Buffalo Chicken Pasta

$8.13 recipe / $2.03 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.92 from 12 votes
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One thing I’ve learned over the years is that most dips can also double as an amazing pasta sauce, and this Buffalo Chicken Pasta is a great example. I took all of the creamy, tangy, spicy goodness of buffalo chicken dip and made it into a deliciously cheesy one-pot pasta. So gather around all of my spicy food friends, you’re going to want to make this easy, creamy, and addictive Buffalo Chicken Pasta ASAP!

Close up overhead view of a bowl full of buffalo chicken pasta with a fork.

Ingredients for Buffalo Chicken Pasta

This cheesy buffalo chicken pasta starts with all of the same ingredients as buffalo chicken dip, then we add a few more to make it a little saucier and give the dish just a touch more flavor and texture. Here’s what you’ll need to make buffalo chicken pasta:

  • Chicken Breast: We use one boneless, skinless chicken breast for this recipe and stretch it across four servings to keep things budget-friendly. You can use diced boneless, skinless chicken thighs for an even less expensive option. Or, you can add leftover chopped or shredded cooked rotisserie chicken to the pasta at the end. If using pre-cooked rotisserie chicken, just add the remaining spices to the sauce.
  • Seasoning: We seasoned the chicken breast with garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and salt for extra flavor.
  • Butter: Butter balances the heat and acidity of the hot sauce and helps give this dish that classic buffalo sauce flavor.
  • Chicken Broth: In true one-pot pasta style, the pasta is cooked in chicken broth for maximum flavor.
  • Pasta: We used a classic penne pasta for this dish, but you could also use bowtie, rotini, or any short pasta shape.
  • Cheese: A combination of cream cheese and Monterey jack cheese keeps the sauce extra creamy and smooth without the need for a flour and butter roux.
  • Hot Sauce: Franks Red Hot Sauce is the classic sauce used for any “Buffalo” flavored dish, but any vinegar-based cayenne hot sauce will also be delicious.
  • Worcestershire sauce: Worcestershire adds just the right of umami and sweetness to the buffalo sauce, preventing it from having a flat flavor.
  • Petite Diced Tomatoes: To give this pasta more texture and flavor, we added a can of petite diced tomatoes.
  • Green Onion: We topped this pasta with sliced green onion for a little dose of savory freshness at the end.

What Else Can I Add?

If you have a little extra wiggle room in your budget, you can add even more goodies to this buffalo chicken pasta to make it ✨extra✨. Try topping the pasta with crumbled blue cheese, or stirring in some bacon crumbles. If you love a crunchy topping, try crushing some butter crackers or tortilla chips and sprinkling them on top of the pasta just before serving. And while it is totally unconventional, I think some small broccoli florets would be awesome in this, kind of like broccoli mac and cheese!

What to Serve with Buffalo Chicken Pasta

This buffalo chicken pasta is pretty rich, so you’re going to want something light and refreshing to serve on the side. You can opt for a super Simple Side Salad, a classic Caesar Salad, or maybe a simple Cucumber Tomato Salad. Or just go with the theme and serve up some carrot and celery sticks with blue cheese dressing for dipping!

Tips for Making One Pot Pasta

One-pot pasta can be tricky for some because the pasta is cooked in a much smaller amount of liquid than traditional pasta cooking methods. Here are a few tips to make sure your one-pot pasta cooks evenly and to the right texture:

  • Use heavy, thick-bottomed cookware to help the ingredients heat evenly.
  • Use a burner that is close in diameter to the bottom of your pot to ensure even heating.
  • The broth does not need to fully cover the pasta for it to cook, so resist the urge to add more water or broth in the beginning. Steam will help the pasta above the water line to cook, and the pasta will be stirred to ensure it all has contact with the liquid.
  • Make sure the liquid is simmering the whole time the pasta is cooking. If the heat is too low, or the liquid is only simmering in the center of the pot, the pasta will cook unevenly and get gummy.
  • Stir the pot occasionally to prevent sticking and help everything cook evenly.
  • Use your judgment. If the pasta looks close to being cooked through, but there is too much liquid left in the skillet, let it finish simmering with the lid off. If the liquid is gone but your pasta is still not tender, add a splash of more water or broth and continue to simmer until tender.
Overhead view of a pan full of buffalo chicken pasta with a striped napkin on the side.
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Buffalo Chicken Pasta

4.92 from 12 votes
This Buffalo Chicken Pasta recipe is the perfect combination of creamy, tangy, and spicy flavors. It's a must-try for spicy food lovers.
Overhead view of a bowl full of buffalo chicken pasta.
Servings 4
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 25 minutes
Total 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about ⅔ lb.) ($3.33)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder ($0.05)
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder ($0.05)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper ($0.05)
  • 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil ($0.04)
  • 2 Tbsp butter ($0.26)
  • 8 oz. penne pasta ($0.67)
  • 1 15oz. can petite diced tomatoes ($1.00)
  • 1.5 cups chicken broth ($0.28)
  • 4 oz. cream cheese ($1.10)
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce ($0.52)
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce ($0.02)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese ($0.58)
  • 2 green onions, sliced (optional) ($0.16)

Instructions 

  • Cut the chicken into ½-¾ inch pieces. Combine the garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and salt, then sprinkle it over the chicken pieces. Toss the chicken in the spices until everything is well coated.
  • Heat the cooking oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Once hot, add the chicken and allow tge chicken to brown on all sides. The chicken does not need to be cooked through at this point.
  • Add the uncooked pasta, canned diced tomatoes (with the liquid), and the chicken broth to the skillet with the chicken. Stir to dissolve all of the browned bits off the bottom of the skillet.
  • Place a lid on the pot and allow the broth to come up to a strong simmer. The broth will not fully cover the pasta, but that is okay. Once the broth is simmering, briefly stir the pasta, replace the lid, then turn the heat down to medium-low.
  • Allow the pasta to simmer in the broth for 10-12 minutes or until the pasta is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, stirring once or twice throughout, and always replacing the lid after stirring.
  • Once the pasta is tender and only a small amount of thickened liquid remains in the skillet, cut the cream cheese into chunks and add it to the past along with the butter, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir and cook over medium-low heat until the cream cheese has fully melted into the pasta.
  • Add the shredded Monterey jack cheese and stir until melted into the sauce. Top with sliced green onions, then serve hot.

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Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cupsCalories: 545kcalCarbohydrates: 46gProtein: 30gFat: 26gSodium: 1193mgFiber: 2g
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How to Make Buffalo Chicken Pasta – Step by Step Photos

diced chicken breast with seasoning being sprinkled on top.

Dice one boneless, skinless chicken breast (about ⅔ lb.) into small ½-¾ inch pieces. Combine ½ tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder, ½ tsp cayenne pepper, and ¼ tsp salt, then sprinkle it over the chicken. Toss the chicken until it is evenly coated in spices.

Browned chicken pieces in a skillet.

Heat 1 Tbsp of cooking oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high until very hot. Once hot, add the chicken and allow it to brown on all sides. The chicken does not need to cook through here, just let it brown on the outside.

Tomatoes, pasta, and broth added to the skillet.

Add 8 oz of uncooked pasta, one 15oz. can of petite diced tomatoes (with the liquid), and 1.5 cups of chicken broth to the skillet with the chicken.

Uncooked pasta in the skillet with the chicken and tomatoes.

Stir everything well, making sure to dissolve all the browned bits off the bottom of the skillet. The broth will not fully cover the pasta, but that’s okay. Do not add extra liquid at this point.

Cooked pasta in the skillet, a spatula pulling the pasta to the side to show the thickened sauce.

Place a lid on the pot and allow the broth to come up to a strong simmer. Once simmering, give the pasta a quick stir to loosen it from the bottom, replace the lid, then turn the heat down to medium-low. Let the pasta simmer over medium-low for 10-12 minutes, or until the pasta is tender and only a small amount of saucy liquid remains.

Cream cheese, hot sauce, butter, and Worcestershire added to the skillet.

Once the pasta is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, it’s time to make the buffalo sauce. Add 4oz. of cream cheese (cut into chunks), 2 Tbsp butter, ¼ cup hot sauce, and ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce. Continue to stir and cook over medium-low until the cream cheese is fully melted into the sauce.

Shredded cheese added to the skillet.

Add ½ cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese to the skillet and stir until it has melted into the sauce.

buffalo chicken pasta topped with sliced green onions.

Top the buffalo chicken pasta with sliced green onions and serve hot!

Overhead view of a bowl full of buffalo chicken pasta.
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  1. This is a great base recipe! I had some bell peppers and most of an onion to use up, a bag of spinach, a partial pack of bacon, and a little less than 2lbs chicken thighs for a double recipe. Baked the bacon on a cookie sheet, drained most of the fat, then tossed diced onion and bell pepper on the sheet to roast for about 12 mins at 400. Pulled those off, put chicken thighs whole on sheet and baked 12 mins flipping halfway through. Shredded when cooled, chopped the bacon when done. Tossed it all in 8 qt pot and followed recipe as follows. After simmering I added in the spinach, and triple amts of cream cheese, hot sauce, and shredded cheese. It’s a saucy delight, just now with more veggies.

  2. I love pasta and I love Buffalo chicken dip, so this recipe looked like a match made in heaven. I made it for the first time today with a couple of substitutions, I only had elbow macaroni and cheddar cheese, but the flavors were still on point! I will be making this again soon.

  3. Phenomenal. I dislike bleu cheese and was so happy to see a Buffalo chicken recipe that didn’t call for it, but also had heat without destroying my palate. The flavors and texture are spot on, and this was so easy!

  4. Easy and delicious! Great buffalo flavor without being overpowering. Will definitely be making again!

  5. I had no idea what to make for dinner and wanted to make something without having to go to the store. I had everything for this on hand, so I gave it a try. It was really good. I used canned chicken, because that’s what I had. I got distracted by my kids being wild and forgot to add the cheese. I also omitted the cayenne because of the kids. Even with the changes, it was still good. I served it with carrot sticks and homemade ranch. My 5 year old gobbled it down. My picky 8 year old didn’t really like it, but he ate it, which is a win for us. I will definitely make it again.

  6. If you’re gonna make anything from budget bytes, MAKE THIS. This was so easy to make and it’s TASTY. I mean, this might be my new go to buffalo chicken recipe! 😋
    Side note: I made a homemade ranch dressing to drizzle on top and it was amazinggg

  7. This was such a perfectly-timed post, thank you!! The day it went up was a “what can I make with what’s in the house” dinner, and and this was perfect. Out of cream cheese, but one of my accumulated partial bags of shredded cheese had “a touch of cream cheese” haha – wasn’t quite as creamy as the recipe as written, but worked out. My boys LOVED it! 9yo isn’t a fan of spicy, but cutting the Frank’s just a little short (and putting optional sour cream on the table) worked fine for him. Budget Bytes recipes always end up being several meals here each week and always a hit, thanks for being consistently helpful all these years. :)

  8. This is a bowl-licker. (Said she, licking the bowl.)

    I forgot to buy cream cheese!!! So I threw in what I had in the freezer, which was goat cheese crumbles and bleu cheese crumbles. A Winner.

    This produces PLENTY of delicious sauce that you will not want to let go to waste. I upped the veggies with a couple of bell peppers and some frozen broccoli and there was more than enough saucy goodness to cover every bite.

  9. Great recipe! Very comforting and rich for a cozy night in, although personally I would have skipped the butter and used a little less cream cheese. Otherwise, with some added mushrooms and spinach, delicious!

  10. This was so good! I made it as written except did half Texas Pete and half Frank’s Hot sauce. This site and its recipes never disappoint! Thank you for this recipe. A lot of our family likes spicy foods, so I plan to make this for our next gathering! And I already had everything I needed to prepare it.

  11. Due to being elderly and one of us diabetic, we don’t eat much pasta. But Oh My Gosh, Was this ever good! I fixed it for a late dinner with our 18 yr old grandson and served with a green salad. I also had more grated cheese at the table. No leftovers at all!

    I used Texas Pete–made here in NC–which isn’t quite as hot as some other hot sauce options. I would have used Frank’s, had there been any in my fridge. If anyone thinks the spice is too much, I’d suggest cutting back on the cayenne and using the full amount of hot sauce. I found the recipe a bit mild, DH thought it was just right, and DGS added more hot sauce.

    1. Fellow North Carolinian here. I’ll try Texas Pete too ;). It sounds good. Plan to make it this weekend.