Oven-baked, creamy Buffalo Chicken Pasta Bake is deliciously spicy, super simple to make, and the ultimate comfort food. Chicken, plus pasta, cheese, and wing sauce, topped with crunchy panko, equals an irresistible baked buffalo chicken mac and cheese recipe!
Are you looking for an easy, make-ahead chicken pasta casserole that your family will love? Would you like a simple recipe that contains easy step-by-step directions? Well, keep reading, because you are in the right place.
This easy buffalo chicken pasta casserole is perfect for a family dinner or game day party. And, because you can make it ahead, and it freezes beautifully, it’s also ideal for last-minute company or a lazy Sunday dinner.
Here’s what’s in it:
- Chicken – is the star of this show. You can use leftover chicken, a rotisserie chicken, or any other type of cooked chicken.
- Pasta – bowtie or farfalle are my favorites for this recipe, but feel free to use what you have on hand, including gluten-free pasta.
- Bell pepper, scallions, and garlic cloves – provide layers of flavor and a nice pop of color.
- Cream cheese – adds a slight tang and is what makes the dressing so creamy.
- Blue cheese or ranch dressing and crumbled blue cheese – adds the characteristic sharp, salty, and aromatic taste that pairs so well with the Buffalo sauce.
- Buffalo hot wing sauce – purchased or homemade provides some heat and a wonderful tangy, spicy flavor.
- Sharp cheddar cheese – because everything is better with cheese.
- Butter and panko breadcrumbs – combine to make a lovely crunchy topping.
Here’s how to make this recipe:
If you are ready to make this tasty pasta bake gather the ingredients, and let’s get started.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cook the pasta al dente according to the directions on the pasta box. When it’s finished cooking, reserve a one-quarter cup of the pasta water before placing the pasta in a colander to drain.
- While the pasta is cooking, combine the chicken, bell pepper, one-quarter cup of the chopped scallions, and two cups of shredded cheese. Set aside.
- Place the cream cheese, garlic, blue cheese, or ranch dressing and the buffalo wing sauce in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until smooth.
- If you like your food spicy, you can add up to one-quarter cup more buffalo wing sauce. Mix well.
- Mix the chicken and cheese mixture with the cream cheese mixture and pasta water to combine.
- Place the drained pasta in a 9×13 baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Add the chicken and cream cheese mixture. Toss to combine everything.
- Melt the butter and add it to the panko. Mix well.
- Top the casserole with the crumbled blue cheese, the remaining one cup of shredded cheese, remaining scallions, and panko breadcrumbs.
- Bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until the mixture is bubbling and the panko is crispy. Let sit for a few minutes and serve hot. Enjoy!
Frequently asked questions:
The origins of all things Buffalo are pretty murky, but these spicy dishes had their start in 1964 in, where else, Buffalo, New York. The distinctive flavor is both tangy and spicy, and you can adjust the amount of heat by adding more or less hot sauce.
This recipe is versatile. You can use pretty much any pasta you like or have on hand. I happen to like bowtie pasta or farfalle, and that’s what I used, but you could use penne, rotini, shells, elbow macaroni, fusilli; the list goes on and on.
You could even use spaghetti or fettuccini, but I wouldn’t recommend angel hair pasta as it’s too delicate.
This recipe calls for three cups of shredded cheese. So this is an excellent opportunity to use all of those half-full packages of shredded cheese in your cheese drawer. Cheddar, mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Colby, or a Mexican or Italian blend all work well.
Yes! Make the casserole, but don’t bake it. Instead, cover and refrigerate for up to 48 hours, or cover tightly and freeze for up to three months. Then follow the directions for baking it when you are ready to serve. If frozen, allow it to thaw overnight before baking.
Leftovers also reheat well and can be stored safely in your refrigerator, if covered, for up to three days.
I usually serve it with my Baked Tomato Casserole, Sweet and Sour Green Beans, or Copper Pennies, aka Marinated Carrots.
Southern Cucumber and Tomato Salad, Broccoli Slaw with Ramen Noodle Salad, or my Brussels Sprout Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette would round things out nicely.
If you have room for dessert, Frozen Lemonade Pie or Key Lime Mousse are great choices.
As with most pasta casseroles, this recipe is rich and high in calories. A single serving, which is one-eighth of this casserole, comes in at 597 calories. So if you are watching your calories, you might want to limit your serving size.
- I made this casserole in a nine-inch baking dish because I was only feeding four people. I froze the rest to eat another time. It does fit perfectly in a 9×13 baking dish.
- I usually use leftover chicken when making this recipe. Or I will purchase a rotisserie chicken, remove the skin and bones and chop up the meat. Three cups of chicken is a loose measurement. A little more or less won’t matter.
- If you would like to roast chicken breasts and use them in this recipe, check out this post, Easy Roasted Bone-In Chicken Breasts. Chicken breasts are so large these days; you can usually get two cups of chicken from one large breast.
- I prefer using either homemade blue cheese or ranch salad dressing or the refrigerated kind. However, if all you have is regular bottled dressing, it will work too.
- If you don’t like spicy food, reduce the amount of buffalo wing sauce you add. If you like spicy food, add up to ¼ cup more. As written, this recipe is medium spicy.
- This recipe is very versatile. You can use pretty much any pasta you like or have on hand. I happen to like bowtie pasta or farfalle, and that’s what I used, but you could use penne, rotini, shells, elbow macaroni, fusilli; the list goes on and on.
- If you don’t have buffalo sauce, you can substitute ¼ cup of hot sauce plus ¼ cup of melted butter.
More chicken and pasta recipes:
If you like recipes like this, check out these other popular recipes on my blog: Skillet Mediterranean Chicken Bake, Southern Broccoli Chicken Divan, Chicken Pesto Pasta, and one of my favorites, Chicken Mushroom Marsala Pasta.
★ If you make this recipe, please leave a comment and give this recipe a star rating. I would love to know how you liked it!
Thanks so much for visiting Grits and Pinecones!
Buffalo Chicken Pasta Bake Recipe
- 12 ounces bowtie or farfalle pasta
- ¼ cup pasta water
- 3 cups cooked chicken chopped or 1 rotisserie chicken chopped up with the skin and bones removed.
- 1 bell pepper large, seeded and diced
- ½ cup chopped green onions or scallions divided
- 2 cloves garlic grated or finely minced
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened or at room temperature
- 1 cup blue cheese or ranch dressing works best with homemade or refrigerated dressing
- ⅓ cup crumbled blue cheese
- ½ cup Buffalo Hot Wing Sauce I like Frank's
- 3 cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded and divided
- ¾ cup Panko bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cook the pasta al dente according to the directions on the pasta box. When finished cooking, reserve ¼ cup of the pasta water before placing the pasta in a colander to drain.
- While the pasta is cooking, combine the chicken, bell pepper, ¼ cup of the chopped scallions, and two cups shredded cheese. Set aside.
- Place the cream cheese, garlic, blue cheese, or ranch dressing and the hot wing sauce in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until smooth. If you like your food spicy, you can add up to ¼ cup more hot wing sauce. Mix well.
- Place the drained pasta in a 9×13 baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Add the chicken mixture, reserved pasta water, and cream cheese mixture and combine.
- Melt butter and mix with the panko bread crumbs.
- Top with the crumbled blue cheese, remaining one cup of shredded cheese, panko bread crumbs, and the remaining scallions.
- Bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until the mixture is bubbling and the panko is crispy. Let sit for a few minutes and serve hot. Enjoy! ¼
*This post was originally published on September 26, 2016. Republished on September 27, 2019, with expanded directions and the addition of helpful tips. Republished again on August 15, 2021, with new images and the addition of a FAQ section.