This post is sponsored by Hidden Valley Ranch but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.
If you know me, then you know I’m all about easy recipes. I’m a huge fan of using our slow cooker, but I’m also a huge fan of macaroni and cheese when it comes to easy dinners. You can add so much to mac and cheese to turn it into a full meal! Chicken Mac and Cheese is a perfect example of this!
With help from shredded chicken and our Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning Shaker, in about 15 minutes macaroni and cheese turns into an easy dinner that the family loves!
CHICKEN MAC AND CHEESE
There are two things that make this chicken mac and cheese so easy to make. They’re secret weapons in my busy mom menu planning game. Shredded chicken and shredded cheese. When I have time, I love to shred my own cheese. Honestly, it only takes a few minutes and it melts so well in macaroni and cheese. So if you have two minutes to spare, consider shredding your own cheese!
But the shredded chicken is a must-have timesaver that is key to this recipe. If you’re a busy parent, I highly recommend making a big batch of our Crockpot Shredded Chicken that you can use in some of our simple recipes like this one.
These are staples in our busy family life, but there’s another staple that has found itself a home in our pantry. If you have kids, then you’re probably pretty familiar with ranch dressing. You can dip pretty much anything in ranch. As I’ve grown up, I’ve discovered the magic of Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning. It’s perfect for cooking and making homemade dips. But it’s also perfect for sprinkling on things like popcorn and french fries! (If you liked baked beans, you should try Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning on your next batch!)
Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning Shaker makes it easy to add that ranch flavor we like to our snacks and our meals. I love that the new shaker can easily be stored in the pantry for whenever I need it. We don’t have to wait until I buy a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning at the store to enjoy it!
The ingredient list for this recipe is pretty simple. You can use basic elbow macaroni or opt for a shape that is a bit more fun. I recommend pasta that does have a shape as it seems to keep it’s texture best when you start adding all the cheese! This time I used Celletani (because I couldn’t find my favorite Cavatappi) and I loved how well it worked!
- 3 cups dry Elbow macaroni (or Cavatappi or Celletani for more fun!)
- 12 oz. can of evaporated milk
- 12 oz of shredded cheddar cheese
- Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning Shaker (3 oz of seasoning)
- 2 cups shredded chicken
- salt, as desired
HOW TO MAKE MACARONI AND CHEESE WITH CHICKEN
Put the pasta in a large saucepan and add cold water. You want to add just enough water to cover the pasta.
Add a pinch of salt and stir. Then bring to a boil over high heat.
Stir frequently and cook until the water is almost gone and the pasta is just about al dente.
Add the can of evaporated milk and bring the pasta back to a boil.
Add shredded cheddar cheese, shredded chicken, and 3 ounces of seasoning from the Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning Shaker.
Reduce heat to low and stir continuously until well mixed and the cheese has all melted.
Serve warm and enjoy!
Chicken Mac and Cheese with Ranch
- 3 cups dry Elbow macaroni ((or Cavatappi or Celletani))
- 12 oz. can of evaporated milk
- 12 oz shredded cheddar cheese
- 3 oz Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning Shaker
- 2 cups shredded chicken
- salt (as desired)
- Put the pasta in a large saucepan and add cold water. You want to add just enough water to cover the pasta.
- Add a pinch of salt and stir. Then bring to a boil over high heat.
- Stir frequently and cook until the water is almost gone and the pasta is just about al dente.
- Add the can of evaporated milk and bring the pasta back to a boil.
- Add shredded cheddar cheese, shredded chicken, and 3 ounces of seasoning from the Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning Shaker.
- Reduce heat to low and stir continuously until well mixed and the cheese has all melted.
- Serve warm and enjoy!
Now you can make this chicken macaroni and cheese without using a Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning Shaker, but if you want to pack in some great flavor and add more “YUM” to dinner, it’s a must! Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning is packed with a tasty blend of herbs and spices that adds zesty flavor to anything you make!
RANCH CHICKEN MAC AND CHEESE TIPS & TRICKS
When I’m all about a speedy dinner, I depend on rotisserie chicken and store-bought shredded cheese. But I have a few tips to make this dinner even tastier and to show you how versatile it is!
- Grate your own cheese. I like to buy a block of medium cheddar and grate it at home for the creamiest macaroni we can make!
- Trust the water. It may not seem like enough water but it is! And if you stir your pasta in the first minute or two, it shouldn’t stick together! If your macaroni reaches al dente and you still have a good amount of water in the pot, feel free to drain it before adding the evaporated milk.
- Substitute your favorite protein. We love this with chicken but you could use diced ham, summer sausage, browned ground beef, or even hot dogs! You can use whatever protein you have on hand. The Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning Shaker makes everything taste great! I actually love it on steak though I haven’t put steak in our mac and cheese… yet.
- Add in some veggies. I love that this recipe is so simple to make that you can easily tweak it for your family. Feel free to add some vegetables into the mix. Broccoli is always a good pairing but so are peas!
CHICKEN MAC AND CHEESE FAQ
WHAT KINDS OF CHICKEN CAN I USE?
For the convenience factor, I highly recommend making this recipe when you have leftover shredded chicken. But my other go to is rotisserie chicken! We get one chicken and use part of the meat for mac and cheese and the other for a recipe the next night.
You can also use canned chicken or cook up some chicken breasts and shred them, but it will lengthen your prep time. Frozen or refrigerated grilled chicken strips also work well. For quick and easy, go with leftover chicken or rotisserie!
CAN I MAKE MAC AND CHEESE WITH CHICKEN AND BROCCOLI?
Absolutely! You can add pretty much anything you want to this chicken mac and cheese recipe! Broccoli is a perfect addition to the chicken and the creamy cheese sauce. You can also use a mix of different cheeses to change it up. Or even swap out the chicken for bacon, ham, or sausage! My kids have even asked me to add cut up hot dogs!
DOES THIS RECIPE WORK FOR BUFFALO CHICKEN MAC AND CHEESE?
It works well for buffalo chicken. I’ve actually made buffalo ranch chicken macaroni and cheese before and it was delicious. All you would do is add your buffalo sauce when you add in your cheese, chicken, and Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning!
COMMENT AND TELL US HOW YOU’D ADD RANCH FLAVOR TO YOUR FAMILY’S DINNER!
Next time you’re at the store, looking for the new Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning Shaker and pick up one for your family! You can also learn more about the Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning Shaker and find recipes here!