eating experience feels more satisfying because of the differences and uniqueness of each bite. Some forkfuls combine creamy macaroni with a hot kick of buffalo chicken, some are sprinkled with sharp blue cheese. Each great on their own, and even better together.

Here’s how to whip it up yourself:

 

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

 

Bring a pot of water to a boil, add about 5 cups dry elbow shaped macaroni, cook for about 8 minutes (or until softened to your liking), drain, and set aside. A tip: Generally 3/4 cup dry pasta will yield 1 cup cooked.

 

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

 

While the pasta is cooking, make your cheese sauce. Combine 1 cup cold milk with 1 tablespoon cornstarch in a small saucepan. Whisk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, stir in 1 tablespoon butter until smooth, and then add 3/4 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese. Stir until the mixture is well blended and silky smooth.

 

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

 

Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked macaroni and stir to combine.

 

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

 

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In a separate bowl, stir together hot cooked chicken (diced into bite sized pieces) and 1/2 – 2/3 cup hot buffalo wing sauce. I recommend Frank’s Red Hot brand. This is a perfect dish to use leftover cooked chicken, but if you need to cook some: Place 1 lb of chicken breasts in a pot, fill it with enough water just to cover the chicken, set it on the stovetop over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is opaque and cooked through. To test for doneness, you can pull one of the chicken breasts out of the water, slice into it and check to be sure the inside is no longer pink. Then, drain the chicken and let it cool enough so you can handle it and cut it into chunks.

 

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

 

Stir the chicken into the pasta gently. You don’t want to completely mix the hot sauce with the cheesy sauce on the macaroni. Then sprinkle 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese over the whole mixture. It will make for a nice contrast in flavors while you’re eating if the three components of the dish- the creamy, cheesy pasta, the buffalo chicken, and the pungent blue cheese- don’t blend fully. It’s so satisfying to bite into each of them separately, and then notice how well they complement each other mid-bite.

 

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Blue Cheese

(serves 4)

1 cup 1 % milk

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon butter

¾ cup extra sharp cheddar cheese (3 oz)

½ cup crumbled blue cheese (2 oz)

4 cups cooked elbow shaped pasta

1 lb chicken breast, cooked and chopped into bite sized pieces

1/2-2/3  cup hot buffalo wing sauce (recommended: Frank’s Red Hot)

 

Stir the milk and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Stir in the butter. When the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, add the cheddar cheese and stir until the cheese has melted and the mixture is silky and well blended.

Place your cooked, drained pasta in a large bowl. Pour the cheese sauce over it and stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, toss the cooked chicken with the hot sauce, evenly coating and moistening the meat evenly. Use more or less hot sauce depending on your spice preference.

Gently stir the chicken into the pasta, followed by the crumbled blue cheese. Serve immediately.

Nutrition information for ¼ of the recipe:

Calories: 513, Fat: 16.6g, Cholesterol: 128.1mg, Sodium 450.9mg, Carb: 45.7g, Fiber: 1g, Sugars: 3.2g, Protein: 43.6g

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

danielle February 9, 2011 at 11:02 am

I have to make this what a great combo!

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Matt @ The Athlete's Plate February 9, 2011 at 12:14 pm

THAT LOOKS SO GOOD.

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Jem February 9, 2011 at 12:29 pm

This looks amazing. I am going to have to vegetarianize this for sure!

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Sharon February 9, 2011 at 12:31 pm

ohhhh, I want to make that dish be my valentine. LOVE! hahaa

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TheSceneFromMe February 9, 2011 at 2:46 pm

OH my gosh, my husband is going to be forever thankful when I make this meal for him! It look so delicious!

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Patricia DeWit February 9, 2011 at 4:27 pm

You write of your ingredients and I picture them as characters. Beautiful.

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Lisa (Dishes of Mrs. Fish) February 9, 2011 at 6:02 pm

I can’t wait to make this when my husband FINALLY gets to come home for a weekend! :) We’ll both love this!

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Lu February 9, 2011 at 6:25 pm

I gasped when I read the title to this post. Then I weeped. Perfection in a bowl.

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johnny February 10, 2011 at 3:50 am

Looks really fantastic, it just goes to show you that anything can go into macaroni and cheese! I like the way you think

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paul jennette February 10, 2011 at 5:14 am

This is an amazing combo!! It really is incredible that I haven’t used these two together before. I mean these are two of my favorite dishes, why was my brain not working. It would have been a great dish to have at one of the bars I worked at in Chicago. I bet it would be a top seller!

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Jackie @ Baking Charms February 10, 2011 at 5:34 am

2 of my favorite things… together… in one meal… amazing!

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Di February 11, 2011 at 4:42 am

I’m definitely more of a blue cheese dressing person…I just can’t get into blue cheese. :( HOWEVER, this looks amazing!

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Can You Stay for Dinner February 11, 2011 at 7:34 am

Thanks Di!

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cookinfanatic February 11, 2011 at 9:47 am

Add another of your fabulous ideas to the list – this will be getting made very soon. I already put hot sauce on top of my mac n’ cheese (normal, no?) but this just takes it to a whole ‘notha level! My boyfriend would be all over this too, yummmmm.

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overweighted February 13, 2011 at 5:46 pm

My husband and I made your buffalo chicken egg rolls last week and we both loved them! I will def try this one. I can never get enough of “buffalo”. :)

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Kevin (Closet Cooking) February 15, 2011 at 5:53 pm

What a tasty take on mac n cheese!

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Jessie February 24, 2011 at 3:13 pm

I’m super excited to make this tonight!! Unfortunately I won’t be adding the blue cheese but I’m sure it’ll still be amazing!

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Can You Stay for Dinner February 24, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Thanks Jessie! Let me know how it turns out!!

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Jessie February 24, 2011 at 7:28 pm

It turned out great! My boyfriend loved it – he ate SO much!

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Can You Stay for Dinner February 25, 2011 at 7:25 am

:) yay!

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Leigh February 28, 2011 at 6:58 pm

My boyfriend eats like a 5 year old. If it isn’t McNuggets or a BK Rodeo Cheeseburger, he isn’t interested. Heaven forbid I want to cook dinner and/or try to force him to eat vegetables. However, he ate about 3/4 of this. WE LOVED THIS DISH!!! Found your blog yesterday and am already in love. I’ll definitely be trying some more recipes.

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Can You Stay for Dinner February 28, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Thanks Leigh! This makes me so so happy!

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Martha March 4, 2011 at 9:43 am

I made your buffalo chicken rolls the other day and had some leftover shredded chicken so I decided to try this – it was awesome!!!! And the recipe actually makes a lot, so I had leftovers the next day, and it was still amazing! I have used more hot sauce in the past month than I have over the course of my life… but I think that’s a good thing…

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Can You Stay for Dinner March 4, 2011 at 10:17 am

So glad to hear it! Yes, hot sauce is a very good thing :)

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Katherine May 6, 2011 at 7:43 pm

1/4 of the recipe is a huge amount! This is a definite win on your part. My cheese didn’t come out as creamy and cheesy as I’d like and I used whole wheat pasta shells but the buffalo wing sauce and blue cheese is divine. Loved it!

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Jenn July 6, 2011 at 7:29 am

This ROCKED. Like Katherine, I used WW pasta, and I also used reduced fat cheddar so it wasn’t as creamy and cheesy – but I didn’t care, as the flavors in this were fantastic. I especially liked technique of ‘folding’ in the chicken – this made the dish edible for my husband (who likes hot sauce, but not nearly to the quantity/heat that I do). The leftovers kept well, too. I will definitely make this again!

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Denise July 7, 2011 at 7:58 am

I made this last night and it was so delicious there were no leftovers! The only thing I changed was that I used penne pasta which was only about 2 cups of dry pasta to make 5 cups cooked. Everyone loved it! I’m sure I’ll be making it again soon. Thanks!

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Sarah @ A dash and a pinch August 16, 2011 at 6:12 am

I made this the other night! It didn’t turn out as well as yours did, but I’m not discouraged in the slightest and look forward to trying it again!!!
http://chef.foxingworth.com/2011/08/buffalo-chicken-macaroni-and-cheese/

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Emily August 17, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Hi there,

My boyfriend works in the kitchen of a well-known and established restaurant here in Portland, OR. He loved this recipe so much when I made it for him, that he served it as a special today in his restaurant. It was an incredible hit. Thank you for all of your delicious ideas and thank you most of all for your chocolate chip cookie recipe.

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Brittany November 9, 2011 at 8:44 am

WOW!! I will be making this tomorrow night for dinner! i can not believe its somewhat healthy! Thank you for all your recipes keep them coming! :)

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Liz November 9, 2011 at 5:50 pm

I just found today, not only this recipe, but also this entire website, and can I just say that I’m kinda bummed you live clear across the country! We could just be two peas in the same little pod!! Anyway, if you’re ever in NC we can totally go get cheeseburgers and something loaded with chocolate. :) Okay…as I said, just found this recipe today and HAD to make it! And I did! And it was DELICIOUS!!! (Hubby agrees, and that’s saying something) This will definitely become one of my “go to” dinners!!

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Amanda November 21, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Just made this and it was DELICIOUS!! Definitely looking fwd to leftovers :)

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Veronike W December 20, 2011 at 6:12 pm

So…I think I am on a kick of trying out all the recipes on here now because they just look sooo good!

I made this one and (with a few mishaps from misreading the directions). It was amazing! I am addicted to Frank’s and blue cheese so the combination of the two was an explosion of flavours! So good! This is definitely a do-over in my house!

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Shelley Bourgeois January 4, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Made this recipe tonight for dinner. Myself and my husband loved it so much. Super tasty and surprisingly easy to make. I really enjoy reading about your journey and for every recipe your personal insights. I love cooking and especially enjoy finding healthy recipes, I find your website enjoyable to read and most important, for me as a person who loves to try new recipes, the step-by-step pics. I will be making the meatloaf burgers with extra sharp cheddar this weekend! Thanks again and will continue coming back.

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Bryan & YiRan March 11, 2012 at 1:43 pm

If I can convince YiRan that we are allowed to make this, it’ll be the next thing I make!!

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admattai March 18, 2012 at 5:38 pm

just made this recipe tonight, and loved it! so good, I had it with some salad greens. great for leftovers!

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Meg June 12, 2012 at 3:56 pm

I attempted to make this tonight… Somehow burned the cornstarch/milk mixture :( so I had to throw it out & improvise. It didn’t turn out as creamy and cheesy as I would have liked either, but my boyfriend really liked it anyway. I especially enjoyed the little hot sauce kick. We used a mild sauce from a wing restaurant.

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Emily August 28, 2012 at 5:42 pm

This recipe is absolutely fabulous! I’m a new wife who has been enjoying trying out new recipes in my tiny kitchen. I have to say I enjoyed this meal the best out of the many I’ve made in the past few weeks. Thank you for your recipe and for your story.

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sandra elliott September 26, 2012 at 8:27 am

5 cups dry macaroni will yield about 10 cups cooked. This can’t be right!!!

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Shan November 9, 2012 at 9:16 am

For some reason I did NOT care for this the day I made it but it was DELISH two days later, I guess I used too much hot sauce and it needed to absorb into the noodles.

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Alexandra January 5, 2013 at 6:06 pm

It sounds delicious but just wondering
It it’s not to hot for the kids. Anybody tried this
Dish on children?

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Jenn February 20, 2013 at 9:40 pm

Hi! Making this recipe as we speak. It looks like there is a typo in the directions. The second sentence says hot sauce, but I believe it should say cheese sauce to match the pics above. I will let you know how it turns out. Looks amazing!

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Kate March 17, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Made it this weekend and my boyfriend (who never gets full) loved it and it’s substantial enough to keep his stomach happy! I think next time I will try to keep the buffalo chicken on the side because all the flavors seemed to run together when mixing it. Normally the spicier the better for me but I also love that old fashioned mac and cheese taste too.

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Nicole April 11, 2013 at 8:34 pm

As a college student, I just want to say thank you. This is absolutely DELICIOUS and AFFORDABLE. I love that it doesn’t require many ingredients and that you have very detailed instructions and pictures. Mine ended up looking exactly like the one in the photo above, and I swear, that never happens! I can’t wait to try out some of your other recipes.

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Shannon July 23, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Just made this! So yummy :)

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Cindy July 3, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Wow, this was sooooo good! I made it for lunch today. It was so easy and is so delicious! Thanks for the recipe!

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