Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

This buffalo chicken mac and cheese combines ground chicken with healthier chickpea pasta, a low fat buffalo cheese sauce, and bubbly monterey jack cheese. Each serving has 34 grams of protein with just 31 grams of carbs, and you should be able to have dinner on the table in about 30 minutes. 

I’ll walk you through the full recipe below and cover ingredient substitutions and tips for cooking as we go. You can find a printable recipe card at the bottom of the post if you’re familiar with my recipes and ready to get cracking! 

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Cook your choice of macaroni in salted water.

a box of Banza elbows cooking in a pot of boiling salted water

Any type of pasta will work here, but I’m a fan of Banza’s chickpea pasta. It’s higher in protein and fiber, gluten free, and has great texture and flavor. I’ve used it in everything from my chicken fajita pasta bake to queso mac and cheese with chipotle ground beef.

The only tip I have for this step would be to avoid cooking your pasta too early. The recipe calls for cooking it just shy of al dente, about 5 minutes. If you need to prep ingredients or work slowly, maybe hold off adding the pasta to the water until you have the ground chicken cooked. 

Cook ground chicken with diced onion and minced garlic.

ground chicken, diced onion, and minced garlic in a skillet

Speaking of cooking ground chicken, this step is straightforward enough. You can omit the onion if you have picky eaters around, but the serving sizes may be slightly affected. And since the onion will release some moisture as it cooks, you may need to use a bit of olive oil for cooking the chicken. 

If you’d rather use chicken breast, you could make the chicken from my shredded buffalo chicken nachos recipe.

(Optional) Add ranch seasoning.

adding ranch seasoning to the ground chicken

Since you already have two major flavor components of ranch—garlic and onion—in the mix, I’ve listed this ingredient as optional. It adds a hints of buttermilk, dill, and saltiness. But the buffalo sauce is plenty salty, so you can just salt to taste before topping with shredded cheese at the end. 

Add buffalo sauce. 

buffalo sauce added to the cooked ground chicken

I used the same Frank’s RedHot sauce that I used for my buffalo air fryer tuna cakes and 45-calorie buffalo chicken bites. If you wanted to make your own, here’s a recipe for homemade buffalo sauce from Mike at Chili Pepper Madness. 

Since the recipe doesn’t call for any oil, you may have some sticky bits depending on the cookware you use. The buffalo sauce should help deglaze the pan to get those off before reducing the heat. 

Mix fat free Greek yogurt with cheddar powder and add to the cooked buffalo chicken.

greek yogurt and cheddar powder added to the buffalo chicken

What is cheddar powder? 

If you’re unfamiliar with recipes like my 30-minute cheeseburger soup or air fried cheesy potatoes, cheddar powder is essentially dehydrated cheddar cheese. Think: powdered peanut butter. 

You can use cheddar powder as a dry ingredient or seasoning, but my favorite way to use it is reconstituting in some kind of liquid for sauces like the cheese sauce for this buffalo chicken mac and cheese. It makes a creamy cheese sauce with a fraction of the fat and calories of traditional cheese sauces. 

Where to buy cheddar powder 

Your best bet is to order some on Amazon (I’ve included it on my recommended ingredients Amazon list). Some specialty stores may carry it but if you’re in a pinch, you can steal a package from other boxed mac and cheese.

Add the cooked pasta and fold everything together.

cooked Banza elbows with cheesy buffalo chicken

If you’re using chickpea pasta, you’ll want to go straight from draining to the pan as it can stick together a bit as it cools to room temp. You can toss drained pasta in a little olive oil to help prevent this if your timing is off. 

And if you love this buffalo ground chicken and wanted something else to use it for, you could plug it into my buffalo chicken stuffed peppers recipe.

Top with freshly grated cheese and broil ’til bubbly. 

finely shredded monterey jack cheese on top of buffalo chicken mac and cheese

The recipe calls for monterey jack, but you can use mozzarella or any softer melting cheese. I’ve honestly never broiled blue cheese, but I’m guessing that’d be a fine substitute. 

Top with some green onion and you’re ready to rock! 

If you have any questions about this buffalo chicken mac and cheese, feel free to leave a comment or join my Facebook group. There are more than 14,000 healthy home cooks in the group to help out!

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ground chicken and chickpea pasta in a low fat buffalo cheese sauce and broiled with monterey jack cheese.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz Banza Pasta Elbows
  • 1 lb Ground Chicken*
  • 1 medium (250g) Yellow Onion, diced
  • 3 cloves (15g) Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Ranch Seasoning (optional)
  • 1/3 C (80g) Buffalo Sauce
  • 1 C (227g) Fat Free Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 C (56g) Cheddar Powder
  • 3/4 C (84g) Shredded Monterey Jack

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta in a pot of salted water for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the ground chicken, onion, and garlic to a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until no pink remains, about 8 minutes. Add the optional ranch seasoning towards and cook for 1-2 more minutes.
  3. Add the buffalo sauce and cook for 2-3 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken.
  4. Reduce the heat to low. Mix the Greek yogurt and cheddar powder in a separate bowl and add to the skillet. Stir everything together before folding in the cooked pasta.
  5. Top with the shredded cheese and broil on high for 5 minutes. Serve with fresh green onions, if desired.

Notes

*The nutrition facts are with 92/8 ground chicken. Using a leaner cut like 97/3 saves 4g of fat and ~40 calories per serving. And ground turkey works fine as a substitute for ground chicken. You could also reduce the amount of shredded cheese to further reduce the fat and calorie content.

Each serving has 8 WW SmartPoints (blue plan).

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Servings Serving Size: 1 1/2 C (240g)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 380Total Fat: 16gCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 34g

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17 thoughts on “Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese”

  • ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    We made this tonight and HOLY TASTE BUD PARRRRTAY! It’s delicious! We didn’t have ground chicken so we used lean ground turkey. We also had to cut the hot sauce down to 1/4 cup not the 3/4 so I wouldn’t break into a cold sweat 😆.

    One of my favorites and we make nearly every meal you post!!!!!!

    Ya’ll need to try this one!!!!

  • I hate to say it, but this one was a rare miss for me. Just way too much hot sauce called for in the recipe as written – the vinegary sauce overpowers everything else. I’m going to give it another shot and try knocking down the hot sauce to a quarter cup like the other reviewer did. I have a hunch it will be much better that way.

    • Update: made this again for dinner last night, knocking the hot sauce down from 3/4 cup down to 1/4. Much, MUCH better! It was as good as I hoped it would be, and better. I’ll be adding the modified version to my dinner rotation from here on. My advice: if you’re gonna make this, go light on the hot sauce – you can always put more on top when you’re eating.

      • I retested the recipe with 1/3 C buffalo sauce, and I agree with you. I’ve updated the recipe accordingly. Thanks for the feedback, Joe. I can only test so many variables in the initial testing. You guys help me out!

  • So so good! I did cut the buffalo sauce in half after reading previous reviews. And I only had reduced fat mozzarella. But so so good. Will definitely make it again!!!

  • So.. I was nervous about it coming out right because I didn’t have cheddar powder and could not order any from Amazon that would get here anytime in the next month #coronavirus BUT I improvised with some cheese seasoning I found in the spices aisle for popcorn. The label said it was made of actual cheese so I figured it would work out okay.. low and behold, it was DELICIOUS!

  • This is definitely one of my favorite pasta dishes!! I substituted with chicken breast that I had cut into cubes and precooked on the stove top before adding to the rest. Topped mine with OPA ranch dressing and it hit the spot!

  • Wow….this dish is amazing! So full of flavor and one serving is very filling. I used Frank’s red hot instead of buffalo sauce. I did reduce the amount by a little but but didn’t notice it being too spicy. I love this recipe and will be putting this on the rotation!

  • another bomb A recipe! Full of flavor and just oh so good. I do not like onions, so I never add them (or peppers) to any of his recipes. To me, they taste so good and not seem to be missing anything from omitting those. Don’t hesitate, make this recipe today! I am also quite a wimp when it comes to spice and this did not seem too spicy to me 🙂

  • For quarantine, this recipe has been a MUST! My boyfriend and I love most anything buffalo chicken, but had never tried buffalo chicken Mac! It is a total game changer, and you don’t feel like crap after eating it! It even works good as a dip if you just want to snack with it.

  • If you love buffalo as much as I do, you need this in your life! I didn’t have Banza pasta, but regular pasta worked just as well for me! This recipe is on repeat weekly! It’s the best of both worlds…cheese and buffalo= yes!!

  • This is so good! Unfortunately we didn’t have cheese powder at home so I made it without it and it was still delicious! I also added the ranch seasoning and it added great flavor to it. I can’t wait to try it with the cheese powder.

  • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
    This stuff. WOAH. So yum. So high volume. HUSBAND APPROVED (big deal), and everyone couldn’t stop saying how great it smelled when I heated it up at work!! This is on repeat.

  • Love this recipe that combines my love of buffalo chicken with my favorite side dish, macaroni and cheese! Bravo- this is a meal win!

  • This was SO good! Unfortunately my macro calculations were about 100 calories per serving higher than yours. 🙁

    Thinking it was the ground chicken I used. I’ll have to try lean ground turkey next time.

    It is awesome though so thank you!

  • This was amazing. I’ve never had Banza pasta before, and it definitely filled the pasta void for me. And SO much food! Will make again soon!

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