Chicken Ranch Macaroni and Cheese is a pile of ranch-seasoned cheesy elbow macaroni topped with ranch seasoned chicken and crumbled bacon. You are sure to get ranch flavor in every bite of this pasta dish!
CHICKEN RANCH MACARONI AND CHEESE
Here in the Midwest, we love our ranch dressing! In fact, I have my own homemade ranch seasoning mix that would work perfectly in this recipe, as well as a homemade ranch dressing. The ranch flavor pairs perfectly with chicken, and when added to the cheesy pasta, it’s a dish that ranch-lovers will love!
CHICKEN RANCH MACARONI AND CHEESE RECIPE
There are two parts to this recipe–the seasoned chicken and the macaroni and cheese.
Chicken Ingredients (full recipe below)
- Olive oil
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Dry ranch seasoning
Macaroni and Cheese Ingredients
- Unsalted butter
- All-purpose flour
- Whole milk
- Garlic powder
- Dry ranch seasoning
- White cheddar cheese–For both the white cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, I like to buy a block of each and grate it myself. Yes, you can use pre-shredded cheeses, but the end result may not be quite as creamy or melt as well.
- Mozzarella cheese
- Elbow macaroni
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Parsley, for garnish
You will want to make sure you have your pasta cooked al dente and drained, as well as your bacon cooked and crumbled ahead of time.
PRO TIP: I prefer to NOT mix the chicken & bacon into the macaroni and cheese. I tested this recipe several times by adding all ingredients together and found that it wasn’t as flavorful, the cheesy macaroni drowns out that fabulous ranch chicken. I highly recommend serving as shown and allowing the family to mix ingredients in their bowl should they prefer that method.
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN RANCH MACARONI AND CHEESE
To make the macaroni and cheese, first, wipe out the skillet you just used to cook the chicken; you will be using that for this part of the recipe as well. Over medium heat, melt the butter in the wiped out skillet. Add the flour and whisk constantly for 1-2 minutes, or until the mixture gets brown.
Remove the skillet from the heat and slowly pour in the warm milk. Whisk continuously, returning the skillet back to the heat. Whisk for another 3-5 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Add the salt, garlic powder, and ranch seasoning mix, stirring to combine. Remove from the heat for the last time.
Finally, add both kinds of grated cheeses and stir until the cheese melts. Pour the cooked noodles into the sauce. Stir some more, and then top with the cooked chicken, crumbled bacon, and chopped parsley. You may want to add some salt and pepper, to taste. Enjoy with a side of dinner rolls and roasted parmesan green beans for a complete meal.
HOW TO BAKE BACON
When I cook bacon, I do it in the oven. I set the temperature to 415°F and while it is preheating, I lay out the individual slices of bacon on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. (Yes, right on the pan! No rack needed.) They are perfectly crispy in 18-20 minutes. No flipping and easy cleanup! Then, crumble the strips of bacon into little pieces.
You can store the bacon, wrapped in aluminum foil or in a shallow airtight container, in the refrigerator for up to five days, or until you are ready to use it.
HOW TO COOK THE CHICKEN
To cook the chicken that will top the cheesy ranch macaroni, first cut the chicken breasts into cubes. After you have cut the chicken into cubes, combine it with the ranch seasoning mix in a large bowl. Next, heat up the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Once the oil is hot, add the cubes of chicken in batches. (Don’t try to get all the chicken cooked at once.) Cook 1-2 minutes per side of the cubes. The chicken should be golden brown and have an internal temperature of 165°F. Transfer the cooked chicken to a plate and use aluminum foil to form a tent over the chicken to keep it warm as you make the macaroni and cheese.
CAN I MAKE CHICKEN RANCH MACARONI AND CHEESE AHEAD OF TIME?
Yes! This macaroni and cheese can definitely be made ahead of time and frozen. This nice thing is, you can even freeze it in individual containers for easy to grab lunches or dinners. Make sure you let the cooked macaroni and cheese cool completely before packaging it for the freezer.
To freeze, double wrap the macaroni in cheese in plastic wrap. Then, cover it in aluminum foil. Label and date the packaging; it will be good for up to 3 months in the freezer. To reheat, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Heat it up in the microwave or bake it in the oven, covered, until it is warmed up.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
- 1 package (about 3 tablespoons) dry ranch seasoning
Macaroni and Cheese
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk, warmed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons dry ranch seasoning
- 1/2 cup white cheddar cheese, freshly grated
- 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, freshly grated
- 8 ounces (2 cups uncooked) elbow macaroni, cooked al dente and drained
- 4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Parsley, chopped (for garnish)
In a large mixing bowl, combine chicken and ranch seasoning. Toss to coat evenly.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken in batches. Cook 1-2 minutes on each side (or until golden brown and internal temperature is 165°F).
Remove from heat and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm.
Wipe out the skillet to use for the macaroni and cheese.
Macaroni and Cheese
In the skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.
Add the flour and whisk constantly for 1-2 minutes (or until the mixture turns light brown).
Remove from heat and gradually pour in the warm milk, whisking constantly.
Return the pan to the heat and whisk another 3-5 minutes, or until thickened.
Add the salt, garlic powder, and ranch seasoning. Stir to combine and remove from heat.
Add the cheeses, stirring to melt.
Pour the cooked noodles over the top of the sauce. Stir to combine.
Season with salt and pepper, and top with the chicken, bacon, and chopped parsley.
PRO TIP: I prefer to NOT mix the chicken & bacon into the macaroni and cheese. (Just pile on top!)
I tested this recipe several times by adding all ingredients together and found that it wasn’t as flavorful when combined; the cheesy macaroni drowns out that fabulous ranch chicken. I highly recommend serving as shown and allowing the family to mix ingredients in their bowl should they prefer that method.