Chicken Ranch Macaroni and Cheese

In the realm of comfort food, the quest for the ultimate dish that brings solace and joy with each bite is never-ending. Among the myriad of contenders, one dish stands out for its creamy texture, savory flavors, and the heartwarming feeling it brings: Chicken Ranch Macaroni and Cheese. This dish combines the beloved classic macaroni and cheese with the bold flavors of ranch-seasoned chicken, making it a perfect meal for family dinners, weeknight indulgences, or whenever the craving for something truly comforting hits.


To embark on this culinary journey, you’ll need to gather the following ingredients, which serve up to six people:

For the Ranch Chicken:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 package (about 2 tablespoons) dry ranch seasoning

For the Macaroni and Cheese:

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk, warmed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons dry ranch seasoning
  • ½ cup white cheddar cheese, freshly grated
  • ¼ cup mozzarella cheese, freshly grated
  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni (2 cups uncooked), cooked al dente and drained
  • 4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parsley, chopped, for garnish


Ranch Chicken:
  1. Start by marinating the cubed chicken in ranch seasoning until evenly coated.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken in batches until golden brown and fully cooked, then set aside under a tent of aluminum foil to keep warm.
Macaroni and Cheese:
  1. Using the same skillet, melt butter over medium heat and whisk in the flour until the mixture turns light brown.
  2. Gradually add warmed milk, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens.
  3. Stir in salt, garlic powder, and ranch seasoning, then remove from heat.
  4. Blend in both types of cheese until melted and smooth.
  5. Combine the cheese sauce with the cooked macaroni, season to taste, and then top with the prepared ranch chicken, crispy bacon, and a sprinkle of chopped parsley for garnish.

Serving Up Comfort

With a prep time of 20 minutes and a cooking time of 30 minutes, this Chicken Ranch Macaroni and Cheese recipe not only satiates your hunger but also serves as a swift solution to the eternal question of what to cook for dinner. Each serving is a delightful mix of creamy, cheesy goodness, accented by the tangy kick of ranch and the satisfying crunch of bacon, guaranteed to please palates and evoke a sense of comfort and happiness.

FAQ: Chicken Ranch Macaroni and Cheese

Q1: Can I use a different type of pasta instead of elbow macaroni?

A1: Yes, you can use any pasta you prefer or have on hand. Shapes like penne, fusilli, or shells work great as they hold onto the sauce well, but make sure to adjust the cooking time based on the pasta type to achieve an al dente texture.

Q2: Is it possible to make this dish gluten-free?

A2: Absolutely! To make this dish gluten-free, use your favorite gluten-free pasta and substitute the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend for thickening the sauce. Ensure that your ranch seasoning is also gluten-free.

Q3: Can I add vegetables to this recipe?

A3: Yes, adding vegetables is a great way to incorporate more nutrients into the dish. Broccoli, peas, spinach, or bell peppers are excellent choices. Add them to the pasta during the last few minutes of cooking, or sauté them separately and mix in when combining all the components.

Q4: What can I use if I don’t have dry ranch seasoning?

A4: If you don’t have dry ranch seasoning, you can make a quick mix using garlic powder, onion powder, dried dill, and dried parsley. Mix these spices in equal parts and adjust to taste. A little buttermilk powder can also add to the ranch flavor if you have it.

Q5: Can this recipe be made ahead of time?

A5: Yes, you can prepare this dish ahead of time. Assemble everything up to the point before baking (if you choose to bake it for a crispy top), then cover and refrigerate. When ready to serve, bake in a preheated oven until heated through. If it’s already combined, gently reheat on the stove or in the microwave, adding a splash of milk if the sauce has thickened too much.

Q6: How should I store leftovers?

A6: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat on the stove over low heat or in the microwave, stirring in a little milk or water to loosen the sauce if necessary.

Q7: Can I freeze this macaroni and cheese?

A7: While you can freeze it, the texture of the sauce might change upon thawing and reheating, becoming less creamy. If you decide to freeze it, do so in an airtight container for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

Q8: Is there a way to make this recipe lighter or healthier?

A8: For a lighter version, consider using low-fat milk, reduced-fat cheeses, and lean turkey bacon. You can also increase the vegetable content as mentioned earlier, which adds volume and nutrients without significantly increasing calories.

Q9: How can I make this dish spicier?

A9: To add some heat, include diced jalapeños, red pepper flakes, or a splash of hot sauce into the cheese sauce. You can adjust the amount based on your spice tolerance.

Q10: What’s the best way to serve Chicken Ranch Macaroni and Cheese?

A10: This dish is best served hot, straight from the stove. It’s perfect as a main course, accompanied by a simple side salad or steamed vegetables to balance the richness of the macaroni and cheese.

Leave a Comment

Your Daily Hit