This creamy BBQ Chicken Mac and Cheese is made with boneless skinless chicken thighs that are sautéd, shredded, and tossed with bbq sauce and then served over a creamy mac and cheese. Does it get much better than that?
One-Pot BBQ Chicken Mac and Cheese
Say hello to this creamy and delicious mac and cheese with tender and flavorful bbq chicken. OMG, this is a combination made in heaven. Macaroni and cheese is often served next to BBQ chicken as a side.
Why serve mac and cheese on the side when you can mix the two to create this creamy dinner–> BBQ Chicken Mac and Cheese.
One of our favorite things about this bbq chicken mac and cheese is that you only need one pot! You prepare the chicken first, then make your cheese sauce, and add the noodles.
The layering of flavor that happens when you use one pot is amazing! This bbq mac and cheese recipe only uses one pot.
Ingredients You Need
Here is everything you need to make this mac and cheese!
- Boneless skinless chicken thighs- we love a boneless and skinless chicken thigh because they are dark meat that is tender and cooks fast. There is nothing better than a boneless thigh!
- Spices (chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt, and pepper)– the key to flavoring this mac and cheese is dry rubbing the chicken with delicious spices.
- Butter– you use butter as the base to the roux. We suggest using salted butter.
- All-purpose flour– you use all purpose flour in the roux.
- 2% milk– a couple or rich cups of milk is the base for the cheese sauce and also cooks the noodles!
- Broth– you can use a little broth to thin out your thick mac and cheese.
- Macaroni noodles– it’s not mac and cheese without macaroni noodles!
- Shredded yellow cheddar cheese– do yourself a favor and shred your own cheddar cheese! It’s just better!
- BBQ sauce- one way you can really make this recipe your own is by using your favorite BBQ sauce. You can decide if you want spicy, sweet, or savory.
- Fresh Parsley– a little fresh chopped parsley goes a long way as a garnish.
You can make some easy ingredient substitutions, no need to run to the grocery store.
Cheddar Cheese –> Gruyere Cheese
Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs —> Chicken Breast
Macaroni Noodles –> Any noodle
Things to Remember Before Starting
Have a big enough pot.
You’ll need to make sure you have a big enough pot to fit sauce, macaroni noodles, and shredded chicken! We recommend using a 7 quart dutch oven, but any pot will do.
Measure out ingredients before you start.
Once you start cooking the chicken and making your cheese sauce, things start moving fast. We recommend measuring out all of your ingredients so you can follow the recipe and grab as you go.
How to Make BBQ Chicken Mac and Cheese
Prepare + Cook the Chicken
First things, first, spice your chicken! Sprinkle the boneless chicken thighs with salt, pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder. Really massage the spices into the chicken thighs to flavor and tenderize the meat.
Once you let the chicken sit, heat a dutch oven over medium/high heat and add butter. Once the butter has melted add the chicken thighs and cook them for 5-6 minutes on each side or until the internal temperature is 165ºF. Set the chicken aside.
Make a Roux + Add Noodles
Once you’ve removed the chicken from the dutch oven. Add more butter to the dutch oven and scrap the bottom of the pot with a spatula to loosen up the little bits of brown that was created by the chicken.
The butter will melt and that is when you add the flour to the pot. Mix them together until a crumble is formed. Carefully poor the milk into the pot and whisk the ingredients together until the sauce begins to thicken.
Add broth, salt, pepper, and cumin to the sauce and stir.
Finally, add the uncooked noodles to the roux and stir the noodles into the the sauce. You are going to cook the noodles right in the sauce (cool right?). This will both cook the noodles and thicken the sauce with starch from the noodles.
Be sure to stir the noodles periodically so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. The noodles will cook in the sauce between 5-7 minutes.
Prepare the BBQ Chicken
While the noodles are cooking, shred the chicken thighs and toss them with your favorite bbq sauce.
Add Cheddar Cheese
Once the noodles are cooked slowly sprinkle the cheddar cheese into the pot and stir. The cheese should melt pretty immediately.
Toss the Mac and Cheese with the Chicken
Your mac and cheese should be creamy and cheesy after you add the shredded cheese to the pot. Top the mac and cheese with the shredded bbq chicken and enjoy!
BBQ Chicken Mac and Cheese
- 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1.5 teaspoons chili powder
- 2.5 teaspoons garlic powder separated
- 1 teaspoon salt + more, to taste, separated
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper separated
- 4 tablespoons butter separated
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups 2% milk
- 2 cups broth any kind*
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 lb. macaroni noodles
- 3 cups shredded yellow cheddar cheese
- ½ cup BBQ sauce any kind
- Optional topping: fresh parsley
- Combine the chili powder, 1.5 teaspoons of garlic powder, and ¼ teaspoon of salt into a small bowl.
- Sprinkle the spice mixture over both sides of the chicken thighs. Let the chicken thighs sit for 15 minutes.
- Heat a large Dutch oven or pot over medium/high heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter.
- When the butter is bubbling, add the chicken thighs to the pot and cook them for 5-6 minutes on each side depending on the size of the chicken breasts. Remove the chicken from the pot when the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165ºF. Cover chicken thighs with tin foil and set aside.
- Turn off the heat and remove any burn bits from the pot with a spatula.
- Next, turn the heat to medium and add the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter to the pot.
- When the butter is melted, add the flour to the pot and stir the two ingredients together with a whisk until a crumbly paste is formed.
- Slowly pour a little milk into the pot at a time, whisking constantly as the mixture thickens. When all the milk has been added whisk for around 1-2 minutes as it continues to thicken.
- Add the broth, 1 teaspoon salt, cumin, and ground pepper to the pot and whisk everything together.
- Pour the noodles into the pot and stir. Bring the milk to a boil stirring the noodles every 1-2 minutes so the noodles do not stick to the bottom of the pot. Turn heat to medium/low and let the mixture simmer for 7-8 minutes or until the noodles are cooked to al dente. Be sure to stir the noodles periodically!**
- While the noodles are cooking, shred the chicken thighs with 2 forks.
- Add ½ cup of BBQ sauce to a microwave safe bowl and cook on high in the microwave for 30-40 seconds or until the BBQ sauce is hot. Pour the shredded chicken into the bowl with the BBQ sauce and toss until the chicken is coated.
- When the noodles are cooked to al dente, slowly add the shredded cheese 1 cup at a time to the pot and stir until all the cheese has melted.
- Finally, fold the shredded BBQ chicken into the macaroni and cheese.
- Serve immediately.
Tips & Notes
- *Keep additional broth on hand in case you need to thin out the mac and cheese.
- ** If the macaroni noodles have soaked up all the liquid and they still aren’t cooked to al dente, add ¼ cup more broth at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.