This green chile mac and cheese is a healthier Tex-Mex spin on classic chicken mac and cheese. Every hearty 6-ounce serving has 28 grams of protein with only 21 grams of carbs and 325 calories. And I’ve included plenty of notes for customizing the recipe to make it even healthier!
Even better, you’ll have plenty to go around for feeding a crowd. The picky eater in my house gave this one a big thumbs up, so you’re good on that front. Or if you’d rather save it all for yourself, this mac and cheese reheats perfectly, making it perfect for meal prep.
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Green Chile Mac and Cheese with Chicken Recipe Walkthrough
This is a fairly straightforward recipe, but I’ll walk you through each step in the post below and include some ingredient substitution notes along the way. If you’ve made other recipes like my chicken bacon ranch mac and cheese or buffalo chicken mac and cheese, you can probably jump down to the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil to cook the pasta. Cook seasoned chicken breast in a large skillet for about 5 minutes.
The recipe calls for Banza pasta shells, which is a chickpea pasta that’s higher protein and lower carb. Feel free to use any pasta shells, but the nutrition facts will change.
For the seasoned chicken breast, you’ll need a bit of olive oil, paprika, garlic and onion powder, and ground cumin. The seasoning on the chicken will lend its flavor to the mac and cheese, so you won’t want to skimp here. There’s no salt or pepper in the seasoning blend so you can salt and pepper to taste before adding the crispy topping.
Since it will be in bite size pieces, the chicken should only take around 4-6 minutes to cook. If your timing is on point, you can probably cook the pasta and chicken at the same time.
Seasoning note: If you’d like to make more chicken mac and cheese variations, check out my buffalo chicken bites or some of the spice blends from my air fryer chicken nuggets recipes. You could omit the green chiles or swap them for other diced veggies. You can also use shredded chicken recipes like in my high protein mac and cheese with BBQ chicken.
Set the cooked chicken aside and cook the pasta shells for 4 minutes. Drain the pasta before adding milk and shredded cheddar to the pot.
Pay attention to the 4 minute cook time on the pasta, especially if you’re using chickpea pasta, as it tends to fall apart if overcooked. The pasta will continue to cook as you work in the cheese, and it’ll be baked in the cheese sauce at the very end. So don’t worry about an overly al dente green chile mac and cheese.
Don’t rush, but you’ll want to drain the pasta and get it right back in the pot so you can add the milk while the pasta is still warm. This will prevent the shells from sticking together and help the cheese melt faster and more evenly. Folding in the cheese should only take a minute or two.
And for best results, use freshly shredded cheddar instead of pre-shredded from a bag.
Once the cheese is fully incorporated, add diced green chiles.
The recipe calls for 8 ounces, which you’ll probably find in the form of two 4-ounce cans. If you can find the fire roasted diced green chiles, that adds some flavor, but it’s not a requirement.
If for some reason you’re planning to omit the green chiles, you’ll probably want to add some additional seasoning. You could keep it on the classic side with something like dry mustard, parsley, black pepper, and ground nutmeg like in my Ninja Foodi mac and cheese recipe.
Add the green chile mac and cheese to the skillet with the chicken.
An important note here is to taste the green chile mac and cheese to see if it could use any salt and pepper or additional seasoning. If you’re a garlic lover, you may want to carefully sprinkle in some extra. Or if you’re all in on the Tex-Mex flavors, a little cilantro or ground coriander would go nicely here. And for the spice lovers out there, a little dash of cayenne or dried chipotle would kick things up a notch.
Top with more shredded cheddar and breadcrumbs that have been mixed with olive oil.
Once you’ve got your chicken mac and cheese seasoned to perfection, top it with some extra shredded cheddar and a quick mix of breadcrumbs and olive oil. This will make your green chile mac and cheese beautifully crisp and cheesy.
If you’d like to keep your mac and cheese gluten free, you could use gluten free breadcrumbs. And swapping the breadcrumbs for crushed pork rinds is always a potential way to reduce the carb content.
To take this mac to the next level, check out the panko and bacon topping from my best protein macaroni and cheese recipe.
Broil or bake in a 450ºF oven for 6-8 minutes until golden brown.
That’s a wrap. Get your mac and cheese plated up straight out of the oven and dig in. If you’re looking to round out the meal with some veggie sides, check out my air fryer brussels sprouts or this air fryer broccoli from Air Fryer Eats since your oven will be occupied. If you don’t have an air fryer, check out this roundup of the best sides to serve with mac and cheese.
Whatever you end up serving your green chile chicken mac and cheese with, I’d love to hear about it. Come back and leave a recipe review or join my free Facebook group and share it with the 16,000+ healthy home cooks there. And if you have a recipe question I forgot to cover, drop a comment at the bottom of this post.
- 1 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
- 1 Tbsp (16g) Olive Oil
- 2 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Onion Powder
- 1 tsp Ground Cumin
- 8 oz Banza Pasta Shells
- 8 oz Diced Green Chiles
- 1/2 C Milk
- 8 oz Sharp Cheddar, finely shredded
Optional Crisp Topping
- 1/4 C (30g) Breadcrumbs
- 1 Tbsp (16g) Olive Oil
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
- Cut the chicken into bite size pieces and toss with 1 Tbsp olive oil before adding the paprika, garlic and onion powder, and cumin.
- Cook the chicken in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring often, until fully cooked. Set aside.
- Cook the pasta for 4 minutes in the boiling water. Drain the pasta and reduce to a low heat. Add the pasta and 1/2 cup of milk. Gradually add 6 oz of shredded cheddar, folding everything together.
- Once the cheese is melted, add the diced green chiles. Gently fold everything together before adding to the skillet with the chicken.
- Mix the breadcrumbs and olive oil together and add on top with the remaining 2 oz of cheese. Broil or bake in a 450ºF oven for 6-8 minutes until golden brown.
Without the breadcrumb topping, each serving has 295 calories, 27g of protein, 18g of carbs, and 14g of fat.
Each serving of green chile mac and cheese has 8 WW SmartPoints (blue).
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Servings Serving Size: 6 oz
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 325Total Fat: 15gCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 28g