This buffalo chicken pasta is crispy chicken pieces tossed with penne pasta in a spicy and creamy cheese sauce, then baked to golden brown perfection. This unique baked pasta dish is great for serving a large crowd!

You can never go wrong with cheesy pasta, my kids request it every week! I often make pizza pasta, taco pasta and this delicious buffalo chicken version.

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A spoon serving up a portion of buffalo chicken pasta.

Buffalo chicken pasta marries the classic flavor of buffalo chicken with a cheesy pasta that bakes up golden and bubbly. This easy to make recipe will satisfy the whole family. If you love this recipe, you’ll also love my super simple crock pot buffalo chicken!

How do you make buffalo chicken pasta?

This dish starts with frozen chicken fingers, which are baked until crispy, then chopped into bite sized pieces. The pasta simmers in a thickened mixture of milk and water, then seasonings, cheese, buffalo sauce, and the chicken fingers are added into the mix. The next step is to transfer the pasta to a baking dish and add a layer of cheese on top. Bake the pasta until the cheese is melted. Garnish your dish with more chopped chicken fingers, buffalo sauce, diced celery and green onions, then serve!

Penne pasta with seasonings in a pan of milk.

Tips for buffalo chicken pasta

  • You should freshly grated cheese for this recipe. The pre-shredded cheeses are often coated in preservatives and anti-caking agents and just don’t melt as smoothly.
  • Whole milk works well to make the sauce smooth and creamy. If you don’t have any whole milk, you can also use low fat milk. I wouldn’t use non-fat milk for this recipe.
  • I like to use Frank’s Red Hot sauce for this dish as its flavor and heat work well with the pasta.
  • This recipe makes a baked pasta with a medium heat level. If you want a spicier dish, use more buffalo sauce, 1/2 cup would nicely increase the heat.

Cooked pasta topped with three cheeses and buffalo sauce.

Buffalo chicken pasta variations

This buffalo pasta is creamy and delicious. However, you can try some fun changes to the recipe to suit your tastes.

  • Seafood: For a taste of the sea, use popcorn shrimp instead of chicken fingers.
  • Cheese: Try adding in some different types of cheese like Fontina, Mozzarella or Gouda. Always use a cheese that melts well.
  • Pasta: Most short pasta shapes work for this recipe, such as small shells, fusilli, or cellentani.
  • Toppings: Finish off your pasta with a sprinkle of blue cheese, bacon or diced tomatoes.

Chopped chicken tenders on top of cheesy pasta.

Can you make baked pasta ahead of time?

You can make baked pasta ahead of time. This dish stays fresh for 3 days in the refrigerator. Simply reheat the pasta in the oven when you are ready to serve it. Cover the pasta and place it in the oven at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Uncover the pasta and place it back in the oven for another 10 minutes. The cheese should be bubbly when it is ready.

Buffalo chicken pasta topped with melted cheese, chicken and celery.

This buffalo pasta is a fun twist on classic buffalo wings that is perfect for dinner with family or friends. It combines a hearty pasta with the spice and flavor of buffalo sauce and it’s sure to be a hit!

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5 from 8 votes

Buffalo Chicken Pasta

AuthorSara Welch
A spoon serving up a portion of buffalo chicken pasta.
This buffalo chicken pasta is crispy chicken pieces tossed with penne pasta in a spicy and creamy cheese sauce, then baked to golden brown perfection. A unique baked pasta dish that's great for serving a large crowd!
Time
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time50 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine American
Serves 8

Ingredients 

  • 12 ounces frozen breaded chicken tenders
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 4 cups milk
  • 16 ounces short pasta such as penne
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ranch powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese divided use
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 ounces cream cheese cut into cubes
  • 1/3 cup buffalo wing sauce plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green onions
  • cooking spray

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 3 quart baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Bake the chicken fingers according to package directions. Coarsely chop the chicken. Reserve 1/2 cup of chicken pieces for garnish.
  • Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the flour, then whisk until combined.
  • Pour in the water and whisk until smooth and just thickened. 
  • Add the milk and whisk until combined. 
  • Stir in the pasta, salt, ranch powder and smoked paprika, then bring the mixture to a simmer.
  • Cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente.
  • Turn the heat to low, then stir in the 3 cups of cheddar cheese, the mozzarella and cream cheeses, and 1/3 cup of buffalo sauce. Keep stirring until the sauce is smooth.  If you need to thin the sauce, add more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
  • Stir in the diced chicken.
  • Pour the pasta mixture into the baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining cup of cheddar cheese over the top.
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and browned.
  • Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of buffalo sauce over the pasta. Add the reserved chopped chicken, celery and green onions on top, then serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 508kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 103mg | Sodium: 780mg | Potassium: 376mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 995IU | Calcium: 497mg | Iron: 1.7mg

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  1. 5 stars
    Oh my goodness does this pasta dish look and sound AMAZING! I want to dive right in. I’m completely jealous that I am not eating this right now!

  2. This recipe looks so cheesy and super delicious! My partner is going to love this recipe, thanks for sharing it!

  3. 5 stars
    This is a meal with my fiance’s name written all over it. He saw me looking at this recipe and asked if we could make it tonight!