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BBQ Chicken Mac and Cheese

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
  • milk
  • 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

two batches of bbq pulled chicken thighs

As you’ll see in the recipe card at the bottom of the post, we used our slow cooker bbq chicken recipe. Our Instant Pot bbq chicken, smoked chicken thighs, or pressure cooker pulled pork would work just as well if you’re in a hurry. 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

reserving pasta water, adding pasta water and milk to cooked pasta shells, and adding shredded cheese to make mac and cheese

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

pulled chicken added to the mac and cheese in a baking dish

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.

mixed bbq chicken mac and cheese without shredded cheese on top

You can either mix everything together in the original pot or in the baking dish, it doesn’t really matter!

shredded cheese and bbq sauce drizzle on top of bbq chicken mac and cheese

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!

BBQ Chicken Mac and Cheese

BBQ Chicken Mac and Cheese

Yield: 8 Servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Pulled BBQ chicken and high protein mac and cheese baked with a cheesy top layer and BBQ drizzle.

Ingredients

  • 16 oz Pulled BBQ Chicken*
  • 8 oz Banza Pasta Shells
  • 1 C Pasta Water
  • 1 C Milk
  • 10 oz Shredded Cheese Blend, divided

Instructions

  1. Preheat an oven to 400ºF and bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
  2. Cook the pasta for 8-9 minutes until tender. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining the pasta. Set aside.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Notes

*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

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Hannah

Tuesday 13th of April 2021

Looking forward to making this so soon! But I will be changing up the chicken, got pulled chicken from Costco and will add G Hughes bbq!

Zahn

Tuesday 13th of April 2021

My boyfriend and I have been tracking macros for the last 4 months and last weekend we NEEDED some comfort food. I saw this recipe on your Instagram and decided to give it a try. We needed to reduce the fat due to our poverty macros, so I replaced the cheese on top with breadcrumbs and threw it in the air fryer to get crispy and it turned out AMAZING. I immediately sent the recipe to a friend and they also LOVED it. This will be a staple in our kitchen!

Mason Woodruff

Wednesday 14th of April 2021

Great improvisation with the breadcrumbs for cheese swap!

Alli

Tuesday 13th of April 2021

Honestly I’m dairy free but I bit the bullet just so I could have this (yes I know I could’ve made substitutions but it’s never the same) & guys IT WAS SO GOOD!!

Highly recommend adding smoked cheddar for even more flavor!! 10/10

Mason Woodruff

Tuesday 13th of April 2021

Nice touch with the smoked cheddar. And we'll still be awaiting your dairy free version in the Facebook group!

Sarah Hluboky

Monday 12th of April 2021

Delicious! We make this during these shoulder season months in the DC area. Kinda hot during the day, but rainy and windy cold during the evening. It’s the perfect meal to get a good amount of protein, but feel like you’re “cheating” a bit.

Kayla Morgan

Monday 12th of April 2021

Yes yes and more yes. This recipe HIT THE SPOT! So good and you’d never know it was near effortless! I used some leftover chicken I had and it was *chef’s kiss* delicious!

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