Baked Buffalo Macaroni & Cheese

published Dec 12, 2021
Buffalo Mac and Cheese Recipe

Franks hot sauce is the unexpected ingredient your mac and cheese needs.

Serves8

Prep10 minutes

Cook45 minutes to 50 minutes

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Buffalo Mac and cheese with a breadcrumb topping, in a white ceramic baking dish, with a turquoise handle, with a bowl of it on the side and a turquoise and white checkered dish closth under the baking dish.
Credit: Laura Rege

Buffalo sauce fans: Don’t limit yourself just to wings. This mac and cheese twist on Buffalo wings is loaded with a creamy, Franks’ hot sauce-loaded sauce and sprinkled with a crispy ranch topping. It’s decadent and just as easy to make as any other homemade mac and cheese.

Not a ranch fan? Just mix the breadcrumbs with butter and skip the seasoning mix. Alternatively, if you love ranch, go ahead and drizzle some more ranch dressing on top before serving. If you want to add protein, of course chicken couldn’t be a better pairing for the Buffalo flavor. Add three cups shredded cooked chicken (just about the amount you’ll get from one store-bought rotisserie chicken) with the pasta.

How Long Does Buffalo Mac and Cheese Keep in the Fridge?

Leftover buffalo macaroni and cheese can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days in an airtight container.

What Type of Pasta Should I Use for Buffalo Mac and Cheese?

Any shape of pasta you love in macaroni and cheese works for Buffalo mac and cheese! We like to go with a traditional shell or elbow macaroni shape for this recipe, but short and medium pasta shapes work alike.

Credit: Laura Rege

Tips and Tricks for Making Buffalo Mac and Cheese

Don’t forget the Frank’s hot sauce — it’s necessary for the iconic Buffalo sauce flavor. Another trick we love is mixing ranch seasoning mix into the breadcrumbs. Not only do you add a crunchy texture to the baked mac and cheese with a golden panko crust, but it also incorporates the flavor of a classic Buffalo dipping sauce: ranch dressing. 

Buffalo Mac and Cheese Recipe

Franks hot sauce is the unexpected ingredient your mac and cheese needs.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 45 minutes to 50 minutes

Serves 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the mac n cheese:

  • Kosher salt

  • 12 ounces

    dried elbow macaroni

  • 1 pound

    cheddar cheese

  • 3 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 3 tablespoons

    all-purpose flour

  • 3 cups

    whole milk

  • 1/2 cup

    Frank's RedHot sauce

  • 3 cups

    cooked, shredded chicken (optional)

For the topping:

  • 4 tablespoons

    (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

  • 1 1/2 cups

    panko breadcrumbs

  • 1 (1-ounce) packet

    ranch dip mix

  • A few sprigs

    fresh parsley (optional)

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.

  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and boil according to package directions. Drain.

  3. Meanwhile, shred 1 pound cheddar cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 4 cups). Melt 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly toasted, about 1 minute. While stirring, slowly pour in 3 cups whole milk and bring to a boil. Continue to boil, stirring often, until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 6 minutes.

  4. Reduce the heat to low and add the cheese, one handful at a time, stirring until each addition is melted before adding the next. Add the macaroni, 1/2 cup Frank's RedHot sauce, and 3 cups shredded, cooked chicken, if using, and stir to combine. Taste and season with more kosher salt as needed. Transfer to a 2-quart baking dish, or use a 3-quart or 9x13-inch baking dish if using chicken.

  5. Place 4 tablespoons unsalted butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave until just melted, about 30 seconds. Add 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs and 1 (1-ounce) packet ranch dip, and stir until well combined. Sprinkle the panko mixture evenly over the macaroni and cheese.

  6. Bake until the top is golden-brown and the mac and cheese is bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly. Meanwhile, pick the leaves from a few sprigs of fresh parsley if desired and finely chop. Sprinkle over the macaroni and cheese before serving.

Recipe Notes

Substitutions: Although we highly recommend Frank’s RedHot sauce (it is the gold standard for wings, afterall), any vinegary hot sauce can be used in its place.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.