Super tasty and ready in no time, when you’re in the mood for crazy good flavors, this Blackened Chicken Mac and Cheese really delivers! With big and bold flavors, every bite is packed with amazing Cajun flavors!
I’m going to warn you right now: after eating this Blackened Chicken Mac and Cheese, you may not want any other mac and cheese again! It’s that good! Imagine juicy blackened chicken and tender pasta enveloped in a creamy homemade cheese sauce. Did I mention bacon? Heck ya! The salty tang of bacon and fresh green onions add even more to this dish, where the ultra-flavorful chicken is the star of the show.
This recipe is also a breeze to make. It’s deliciously cheesy, creamy, gooey, and the Cajun chicken goes oh-so-well with it. Does mac and cheese get any better than this?
What is Blackened Chicken?
Cajun blackened chicken refers to a specific blend of Cajun seasonings and spices. The chicken is seasoned with this big and bold seasoning and seared in butter in a hot skillet. The cooking reaction from the butter and spices creates a very slightly charred surface without actually burning the chicken so that it is mouth-wateringly tender and juicy inside with a spicy crust on the outside.
What’s In Cajun Blackening Seasoning?
Packed with flavor, Cajun blackening seasoning isn’t necessarily spicy (like hot spicy), though you certainly can up the spices to a tongue-burning level if you want to. It’s a blend of paprika, garlic, onion, thyme, and more, all working together to create the most amazing flavors that’ll transport you to Louisiana.
- Bacon – Chopped.
- Butter – Salted.
- Blackening seasoning – Make your own blend or buy it.
- Chicken – Breasts or thighs work for this recipe – make it easy on yourself and go with boneless chicken.
- Pasta – I like rotini, so the sauce gets into all the ridges, but you can use whatever dried pasta shape you like.
- Milk – Whatever kind you drink will work in the creamy cheese sauce.
- Heavy cream – Mac and cheese wouldn’t be so indulgent without some cream!
- Flour – All-purpose flour is going to thicken the cheese sauce.
- Sharp cheddar cheese – You can use yellow or white. I like white cheese for this sauce.
- Frozen peas – For a pop of freshness and color. Thaw them before adding them to the dish.
- Scallions – AKA green onions – a must whenever there’s blackening seasoning used.
What’s The Best Cheese for Mac and Cheese?
This blackened chicken pasta recipe needs a good, strong cheddar to stand up to the flavors of the chicken. I love using sharp cheddar in this recipe, or you can splurge with some extra sharp cheddar. Yellow or white, it doesn’t matter. But, you can really use any melty cheese in this easy chicken mac and cheese recipe. Gruyere, mozzarella, gouda (even smoked gouda), Swiss, Monterey Jack …whatever you like! Try mixing the cheeses to find your perfect combination.
How To Make The Best Cajun Mac and Cheese with Chicken
To make the chicken
Heat a flat cast-iron griddle on an outdoor grill until it is smoking.
Coat the chicken in butter, then cover it in the blackening seasoning.
Cook the chicken on the griddle, turning as needed to blacken all sides until it is cooked through.
Set the chicken aside and cover it to keep it warm.
To make the cheese sauce:
Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water according to the package directions.
Melt the butter in a saucepan, then whisk in the flour. Drizzle in the milk and cream, whisking until it is thickened and just boiling. Add the cheese and stir until melted.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a cast-iron pan (or another heavy skillet) until crispy, and then set it aside.
Toss the mac and cheese sauce with the drained pasta, then add the frozen peas and bacon. Top with the blackened chicken and scallions.
Grab a fork and dig in!
Chicken Mac and Cheese Recipe Tips
- Blackened chicken isn’t burnt chicken, but it CAN burn. Keep your eye on it when cooking it. The butter and spices will char, and that’s what you want, but only cook your chicken to 165-F then let it rest.
- Slightly undercook the pasta so that it is al dente. It’ll hold up much better in the sauce, and it’ll reheat better, too. Not that you’ll have any leftovers!
- Shred your own cheese – the anti-caking agents added to pre-shredded cheese can add a grainy texture to your sauce.
- Stir constantly when making the cheese sauce and keep the heat lowish – the sauce could burn on the bottom of the pan.
- Cook outside if you can – if not, turn on the fans in the kitchen because this recipe will smoke up your kitchen.
- Add sauteed onions, peppers, mushrooms, and all your favorite veggies to this Cajun chicken mac and cheese recipe!
The blackened chicken will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 2-3 months. To reheat, microwave or warm on the stove until heated through. The mac and cheese will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. To reheat, microwave or warm on the stove with a splash of milk to thin it, if necessary. I don’t recommend freezing it because the texture of the cheese sauce will be affected.
Frequently Asked Questions
If there’s not enough heat in the blackened seasoning, jazz it up with some cayenne powder or even chipotle powder. Just start with a small amount and taste it; you can always add more.
It’s not hard. There are a few steps involved, but you can prep the chicken ahead of time and even make the cheese sauce hours before. Just cook the noodles, warm the sauce, and reheat the chicken before serving!
If you love flavor, love mac and cheese, and love chicken, then this is the dish for you! It has it all – it’s creamy, cheesy, meaty, and packed with big and bold flavors!
More mac and cheese recipes to try
- Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese
- Jalapeño Mac and Cheese
- Instant Pot BBQ Chicken Mac and Cheese
- Spicy Sausage and Chipotle Mac and Cheese
If you’ve tried my Blackened Chicken Mac and Cheese recipe, or any other recipe on GirlCarnivore.com please don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know where you found it in the comments below. I get inspired by your feedback and comments! You can also FOLLOW ME on Instagram @girlcarnivore as well as on Twitter and Facebook.
Blackened Chicken Mac and Cheese
For the Crispy Bacon
- 1/4 lbs bacon cut into 1/4″ cubes
For the Chicken
- 2 tbsp butter melted
- 1/3 cup blackening seasoning
- 1 lbs chicken sliced thin and trimmed if needed
For the Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 lb pasta
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup milk
- 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- scallions sliced thin
Cook the Bacon
- Preheat a skilled over medium to medium-high heat.
- Cook bacon in skillet until crispy. Transfer to a paper towel lined place to drain.
Make the Blackened Chicken
- Heat griddle or skillet over high heat until smoking.
- Arrange melted butter in a bowl next to a dish with the blackening spice.
- Coat the chicken in butter, then cover in a liberal coating of the blackening spice.
- When the griddle surface is smoking, turn on a fan for ventilation and add the chicken. Reduce heat to medium-high if needed to prevent burning.
- Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, turning as needed until all sides are blackened and chicken is cooked through. Remove from griddle and cover while preparing the macaroni.
Boil the pasta
- In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta according to directions on box; Drain and set aside.
Make the Macaroni and cheese
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour.
- Cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the cream and milk. Add the cheese and stir until melted through.
- Toss cheese sauce over pasta. Add the frozen peas and bacon.
Garnish and Serve
- Place heaping portions of macaroni and cheese on plate, top with chicken and garish with freshly sliced scallions.