Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
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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!
Cook your choice of macaroni in 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.
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.
(Optional) Add ranch seasoning.
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.
I used the same Frank’s RedHot sauce that I used for my pressure cooker buffalo chicken and 45-calorie buffalo chicken bites. If you wanted to make your own, here’s a recipe for homemade buffalo sauce from The Thirsty Feast.
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.
What is cheddar powder?
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.
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.
Top with freshly grated cheese and broil ’til bubbly.
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 nearly 13,000 healthy home cooks in the group to help out!
- 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
- Cook the pasta in a pot of salted water for 5 minutes.
- 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.
- Add the buffalo sauce and cook for 2-3 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken.
- 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.
- Top with the shredded cheese and broil on high for 5 minutes. Serve with fresh green onions, if desired.
*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