BBQ Chicken Mac & Cheese

Mac & cheese is the ultimate crowd pleaser, so serve up this BBQ chicken mac & cheese recipe at your next BBQ.


Making mac and cheese can seem really daunting, but honestly, it’s super easy and requires very little kitchen experience. It’s a great dish to attempt at home, whether it’s for your family—or a larger crowd.

What I love most about mac and cheese (other than its obvious deliciousness) is that it’s such a crowd pleaser. Almost everyone I know loves it! Plus, it can be made and assembled ahead of time, then placed in the oven to cook right before dinner.

To take this mac and cheese over the top, I added freshly grilled BBQ chicken. The chicken adds another layer of flavor while secretly giving the dish some extra protein and nutrition.

Ingredients
  • 1 pound of elbow macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth (I prefer low-sodium)
  • 3 cups milk
  • 8 ounces of Colby Jack cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 2 pieces of thick French bread, cut into small chunks (for topping)
Directions

Start by smothering the uncooked chicken breasts in BBQ sauce and grilling until juicy and cooked throughout. Then, remove the chicken from the oven and allow it to cool a bit shredding. Once shred, set aside until ready to use. (If you want to take the easier approach, you can use store-bought rotisserie chicken, shred it, and rub it with BBQ sauce afterwards.)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

To make the mac and cheese, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the pasta and cook until just shy of al dente. (You will cook the pasta more when it is in the oven, so you don’t want to overcook the pasta right now.) Drain the pasta and place in a 9x13 baking dish. Set aside.

To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a large pot (I use a Dutch oven). Add the flour and whisk until golden brown, about 1 minute. Whisk in the chicken stock and milk, and continue to whisk until the mixture comes to a boil. Add the cheeses and stir until a creamy, smooth sauce has developed. Add the salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta into the baking dish. Add the shredded BBQ chicken and carefully stir the pasta in the baking sheet so the cheese sauce coats all of the pasta. Top the pasta with the bread topping. Place the baking dish in the oven and cook until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the bread topping is a deep golden brown, about 30-40 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Note: This can be made and assembled up to 2 days in advance, and then cooked right before serving. Once you have completely assembled the mac and cheese, cover the baking dish with foil and place it in the refrigerator until ready to cook. Once cooked, this pasta can be kept in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 5 days.

Serves

About 5-7 people (makes one 9x13 baking dish)

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