There are few things more satisfying after a busy fall day than coming home to a warm and creamy casserole loaded with saucy buffalo chicken, tender pasta, and a double dose of cheese. It's a pasta bake that's equally at home feeding a family of four as it is fueling a high school football team. And whether you're headed into a late-night study session or a Saturday tailgate, this recipe is what you want by your side.
My husband is the chief of the "casseroles are just vehicles for hot sauce" tribe, and I'm quite surprised the first bite didn't make his head explode from happiness. I mean, it's cheesy, it's noodle-y, it's chicken-y, and it's orange — his most favorite food color.
But let's be honest here. This is really just a good excuse to eat Buffalo chicken wings and dip for dinner, because frankly, who hasn't, at some point or another, wanted Buffalo chicken wings and nothing else for dinner? Celery is out and noodles are in, my friends. The only thing left standing between you and hot sauce nirvana is an ice-cold pitcher of beer!
Buffalo Chicken Pasta Bake
dried rigatoni or penne pasta
1 1/4 cups
whole or 2% milk
sour cream, preferably full-fat
cream cheese, at room temperature
Frank's RedHot sauce, plus extra as needed
shredded Monterey Jack cheese
crumbled blue cheese (optional)
cooked, shredded chicken
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 375°F. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook 1 minute less than package directions, until just underdone. Drain and return to the pot.
Meanwhile, bring the milk to a gentle simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the sour cream, cream cheese, buffalo sauce, and salt until smooth. Whisk in the Monterey Jack and blue cheese if using until melted and well combined.
Add the chicken to the pot with the pasta. Pour in the sauce and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Place the panko and butter in a small bowl and stir to combine. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the casserole.
Bake until bubbly and lightly browned on top, 25 to 30 minutes. Let the casserole sit for 5 minutes before serving with more hot sauce if desired.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.