The weather has officially turned here in the Midwest and we’re ready for some cheesy comfort food. This outstanding recipe for Cajun Chicken Mac and Cheese from Dinnertime Somewhere is hitting the spot with chicken generously spiced with cajun seasoning then bathed in a classic 3-cheese sauce. It’s a flavorful, kid-pleasing, and satisfying addition to your weekly menu!
The Method for Cajun Chicken Mac and Cheese
The technique is straightforward and simple. Start by roasting some bell pepper until the skin is blistering and charred. While that’s going in the oven, start the chicken by coating it with your favorite cajun seasoning blend and sauteing it in a little oil in a large pot (like this one or this one) over medium-high heat until golden brown and cooked through.
You should have a pot of water on the stove coming to a boil so that it’s ready for your pasta. After the chicken is cooked, remove it to a plate and use the same pot for your cheese sauce. Start by melting butter over medium-low heat, then stir in your flour. Allow it to cook a bit before whisking in some milk. You’ll want to whisk furiously here to get rid of any floury lumps so you end up with a very smooth sauce. (This balloon whisk works great for this!) Continue stirring until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
That’s when you want to drop your pasta into the boiling water (don’t forget to salt the water!) and add all of that luscious grated cheese to the sauce you started with your butter/flour/milk mixture. Stir in the cheese, a bit of mustard, and some salt. Keep stirring until the cheese is melted, then taste it to make sure it’s seasoned well. Add the cooked chicken and the cooked pasta, then serve!
Here are a few tips that will make this recipe come together more easily.
Cut the Chicken – Cut your chicken into bite-sized pieces before cooking it. This will help it cook more quickly and allows the seasoning to coat each piece on all sides.
Use Pre-Shredded Cheese – This is a time-saver, for sure. But if you have the time, it’s definitely worth it to shred the cheese yourself to avoid additives that are often in packaged shredded cheeses to keep it from clumping.
Jarred Peppers – Feel free to sub in jarred roasted red peppers instead of roasting them yourself if you are short on time. The jarred peppers won’t have the same bite and may be a little tangy, but we liked the bit of tang with the richness of the cheese and it definitely saved some time.
Make Your Own Seasoning – This won’t save you time but it will save you money if you make up a batch of cajun seasoning yourself to always have on hand. Plus, you can customize it to your taste. We like this one from Delish.com.
Serving Your Cajun Chicken Mac and Cheese
We like this rich dish with a light salad, to balance things out so you don’t leave the table feeling weighed down by your food. Toss some mixed baby greens with a lemon vinaigrette for an easy salad, or try one of these wonderful options.
Don’t Forget Dessert!
Are we still recovering from all the sweets of the holiday season? Maybe. Do we still want a bit more? Definitely! Here are some options to finish your meal with a little sweetness.
- Strawberry Marshmallow Cookies
- Velvety Vanilla Cake
- Grandpa’s Oatmeal Cookies
- Dreamy Dark Chocolate Sheet Cake
If you like this recipe, you should definitely go check out DinnertimeSomewhere.com and see all of the wonderful recipes on their blog! You can also find them on Instagram @dinnertimesomewhere.
Amazing Cajun Chicken Mac and Cheese
- 2 bell peppers cut in half, stems and seeds removed
- 1 16-ounce box cavatappi pasta
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 4 teaspoons cajun seasoning blend
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 cups whole milk warm or at room temperature
- 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
- 2 cups grated gruyere cheese
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- Roast the Peppers: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and place the bell peppers skin-side up onto the pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the skin turns black. Remove them from the oven and allow to cool before removing the charred skin. Cut into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
- Boil the Pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Once it is boiling, salt the water generously before dropping in your pasta. Boil until al dente, then drain and set aside.
- Cook the Chicken: Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cut the chicken breasts into 1-inch pieces and coat with the cajun seasoning. Cook in a single layer in the hot skillet, turning and stirring occasionally, until the pieces are golden brown and cooked through. Remove to a clean plate.
- Make the Cheese Sauce: In the same pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat, then stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk and continue to whisk until there are no lumps. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add the cheeses, mustard, and 2-3 teaspoons of salt, stirring until all of the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Taste and add more salt as needed.
- Finish and Serve: Add the cooked peppers, pasta, and chicken to the cheese sauce and stir to combine. When everything is warmed through, remove from the heat and serve.
- This recipe is from DinnertimeSomewhere.com. Go check them out!
- This makes a lot, but keeps well in the refrigerator for a few days and is great as leftovers. Halving the recipe works well, too.
- For a meatier dish, consider doubling the chicken.
- The original recipe calls for cooking the chicken whole, then cutting before adding to the sauce, but we liked the faster cooking time you get when cutting the chicken first. Either way works beautifully!
- Feel free to sub in jarred roasted red peppers if you don’t have time to roast them.