This delicious and cheesy buffalo chicken casserole is perfect for an inexpensive and filling family meal! It's good enough to bring to a pot luck too!
Recently I opened my freezer to discover that somehow it had become overstuffed and was nearly impossible to jam anything else in there. It was about time I ventured into the freezer to see if I could free up some space and hopefully create an awesome recipe!
I was happy to find about 4 lbs of chicken breast in there. I thought maybe I'd make a game of this and see if I could find any other ingredients in my cupboards to make a meal from the chicken.
Peering out from my cupboards was buffalo hot sauce and immediately I was inspired to make this cheesy buffalo chicken casserole!
If I'm sounding a little dramatic as I write this that's because it was actually quite epic! I haven't made any casseroles in a long time and the ingredients to put this together seemed to almost magically come together. lol
I mean, it has some pretty darn good flavors in there – bacon, chicken, cheesiness and buffalo sauce! It's so good that I've already put it on my meal plan for the week after next and it makes a great recipe for whole family, pot lucks or the football game. This easy dinner recipe tastes so much like buffalo chicken wings but it's a cheesy pasta so it has a softer, creamier texture than wings do. So it's a cooked pasta with a chicken wings flavor! If I would compare this creamy buffalo chicken casserole to anything it would be like a homemade baked macaroni and cheese but with a lot more “Ooomph!”.
I hope you enjoy this recipe! 🙂
Do you cook casseroles prior to freezing?
Yes, I do cook casseroles prior to freezing. This allows for greater flavor and prevents the need for extra salt or spices when reheating the casserole.
It is possible to freeze casserole raw as well. If you choose to cook your casserole before freezing, then you’ll just need to reheat it when you’re ready to eat.
Can you freeze casseroles?
Yes, buffalo chicken casseroles can be frozen for a quick and easy meal after thawing out. When freezing casseroles, it’s important to use freezer-safe containers and wrap the casserole tightly to prevent freezer burn.
What Ingredients are used to make Buffalo Chicken Casserole?
Bacon and boneless chicken breasts (that are cooked and cubed) make up the main ingredients and they are given an injection of cheesiness when you sprinkle cheddar cheese combined with mozzarella cheese. When cooked, the cheese is melted. The cooked chicken is combined with bacon and is flavored by homemade buffalo sauce or store bought buffalo wing sauce and topped off with a cup of crushed cheese crackers (or plain soda crackers, or vegetable crackers). Supporting ingredients are minced garlic, milk, butter and flour.
Buffalo Chicken Casserole Recipe Variations
- Dry Ranch seasoning mix can be added to the casserole for a buffalo ranch chicken recipe variation and a different dimension of flavor.
- For a spicier casserole, you can add a hot sauce of your choice to the buffalo sauce. You could also add some diced jalapeños to the mix.
- Sprinkle some sliced green onion on top. Garnishing with sliced green onions will balance this rich dish with some freshness.
- You could also add some chopped up vegetables to this dish, such as broccoli, bell peppers, or even mushrooms. Just sauté them in a little bit of olive oil before adding them to the casserole dish.
- Monterey Jack cheese or crumbled bleu cheese can be added to the shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese mix, or used to replace one of the other two cheeses. Remember though, with blue cheese, a little goes a long way as it is an intense flavor.
- If you want a bit more of a crunch in your casserole, you could add some chopped up celery to the dish.
- If you’d like, you could also top the casserole with some chopped green onions before serving.
- Instead of using crackers, you could use chopped up bread cubes or croutons.
- Topping with some crispy bacon will give saltiness and crunch as an additional dimension.
Can I make Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Casserole ahead of time?
This casserole actually tastes even better when made a day or two in advance and can be reheated when you're ready to eat it. When making in advance, assemble everything as directed, but don’t bake it until you’re ready to serve. Just make sure to cover you casserole tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap so that the cheese doesn’t dry out.
How to Store and Reheat Leftover Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Casserole
When it comes to storing your cheesy buffalo chicken casserole, the best thing to do is wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or foil and then place it in the fridge. This will help to keep all of the moisture in and prevent the casserole from drying out.
If you need to reheat your casserole, leftover casserole can be stored in the fridge for up to four days. When you’re ready to eat it, just reheat it in a 350 degree F oven until it’s warmed through. If the cheese has dried out a bit, you can always add a little shredded cheese on top before reheating.
What should I serve with Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Casserole?
This casserole is a complete meal on its own, but if you want to round out the meal, I recommend serving it with a green salad and some crusty bread.
- 3–4 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cubed (season with a little pepper and salt before cooking)
- 1 1/2 lbs cooked pasta (I used pasta shells)
- 12 strips of bacon, cut in pieces
- 2/3 cup of buffalo sauce
- 1 large clove of garlic, minced
- 2 cups milk
- 3 tbsp butter
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 cup crushed crackers (can be any kind you like – cheese crackers would be great but you can also use plain soda crackers or vegetable crackers)
- Assemble your ingredients. Make sure that your chicken breasts have been cooked and cubed (season with salt and pepper and cook in the oven at 425°F for 35-40 minutes)
- Begin cooking your pasta according to the package instructions while you work on the rest of the recipe.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Cook the bacon pieces in a large fry pan until crisp and set aside on paper towel to drain. Drain most of the fat from the pan but leave a small amount in the pan. Toss the chicken in the fry pan on low heat for about 2 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside with the bacon.
- In a medium pot melt the butter. Add the minced garlic and cook for about 1 minute. (Don't let the garlic get brown though or it will be bitter.)
- Add the flour and whisk until combined.
- Pour in the buffalo sauce and combine.
- Pour the milk into the pot and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil lower the heat to Minimum and add the cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted and combined and sauce has thickened. Set aside.
- Once the pasta has been cooked and drained, pour them into a12″-15″ glass casserole dish (or other large casserole dish).
- Combine the sauce, pasta, chicken and bacon in the casserole dish making sure everything is evenly distributed.
- Sprinkle the cracker crumbs over top of the casserole and then sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese.
- Place into the oven uncovered for about 15 minutes until the casserole is heated through and the cheese is melted on top.