A blend of triple cheese and shredded chicken drenched in barbecue sauce, all mixed together with spicy jalapenos and topped with scallions and parsley. This instant pot bbq chicken mac and cheese is big, bold flavor in classic comfort food.
We’re obsessed with making Mac and cheese as delicious as possible. From Smoked Mac and Cheese to Smoked Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese, we’ve basically mastered this comfort food. Now, we’re bringing you a new mac and cheese recipe we know you’ll love.
This BBQ Chicken Mac and Cheese is a fun twist on one of your favorite foods. Mac and cheese meets chicken and bbq sauce in this easy recipe that will take your basic chicken recipes to a whole new level. In under 30 minutes, you can have a delicious main dish perfect for busy weeknights or when you want to add another awesome recipe to your arsenal.
What Is Barbecue Chicken Mac and Cheese?
What you need for the instant pot barbecue shredded chicken is boneless skinless chicken breasts, an onion, Girl Carnivore Chick Fest seasoning, black pepper, salt, Head Country Original Bar-b-q sauce, and chicken broth. Tip: You can skip the broth and use homemade Homemade Chicken Bouillon Powder!
BBQ Chicken Macaroni and Cheese Ingredients
FOR THE CHICKEN
- Olive oil
- Boneless, skinless chicken breast – You can also use chicken thighs if you prefer. Adjust the cooking time as needed.
- Salt and pepper
- GirlCarnivore Chick Fest seasoning – This is our chicken spice blend consisting of spices, Pink Himalayan salt, garlic, orange peel, white vinegar powder, and crushed red pepper. But feel free to use whatever kind of seasoning you like.
- Head Country Original Bar-B-Q sauce – Its rich blend of flavors pairs beautifully with this BBQ Chicken Mac and Cheese recipe, but feel free to use your favorite bbq sauce.
- Chicken broth
FOR THE MACARONI AND CHEESE
- Pasta – Use macaroni noodles or any other type of pasta you prefer.
- Chicken broth
- Water (if needed)
- Butter – Adds richness and a creamy texture to the mac and cheese.
- Dijon mustard – Introduces a tangy and slightly spicy element to the dish.
- Garlic powder – Provides a subtle garlic flavor without the intensity of fresh garlic.
- Aged cheddar cheese – Sharp, rich flavor that blends perfectly with the sweetness of the bbq sauce.
- Habanero cheddar cheese – It adds heat and a bold, smoky flavor that pairs well with BBQ sauce, giving the dish some extra zing.
- Monterey Jack cheese – Mild and creamy with a smooth texture that compliments the sharpness of aged cheddar and the spiciness of habanero cheddar.
- Jalapeno – It enhances the overall spiciness and provides a fresh, bright contrast to the richness of the cheese and BBQ sauce.
- Fresh cilantro
- Additional BBQ sauce
Tip: Black beans are a great addition to this recipe as well. Simply fold in drained and rinsed black beans with the jalapeno.
How to Make BBQ Chicken Mac and Cheese
Make the Chicken
- Start by making the chicken first. You can complete it while the pasta cooks and everything will be hot when you stir it together.
- Season the chicken liberally with the GirlCarnivore Chick Fest seasoning, salt, and pepper.
- Sautee the onion in your instant pot on the sautee setting. Then, brown the chicken on both sides. If your pressure cooker doesn’t have a sautee setting, you can do this step in a skillet or omit it altogether.
Add the BBQ Sauce
- Next, add the barbecue sauce all over the chicken and the broth on the side (so that the sauce still coats the chicken). Cover and set your instant pot to cook for 13 to 15 minutes with a natural release.
- Girl Carnivore Pro tip: While the chicken cooks, it’s a good time to grate all of the cheese and mince the jalapeno for the mac and cheese.
- Once the chicken has cooked, transfer it to a bowl and let it cool. Shred it with 2 forks when you get a minute while the pasta cooks.
Make the Mac and Cheese
- Start on the instant pot macaroni and cheese by adding the pasta to the same pot with the leftover juices. The chicken broth and diluted barbecue sauce are a great flavor addition to the pasta as it cooks.
- Add the other remaining broth and a little water if needed to make sure the pasta is just submerged. Cover and set your pressure cooker to 4 minutes with a manual release.
- Now the fun part: Once the pasta has cooked (in like 4 minutes!) it will have absorbed most of the liquid in the pot. Next, add the butter, mustard, garlic powder, and salt and stir to combine.
- Add the milk, then fold in all of the cheese until it has melted through.
- If you’re using the jalapeno, now is the time to fold that in. If you are worried about things being too spicy, omit the jalapeno and substitute a colby or other cheese for the habanero cheese.
- Now, all you have to do is combine the shredded bbq chicken and the macaroni and cheese. Only put half of the chicken in and leave half for people to scoop on top.
What to Serve With This Delicious Mac and Cheese Recipe
Leftovers & Reheating
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Reheat individual portions in the microwave in 30-second bursts until heated through. Add a splash of milk or water if needed to maintain creaminess.
This recipe can be placed in a foil baking pan, covered with plastic wrap and aluminum foil, and frozen for up to 2 months.
To cook from frozen, preheat an oven to 350 and bake until heated through, about 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes. Leave the foil on until the last 10 minutes of baking.
For more leftover cooking inspiration, check out our leftover recipes!
Yes! If you want to make this meal even quicker, use shredded or cubed rotisserie chicken.
Feel free to play around with other cheeses to get the perfect combination! Some great options are Colby Jack, Gruyere, Parmesan, and Smoked Gouda!
One bite of this delicious mac and cheese will bring a wave of nostalgia over you, taking you back to simpler times. This comfort food with an adult twist is the perfect dinner recipe for any occasion, whether you need a quick meal or recipe inspiration for meal prep!
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Instant Pot BBQ Chicken Mac and Cheese
For the Chicken
For the Macaroni and Cheese
- 16 oz pasta
- 2 cup chicken broth
- Water if needed
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 cup milk
- 8 oz aged cheddar shredded
- 4 oz habanero cheddar shredded
- 12 oz Monterey Jack shredded
- 1/2 jalapeno seeded, stemmed and minced
- Fresh Cilantro
- Additional BBQ Sauce
Sautee the onion
- Set the instant pot to sautee
- Add the olive oil to the pot and using a spatula, swirl to coat.
- Add the onion and sautee 5 minutes.
Prep the chicken
Pressure Cook the Chicken
- Baste the chicken with the barbecue sauce and gently pour the chicken broth in along the side to not disrupt the sauce on the chicken.
- Cover and seal the pressure cooker.
- Set the pressure cooker to 13 to 15 minutes.
- Once the IP comes to pressure and cooks, allow the steam to release naturally for 10 minutes and then carefully open the lid.
- Carefully remove the chicken from the instant pot and set it aside.
Prep the Macaroni and Cheese
- Add the pasta to 2 cups broth left over from the chicken in the pressure cooker.
- Add the chicken broth and additional water if needed to just cover the pasta.
Cook the Pasta
- Pllace the lid on the instant pot and seal.
- Set it to 4 minutes to cook.
- Once the IP comes to pressure and cooks, immediately release the steam manually.
Make the Macaroni and Cheese
- Stir the butter, Dijon mustard, salt, and garlic powder.
- Add the milk.
- Add the cheese in batches, stirring to melt completely until all the cheese is added.
- Fold in the minced jalapeno.
Make the Shredded BBQ Chicken Mac and Cheese
- Shred the chicken with 2 forks.
- Stir the shredded chicken into the macaroni and cheese to combine.
- Spoon out portions onto plates or bowls. Top with additional bbq chicken, scallions, cilantro, and sliced jalapeno if desired.
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