I made this the other night when my kids had friends over. I wanted something hearty and filling also but that I thought they would eat. You never know when you are feeding other peoples kids if they are going to be picky or not. I went with macaroni and cheese but really doctored it up. I debated calling it Loaded Macaroni and Cheese because it really has a bit of everything in it including BACON! Bacon makes everything better in my book.
Okay, so don’t even try to figure out the amount of fat in this dish. It is probably crazy but it was sooooo amazingly good! My kids even ate leftovers the next morning for breakfast. Yes, it was that good. I used chicken thighs in it but you can substitute chicken breast but the chicken thighs add more flavor to the dish as a whole.
To make yourself feel better about serving this dish serve it with a hearty green salad.
Creamy Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
"A fully loaded macaroni and cheese with tons of flavor!"
- 3 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 lb. bacon diced into 1-2 inch pieces
- 1.5-2 lbs uncooked chicken cubed
- salt and ground black pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon paprika
- 1 red pepper, small chop
- 1 medium onion, small chop
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups milk
- 1 package Dry Ranch Mix, if desired
- 1 (8 oz) block cream cheese, softened
- 3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
- 1 can (10 3/4 oz) cream of chicken soup, condensed
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup panko crispy bread crumbs, if desired
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cook and drain macaroni as directed on package.
In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, melt two tablespoons of butter and cook the bacon, stirring frequently, until crispy. Remove from skillet and set aside. Drain grease, leaving only about 2 tablespoons in the skillet.
Add the cubed chicken to the skillet, season with salt, pepper and paprika. Cook stirring frequently, until golden and cooked through. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside.
Add diced onion, red pepper, and garlic to the skillet. Cook until pnions and peppers are soft and tender. Remove from skillet and set aside with chicken.
In the same skillet, on medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Stir in flour with whisk until a paste forms. Keep stirring for 1-2 minutes until paste starts to turn slightly golden. Gradually stir in milk, whisking it to keep smooth. Stir in Ranch Mix if using.Stir in condensed cream of chicken soup and cream cheese until fully combined. Stir in 3 cups of cheddar cheese. Remove from heat and continue stirring until cheese melts.
In a large bowl combine: cooked pasta, chicken, veggies and cheese mixture. Stir well to combine and transfer to a 13 x 9-inch (3-quart) baking dish. You may either stir the bacon into the macaroni to bake with the dish and leave a bit on top OR leave it all for a topping. It is up to you!
Top with the cooked bacon (if desired) and 1 cup shredded cheese. Mix bread crumbs with 1 tablespoon of melted butter and stir well to coat before sprinkling them over the casserole (if desired).
Bake for 20-30 minutes or until mixture is bubbly and cheese is fully melted. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.