(Slow Cooker) Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese 5a wmI created my new favorite slow cooker recipe recently, Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese!  And no need to precook the pasta!  You may remember my Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad last year.  It’s been one of my most popular posts. Then there was also my Buffalo Shrimp Bread Bowl Dip. By the amount of traffic that each of those recipes has received, I’m guessing many of you LOVE buffalo flavored anything and everything!  If that’s the case, then you will LOVE this Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese!  I love it because it is SUPER easy.  No other cooking or pots/pans required.  The only prep work is chopping up some chicken and veggies.  You just throw everything (including uncooked pasta) in your crockpot and in a couple of hours you have a complete meal!  Yum!!!

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese is nothing new.  In fact there are a lot of recipes out there already for it.  But I didn’t see too many that you could make in a slow cooker.  The recipes I saw seemed to require a lot of work or they didn’t work out for me so I did some experimenting on my own. I’ll admit that the first time I tried making this Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese in my crockpot, epic FAIL.  Forgot the kids had swimming lessons (oops) and everything sat in the slow cooker WAY too long while I was sitting by the pool.  I also tried using raw chicken and that didn’t work well either.  I altered my recipe, and it turned out perfect the next time!

You can use any shape pasta you’d like although I would highly suggest using a smaller size such as Barilla’s Pipettes or something about the same size or smaller that has a shorter cooking time since you’ll be cooking it right in your crockpot.  I thought these Pipettes were perfect and adorable!  Don’t you love cute pasta?? :)  Larger pasta may have a hard time cooking all the way through so stick to the smaller shapes.  If you do want to use a larger shape or a heartier pasta (such as whole-wheat), pre-cook the pasta before putting it in your slow cooker.

You’ll also need to chop up some veggies and precooked chicken.  For the veggies you can use any combination of celery, onions, and/or carrots.  I used a combination of all 3 but you can use whatever you like or have in the fridge.  Be sure everything is finely chopped.  For the chicken, you can use leftover cooked chicken, chopped up rotisserie chicken, etc.  I had some leftover chicken breasts so I just chopped those up.

Put the chicken, veggies, and the rest of the ingredients (including the uncooked pasta) in the slow cooker and stir to combine.  I used Frank’s hot sauce, yum!  You could also add some blue cheese and/or a Ranch seasoning packet.  I will try both of those next time.  Cover and set your crockpot on low.  After about an hour, quickly remove the lid, stir, cover again, and cook another half hour to an hour.  You want to make sure the stuff on top moves to the bottom to cook in the liquid a little.  Check on the macaroni and cheese every now and then so that the sides of your crockpot don’t burn.  It should be ok, but it may vary depending on the size and model of your slow cooker.  My slow cooker is by Rival, oval, and I believe 6-quarts so you may have to alter the recipe for your model/size.

Once it’s all done cooking, give it a few stirs to make sure everything is combined and cooked through.   The time it takes to cook is going to vary depending on your slow cooker so you may have to cook a little longer.  It took about an hour and a half in mine and probably could have gone a little longer but I like my veggies and pasta a little crunchy.  The veggies were a little crunchy but not raw, just the way I love it!  My family gobbled this up except my son who thought it was spicy.  I didn’t think it was too spicy, but he doesn’t like anything even the slightest bit spicy, so if your kids are the same, you may have to cut back on the hot sauce and add some chicken broth or more milk to make up for the loss of liquid.

When serving, you can add more chopped veggies, cheese, and/or blue cheese on top.  I will definitely be making this recipe again!!!!  If you make it and enjoy it, let me know!  I always love getting comments!

 

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Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
4.6 from 5 reviews
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Serves: 4
All the flavors of Buffalo Chicken Wings and Macaroni and Cheese combined in a slow cooker for a quick and easy meal!
Ingredients
  • 1 (12oz) can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup milk (fat free works fine)
  • ½ cup buffalo style hot sauce (such as Frank's)
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 3 cups shredded cheese (such as white cheddar, cheddar, or your favorite melting cheese)
  • 1 cup finely chopped vegetables (such as celery, carrots, and/or onions)
  • 1 pound precooked chicken, finely chopped
  • ½ pound small uncooked pasta (such as Barilla's Pipettes) *see tips below
  • Garnish (optional): chopped carrots, onions, celery; crumbled blue cheese; and/or shredded cheese
Instructions
  1. Mix together evaporated milk, milk, hot sauce, garlic powder, and salt and pepper in slow cooker until combined. Stir in cheese, vegetables, chicken, and uncooked pasta until combined.
  2. Cover slow cooker and cook on low for about 1 hour. Quickly remove lid, stir, cover again and cook another 30-60 minutes or until pasta is soft.
  3. Garnish with chopped vegetables, blue cheese, and/or shredded cheese as desired.
Notes
SNAPPY TIPS: Check on the slow cooker every now and then to make sure it's not burning around the edges. Recipe and cooking time may need to be adapted for your particular slow cooker. I suggest using a small shaped pasta. If you want to use something larger or heartier (such as whole-wheat) I would precook the pasta before adding it to the slow cooker. You may want to adjust the amount of hot sauce based on how hot you like your food. SNAPPY SUBSTITUTIONS: You can also add crumbled blue cheese and/or Ranch seasoning.

 

A few other Buffalo inspired recipes from around the internet that I though you may enjoy:

 

Comments

  1. 1

    This is a great idea! Love the flavors. I will have to try cooking pasta in the slow cooker.

  2. 2

    What a genius idea, Lisa! One quick question – when do you add the pasta, at the front end? And do you cook the pasta first? Thanks…..I look forward to trying this.

    • 3

      I added everything, including the pasta, all together at the beginning. I did not cook the pasta first although some recipes I saw for pasta in a slow cooker do suggest doing that. There seemed to be enough liquid to cook the pasta and it turned out fine. Just be sure to mix everything halfway through so that pasta on top cooks.

  3. 4

    What a quick and easy recipe. I’ve never thought of using the slow cooker to make pasta! That a convenience and creative way to utilize your kitchen equipment! :) I love Barilla pasta too! ;) Thanks for reminding us to sign up the giveaway! I already did. I love your prizes.

  4. 5

    I have never tried to make pasta in a slow cooker, but now I will–cool idea!

  5. 7

    This looks so delicious! I know my husband would love it. :)

    I stumbled across your site from Pinterest. I’m following you through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, StumbleUpon and Google+. :)

    I hope you have a good week!

    -Courtney
    peaceloverecipes.com
    optimisticmommy.com

  6. 9

    Hi~

    I’m going to try this recipe this week. I’d love to feature it and you on my blog when I post about it. I will of course add links and such to you and your blog. Is that ok?

  7. 12

    What is the nutritional info on this? i’m making it right now. can’t wait to wat it.

  8. 13

    What is the nutritional info on this? i’m making it right now. can’t wait to eat it.

  9. 15

    i tried it and i use whole wheat noodles. next time, i am going to cook the noodles first and also use less hot sauce.

    • 16

      Sorry the whole wheat didn’t work out. Some of the heartier and bigger pastas are probably best precooked. Hope it works out better for you next time. :)

  10. 17

    I’ve never made pasta in the slow cooker before. Very, very interesting. Will be trying this–looks yummy!

  11. 18

    Attempt number 2 is tonight! I’m using regular noodles and less hot sauce. Also using a combo of gouda and chedder cheese. Can’t wait!

  12. 19

    This was delish. I cooked the chicken (about 1.5 pounds boneless chicken breasts) for 5 hours on high with ginger beer and about 1/4 cup of buffalo sauce. I drained it, shredded it and followed the recipe as directed (added a bit more cheese bc I LOVE cheese)

    Thank you!

  13. 20

    This looks so good! I love Buffalo Chicken anything, but with mac & cheese?? YES!
    I featured this post on my ~A Little Sunday Potluck~ post today. :) Please stop by and check it out if you have a moment…
    http://www.thefrugalfoodiemama.com/2012/12/a-little-sunday-potluck-12212.html

  14. 21

    I’ve made this 3 times already. Absolutely love it! Perfect for football season.

  15. 23

    How many servings is this? I ask because I’m thinking of making this for Superbowl party and don’t want to end up with too little. Thanks!

  16. 24

    I have made several versions of buffalo chicken mac & cheese and this was by far my favorite. My family’s too. I was able to get kids of all ages to eat it — even my finicky eaters love it!

  17. 26

    Cooking this right now! I am partially cooking the pasta because I won’t be home to stir it! I also added bacon! I can’t wait!

  18. 28

    I love that this incorporates extra veggies!

  19. 30

    I love all the veggies that you included. YUM!

  20. 32

    OMG… I love the flavors here! definitely making it!

  21. 34
    priscilla says:

    I am making it right now and I am about halfway through the cooking process. My pasta has the texture of dough…will it be different at the end? I followed your recipe exactly.

    • 35

      Hi! Sorry, just seeing this. Hope it turned out ok! Depending on the size and brand of your pasta it could vary a bit. I wish all slow cookers cooked the same as well!

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