Buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese

Ultimate comfort food for a stressful time. Classic mac and cheese with a tang from the hot sauce and a little funk from the blue cheese. You can skip the breadcrumb topping and bake but I recommend it — the extra crunch adds a very satisfying texture.

photo of completed recipe: Ultimate comfort food for a stressful time. Classic mac and cheese with a tang from the hot sauce and a little funk from the blue cheese. You can skip the…
  • You'll be eating in: 45 minutes

  • Active time: 30 minutes

  • Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

For the béchamel:

  • 3

    tablespoons butter

  • 3

    tablespoons flour

  • 2

    cups whole milk

For the pasta:

  • 8

    ounces elbow macaroni or other short pasta (like orecchiette, shells, fusilli)

  • 8

    ounces cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups)

  • 1/2

    cup parmesan cheese, grated

  • 1/3

    cup Frank's Red Hot sauce

  • 1-2

    cups cooked chicken, shredded or cut into bite-size pieces (rotisserie chicken is great for this)

  • 1/3

    cup blue cheese, crumbled (optional)

For the breadcrumb topping:

  • 2

    tablespoons butter

  • 1

    cup panko breadcrumbs

Instructions

  1. Preheat

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Prep the pan

    Grease an 8x8 baking dish with butter or cooking spray like Pam and set aside.

  3. Cook the pasta

    Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain in a colander and set aside.

  4. Make the cheese sauce

    Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large pan over medium heat - one that's big enough to fit all of your ingredients. Once the butter is completely melted add in the flour and whisk until you have a smooth paste. Add in ½ cup of milk (this doesn't have to be exact, but you want to add a little at a time) and whisk until everything is combined and it starts to thicken. Repeat, adding ½ cup of milk at a time. Bring the mixture up to a light simmer until it thickens to the consistency of gravy, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the cheddar and parmesan a bit at a time so they can melt and combine into a smooth cheese sauce. Remove from the heat and slowly stir in the hot sauce. If you add the hot sauce too quickly the sauce may curdle. Taste the cheese sauce - add more hot sauce, salt, or pepper until it tastes how you want it to taste!

  5. Make the toasted breadcrumb topping

    Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add in the panko breadcrumbs and stir to coat with the butter. Toast for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they're fragrant and darker in color.

  6. Assemble

    Add the cooked pasta and the cooked chicken to the cheese sauce and stir well to coat and combine. Add in the blue cheese crumbles if using and gently mix to distribute. Dump the pasta mixture into the greased pan and spread toasted breadcrumbs in an even layer on top.

    Add the cooked pasta and the cooked chicken to the cheese sauce and stir well to coat and combine. Add in the blue cheese crumbles if using and gently mix to distribute.
Dump the pasta mixture into the greased pan and spread toasted breadcrumbs in an even layer on top.
  7. Bake

    Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until everything is bubbling and the top is golden brown. Enjoy!

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