This Chicken Mac and Cheese is made with three types of cheese, bacon, and is topped with an irresistible crispy breadcrumb topping. Perfect as an entree or side dish!
Loaded Mac and Cheese Recipe
What is it about mac and cheese that is so irresistible? I mean, I know it’s cheese and carbs, but for two ingredients it sure turns out delicious. When I was little it was only Kraft mac and cheese, and yes there were a few times my mom threw in some cut up hot dogs. I don’t know where that came from, but it happened.
Now our kids are all about the Annie’s Mac and Cheese. Who knew they would have an opinion about it?
This chicken bacon mac and cheese is like the ultimate casserole. It’s a great meal to take to people in need of a little pick me up, but it is obviously loaded with dairy so watch out for any dairy issues with new, nursing mothers.
It’s also a great dish to freeze. It won’t last as long as other recipes in the freezer because the cheese sauce can be absorbed by the noodles or separate a little when reheated if you leave it frozen for too long, but we’ve pushed it past a month and it was still perfect.
What’s Needed for Chicken Mac and Cheese?
To make this loaded mac and cheese recipe, you’ll need the following:
- Elbow macaroni
- All-purpose flour
- Salt and pepper
- 2% milk
- Cheddar, Parmesan, and Swiss cheese
- Ranch dressing
- Cooked, chopped chicken
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Cooked bacon
How to Make Chicken Mac and Cheese
- Cook the macaroni according to package instructions.
In a 6-qt. dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in milk.
- Bring to a boil, then cook until thickened.
- Stir in cheeses until blended, followed by the ranch dressing and cubed chicken.
- Stir in cooked macaroni.
- Transfer to a 9×13-inch casserole dish, then sprinkle with a mixture breadcrumbs and melted butter. Top with bacon.
- Bake until golden on top and bubbly.
How to Store Chicken Bacon Mac and Cheese
Store leftover chicken mac and cheese bake in the fridge for up to 4 days. Be sure to cover with foil or transfer to an airtight container first.
How to Reheat Mac and Cheese
For best results, I recommend reheating this chicken bacon mac and cheese in the oven at 350ºF for 10 to 15 minutes. Reheating it in the microwave often results in dry, rubbery pasta.
Can I Freeze Chicken Mac and Cheese?
Yes! To freeze this loaded mac and cheese:
- Prepare recipe as directed, increasing milk slightly.
- Cool the unbaked casserole completely; cover and freeze.
- To reheat, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight.
- Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Cover casserole with foil; bake 30 minutes.
- Uncover; continue baking as directed or until heated through.
If you freeze our cheesy chicken bacon ranch macaroni and cheese, please don’t add the breadcrumbs and bacon until you reheat. Those really do get a little too soggy in the freezer.
Can I Use Regular Breadcrumbs?
Yes, but we prefer Panko breadcrumbs for this baked mac and cheese recipe because they’re lighter and crisper than regular breadcrumbs.
What Type of Bacon Should I Use?
Any kind you’d like! We used regular pork bacon, but use your favorite kind.
Tips for Making Chicken Mac and Cheese Bake
If you want to change up the flavors you could leave out the chicken or ranch. I mean, I don’t know why you would, but you can if you want to. Just add a touch more flour as the ranch thickens things up a bit.
Cook your noodles until al dente as they will bake in the oven and absorb a little more of that sauce. Overcooking them the first time will make them too soft and they will break down in the baking process.
Instead of cooking the chicken myself, I sometimes use shredded rotisserie chicken from Costco, leaving half in the freezer for the next chicken mac and cheese casserole. I love the convenience and flavor of that stuff!
More MACARONI RECIPES You’re Going to Love:
- Instant Pot Southern Macaroni and Cheese
- Ham and Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese
- How to Make Southern Macaroni and Cheese
- Healthy One Pot Chili Macaroni
- Sweet Pork Macaroni and Cheese
- Roasted Red Pepper Macaroni and Cheese
- All our PASTA RECIPES here!
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Cheesy Chicken Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon and Ranch
- 3 Cups cooked elbow macaroni
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup 2% milk
- 1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
- 3/4 cup ranch salad dressing
- 1 cup coarsely chopped cooked chicken
- 2/3 Cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 3 Tablespoons butter , melted
- 10 bacon strips , cooked and crumbled
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a 6-qt. dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until smooth, continuing to cook for 30 seconds to cook out the flour taste.
- Gradually whisk in milk.
- Bring to a boil, whisking constantly; cook and stir 1-2 minutes or until thickened.
- Switch to a wooden spoon, stir in cheeses until blended. Stir in dressing.
- Add chicken and sauce to macaroni, tossing to combine.
- Transfer to a greased 9x13-inch baking dish.
- In a separate bowl, toss the bread crumbs with melted butter; sprinkle over macaroni.
- Sprinkl bacon over the macaroni.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Freeze option: Prepare recipe as directed, increasing milk slightly. Cool the unbaked casserole completely; cover and freeze. To reheat, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cover casserole with foil; bake 30 minutes. Uncover; continue baking as directed or until heated through.