Two things that aren't bad together: ranch and cheese. Okay, they're actually pretty darn good when paired together. This quick Chicken Ranch Mac and Cheese recipe is packed with flavor and so easy to whip up.
About this Mac
Mac and Cheese always feels nostalgic to me. It was always a quick and easy go-to meal growing up, but it always came from a box. Now I'm not hating on boxed macaroni, but it's about time I elevate it.
This Chicken Ranch Mac and Cheese takes the simple dish to a whole new level. A ranch seasoning packet provides TONS of flavor, and with melted sharp cheddar, we get a creamy cheese sauce to smother the elbow noodles with.
I almost always have 4-6 ranch seasoning packets on hand, just because they're so versatile in the kitchen. Jack and I enjoyed this Chicken Ranch Mac and Cheese when we were craving take-out, but settled for 'let's use what we have in the fridge'. Alas, this gem of a meal was created
If you're all about the cheese also try this Butternut Squash Mac, this Lighter Mac and Cheese, this Gouda Mac and Cheese with Roasted Veggies, or this Baked Feta Cheese Spaghetti Squash Casserole.
- Banza noodles: Regular noodles will also work, but I like Banza chickpea noodles for the extra protein. Choose shells or elbow noodles for the classic mac 'n cheese look.
- Chicken breasts: I cooked mine stove top, but you could also get it pre-cooked or use rotisserie style chicken.
- Sharp cheddar cheese: It is mac 'n CHEESE after all. Sharp cheddar provides a strong umami flavor that is SO tasty.
- Ranch seasoning packet: You can usually find this in the dressing aisle. Also, heck out my Spinach Feta Turkey Burgers, which are a fan favorite and use this seasoning, too.
See the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.
How to Make This Recipe
Step 1. In a sauce pan, cook noodles according to the box instructions.
Step 2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat, spray with cooking spray and cook chicken pieces with ½ packet of Ranch seasoning until an internal temperature of 165°F is reached.
Step 3. Grate the cheese block into fine shreds. The finer its grated, the easier it is to melt.
Step 4. Combine butter, nut milk, sharp shredded cheddar cheese, and the other ½ packet of ranch seasoning in a second sauce pan over low heat. Continually stir the sauce until cheese is melted and well combined.
Step 5. Add noodles and chicken into the pot with the cheese sauce. Stir together.
Step 6. Plate your Chicken Ranch Mac and Cheese and garnish with fresh cracked pepper, green onions, and more cheese. Enjoy!
This dish will last a good 3-5 days in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. You can also freeze a portion of Chicken Ranch Mac and Cheese in tupperware for up to 3 months.
Of course! Just leave out the chicken and you're good to go. If you choose this option, add the entire ranch seasoning packet to the sauce. This dish would go great with an added can of chickpeas in place of the chicken for some extra protein.
Sharp cheddar contrasts the ranch seasoning super well in this dish, but feel free to switch it up! White cheddar, gouda, or an Italian blend would also be super tasty. If you do like the sound of gouda, try my Gouda and Roasted Vegetable Mac 'n Cheese. It's so decadent!
You can for an even creamier sauce, but I'd recommend adding some pasta water to your sauce. The heavy cream will make the sauce thicker than milk will, and more water will help thin it out.
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Chicken Ranch Mac and Cheese
- sauce pan
- Cutting Board
- cheese grater
- 1 box shell noodles, 12oz
- 2 Chicken breasts, or pre-cooked, pre-shredded chicken
- 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, tillamook
- 1 cup milk, I used Fairlife
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 packet Ranch seasoning
- spray olive oil
- In a sauce pan, cook noodles according to the box instructions. Strain after cooking.
- Meanwhile, dice chicken breasts. Spray and heat a skillet over medium-high heat and cook chicken pieces with ½ packet of Ranch seasoning until an internal temperature of 165°F is reached.
- Grate the cheese block into fine shreds. The finer it's grated, the easier it is to melt.
- Combine butter, milk, sharp shredded cheddar cheese, and the other ½ packet of ranch seasoning in a second sauce pan over low heat.
- Continually stir the sauce until cheese is melted and well combined.
- Add noodles and chicken into the pot with the cheese sauce. Stir together.
- Plate your Chicken Ranch Mac and Cheese and garnish with fresh cracked pepper. Enjoy!
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I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. It’s my passion to create dishes that can be shared with others. Tell me something you loved or just say hi!
Made this tonight and it was delicious! So easy, simple, and tasty!
Courtney Paige says
Awesome! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Looks so good! Can't wait to make this!
Mac and cheese is a staple in our house and we have made it so many different ways but never like this with cheddar and ranch! Loved it! A super nice switch up
Anastasia N. says
I made this yesterday, and it was SO good! I'm lactose intolerant, and this didn't bother me at all. I substituted the sharp cheddar with white cheddar, and it was delicious. The ranch gave it that extra zest! Highly recommend it!!
This was yummy! I added chopped spinach and a little cream cheese!
Made this for a family lunch (paired with the turkey Reuben recipe) and it was so good! Also great as leftovers the next few days.
Jen Boudreau says
Best mac and cheese I've made! Such a great comfort food.
Sydney Van Acker says
never getting store bought, boxed mac again!
Courtney Paige says
When I tell you I LOVE this recipe, I'm not exaggerating. My boyfriend asks me to make this often.