Buffalo Mac and Cheese Is What’s for Dinner Tonight

Who doesn’t love a big ol’ plate of macaroni and cheese?

Overhead shot of two round dishes nearly filled to overflowing with baked macaroni, on a white cloth and a light and dark blue patterned cloth, printed with orange and white text.

If you are saying “not me” in response to the question above, it’s probably time for you to wander off to another recipe on this site, because this cheesy goodness is only for true macaroni and cheese lovers!

Overhead vertical shot of a metal rectangular baking pan filled with baked macaroni with toasted breadcrumbs on top, with a plastic serving utensil and a ceramic ramekin on top of a white dish towel and a folded dark and light blue patterned cloth, on a dark brown wood surface.

Just kidding, you can stick around. You will be forced to read an ode to the incredible dairy goodness of this dish though. Fair warning.

Overhead shot of two dishes of baked macaroni with forks sticking out of them, on two white cloths on top of a dark and light blue patterned cloth, on a dark brown wood table.

Cheese is one of those foods that I can never get enough of. From cheddar to blue, pepper jack to brie, and so much more, I will eat it all in copious amounts.

If you wandered into my office in the afternoon, you’d likely find me with some cheese and crackers on a plate next to me, typing away while I munch.

That’s why when anyone says they don’t like cheese, my jaw hits the floor. Normally, this is something people do in response to those who say they don’t like chocolate. For me, it’s more offensive to hate this particular dairy product.

Overhead vertical shot of two dishes of mac and cheese with forks stuck into them, with a metal baking pan of more of the casserole with a black plastic serving spoon, on top of two folded white cloths and a wrinkled dark and light blue patterned cloth, on a dark brown wood surface.

I know that sounds extreme, but come on. This particular food is the magic of life. It’s creamy, and sometimes pungent. It comes in all different shapes and sizes. It is pure beauty.

(See? I told you that if you kept reading you would have to deal with my ode. I promise, I am done. For now…)

Oblique vertical shot of two red and white ceramic ramekins filled with macaroni and cheese, with a rectangular metal baking pan holding more of the baked casserole with a black plastic serving spoon, on a white dish towel and a dark and light blue patterned cloth, on a dark brown wood table.

Macaroni and cheese is one of those dishes that I feel truly celebrates all varieties of the dairy product. There are so many different versions out there that incorporate different types. And you can always find a baked macaroni recipe to fit your dairy-loving mood.

This particular dish is an ode to that dairy deliciousness, and spiciness. This happens to be my favorite combination ever. Obviously.

Made with two different cheeses, half and half, sour cream, and butter, you will be in heaven if you’re anything like me.

Overhead vertical shot of a metal baking pan and two bowls filled with baked macaroni and cheese, with a black plastic serving spoon and two forks on a dark and light blue patterned cloth with two white cloths with fringe.

You actually get a double dose of heat in this particular dish, with the combination of pepper jack and hot sauce. The creaminess pairs perfectly with the hit of heat, balancing out the spice factor so it doesn’t overwhelm your palate, while leaving just a bit of a sting on your tongue.

This giant casserole dish of macaroni is ideal for feeding a crowd. You can make it a main dish to serve eight people, or you can serve it as an epic side dish paired with a variety of proteins, anything from barbecue to roasted chicken.

Vertical oblique closely cropped shot of two red ramekins filled with mac and cheese with two forks on a white dish cloth and a dark and light blue patterned place mat, with a metal baking pan containing more of the casserole with a black plastic serving utensil, on a dark brown wood surface.

I personally love serving it up during the week, because there is a good amount of inactive baking time. That way, while it’s baking in the oven, you can sit back and relax before you settle down for dinner.

This is the time to bring out your favorite book and your favorite adult beverage for cocktail hour, and enjoy 30 peaceful minutes of blissful “you time.”

After all, you worked hard to make that delightfully creamy sauce and boil that pasta! You deserve a break, before the chaos of dinnertime descends.

Rest assured that you will bring everyone to the table with ease when you serve this. Again, it is cheese after all. Everyone loves a good amount of creaminess and some heat.

Print
Head-on shot of two white and red ceramic ramekins filled above the rim with baked macaroni, with fork handles sticking out of each dish, with a metal baking pan of more of the casserole with a black plastic serving utensil in soft focus in the background, on a folded white cloth and a patterned blue cloth on top of a dark brown wood table, with a brown striped background.

Buffalo Mac and Cheese


  • Author: Meghan Yager
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x

Description

Buffalo mac and cheese is a spicy twist on the dish you love. A creamy sauce coats the pasta, with a crunchy topping for added texture. Get the recipe now.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus more to grease the dish
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups half and half
  • 3/4 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce or to taste, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
  • 1 pound shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 8 ounces shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 2/3 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook macaroni until al dente. Drain. Set the pot aside for later use.
  2. Preheat oven to 350˚F and butter a 9×13” casserole dish.
  3. In a small saucepan, warm half and half over medium-low heat.
  4. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and whisk until smooth. Continue to cook to make a roux, until thickened and bubbling. This will take about 2 more minutes.
  5. Whisk in the mustard powder. Slowly whisk in the half and half and hot sauce, until well-combined. I like things a little more on the spicy side, so I used a full cup of hot sauce. Continue to stir until thick, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the cheeses and whisk in the sour cream. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat.
  7. Add cooked pasta back to the empty stock pot. Pour in the cheese sauce and stir to combine. Pour the macaroni and cheese into the buttered casserole dish.
  8. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave. Stir in the breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over top of the macaroni.
  9. Cover with foil and bake until bubbly, about 20 minutes. Remove foil and return to the oven under broiler set to high. Broil until the top is golden brown and bubbly, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

  • Category: Casseroles
  • Method: Stovetop, Baking
  • Cuisine: Dinner

Keywords: macaroni and cheese, Buffalo, side dish, game day, cheese

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Shred Cheese and Measure Remaining Ingredients

If the sharp cheddar and pepper jack cheeses are not shredded already, shred them using a box grater. Set aside.

Measure out all of the remaining ingredients as listed on the ingredients list.

Overhead oblique shot of a light blue bowl of uncooked elbow macaroni, stainless steel bowls of shredded cheese and flour, and small square and round glass dishes of hot sauce, breadcrumbs, sour cream, butter, and powdered mustard, on a dark brown wood surface.

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish.

Step 2 – Cook Pasta

Over high heat, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente.

Cooked elbow macaroni in a large enameled pot filled with water, on a dark brown wood surface.

Drain in a colander and set aside. Hold onto the pot, since you’ll use it again later.

Step 3 – Make Cheese Sauce

Warm the half and half over medium-low heat in a small saucepan. Keep warm over low heat.

In a separate medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter until it’s foaming. Do not let the butter brown.

Frothy melted butter in the bottom of a nonstick saucepan, on a dark brown wood surface.

Stir in the flour and whisk until smooth. Continue to cook to make a roux, until it is thick and bubbling. You want to cook the roux beyond the raw taste, but without it getting browned. This will take about 2 minutes.

Making roux with flour and melted butter in the bottom of a nonstick saucepan, on a dark brown wood surface.

Whisk in the mustard powder until combined. Slowly whisk in the warm half and half and the hot sauce. Make sure the ingredients are well-combined.

A wire whisk with a light blue handle is being used to stir a melted cheese mixture in a nonstick saucepan, on a dark brown wood surface.

Keep stirring until the sauce thickens, for about 2 minutes.

Overhead closely cropped shot of a homemade cheese sauce in a nonstick saucepan, on a dark brown wood table.

Add all of the cheese and whisk in the sour cream. Stir until the mixture is smooth, then remove from heat.

Step 4 – Add to Baking Dish and Top with Breadcrumbs

Add the cooked pasta back to the empty stock pot. Pour in the cheese sauce, and stir well to combine so everything is coated.

Cooked elbow macaroni coated in a thick cheese mixture in an enameled pot, on a dark brown wood surface.

Pour the macaroni and cheese into the prepared casserole dish.

In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave. This should take about 20-30 seconds on half power.

Overhead shot of a metal baking pan filled with pasta with panko bread crumbs evenly distributed on top, on a dark brown wood surface.

Add the panko breadcrumbs to the bowl with the melted butter, and stir to combine. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the top of the macaroni.

Step 5 – Bake

Cover with foil and bake until bubbly, for about 20 minutes.

Set your broiler to high. Remove the foil from the casserole dish, then return it to the oven under the broiler.

Baked macaroni with a toasted breadcrumb topping in a rectangular metal baking pan, on a dark and light blue patterned cloth surface with two red and white ceramic ramekins to the left of the frame.

Broil until the top is golden brown and bubbly, for about 1-2 minutes. Remove from the oven. Let the dish rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve This Up for Game Day

On game day, your mind tends to go to things like buffalo wings, queso, and chips. Why not serve up this flavorful, spicy, and creamy dish instead?

The combination of your favorite wings flavor with cheese is a natural one that fills everyone’s bellies with warmth and happiness.

Head-on shot of two white and red ceramic ramekins filled above the rim with baked macaroni, with fork handles sticking out of each dish, with a metal baking pan of more of the casserole with a black plastic serving utensil in soft focus in the background, on a folded white cloth and a patterned blue cloth on top of a dark brown wood table, with a brown striped background.

Everyone will want to load up on seconds, so you might want to whip up an extra batch for your guests to indulge in (or to hoard completely to yourself).

Looking for some more Buffalo spiced dishes for game day? Give these a try:

And for even more deliciously cheesy meals, check out our favorite recipes here.

The only question is, what team will you root for while you devour this creamy casserole? Tell us in the comments below. And be sure to come back and give this recipe a five-star review if you loved it!

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on September 21, 2010. Last updated: January 2, 2019 at 21:45 pm. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

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