Healthy Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Blue Cheese

healthy buffalo chicken mac and cheese

 

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.

 

Healthy 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.

 

Healthy 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.

 

Healthy Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

 

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

 

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

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.

 

Healthy Buffalo Chicken Mac 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 Mac and Cheese

Healthy Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Blue Cheese

Yield: 4 Servings

Serving Size: About 2 cups

Calories per serving: 513

Fat per serving: 17g

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces dry elbow macaroni (enough for 4 cups cooked)
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup 1% milk
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese (¾ cup)
  • 2 ounces crumbled blue cheese (½ cup)
  • ½ - ⅔ cup hot buffalo wing sauce (I like Frank's Red Hot)

Instructions

  1. Poach the chicken: Place the breasts in a large saucepan or dutch oven, in a single layer, and fill with just enough cold water to cover the chicken by 1 inch. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes depending on how thick the breasts are (check the chicken after 10 minutes). When done, the breasts should be completely opaque on the outside and register 165 degrees on meat thermometer. Cut through the center of one to check doneness so that you don’t accidentally remove all the chicken too soon. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let cool slightly until before shredding with two forks.
  2. Once shredded, stir in the hot sauce, adding as much or as little as you like depending on your spice preference.
  3. Cook the elbow macaroni according to package directions.
  4. While the macaroni cooks, make the cheese sauce: In a small saucepan, whisk together the milk and cornstarch. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat slightly 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.
  5. Place your cooked, drained pasta in a large bowl. Pour the cheese sauce over it and stir to combine. Stir the chicken into the pasta, followed by the crumbled blue cheese. Serve immediately.

Notes

Nutriton Information: Calories 513, Fat 17g, Carb 46g, Fiber 1g, Sugars 3g, Protein 44g

http://www.canyoustayfordinner.com/2011/02/09/buffalo-chicken-macaroni-and-blue-cheese/

Comments

  1. johnny says

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

  2. says

    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!

  3. says

    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.

  4. Leigh says

    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.

  5. Martha says

    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…

  6. Katherine says

    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!

  7. says

    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!

  8. Denise says

    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!

  9. Emily says

    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.

  10. Brittany says

    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! :)

  11. says

    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!!

  12. Veronike W says

    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!

  13. Shelley Bourgeois says

    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.

  14. Meg says

    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.

  15. Emily says

    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.

  16. Shan says

    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.

  17. Alexandra says

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

  18. Jenn says

    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!

  19. Kate says

    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.

  20. Nicole says

    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.

  21. Cindy says

    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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