This Chicken Bacon Ranch Mac and Cheese is filled with chicken, bacon and flavorful hints of ranch dressing. It turns macaroni and cheese into a one-dish-meal.
Chicken Bacon Ranch Mac and Cheese
I can't imagine anyone would bat an eye at our house if we had macaroni and cheese daily. Whether in the form of muffins, jumbo lump crab macaroni and cheese or good ole Southern style macaroni and cheese. This chicken bacon ranch version makes a one-dish-meal but, you can up the ante by serving it with a crisp fresh wedge salad and warm bread to round out the menu.
Tips for Making Chicken Bacon Ranch Mac and Cheese
- I made this dish with ridged jumbo elbow macaroni. You can certainly adapt using regular elbow macaroni.
- You can add a little kick to the dish by using pepper jack cheese in place of cheddar.
- No chive and onion cream cheese? You can use the same amount of plain cream cheese.
Other Macaroni and Cheese Recipes to Try
As mentioned earlier, macaroni and cheese is always a winning side dish choice. The variations are endless as are the preparation techniques. I have several varieties in the MSSK recipe index myself such as mac and cheese pie and slow cooked triple cheddar mac and cheese. On busy days, you may also enjoy this recipe for stovetop mac and cheese from Two Peas and Their Pod.
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
Chicken Bacon Ranch Mac and Cheese
- 1 16 oz regular or jumbo elbow macaroni cooked to al dente
- 1 lb bacon cooked and crumbled
- 6 tablespoon light or regular butter plus additional for the top
- ⅓ cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 5 cups low fat 2 % or whole milk
- 4 oz light or full fat chive and onion cream cheese softened
- 5 cups shredded colby-jack cheese divided
- 1 1.0 oz packet dry Ranch dressing seasoning
- 3 cups roughly chopped rotisserie chicken
- 2 tablespoon fresh chopped chives
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Cook the macaroni in salted water per the package directions until al dente. Drain well, pour into a mixing bowl and set aside.
- While macaroni cooks, n a medium-size heavy bottomed saucepan melt butter over medium heat.
- To the melted butter add flour, salt and black pepper. Mix until the flour has been absorbed by the butter stirring constantly.
- Increase the temperature to medium-high and gradually whisk in the milk. Whisk constantly to prevent clumping. Bring to a boil then immediately lower the heat to low. Simmer for 3-5 minutes gently bubbling, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
- Turn off the heat. Add the cream cheese to the sauce. Stir until melted.
- Remove from the heat, add 3 cups shredded cheese and dry Ranch dressing. Stir until fully combined. Pour the sauce over the macaroni, chicken, bacon and 1 tablespoon chives. Mix until evenly coated. (Reserve 2 tablespoon or so of bacon crumbles for garnishing)
- Pour ½ into baking dish. Top with 1 cup shredded cheese. Repeat with macaroni then top with the final 1 cup of shredded cheese. Dot the top with 2 tablespoon butter.
- Place into the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top is golden and the edges are bubbly.
- Serve immediately garnished with reserved bacon crumbles and chives.
I made this for company and they loved it! I've made it twice, once with full fat everything (ha) and one with lighter cheese, butter and cream cheese. Oh yes, and milk. We loved it both ways! It's a special casserole and everything in moderation right? Thanks Melissa, you never let me down!
I'm so happy you're loving this recipe, thanks for such a sweet note!
Can you make ahead?
Yes, you can.
This looks great but I do not have a package of ranch dressing seasoning. I have ranch dressing. Would this work and how much?
That's difficult to say as that would add liquid to the mix. You may be able to add up to 1/2 cup without any issue but, not having tested it, I can't say for sure. If you try it let us know how it goes.