Weeknight Cooking

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni & Cheese in a Multi-Cooker

November 30, 2021
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Photo by Rocky Luten. Prop Stylist: Megan Hedgpeth. Food Stylist: Yossy Arefi.
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

Whether you’re gearing up for Sunday Night Football, have a last-minute holiday party, or your family is in the mood for a warm, satisfying meal, this Buffalo macaroni and cheese won’t disappoint. A slightly smoky, spicier twist on classic mac and cheese, this version takes things up a notch with the addition of a generous splash of tangy-hot Buffalo sauce.

However, if you’re not into spicy dishes, there’s no need to fret: The warm, gooey cheese sauce made using a béchamel base and complemented with heavy cream, mozzarella, and sharp cheddar cheese mellows out the heat-packed Buffalo (but feel free to dial back the sauce if you want less heat).

For extra protein and crunchiness, mix in already prepared chicken tender pieces for an even heartier dish. And, best of all, you can simultaneously get crispy chicken tenders while cooking perfectly al dente pasta using the STEAM & CRISP setting of the Ninja® Foodi® XL Pressure Cooker Steam Fryer with SmartLid™. —Maki Yazawa

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe was adapted from a dish by the Ninja Test Kitchen using the Ninja® Foodi® XL Pressure Cooker Steam Fryer with SmartLid™.

Accessories and tools needed: Deluxe Reversible Rack, aluminum foil —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Level 1 (bottom of pot):
  • 1 pound cavatappi pasta
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • Level 2 (top layer of rack):
  • 6 to 8 pieces frozen chicken tenders

  • For the sauce (Level 1):
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk, warmed
  • 1 cup heavy cream, warmed
  • 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (set aside 1 cup for garnish)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (set aside 1 cup for garnish)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup Buffalo hot sauce
  1. Place the cavatappi, water, and salt in the Ninja® Foodi® pot and stir to combine.
  2. Place the bottom layer of the Deluxe Reversible Rack in the higher position and cover with aluminum foil, then place the rack in the pot. Spread the frozen chicken tenders on top of the rack. Close the lid and move the slider to STEAMCRISP.
  3. Select STEAM & CRISP, set temperature to 425°F, and set time to 10 minutes. Press START/STOP to begin cooking. PrE will display for approx. 10 minutes as the unit steams, then the timer will start counting down.
  4. When cooking is complete, remove the rack with the chicken tenders and cut it into bite-size pieces. Drain the pasta and set aside.
  5. Set the pot to SEAR/SAUTE to ‘3’ and add the butter and flour. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  6. Slowly add the warmed milk and cream, whisking constantly. Add the cheddar, mozzarella, salt, and pepper. Once the cheese has melted completely, add the Buffalo sauce, cooked pasta, and chicken tender pieces. Stir to combine.
  7. Add the reserved cheddar and mozzarella cheese over the top. Close the lid and move slider to AIR FRY/STOVETOP. Select BROIL, set temperature to 450, and time to 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden. Press START/STOP to begin broiling.

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