Chicken Bacon Ranch Mac and Cheese

Chicken Bacon Ranch Mac and Cheese

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In spite of it being peak soup season, I’m currently obsessed with healthy mac and cheese recipes. Soups, stews, and chili are great, but it’s tough to compete with cheese. If you’re with me, I think you’ll appreciate the return of the mac and the addition of this chicken bacon ranch mac and cheese to the growing collection.

I’ve dubbed it a lower carb mac and cheese since once serving only has 21 grams of carbs and more protein than carbs. You read that correctly, mac and cheese with more protein than carbs. Need I say more about the nutritional breakdown for this recipe?

This high protein, low carb chicken bacon ranch mac and cheese is loaded with pan fried ranch chicken, cheddar cheese, and bacon. What's not to love?

Chicken Bacon Ranch Mac and Cheese Ingredients

Like I said in my garlic parmesan mac and cheese with chicken recipe, this recipe seems a bit lengthier than what you’re accustomed to from my site. But don’t worry, it’s as simple as adding everything to pan and stirring after you’ve cooked the chicken.

Pan Fried Ranch Chicken

If you’ve tried the garlic parmesan mac and cheese or my naked chicken tenders, this recipe calls for a similar pan frying method. You’ll find a video below of the naked chicken tenders to get an idea of what it looks like in action. The only difference with this chicken bacon ranch mac and cheese will be cutting them into pieces prior to pan frying.

Bacon Ranch Mac & Cheese

For the cheese sauce, you’ll be using a blend of reduced fat cheddar, light butter, and Greek yogurt. That, combined with some sliced bacon and ranch dip seasoning is a simple, low calorie cheese sauce recipe.

chicken bacon ranch mac and cheese recipe step 3

Banza: The Key to Lower Carb Mac and Cheese

Similar to my easy taco pasta bake, I went with Banza’s pasta shells for this recipe. Banza makes a chickpea pasta that’s lower carb and higher protein than traditional pasta. It tastes great so don’t even think about calling it an IMPASTA. 

Here’s a quick macro comparison between Banza and my time-saving recommendation, Barilla Ready Pasta Elbows. The servings are equal to what you’d use in this recipe. 

Banza: 760 calories, 128 grams of carbs, and 56 grams of protein

Ready Pasta: 840 calories, 168 grams of carbs, and 28 grams of protein

Not a huge difference, but it definitely helps if you’re on a lower carb diet. I’d like to add that I’m not affiliated with Banza. There are comparable products with similar nutrition profiles, Banza is just what I find in stores near me and I love the product.

inside chicken bacon ranch mac and cheese

The MVP: Crispy Topping 

If you’d like to save a few calories (and time in the oven), you could always leave the crispy topping off. But you’d be making a huge mistake. On a per serving basis, the topping only adds about 30 calories.

And if you try this chicken bacon ranch mac and cheese with and without the topping, you’ll kick yourself for skipping the topping.

After I posted my extra cheesy hash brown casserole that also has a Corn Flakes topping, I received some questions about swapping Corn Flakes for other cereals like Rice Krispies. I can’t say for sure since I’ve yet to test any, but I would imagine most crispy cereals would work. You may need to add a bit more butter, though.

You could also use breadcrumbs or other comparable ingredients to create the crispy topping.

chicken bacon ranch mac and cheese

Are You Ready for a Grate Time? 

Sorry, that was a cheesy dad joke.

The full recipe is below. When you make this chicken bacon ranch mac and cheese, the world needs to know about it. Take a photo and tag me on Instagram @mason_woodruff or join my free Facebook group and share it with the posse!

chicken bacon ranch mac and cheese
5 from 4 votes
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Chicken Bacon Ranch Mac and Cheese

Lower carb chicken bacon ranch mac and cheese with pan fried ranch chicken.

Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword chicken bacon ranch, mac and cheese
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 10 servings
Calories 280 kcal
Author Mason Woodruff

Ingredients

Ranch Chicken

  • 1 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Tenderloins or chicken breast
  • 1 Tbsp (16g) Olive Oil or your choice of oil
  • 1/2 packet (15g) Ranch Dip Seasoning
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder

Bacon Ranch Mac and Cheese

  • 1 box (8oz) Banza Pasta Shells or two Barilla Ready Pasta Elbows to save time
  • 1 1/2 C (168g) Reduced Fat Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/4 C (56g) Light Butter I used Land O' Lakes
  • 1 C (227g) Fat Free Greek Yogurt plain
  • 1/2 packet (15g) Ranch Dip Seasoning
  • 6 slices Precooked Bacon cut into small strips

Cripsy Topping

  • 2 Tbsp (28g) Light Butter
  • 2 C (56g) Corn Flakes Cereal

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.

  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta. If you're using Ready Pasta, skip this step. 

  3. Cut the chicken into bite size pieces and add to a bowl with the olive oil, half a packet of ranch seasoning, and chili powder. Toss/stir until the chicken is evenly coated. 

    chicken bacon ranch mac and cheese recipe step 2
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, add the chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes untouched (until the bottoms have a slightly crispy layer) before flipping and cooking for another 2-3 minutes. 

  5. When the chicken is fully cooked, add the cheese sauce ingredients (except the pasta) to the skillet and stir until the cheese melts and everything is mixed evenly. 

    chicken bacon ranch mac and cheese recipe step 3
  6. Once the cheese sauce is evenly mixed, add the cooked pasta and stir once more. Transfer the mac and cheese to a baking dish or continue to the next step if you're using an oven safe skillet. 

    chicken bacon ranch mac and cheese recipe step 4
  7. Microwave the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 seconds before mixing with the Corn Flakes. Fold the melted butter into the cereal until it's evenly coated. Top the mac and cheese with the Corn Flakes mixture.

  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the topping is golden brown. 

Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts
Chicken Bacon Ranch Mac and Cheese
Amount Per Serving (150 g)
Calories 280 Calories from Fat 117
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 20%
Total Carbohydrates 21g 7%
Protein 22g 44%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

More Cheesy Recipes You Might Like

If you’re a true cheese fan, you appreciate a good plate of nachos. Check out my homemade beef and pork chorizo healthy nachos recipe.

chorizo and beef healthy nachos

And if you’re looking for more pasta recipes, my bacon cheeseburger Hamburger Helper copycat is a great way to add some veggies that don’t suck to your diet.

bacon cheeseburger with broccoli healthy hamburger helper



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