Bacon, Ranch, and Chicken Mac and Cheese


I hope that this is the first of many Mac-n-Cheese recipes on this blog.  I have certainly made my share over the years.  I am always looking for new unique Mac-n-Cheese recipes though – ones that are not just noodles and cheddar cheese.  I remember about a year ago I made a recipe for 4 kids that had 4 different types of cheese and bacon – and one of the kids (not one of mine) told me that it was the best Mac-n-Cheese he had ever had.  Now, I guess I can’t take that as a complete compliment, since my competition was probably just Annie’s – but still, it felt good. 

I saw this recipe in Cooking Light – and because I am not a fan of ranch dressing, it didn’t hit me as something I really longed to make.  My older daughter though likes to read over my shoulder – and there was another recipe right next to it that I was enthralled in…so she asked me when I was going to make the Mac-n-Cheese.  I had her look at the ingredients – and even though she is also not a huge ranch dressing fan, she wanted to try it.  I really think the bacon was clouding her judgement.  I can’t say this was my favorite recipe – but if you are looking for a different kind of Mac-n-Cheese – and you DO love ranch dressing – this is the ideal recipe for you.


  • 8  ounces  uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1  slice applewood-smoked bacon
  • 8  ounces  skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1  tablespoon  butter
  • 1  tablespoon  all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2  cups  fat-free milk
  • 1/3  cup  condensed 45% reduced-sodium 98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) shredded six-cheese Italian blend (such as Sargento)
  • 1/2  teaspoon  onion powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon  garlic powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon  chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) shredded colby-Jack cheese


Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings in pan. Finely chop bacon; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high. Add chicken to drippings in pan; sauté 6 minutes or until done.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat; sprinkle flour evenly into pan. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Combine milk and soup, stirring with a whisk; gradually add milk mixture to saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat; let stand 4 minutes or until sauce cools to 155°. Add Italian cheese blend, onion powder, garlic powder, dill, and salt, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in pasta and chicken.

Preheat broiler.

Spoon mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with reserved bacon and colby-Jack cheese. Broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, click here:  Bacon, Ranch, and Chicken Mac and Cheese

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150 thoughts on “Bacon, Ranch, and Chicken Mac and Cheese

    1. I thought it will be all cooked in a slow cooker but instead you make most of it on the stove then finish in slow cooker,don’t really like that .ty anyway.

      1. It is not a slow cooker recipe, although you could probably turn it into one. I made it on the stove and finished it in the oven…and it was awesome.

      2. I just used my cast-iron skillet to make the whole thing, you can use any oven-safe skillet, and it will save you a lot of extra washing up!

      3. I thought it was going to be a crock pot recipe too…it was described as “heaven in a crock pot” on Pinterest. No matter…it looks delish!

  1. I’m like your daughter in that I’m not too big on ranch dressing, but I would love to try this! The idea of unique mac ‘n cheese recipes is so great, I’m looking forward to seeing more of yours =).

    ~Kurious Kitteh

  2. I had a quick question that I was hoping you could help me answer.

    I actually have never used my oven for broiling, and I am a bit unsure as to how to broil.

    For this recipe, could I just use a normal pyrex baking dish? Stick it in the oven, and set my oven to ‘broil’ instead of bake? Any special instructions?


    1. Yes, you can definitely use a pyrex dish, and then set your oven to broil – then stick it in. When you broil, you want to leave your oven opened a crack (that’s what my mother taught me anyway). You should be all set!

      1. I just saw on Americas Test Kitchen that it is not safe to use a Pyrex in the broiler . It my explode sending shards of glass flying!

      2. Broiling in this recipie is done to brown the top of the dish. Your over door should have a spot where it will stay propped opern about 4 inches, that is for use with the broiler.

        You should put your dish on a rack about 6 inches from the top of the over.

        Then WATCH it carefuly, food can burn quickly under the broiler.

      1. WOW…why can’t it just call for Ranch Dressing…or at least the packet of mix…this just complicates issues… geez… :D

      2. Thank you for providing a ranch recipe that doesn’t use premade ranch. Almost all store-bought ranch is loaded with MSG, which wrecks havoc with my nervous system and I certainly don’t want to feed it to my family, either. The ingredients for the substitution are simple staples. I do have to make my own cream soup substitution, though, since it’s also loaded with MSG, but Pinterest has provided those, too! Thanks for the recipe – can’t wait to try it!

      3. Thanks! Yes, there is a very easy way to substitute the cream soup – you really just need to make some chicken broth thicker with a butter and flour mixture (roux) – and you should be all set!

      1. I make a casserole i made up with green beans, diced fried potatoes, cheese, hamburger, and RANCH DRESSING. I mix it all up and throw it in the oven to melt the cheese, so I can personally say Ranch tastes good in the oven even though many would hesitate to do it. I love it!

    1. Ranch dressing mix is a staple in my kitchen. It would surely simplify the ingredients. I think that’s the way I’ll make this and see how it turns out.

    1. Definitely – in fact, that is what I suggest – I can usually find fresh dill this time of year at Whole Foods or Trader Joes, if you have either of those near you.

      1. I was wanting to do this recipe in the crock pot. What do you think I would need to do different in this recipe to switch it to this? Just do it in the crock pot for 3 hrs instead of broiling?

      2. You need to be careful about cooking pasta in a slow cooker to make sure it doesn’t get too soft. I suggest you shave a minute or two off when you cook the pasta, and then finish it off in the crock pot for an hour or so, until the pasta is the right consistency. You will not get the crusty top like when you broil it, but the flavors should come together, and taste delicious.

      3. You need to be careful about cooking pasta in a slow cooker to make sure it doesn’t get too soft. I suggest you shave a minute or two off when you cook the pasta, and then finish it off in the crock pot for an hour or so, until the pasta is the right consistency. You will not get the crusty top like when you broil it, but the flavors should come together, and taste delicious.

  3. I substituted 2 teaspoons of Ranch seasoning instead of the spices. Next time I would use a little more but it was very yummy! Thanks for the recipe.

    1. Someone mentioned that they would like to use one, but I am not sure if they ever tried it. I think it would work if you under cook the pasta slightly, and prepare the dish, then put it into a crock pot to finish cooking and keep warm.

    2. I read the same thing .. it is on the pinterest post under the picture, it ways heaven in a crockpot or something like that.

  4. Is there anything I can use instead of the Cream of Mushroom soup? We have some serious aversions to mushrooms in my house!

      1. So glad I read through the comments! I was going to ask this same question because my husband despises mushrooms and this just looks so good.

  5. This is really good. But I used a ranch packet instead of the seasonings, and I used alot more bacon. Next time I’ll probably add alittle more and stir it in, instead of using it on the top. It was the best part. I can’t wait to make this again. Also, I didn’t broil it (no idea how to do that), I just put it in the oven on 375 for 10-15 minutes to let the cheese melt. My husband devoured it. And my kids loved it too, haha.

  6. I would guess that the reason the recipe uses just the spices and not a packet of ranch mix is to avoid the Maltodextrin, Buttermilk, Salt, Monosodium Glutamate, Lactic Acid, Citric Acid, Calcium Sterate, Artificial Flavor, Xanthan Gum, Carboxymethylcellulose, Guar Gum and Soy that is in a packet of Hidden Valley ranch. It seems like omitting all of the artificial junk definitely lends itself to a healthier recipe.

    I’m looking forward to trying this! (and I agree Dawn, Pinterest is a lot like playing telephone! I’ve learned you have to check out the links before you pin it) =)

    1. Well then doesn’t using a can of condensed soup kind of defeat that purpose? How many artificial ingredients are in that?

    1. Since this is a “healthy” version, you use different ingredients and spices to make a ranch dressing type of sauce, without all the calories and fat of the bottled kind.

  7. How sick are you of answering the SAME questions over and over???? Read the comments people!
    Making it tonight!

    1. Well not everyone has time to read every single comment…I read the first few thinking maybe someone had asked…Don’t be so critical, it’s not your problem!!!!! ;) ;)

  8. Thanks for sharing pinterest brought me here. Made this fOr dinner tonight. Added a little more bacon but that’s all. Sauce does have a ranch taste, I was skeptical. Can’t wait for my family to try!

  9. Ps: on the mobile app the others comments are not here until you post a comment. I see them now. No ranch dressing but you create a ranch flavor. CHECK.

  10. I have this cooking in my crock pot, it looks and smells wonderful, can’t wait to eat it. I mixed all the sauce ingredients together and threw it in the crock pot with the cooked noodles and raw chicken pieces and set it for 8 hours (I’m assuming that’s low for a digital crock pot) I hope this helps anyone who was misled by the pinterest post.

      1. This turned out great in the crock pot. Everything gets done so quickly though that the very lowest setting will probably only take a couple hours.

  11. Made this tonight. I took a shortcut and used a can of chicken breast. After cooking the bacon, I dumped a drained can of chicken in the pan, broke it up with a fork, and sauted it long enough to soak up the bacon flavor. I followed the rest of the recipe. It was good but I thought it was missing something. I will make it again, as it was good and easy.

  12. I made this for dinner. It was tasty. My family would just like to use sharp cheese next time I make it. Thanks for sharing!

  13. I just have to say that this is delicious!!!

    One thing I noticed was that the 2 measurements of cheeses where it states 1/2 cup (2 ounces) and 3/4 cup (3 ounces) don’t equate. This made raise my eyebrow so I increased the amount of elbows to 16 ounces or 2 cups and 16 ounces or a pound of chicken. This proved to be the perfect combo and next time I will do the same thing except increase from 4 slices of thick bacon to 6 slices. Then again I used a slightly bigger pan. Again, absolutely incredible. Thank you!

  14. I made a double batch of this for my family because the kids love ranch. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a ranch flavor (atleast my kids didn’t think so). We thought it was bland. I added Frank’s hot sauce to mine to finish it. Most likely will not be making this again.

  15. This sounds good and I’m going to try, but Dawn . . . give it up girl . . . we want to see your favorite mac n cheese recipe!

  16. I made this tonight in the crock pot and it was a big hit! I have a big family so I doubled the recipe. I decided to post what I did so that it may better help those looking for the crock pot way. I threw cooked bacon (6 pieces of low sodium bacon with no saved drippings for my family), some chicken (I used 3 big chicken breasts), 2 TB butter, 2 TB flour, 3 cups milk, 1 can undiluted cream of chicken soup, a few handfuls of cheese (we love cheese!), 2 teaspoons each of onion powder, garlic powder, dill weed, & salt. I cooked it in the crock pot on high for about 3 hours until chicken is done (then I pulled it out to dice it up before I threw it back in). I added a 16 oz. box of cooked elbow noodles at the end. I will be making this again!

  17. Crockpot ??? Ranch ???? I made this but put in powdered ranch seasoning and used extra cheese and a whole can of soup. Much tastier.

  18. I made this tonight and followed the recipe exactly except I cut back on the dill and just put in a sprinkle because I thought it might be too overpowering. I also used 3 slices of bacon. It was delicious! My children ate it all…no leftovers. They both told me I needed to make it again soon.

  19. Did I miss the ranch dressing somewhere in the list of ingredients or in the prep? I didn’t see where you used it anywhere.

    1. No, read some of the other comments – there is no ranch dressing, just ingredients that when mixed together taste like ranch dressing!

  20. I made this last night with a few changes: I did 4 slices of bacon, and measured my cheese by handfuls. Two handfuls Italian, one handful Colby/Jack. I also used 2 tsp of Ranch Dressing mix instead of 1/2 tsp of all those spices.


  21. Dawn, I have to tell you, I was shocked this tasted as out-of-this-world as it did. Honestly I wasn’t expecting much. I’ve tried a lot of different recipes and it’s hard to find a good one. Yours. is. my. FAVORITE mac and cheese of all time!! Bravo to you! Thank you for sharing it with me. I really do taste the ranch without using a ranch packet. The only thing I didn’t do was use the low fat mushroom soup, just the low sodium version with the regular fat content. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this hands down!

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