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Buffalo Chicken Mac-n-Cheese

Servings 6


  • 2 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 small onion, diced <I like to dice fairly small so there aren't chunks in the sauce.>
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 can evaporated milk <12 oz>
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree, canned
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce <like Frank's Red Hot>
  • 10 oz white cheddar cheese, shredded, divided <buy the whole block and shred it. save 2 oz for the top>
  • 4 cups shredded chicken <pre-make in instant pot, slower cooker, or use leftovers>
  • 14.5 oz box pasta <I prefer Barilla Protein+ penne but you can use whatever you prefer.>

Optional Toppings

  • 1 - 2 oz goat or blue cheese
  • green onions
  • parsley
  • hot sauce, additional


  • Place a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Let this water come to a boil while you start making the cheese sauce.
  • In a medium sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions. Sauté onions until soft, or about 3 - 4 minutes.
  • Add the flour to the oil and onions. Stir. It will form a paste. Spread this paste throughout the bottom of the pan and allow the flour to cook for a minute, stirring a couple times.
  • Grab a whisk. Whisk in evaporated milk and broth. Bring to a boil whisking the whole time to prevent the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. Whisk for 3 - 5 minutes or until sauce is thickened.
  • Reduce heat to low. Stir in onion and garlic powder, paprika, and salt. Add pumpkin puree and hot sauce. Whisk together well.
  • Turn off the heat under the pan. Stir in 8 oz of shredded cheese. Make sure to save 2 oz for the topping. Stir gently until cheese is totally melted. Cover.
  • At this point, your water should be boiling. Cook pasta according to directions on the box. Do not over cook! Over cooked pasta doesn't hold up will to the stirring and sauce addition.
  • Drain pasta very well. Excess water will make your cheese sauce runny.
  • In your large pasta pan, add back the cooked pasta. Add chicken. Add cheese sauce. Stir carefully until well combined.
  • Pour mac-n-cheese into a 9x13 inch pan. Top with 2 oz white cheddar cheese + 1 - 2 oz goat or blue cheese.
  • Bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes or until bubbly around the edges and cheese is melted. <This is optional if you're in a hurry!>


Other Thoughts
  • Use whatever type of pasta you like. I prefer the Barilla Protein + as it holds up well and tastes very similar to white pasta yet packs some serious nutrition - higher in protein, fiber, and iron. If you are using banza or another bean based pasta, be sure to NOT overcook it and rinse it with cold water to keep the texture more appetizing. 
  • Hot sauce is salty. If you are watching your sodium for one reason or another, this might not be the recipe for you. If you sweat like a pig, this is exactly what you need to refuel post summer long runs (+ water.) 
  • I have not made this dairy free - but others have made the Butternut Mac-n-Cheese with nondairy milk and cheese. I would recommend adding additional flour to thicken the sauce if you try it. 
  • If you are planning to make this and use it for meal prep solely, I recommend skipping the baking step. Just put it right into 2 cup containers <or more for the hungry kids!> and into the refrigerator. Baking it dries out the extra sauce a little so skipping this step will keep it creamier when you reheat it the next day. 
Athletes: Protein. Carbs. Hidden Veggies. And all that flavor. Highly recommend adding this into the dinner rotation. Add a side of carrots and celery or side salad to get even more veggies in with your meals. 
Healthy Eating: Portions will vary to meet your nutrition needs but delicious and fun foods will always be a part of healthy eating. Pair this with a big side of roasted or air fried veggies, a side salad, or carrots and celery. 
Kids: Beware. Spicy dish ahead. This was a no go at our house - so we left some plain pasta and white cheddar cheese shreds out for them to devour. Older kids?! I bet they're love this!