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Chicken ranch mac & cheese

September 8, 2010

Chicken Ranch Macaroni and Cheese

The first time I made this casserole was to take to a neighbor.  I followed the original recipe, but kept wondering to myself why I wasn’t just adapting my own mac and cheese recipe.  I got the original version into the oven, looked around at my grease splattered stove, and figured I may as well make one for us too.  But for ours, I was going to use my go-to mac and cheese recipe as my starting point.

I’ve never been a fan of condensed cream of anything soups.  I think they’re pretty gross, so I eliminated that ingredient all together.  I tweaked this and changed that, and came up with my own version of chicken ranch macaroni and cheese.  I have to say, I wasn’t a big fan of the actual chicken part, though Jim thought it was a good addition.  I was also pretty doubtful that this was gonna taste even remotely like ranch, but it really did.  Not in an overpowering way though.  It was a nice subtle blend of flavors that tasted even better the next day as leftovers.  And the bacon was great too because it added a nice saltiness to each bite.

Will I give up my tried and true macaroni and cheese?  Nah, I love it too much.  But it’s nice to have something new once and a while, don’t you think?

{one year ago:  banana s’mores cupcakes}

Recipe:  Chicken Ranch Macaroni and Cheese

16 oz. dried pasta, I prefer whole wheat elbow macaroni or shells

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1/4 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 package of bacon

1-2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

3 c. milk, any fat content

1 pkg. Italian blend shredded cheese; divided

1 c. Monterey Jack shredded cheese or Colby-Jack blend, divided

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. dill

1 tsp. salt

pepper, to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, until crisp.  Remove bacon from pan, leaving some drippings in the pan.  Drain bacon on a paper towel.  Add chicken to drippings, increase heat to medium-high and saute until no longer pink.  Set aside.

Melt butter in the same pot you made the pasta in.  Whisk in flour.  Cook and stir 2 minutes.  Add milk to saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  Boil for 2 minutes.  Stir in most of the cheese.  (Reserve a handful of each cheese blend to sprinkle on top of casserole.)  Add pasta, spices, and chicken and stir to combine.

Spray 9×13″ baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Transfer pasta to baking pan.  Sprinkle with crumbled bacon and reserved cheeses.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, until thoroughly heated.

42 Comments leave one →
  1. September 8, 2010 6:43 am

    This sounds like a nice change to a good old favourite.
    On the occasional busy week night evening, I make a simple mac ‘n cheese by adding fried chopped bacon and chopped fresh tomatoes to a cheese sauce which I make with a cheddar cheese and add to macaroni that I boil up with an onion. I stir it all together and season with salt and pepper. Hmm, super yummy. And the leftovers are always nice for lunch too.
    :-) Mandy

  2. September 8, 2010 8:55 am

    My husband hates casseroles and neither of my kids will touch Ranch dressing (I know! What the heck?) but it’s probably a good thing, because if I made that casserole? I’d eat the whole shebang myself. Yum.

  3. September 8, 2010 10:06 am

    Looks good! Soup in mac and cheese? I never did that! My recipe is very old, but tried and true. I like the idea of the chicken , I will try adding it,
    Thanks for sharing your recipe. Always fun to see a different take on things!

  4. September 8, 2010 10:30 am

    deceptively simple … maybe the triple crown of mac and cheese here.

    by the way, made the blueberry squares the other day. amazing!

  5. September 8, 2010 11:14 am

    Holy lord – this dish has me salivating over here. Absolutely LOVE it and will be making it this weekend :)

  6. September 8, 2010 4:27 pm

    Oh man! I think this is speaking my language. What is better than cheese, ranch and bacon??? Putting them all together, that’s what!! Thanks for sharing!

  7. September 8, 2010 5:05 pm

    that picture is amazing – it looks so delish!!

  8. September 8, 2010 7:57 pm

    oh MAN. That is like to die for.
    Must try.
    Thank you for posting!

  9. September 8, 2010 8:05 pm

    This sounds really tasty (I think I’d leave out the chicken too) but I just popped over and saw your favorite mac and cheese and while it sounds trashy, I know I’d LOVE it! I like to add hot dogs to my scrambled eggs too. With ketchup :-)

    PS. Your new header made me smile. There’s nothing I love more in fall that those lovely orange globes. ah!

  10. oneordinaryday permalink
    September 8, 2010 8:59 pm

    Monica – Hey! Calling my favorite macaroni and cheese “trashy” seems kinda like insulting my mom. Cut it out! LOL
    ~ Michelle

  11. September 9, 2010 8:18 am

    oh, glorious monterey jack. it belongs in every mac & cheese ever made. great tweaks, michelle–this is a fabulous casserole!

  12. September 9, 2010 9:45 am

    Okay, so when I read the title to your post I was like, grrrreat (sarcastically) ranch. lol, I’m not crazy about it but then I saw the bacon in your photo and was like HEY! Bacon. Michelle you gotta tell us from the get go when there’s bacon involved.

    I didn’t see ranch dressing in the ingredients list so I’m definitely gonna give this a try…either tonight or Saturday. I haven’t decided if I’m feeling pork or chicken yet. :) All kidding aside , it looks delish!

  13. September 9, 2010 12:18 pm

    Seriously, this sounds uber rich, but uber good! Matt will love this, especially since he doesn not like my go to mac and cheese. Now, I’m so curious and need to see your go to mac and cheese.

  14. September 9, 2010 3:03 pm

    You had me with mac & cheese. BUT, bacon too! Wow, this is a must try! Delicious!

  15. ezsrecipes permalink
    September 9, 2010 5:21 pm

    I love your new header photo with all the pumpkins! So pretty! I love fall, and pumpkins! And this mac and cheese recipe looks delicious!

  16. September 10, 2010 12:39 am

    Mmm ranch is a great idea for a fun spin on a classic. Love this!

  17. September 10, 2010 6:59 pm

    now this sounds totally amazing!! I bet my girls would love this!

  18. September 12, 2010 1:09 am

    The kids love every ingredient in this dish…winner for our family. Thanks!

  19. August 14, 2011 10:39 pm

    Mmmm. Chicken, bacon and ranch, oh my! This looks amazing! My kids are firmly in the camp of ‘food shall not touch’ so casseroles aren’t a favourite of theirs but I think the bacon and ranch may cause them to rethink that. ;)

    FYI: Found your blog on pinterest. Can’t wait to check out more of your recipes. :)

  20. oneordinaryday permalink
    August 15, 2011 7:02 am

    Laurie – My son is a lot like that too, and I admit I was as a kid! But when it comes to mac and cheese, for some reason it doesn’t seem to count. I rarely make it without something cooked inside! (Admittedly, it’s usually hot dogs, but even veggies make an appearance now and then!)
    So glad you found my blog. Hope to hear from you more!

  21. October 19, 2011 4:58 pm

    I have a question :) How much of the Italian blend cheese is needed? There is a few different size packages out there. Any help you can give would be appreciated!

  22. one ordinary day permalink
    October 19, 2011 5:03 pm

    Stephanie – I generally buy the bag that has about 2 cups of cheese in it, though you can make this as cheesy as you like. : ) And as for the salted butter, you may just want to cut back a bit on salting the dish if you’re using salted butter. No biggie. Hope you like it!
    ~ Michelle

  23. michelle permalink
    October 30, 2011 3:58 pm

    found you on pinterest this sounds wonderful going to add it to my meal planner this week. But where does the ranch come in? did i miss something?

  24. one ordinary day permalink
    October 30, 2011 4:05 pm

    Michelle- I’ve gotten hooked on pinterest too – so many great ideas!! And no, you didn’t miss anything. I was a little confused about the name of this recipe at first too, but once you combine everything, the ranch flavor is there. And it’s good too! Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope to hear from you again.
    ~ Michelle

  25. michelle permalink
    October 31, 2011 5:39 pm

    awesome thanks for the reply we are making this before we go out trick or treating tonight


  26. michelle permalink
    October 31, 2011 7:37 pm

    Okay i made this for dinner and its awesome we all loved it.

  27. one ordinary day permalink
    November 1, 2011 7:14 am

    Michelle – Woohoo! So glad you liked it!!!! : )
    ~ Michelle

  28. michelle w. permalink
    November 2, 2011 12:03 pm

    When u say to add butter to pot u boiled pasta in…do u also leave the pasta in pot while boiling other ingredients.

  29. one ordinary day permalink
    November 2, 2011 5:34 pm

    Michelle – You’ll have already drained your pasta and set it aside before you add the butter to the pot. I just used the same pot to save on dirty dishes later. : ) Hope you like the mac and cheese!
    ~ Michelle

  30. Stacey B. permalink
    January 21, 2012 4:04 pm

    Is there Ranch dressing in this recipe….did I miss it?

  31. one ordinary day permalink
    January 21, 2012 6:01 pm

    Stacey – Nope, you didn’t miss any ranch dressing. :) There isn’t any actual dressing in the recipe, but it really does taste like ranch when you’re done. Trust me! Hope you try it and love it.
    ~ Michelle

  32. February 10, 2012 6:00 pm

    Oops! I shared this photo on Pinterest. Someone else posted it and I repinned. Hope you don’t mind! I came back to get the recipe!

  33. one ordinary day permalink
    February 10, 2012 7:39 pm

    Tristinedenise – No worries about pinning my photo! That isn’t what I meant by asking folks to check with me first. I’ve had some odd experiences with people using my photos to sell recipes on etsy or posting them on their own blogs as their own pics/recipes. I love pinterest and get a little giddy when I see something from my blog on someone’s board. :) Hope you like the mac & cheese!!
    ~ Michelle

  34. HAVEN CRUISE permalink
    February 13, 2012 10:45 am


  35. Eileen permalink
    July 17, 2012 4:20 pm

    I am guessing you add the pasta in the sauce when you add the chicken and spices? The recipe really does not say what to do with it after you set it aside.

  36. oneordinaryday permalink
    July 19, 2012 7:49 am

    Eileen – You’re correct and thanks for noticing my omission. I’ve updated the recipe and fixed it. Hope you enjoy this version of mac and cheese!
    ~ Michelle

  37. Christopher permalink
    April 17, 2016 7:35 pm

    I just made this I used 3 chicken breast. I also added Hidden Valley packets instead of trying to make my own. I must say I loved it and so did the kids. It’s a little rich but it’s very good.


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