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It’s the best of all worlds! Chicken plus mac and cheese — together in one dish — with absolutely ZERO prep work! Just stir together the raw ingredients and let the oven do the rest. This creamy, dreamy Dump-and-Bake Chicken Mac and Cheese Casserole is a one dish meal that your family will devour!

Close image of Dump and Bake Chicken Mac and Cheese casserole in a white baking dish

Do you ever just throw together a box of mac and cheese and call it dinner? It’s a regular occurrence in our house, and I often feel like I need to add some protein and/or veggies to the plate to make it feel like a “complete” meal. So guess what? That’s exactly what I’ve done here!

Front view of white casserole dish with serving tongs and chicken mac and cheese casserole

How to make Mac and Cheese:

If you love a creamy, homemade baked mac and cheese, then you’re going to love how quickly this dinner comes together! You get the rich, satisfying taste of the mac and cheese that you adore, plus the lean, filling protein from the chicken, all in the ease of a dump-and-bake casserole.

You know that’s my favorite way to cook, and this just happens to be one of my new favorite dishes!

I’m not exaggerating when I say “dump-and-bake,” either. You don’t even have to cook the chicken or boil the pasta before it goes in the pan. 

What to serve with Chicken Mac and Cheese:

Want to add some more veggies to your plate? Try these easy side dishes with your creamy baked macaroni and cheese:

Dump and Bake mac and cheese with chicken in a white serving dish with tongs

COOK’S TIPS AND RECIPE VARIATIONS – EASY BAKED MAC AND CHEESE:

  • Grate your own cheddar by hand. I find that the store-bought packages of pre-shredded cheese don’t melt as smoothly as the blocks that you grate at home.
  • If you don’t have time to refrigerate the pasta in advance, it’s ok! The casserole will still work if you bake it right away. The refrigeration time just allows the pasta to soften a bit before it goes in the oven, so you may need to bake the mac and cheese a bit longer if it hasn’t had a chance to sit first.
  • Substitute diced ham for the chicken! If you want to use ground beef in lieu of the chicken, make sure that you cook the ground beef in a skillet before adding it to your casserole.
  • Prep ahead! This recipe has the added benefit of being a make-ahead option. You can stir it together on Sunday evening and just bake it when you walk in the door on Monday night! Or, prepare it in the morning while your little one’s at preschool, and then pop it in the oven when the stressful 5 o’clock hour strikes. We’ve all been there, right?!

I hope that your family loves this easy one dish meal just as much as we do. It’s an easier upgrade of your toddler’s favorite comfort food!

Other easy macaroni recipes that you might enjoy:

Dump-and-Bake Chicken Mac and Cheese Casserole

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Chilling Time 6 hours
Total: 4 hours 10 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 346.8 kcal
Chicken plus mac and cheese -- together in one dish -- with absolutely ZERO prep work! Just stir together the raw ingredients and let the oven do the rest for this creamy, easy Dump-and-Bake Chicken Mac and Cheese Casserole!

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni pasta
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese grated
  • 2 cans (10.5 ounces each) condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup milk I used 2%
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 lb. uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 cup finely-diced onion I use frozen chopped onion as a shortcut
  • 1 (4 ounce) jar diced pimentos, drained

Instructions

  • Spray a large 9 x 13-inch dish with cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Transfer to prepared baking dish, cover, and refrigerate at least 6 hours (or up to 24 hours). See note below if you don't have time to refrigerate in advance!
  • When you’re ready to bake the casserole: If you have the time, I like to pull the dish out of the refrigerator and allow it to sit on the counter and come to room temperature for about 30-60 minutes before I put it in the oven.
  • Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 1 hour (or until pasta is tender and chicken is cooked through).

Notes

COOK'S TIPS AND RECIPE VARIATIONS:
  • Grate your own cheddar by hand. I find that the store-bought packages of pre-shredded cheese don't melt as smoothly as the blocks that you grate at home.
  • If you don't have time to refrigerate the pasta in advance, it's ok! The casserole will still work if you bake it right away. The refrigeration time just allows the pasta to soften a bit before it goes in the oven, so you may need to bake the mac and cheese a bit longer if it hasn't had a chance to sit first.
  • Substitute diced ham for the chicken! If you want to use ground beef in lieu of the chicken, make sure that you cook the ground beef in a skillet before adding it to your casserole.
  • Prep ahead! This recipe has the added benefit of being a make-ahead option. You can stir it together on Sunday evening and just bake it when you walk in the door on Monday night! Or, prepare it in the morning while your little one's at preschool, and then pop it in the oven when the stressful 5 o'clock hour strikes. We've all been there, right?!
  • Cooking Just for Two? Cut the ingredients in half and prepare a smaller casserole in an 8-inch square pan.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/8 of the recipeCalories: 346.8kcalCarbohydrates: 30.4gProtein: 26.3gFat: 12.8gSaturated Fat: 7.3gCholesterol: 71.8mgSodium: 781.9mgFiber: 1.9gSugar: 3.2g
Keyword: baked mac and cheese, easy macaroni and cheese recipe, mac and cheese
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

  1. This looks like such a warm and cozy dinner, Blair! I bet your boys love this! My husband would too…you can’t go wrong with mac ‘n cheese and I love the chicken in here. Definitely perfect comfort food, especially for the winter!

  2. This sounds like my kind of recipe…quick and easy , and , no doubt , delicious ! I have a family of pasta lovers so you can never have too many variations . I plan on making this…soon…and was wondering if it is necessary to make it ahead or can you make it and pop it in the oven right away ? 🙂

    1. Hey, Cindy! That’s great — I’m so glad that you’re going to try it!

      The recipe should work fine, even if you don’t refrigerate it in advance. That just gives the pasta time to absorb the liquid a bit and get more tender, but it will still be perfect without that prep time! Enjoy!

  3. Thank you for the quick response and feedback . I think l’ll make it in advance…sounds like the best option ! Always enjoy your recipes ! Have a great Christmas ! ????

    1. Awesome! But again — I wouldn’t worry about it if you don’t have a chance to prep it ahead. It will be totally great either way! 🙂

    1. Hi, Diane! Yes, I think it would be a great freezer meal! I would just assemble everything in the dish, as instructed. Cover tightly and freeze for up to 3 months. Then, when you’re ready to bake, thaw the casserole in the refrigerator overnight and proceed with the baking as instructed. Enjoy!

      1. Thanks! Wasnt sure how that would work given the pasta needs to soak a bit. I just found your site and love it. Adding so many recipes to my make-ahead meal plan days. With two working parents and two toddlers, we need this kind of food!

        1. Yep, it should work just fine!

          I’m so glad that you’ve found some good meal options to suit your lifestyle. My recipes are definitely perfect for families like yours! 🙂

    1. Hi, Jamie! Yes, I *think* that it would work well in the slow cooker or casserole crockpot; however, I have not actually tested it myself. As a result, I can’t tell you exactly how long you would need to cook the dish if you go with that method. You’d just have to keep an eye on it or estimate the first time around. 🙂 Let me know if you give it a try!

  4. I have a question. I’m planning to make the smaller serving size. Do I need to adjust any times? Also, could you use Campbell’s Cheddar Cheese soup instead of Cream of Chicken Soup?
    I’m new hear but really enjoying everything I’ve seen thus far..

    1. Hi, Joan! You shouldn’t need to adjust the cooking time too much, but with the smaller dish you might check it about 5 minutes before the timer goes off since it may be done a tiny bit quicker. There shouldn’t be a drastic difference, though.

      As far as the soup goes, YES — the condensed cheddar soup should be fine (or any other “cream of…” flavor as well). Enjoy!

    1. Hi, Susan! That’s totally up to you. I didn’t add any salt or pepper because I find that the dish has enough sodium from the condensed soup, cheese, and chicken broth. You can always add it at the end if you think it needs something more, though! 🙂

  5. Hi there, found this when looking for a way to combine chicken and macaroni and cheese. I LOVE the fact that you don’t even have to cook the chicken. Would you have any advice, however, if the pasta is a wheat pasta? Should it still be soft enough if the dish was prepped and sat in the fridge overnight, or for a certain amount of time, or do you think the pasta would actually have to be cooked first?
    Thanks in advance. I look forward to giving this a try.

    1. Hi, Audrey! You shouldn’t need to cook the pasta first. Sometimes whole wheat pasta requires a little bit longer cooking time than regular white pasta, so the only difference would be that you might need to extend the total baking time. I would start with the suggested time, check it, and then continue baking until the pasta is tender. You don’t want to overcook the pasta or it will be mushy, so keep an eye on it. 🙂

    1. Hi, Sarah! Absolutely! You might need to bake the cavatappi a little bit longer (I’m not sure), so just keep an eye on it when it gets closer to the 1 hour mark. Enjoy!

  6. Hi there! I want to make this using leftover rotisserie chicken. What would I need to adjust if the chicken is pre-cooked? Thank you!

    1. Hi, Ashlee! That will work fine, and you shouldn’t need to change a thing. The pasta will still need the same amount of time to cook through, so I wouldn’t adjust the cooking time at all. The chicken should be fine in the dish for an hour in the oven. Hope you enjoy!

        1. That’s totally up to you. Either will work, so use whichever you have on hand or whichever you prefer the taste of. 🙂