Whether you have leftover pulled bbq chicken or a rotisserie chicken you’re trying to figure out what to do with, this bbq chicken mac and cheese is a super simple, tasty way to repurpose leftover chicken. You’ll only need around 5 ingredients and about 25 minutes to make it. Every serving has 30 grams of protein with just 21 grams of carbs, and it can be customized to be even lower calorie if you’re on a calorie budget.
Mac and cheese with 30 grams of protein per serving? C’mon!
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BBQ Chicken Mac and Cheese Ingredients
You’ll only need 5 things to make this recipe:
- pulled bbq chicken
- pasta shells
- shredded cheese
- salt, pepper, and optional seasoning
Below, you’ll find details on everything we used and how to make substitutions to make this bbq chicken mac and cheese your own.
The Pulled BBQ Chicken
As you’ll see in the recipe card at the bottom of the post, I used my slow cooker bbq chicken recipe. My Instant Pot bbq chicken and smoked chicken thighs are also great options.Both recipes work with boneless skinless chicken thighs or chicken breast and are perfect for preparing in bulk to use in recipes like this mac and cheese, bbq chicken sliders, or loaded bbq chicken nachos.
If you don’t want to take the time to prep your own chicken, you could use some shredded rotisserie chicken mixed with your favorite bbq sauce. You’ll need a pound of cooked chicken for this recipe, so I’ll leave it up to you to decide how much sauce you want for that amount of chicken.
The Pasta and Cheese Sauce
For the pasta, we used Banza chickpea pasta shells like in our breakfast mac and cheese. Though any pasta will get the job done here. Just be sure to save some of the water after cooking the pasta. You want the starch in the pasta water for making a smooth cheese sauce that sticks to the pasta.
You should be able to use any milk, but using real milk with a little fat (say 2% or whole) will work best. And for the cheese, we used a blend of cheddar, Monterey jack, and mozzarella. For best results, shred your cheese fresh off the block instead of buying pre-shredded.
Assembling the BBQ Chicken Mac and Cheese
Once you have your bbq chicken and mac ‘n’ cheese sorted, it’s time to assemble. We used a 13×8 baking dish, but an oven safe skillet would work fine as well.
You can either mix everything together in the original pot or in the baking dish, it doesn’t really matter!
One note you’ll see in the recipe card is about reducing the cheese on top (and in the sauce) to reduce the fat and calorie content. You can get an idea of what 2 oz of shredded cheese looks like in the photo above. It’s a good amount of coverage, but you could get by without it.
If you wanted to reduce, or even omit altogether, I would still pop your bbq chicken mac and cheese in the oven to thicken the cheese sauce, warm any bbq sauce drizzle, and get some crispy bits on the chicken.
Another topping option might be a crispy breadcrumb topping like from our green chile chicken mac and cheese. Just mix 1/4 cup breadcrumbs with a tablespoon of olive oil and crumble on top before baking.
Side note: You could also make this recipe entirely in the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot Duo Crisp. Check out my Ninja Foodi mac and cheese for an example. You’d just stir in the bbq chicken, top with cheese, and broil for 8-10 minutes.
Okay, that should cover it. In case you’re in need of some veggie sides, check out my air fryer brussels sprouts, air fried green beans, or balsamic roasted carrots. Or this post on the best sides to serve with mac and cheese.
If you have a question that I missed, drop a comment at the bottom of the post. And as always, we appreciate recipe reviews so let us know what you thought about this bbq chicken mac and cheese!
- 16 oz Pulled BBQ Chicken*
- 8 oz Banza Pasta Shells
- 1 C Pasta Water
- 1 C Milk
- 10 oz Shredded Cheese Blend, divided
- Preheat an oven to 400ºF and bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
- Cook the pasta for 8-9 minutes until tender. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining the pasta. Set aside.
- Set the burner to its lowest setting and add the drained pasta back to the pot with the cup of pasta water and milk. Stir to fully incorporate.
- Gradually fold in 8 oz of shredded cheese 1-2 oz at a time until you have a smooth sauce. (Don't worry if the sauce is slightly runny, it will thicken in the oven once the chicken is added.) Salt and pepper to taste.
- Transfer the mac and cheese to a baking dish or oven safe skillet and stir in the pulled chicken. Top with 2 oz of shredded cheese and drizzle with BBQ sauce (optional). Bake for 8-10 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
*We used our slow cooker BBQ chicken recipe. See post above for more recipes/ideas for using other chicken.
Nutrition Facts Notes
- Each serving has 10 WW SmartPoints (blue).
- To reduce the fat/calorie content, you can reduce the milk to 1/2 C and cheese to 4-6 oz in the pasta. You can also top with 1 oz instead of 2 oz. And the slow cooker chicken we used is with chicken thighs. Using chicken breast will reduce the fat/calories as well.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Servings Serving Size: 1 C (about 7 oz)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 360Total Fat: 19gCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 30g