Truthfully, I wasn’t planning on making a creamy chicken mac and cheese, but the universe decided I had to make a delicious bowl of chicken macaroni and cheese.
You might be asking “how did the universe make this decision?” Well, I was going to cook a creamy chicken fettuccine but unfortunately, my fresh fettuccine had spoiled. That led to a little quick creative thinking and realizing I had a box of elbows and a block of parmesan cheese. And so the creamy chicken mac and cheese was born.
It’s not as cheesy as traditional mac and cheese, but who needs a ton of cheese when you have our delicious, creamy sauce coating all of the noodles!
How to make this Creamy Chicken Mac and Cheese:
To make this mac and cheese with chicken, you’ll start by parboiling three chicken breasts. These can be bone-in, skin-on or boneless, skinless chicken breasts. You don’t need to cook them through at this stage, it just helps prevent them from overcooking in the sauce. Bonus: You can use the chicken cooking liquid to cook the elbows!
After the chicken is mostly cooked through, transfer it to a cutting board and dice it up. From there, you’ll begin the sauce.
The sauce is just a handful of ingredients: first, you’ll sauté the aromatics and then add the chicken and cook until it is browned all over. Remove everything from the skillet and add cherry tomatoes. Cook them until the skins begin to blister and then deglaze with white wine. Allow the wine to simmer until reduced by about half.
I opted not to make a roux for this recipe, instead, I whisked flour into warmed cream until completely dissolved.
Return the chicken to the skillet with the tomatoes and pour in the cream and flour mixture and whisk until completely incorporated. Simmer for about 5-10 minutes until thickened and turn off the heat.
As the sauce is simmering, you can boil the elbows in the chicken cooking broth until al dente. Drain and return to the pan and pour the chicken and sauce over the macaroni. Turn the heat to low and allow the sauce to continue to thicken for a few more minutes.
Finally, stir in torn basil and grated parmesan cheese and cook a few more minutes.
That’s it! You’ll have a delicious, creamy chicken macaroni and cheese in no time.
Looking for more chicken recipes? Check my archives!
If you made this recipe, please rate the recipe below and leave a comment to tell me how you liked it! If you take a picture of it, please tag me on Instagram so I can feature you in my feed!
Creamy Chicken Mac and Cheese
- Large pot
- Wide skillet
- 1 pound chicken breasts boneless, skinless or bone-in, skin-on
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion peeled and diced
- 1 red Fresno chili pepper trimmed and diced; or use crushed red pepper
- 6 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup dry white wine or use chicken stock
- 1½ cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 16 ounces elbows
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves torn, a few leaves reserved for garnish
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste
Parboil the Chicken:
- Fill a large pot with water and salt liberally. Add the chicken and bring to a low boil. Cook, removing any scum from the surface, for 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is mostly cooked through.
- Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and dice into bite-sized pieces. Discard skin and bones if using bone-in, skin-on. Keep the water in the large pot on low heat.
- When the chicken is nearly done boiling, begin sautéing the aromatics. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a wide skillet over medium heat.
- Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for 8-10 minutes until softened and well-browned. Adjust the heat as needed to prevent it from burning. Add the minced chili pepper and minced garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
Brown the Chicken:
- Add the diced chicken to the skillet and season everything with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, tossing regularly, until the chicken is browned. Transfer everything in the skillet to a large bowl.
Cook the Tomatoes:
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter into the skillet and add the tomatoes. Cook, turning regularly, for 5-7 minutes until the skins begin to split. Pour in the white wine or chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium for 5 minutes until reduced. Season with salt and pepper.
Warm the Cream:
- Pour the cream into a heat proof bowl or measuring glass and microwave in 45 second increments until warmed through.
- Add the flour to the cream and whisk until incorporated. Set aside.
Finish the Sauce:
- Return the chicken and aromatics to the skillet with the tomatoes. Turn the heat to low. Pour in the white wine mixture and bring to a very low boil. Season again with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring regularly, until thickened. Taste and season again.
Boil the Macaroni:
- Return the pot of water to a boil. Add the elbows and cook until al dente. Drain and return to the pot. Return the pot to the stove and pour the chicken and sauce over top and toss to combine. Turn the heat to low for 3-5 minutes. Add the grated parmesan and basil leaves and toss to combine. Continue stirring over very low heat for an additional minute or two until the elbows are well-coated. Turn off the heat.
- Divide the cooked chicken mac and cheese between bowls. Garnish with thinly sliced basil leaves, if desired. Enjoy!