Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
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A timeless classic dish, combining two of Americans favorite dishes into one dish that’s packed with Flavor. We’re talking about the irresistible Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese of course! Creamy, rich Mac and Cheese made with 4 kinds of Cheese is paired with the sweet and sour flavor explosion of Buffalo Chicken. It’s unapologetically American and tastes amazing. What’s more, it’s easy to make and takes no time at all so it’s perfect for a midweek dinner for the family!

The beauty of this dish is the Mac and Cheese can be all made in one pot

That’s right! There’s plenty of great ways to make Mac and Cheese from scratch, however most of them require cooking the Pasta in a separate pot and adding it at the end. This dish does away with the need for multiple pots, instead you make the whole Pasta and Cheese sauce in that 1 pot

Ok, you will need a separate pot for the Buffalo Chicken Element, however limiting the pots needed to make the Pasta and Cheese sauce is a great way to save space and time. The process is actually quite simple, and the portion of ingredients are pretty much the same as you would use for a typical Mac and Cheese. It all just gets thrown into one pot however

Mac and Cheese one pot
This delicious Mac and Cheese recipe is all made in just one pot, saving on time and cleaning up!

How to make the Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

We start this great recipe by creating a roux. A roux is essentially a combination of Butter and Flour that is used in many white sauce dishes. The Butter and Flour are fried together in a large pot with some Shallots. You want to ensure you cook the roux well before adding the liquids to avoid any raw flour taste

The combination of Flour and Butter (we use equal parts of each ingredient) will create a thick paste-like consistency once cooked. You then add the Milk and mix through well to ensure the Roux has completely incorporated into the Milk. Please use Whole Milk, as there is no substitute for flavor and texture when it comes to making a great Mac and Cheese dish

This process of adding Milk to the Roux creates a sauce known as béchamel. It is one of the famous ‘mother sauces’ in cooking. This basically means that it is a baseline sauce that can be used to create loads of different sauces, such as Béarnaise, Mornay Sauce, and in this case – a Cheese Sauce

Add about one third of the Milk first and mix that through the Roux well until it’s totally absorbed. Continue mixing and add the second third. A few minutes later, add the final third, which will thicken the Béchamel Sauce

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese in one pot
We cook the Pasta with the Béchamel Sauce and it all comes together, making this Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese dish one of the easiest, and most delicious you’ll ever eat!

Now it gets a little bit weird, but hear us out

The next step is a bit strange for any purist Mac and Cheese cookers out there. Once you’ve added the Milk, add the Water and the Pasta! That’s right! It may sound a little strange to be diluting the Béchamel with Water, but it works!

The cooking process will take about 15 – 20 minutes, however this approach surprisingly works great. The liquid will be absorbed by the Pasta, and it will be cooked perfectly. The remaining liquid will thicken, resulting in that classic, Cheesy Béchamel that we’re so familiar with in a great Mac and Cheese

Once the Pasta is cooked and you’re at the right consistency for the sauce, it’s time to add the Cheese. You still want the sauce to be slightly runny. The Sauce will thicken as it cools once you take it off the heat, and adding the Cheese will add a lot of body to it. So, try to keep that sauce a little bit runny before adding the Cheese

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese four cheeses
The combination of the four cheese is what makes this Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese recipe so tasty

We use four Cheeses for our Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

It’s not just about adding loads of different cheese to make the dish sound impressive. Each of the four cheese plays a critical role and you’ll notice it if one is missing. The combination of Cheese we use is Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Gruyere Cheese, Parmesan Cheese, and American Cheese

Sharp Cheddar

The Sharp Cheddar Cheese adds that brilliant sharpness, almost tartness qualities that really cut through the palate when eating. It brings so much flavor to the dish, almost like it’s seasoning the Béchamel Sauce with cheese flavor!

Gruyere Cheese

Gruyere Cheese is primarily there for it’s melting quality. The Gruyere brings the gooeyness and creates that beautiful strands of cheese-pulls that are so synonymous with a good quality Mac and Cheese. You could use Mozzarella as a substitute; however, the flavor of Gruyere is more pronounced, with a slight nutty flavor

Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan brings the flavor in droves! It is the most intensely flavored of the Cheese, with a nutty flavor profile which adds lovely depth to the dish. We only use half the quantity of Parmesan as we do Cheddar and Gruyere as it is quite a powerful flavor. Yet, essential to a great Mac and Cheese

American Cheese

That’s right, good old American Cheese goes into this dish and we’re not apologetic about it at all. In fact, we’re huge fans of American Cheese for the texture it brings to a dish. It adds to the gooeyness of the cheese but has less of a ‘stretchy’ quality like Gruyere, but more of a denseness. It adds wonderful body to the Mac and Cheese

Buffalo Chicken on top of Mac and Cheese
Plate the Buffalo Chicken on top of the Mac and Cheese, along with some more on the side. This way people can manage how much Buffalo Sauce they want in their Cheese Sauce

We don’t add the Buffalo Chicken to the Mac and Cheese until serving, and here’s why

This dish can quite comfortably serve four people, and with more mouths to feed, there are more flavor profiles to account for. Buffalo Chicken has a very intense flavor. Some love it and could drink Buffalo Sauce straight out of the jar if they could. Others enjoy a more subtle levels of Buffalo Sauce in their dish

The challenge with making a great Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese is how to appropriately balance the amount of Buffalo Sauce flavor that goes into the dish. Dumping a whole lot of Buffalo Sauce into the Mac and Cheese will completely overwhelm the flavors of the sauce. You’ve spent too long making this sauce delicious to have it completely blanketed by Buffalo Sauce

Therefore, we’ve found the best way to prepare Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese is to make the Chicken separately. Season the Chicken Thighs with Salt, then pan-fry them until cooked (internal temperature of 160F), then set aside

Heat the Buffalo Sauce (Franks Red Hot of course), with Butter, Vinegar, Lemon Juice, and a little bit of Salt in a Saucepan and then you can drop your Chicken into the Sauce. Coat them liberally with the Sauce and it’s done. There’s not much more to it!

Serve the Buffalo Chicken on top of individual portions of Mac and Cheese along with a side plate of additional Chicken thighs coated in Buffalo Sauce. This way, everyone can add as little, or as much Buffalo Sauce drenched Chicken to the dish to manage the flavor profiles!

Recipe Details


4 people

Prep time

10 minutes

Cooking time

30 minutes

Total time

40 minutes

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese Recipe


  • 1 ½ lbs. Chicken Tenders
  • ½ box / 6 oz. Cavatappi Pasta
  • 1 Shallot, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
  • 2 tbsp. All Purpose Flour
  • 2 cups Water
  • 2 cups Whole Milk
  • 1 cup of Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Gruyere Cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 slice of American Cheese
  • 1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
  • Salt

To make the Buffalo Sauce

  • ½ cup Franks Red Hot Sauce
  • 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
  • ½ tbsp. White Vinegar
  • Juice of ½ a Lemon
  • 1 tsp. Vegetable Oil
  • Pinch of Salt


Making the Mac and Cheese

  1. Melt 2 tbsp. of Butter in a large pot or Dutch Oven along with the diced Shallots over medium heat. Cook for 2 minutes until the Shallots are tender, then add the Flour. Mix well to combine and form a Roux
  2. Once the Flour has been cooked (about 3 minutes in the pan), add one third of the Milk. Mix to combine and once thickened, add another third. Mix to combine, once that thickens, add the remaining Milk. This should take about 10 minutes
  3. Once the Sauce has thickened, pour in the Water and the Pasta. Mix well to incorporate the ingredients, then cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the Pasta is just cooked, and the sauce has thickened, but still slightly runny
  4. Add all the Cheese, Dijon Mustard, and 1 ½ tsp. of Salt. Mix well to combine and melt the Cheese. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary

Make the Buffalo Chicken

  1. While the Pasta is cooking, season the Chicken well with Salt. Add the Vegetable Oil into a pan over medium / high heat and once hot, add the Chicken. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes on each side until cooked with an internal temperature of 160F. Once the Chicken is cooked, set aside
  2. Right before service, add the Franks Red Hot Sauce, Vinegar, Butter, Lemon Juice, and Salt into a Saucepan over medium heat. Mix to combine and once hot, add the Chicken thighs. Generously coat the Chicken in Sauce
  3. To serve the Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese, plate individual bowls of the cooked Mac and Cheese. Place some Buffalo Chicken on top, and serve the remaining Buffalo Chicken as a side

Recipe Notes

  • We prefer to serve the majority of the Buffalo Chicken on the side. This way, each person can manage how much Buffalo Chicken flavor they add into their Mac and Cheese as it has such a powerful flavor
  • An optional garnish is toasted breadcrumbs, which add a lovely texture to the dish. Simply mix some Panko Breadcrumbs with Butter in a Pan. Heat until golden brown then sprinkle over the Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese before serving

This simple and delicious Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese recipe is a perfect dish to feed the family for a midweek meal. For more delicious and easy recipes, why not try out a few of these:

Happy Cooking!

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