So… we can all agree that anything buffalo-flavored is amazing, right? And that buffalo + mac and cheese is just extra amazing?
Since having to go gluten and dairy free nine years ago, mac and cheese wasn’t a food I thought I would (or could) have much of again. At the time, cheese substitutes were all gummy and weird-tasting, with ingredients I could’t pronounce. It’s truly amazing to me how far things have come. Now oat milk, almond milk, soy milk, and coconut milk are all at mainstream coffee shops, there are dozens of great-tasting dairy-free cheeses and gluten-free breads you can find, and many restaurants who do entirely gluten-free/vegan cooking. It’s opened up a whole new world for people with food allergies.
And now, meals like this buffalo chicken mac and cheese (that you would have NO idea is dairy-free!) is possible 🙌🏻 Whether you’re allergic to dairy, trying to eat less of it, or are just health-conscious, I think you’re going to LOVE this dish. It’s:
- High in protein
- Made with an amazing, creamy cashew cheese that’s packed with secret veggies
- Super filling
- Dairy-free, with the option to make gluten-free, as well
And since it has carbs + protein + healthy fats + veggies, it’s a complete meal… you don’t have to worry about serving any sides. If you’re looking to jazz it up, I recommend topping with either green onion, a drizzle of ranch (I love Primal Kitchen‘s and Tessamae‘s), and/or whole grain breadcrumbs. One recipe makes a huge tray… great for feeding a crowd, or just stocking the fridge with leftovers.
I mean, come on… how good does this look?Print
Healthy Buffalo Chicken Mac & ‘Cheese’
This healthy buffalo chicken mac and cheese is dairy-free (with the option to make it gluten-free, as well) – but nobody would know! It’s high in protein, packed with sneaky veggies, and full of flavor. I highly recommend making a big tray and enjoying leftovers for days to come!
- Prep Time: 30
- Cook Time: 45
- Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Cuisine: Healthy
- 1 pound pasta of choice (I like using either penne or shells – but traditional macaroni works great here, too! Jovial’s brown rice noodles are my favorite gluten-free pasta.)
- 1 cup medium to hot buffalo sauce
- 1 pound chicken breast, or 1 pound pre-cooked and shredded chicken breast (rotisserie chicken is perfect for this!)
- 2 cups chopped Yukon gold potatoes
- 1 cup peeled and chopped carrots
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (make sure to use plain, not vanilla, as this will change the flavor)
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 small lemon’s worth)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- Black pepper, to taste
- If you’re not using pre-cooked shredded chicken, step one is poaching your chicken breast. In a large pot, arrange your chicken breast in a single layer, overlapping as little as possible. Sprinkle salt and pepper (to taste) over the breasts. Cover the chicken with about 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook anywhere from 8-14 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken breast. Once cooked through, remove chicken, place on a plate, and shred with two forks. Set shredded chicken aside for later.
- Next, start to prepare your cheese sauce by either boiling or steaming your potatoes and carrots. Steaming your veggies in the microwave is a great ‘hack’ if you’re short on time or don’t want to dirty a lot of dishes! We want to make sure our veggies are cooked through and tender.
- Add steamed or boiled veggies and the rest of the cheese sauce ingredients to a high-speed blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Set cheese sauce aside.
- Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375º F, and bring a pot of salted water to boil on your stove. Cook your pasta of choice to al dente, according to package directions. If in doubt, always err on the side of less time, as the pasta will continue to cook in the oven later. Once pasta is cooked, drain and set aside.
- Grease a large casserole dish with olive oil. Add pasta and shredded chicken, and pour cheese sauce over top. Stir together until all noodles are well-coated. Stir in buffalo sauce until it’s well-immersed in the cheese sauce.
- Place casserole dish in the oven for 20-25 minutes. If you want a nice crispy top, you can broil for a minute or two at the end.
- Serve warm, and enjoy! And hide your leftovers… they’re just that good!
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