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Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese Cups

You Won't Care Who's Winning the Game If You've Got Buffalo Mac 'n' Cheese Cups

Nothing says game day like inappropriate amounts of junk food, and these buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese cups are a must. This easy recipe combines two of the best game-day foods (spicy buffalo chicken and rich cheddar mac) in convenient muffin-tin portions ideal for feeding a hungry crowd. No matter which team you're rooting for — or if you couldn't care less — one thing is for sure: team buffalo chicken mac and cheese is the real winner of the game.

This fast and easy recipe takes a shortcut with store-bought rotisserie chicken. I used Whole Foods' organic rotisserie chicken, which leaves you with plenty of leftovers to use in other recipes. You could opt for shredding your own chicken breast, too. You get a hint of the spicy buffalo sauce thanks to the orange-hued breadcrumbs, but you can totally douse your finished mac and cheese in more hot sauce depending on your preference. Serve up this bite-size appetizer with chunky blue cheese dip, ranch dressing, more buffalo sauce, and — if you're feeling inspired to include something green — celery.

Who's winning the game? Who cares?! You've already scored the most impressive touchdown.

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese Cups

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese Cups

Notes

Grate your own cheddar cheese, because preshredded cheese often contains starch to keep the shreds from sticking together. Freshly grated cheese melts better.

When cheese is baked, the protein and fat separate, resulting in a gritty texture. Adding a little American or Velveeta cheese helps keep the fat emulsified.

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese Cups

Ingredients

  1. For the breadcrumbs:
  2. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  3. 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  4. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 teaspoon Frank's hot sauce, plus more for serving
  1. For the mac and cheese cups:
  2. Salt
  3. 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  4. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  5. 2 tablespoons flour
  6. 3/4 cup whole milk
  7. 1 1/2 cups freshly grated, loosely packed extra-sharp cheddar
  8. 2 slices American cheese or 2 tablespoons cubed Velveeta cheese
  9. 1 cup shredded chicken, from a store-bought rotisserie chicken or cooked chicken breast
  10. Blue cheese crumbles, optional
  11. Chopped green onion for garnish, optional
  12. Blue cheese dip or ranch dressing, for serving

Directions

  1. To make breadcrumbs: Heat butter over medium-low heat in a nonstick skillet. Add the breadcrumbs and coat in the butter, stirring frequently until toasty, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in the salt, and set in a bowl to cool. Add the hot sauce to the breadcrumbs and stir to combine. Line the wells of a 12-cup nonstick muffin tin with cupcake liners. Spoon a small amount of breadcrumbs into the bottom of each muffin tin, pressing down with your fingers.
  2. To make macaroni and cheese: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cook the elbow macaroni in a pot of salted boiling water, drain, and set aside. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 more minutes. Whisk in the milk, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the cheddar until melted, followed by the American cheese. Turn off the heat. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in the cooked macaroni. Fold in the shredded chicken.
  3. Spoon mac and cheese into each well of the muffin tin, pressing firmly to fill the bottom and sides of the cupcake liner. You will have some left over for a second batch. Sprinkle more breadcrumbs on top of each muffin, and top with a few blue cheese crumbles, if using.
  4. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown and sizzling. Transfer to a serving tray and top with green onions, if using. Serve with blue cheese dip, ranch dressing, and additional hot sauce for dipping.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Erin Cullum
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