Tuscan Chicken Mac and Cheese (30 Minutes)

This Tuscan Chicken Mac and Cheese is creamy, cheesy and bursting with Mediterranean flavors in each bite! It’s lightened up and packed with protein and works great for an easy dinner or meal prep!

Tuscan chicken mac and cheese in a bowl with a fork topped with parmesan cheese.

Another mac and cheese recipe! And you know I am here for it! And did I mentioned it’s packed with protein?! It’s super easy to make in just 30 minutes and has over 27g of protein per serving. Plus it’s hella macro-friendly and packed with so much volume!

Since this tuscan macaroni and cheese comes together so quickly it makes an awesome weeknight dinner option. But it also holds up great in the fridge so we love prepping it for easy reheat meals throughout the week.

Lots of ways to switch this one up too so make sure to check out the variations section at the bottom for more ideas. Seriously love how this one turned out! It’s so creamy and packed with the most delicious Tuscan flavors!!!

Tuscan chicken mac and cheese in a skillet with wooden topped with parmesan cheese.

WHY YOU’LL LOVE

  • So much flavor from the sun-dried tomatoes!
  • Packed with fresh veggies and protein.
  • Made with easy to find and simple ingredients.
  • Works great for easy weeknight dinners & for meal prep.
  • Lightened up using a little bit less cheese and butter than regular mac – but still the good stuff! 
  • Made in just 30 minutes!
Ingredients for Tuscan chicken mac and cheese

INGREDIENTS

  • Chicken – I used chicken breasts but chicken thighs would also work here. You could also use rotisserie chicken here and skip the step with cooking the chicken.
  • Macaroni noodles – I used large elbow macaroni noodles but any short pasta will work here. Use your favorite pasta and use gluten-free if needed!
  • Sun-dried tomatoes – the kind in oil.
  • Olive oil – make sure to use light olive oil for sautéing, extra virgin olive oil may work, it’s just more likely to burn. You could also use avocado oil, vegetable oil or canola oil.
  • Mushrooms – I used bella mushrooms. If mushrooms aren’t your thing, you can always replace with another vegetable or leave out entirely.
  • Onion – I used a yellow onion a white onion onion or shallot would also work!
  • Butter – we’ll use a little butter for this recipe just to bring some classic rich flavor to this mac and cheese dish.
  • Flour – I used all purpose flour. Use gluten-free flour if needed.
  • Milk – I used unsweetened almond milk but any milk works. For a richer taste, use heavy cream or half and half.
  • Chicken broth – You could also use chicken stock or vegetable broth.
  • Seasonings – Grab some salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning!
  • Shredded cheese – I used sharp cheddar cheese and mozzarella cheese. PLEASE get the block and FRESHLY shred for the most cheesy sauce. It makes all the difference!
  • Spinach – I used baby spinach. You can also replace with arugula or kale or omit completely. Fresh basil would also be delish and would add a ton of flavor!
How to make Tuscan chicken mac and cheese (process steps)

HOW TO MAKE TUSCAN CHICKEN MAC AND CHEESE

  1. Cook pasta. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Sprinkle generously with salt. Add the dry pasta to the large pot of salted water and cook for 8-10 minutes (or according to package directions so that the pasta is al dente). When done, rinse the cooked pasta with cool water and drain, then set aside.
  2. Cook onions and mushrooms. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook for about 2 minutes then add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 4-5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.  
  3. Cook the chicken: Heat remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil over on stove top on medium heat on a cast iron skillet or skillet or choice. When warm, add the chicken and season chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink. Transfer to a bowl (with the mushrooms is fine) and set aside. 
  4. Prepare the cheese sauce. Wipe the bottom of the pan or skillet clean and melt butter over medium heat. As it starts to melt, whisk in the flour. Then whisk in the milk, chicken broth, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Increase to medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Continue whisking frequently for 4-5 minutes or until mixture becomes thick. Then remove from heat and stir in both cheeses. Taste and add any salt or seasonings to taste. 
  5. Making the mac and cheese: Cut sun dried tomatoes into small pieces. To the skillet with the cheese sauce, fold in the sun dried tomatoes, cooked macaroni, spinach leaves, chicken, mushrooms and onions and mix until everything is well combined. 
  6. Sprinkle with freshly cracked black pepper and freshly grated parmesan cheese to serve! Throw some freshly chopped herbs on top too if you have them!

HOW TO STORE TUSCAN CHICKEN MAC AND CHEESE

Store any leftover mac and cheese in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days.

Tuscan chicken mac and cheese in a bowl with a fork topped with parmesan cheese.

VARIATIONS

  • Switch up the cheeses: Sharp cheddar and mozzarella are classic for mac and cheese but feel free to swap for different kinds of cheese! Gouda, Gruyere, Muenster and white cheddar cheese would also be AMAZING.
  • Switch up the vegetables: Mushrooms not your thing? Feel free to leave out or simply replace with another veggie. Red bell pepper, green beans, asparagus, or any leftover veggies you have on hand.
  • Switch up the pasta: Elbow macaroni is my favorite for this dish but really you can use type of short pasta. Shells, penne, bowties, etc. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time as to not over cook the pasta. We want to make sure it is al dente!
  • Use different types of chicken: Instead of cooking chicken bites, this recipe would also be delicious with ground chicken, chicken thighs or even chicken sausage. You can always throw in any leftover shredded chicken you have too. Or save a few minutes and use rotisserie chicken instead.
  • Switch up the protein: Ground turkey, ground beef, Italian sausage, there really is no wrong answer.
  • Make vegetarian: You can leave out the chicken entirely or replace with tofu.
  • Make gluten-free: Easily make this dish gluten-free by using your favorite gluten free pasta!

TIPS FOR BEST MAC AND CHEESE

  • Use freshly shredded cheese – This is super important! Pre-shredded cheese just does melt quite like freshly shredded cheese does. I used to think it took a lot more time to shred your cheese but it literally takes less than a minute! Don’t skip it!
  • Cook your pasta al dente – Only cook pasta until it is al dente then quickly rinse the pasta with cool water and set aside (this stops the cooking process). Overcooking the pasta can result in mushy pasta that doesn’t hold up well. We don’t want that!
  • Cut your chicken bites the same – To ensure the chicken cooks evenly without having any pieces of overcooked or undercooked chicken.

TUSCAN CHICKEN MAC AND CHEESE FAQ:

How is this mac and cheese best served?

Since this dish has chicken, it is very macro-balanced and filling and a great dish to eat on it’s own! If you’re wanting a little something more, you can always serve with a side salad, Air Fryer Broccoli, or some soup.

Does this mac and cheese reheat well?

It reheats great! The main thing – just make sure you cook your pasta until it is al dente and then rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Overcooking the pasta is typically the main culprit if your mac and cheese starts to gets mushy.

Does this mac and cheese work good for meal prep?

It works awesome for meal prep! Again, just make sure you don’t overcook your pasta.

Can I make this dish vegetarian?

Sure thing! The chicken cooks separately so it’s easy to leave out of this recipe. You can just omit or replace with a plant-based alternative, like tofu if you prefer.

WANT TO MAKE THIS RECIPE?

If you try this Tuscan Chicken Mac and Cheese and love it, please rate this recipe!

You can also tag me on Instagram, @LaurenFitFoodie. It makes my day seeing your yummy recreations!

Yield: 8

Tuscan Chicken Mac and Cheese

Tuscan Chicken Mac and Cheese

This Tuscan Chicken Mac and Cheese is creamy, cheesy and bursting with Mediterranean flavors in each bite! It's lightened up and packed with protein and works great for an easy dinner or meal prep!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 12-oz. large elbow macaroni
  • 8-oz. sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained & chopped
  • 1 Tbsp of olive oil, divided (15g)
  • 8-oz. baby bella mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced (75g)
  • 1 Tbsp butter (15g)
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour (15g)
  • 1.75 cups plain unsweetened almond milk (420g)
  • 1 cup chicken broth (240g)
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp salt + 1/4 tsp pepper, more to taste
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar (112g)
  • 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese (84g)
  • 4 cups baby spinach

Instructions

Cook pasta: Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Sprinkle generously with salt. Add the pasta and cook for 8-10 minutes (or according to package instructions so that the pasta is al dente). When done, rinse the pasta with cool water and drain, then set aside.
Cook onions and mushrooms: Heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook for about 2 minutes then add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 4-5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Cook the chicken: Heat remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. When warm, add the chicken and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink. Transfer to a bowl (with the mushrooms is fine) and set aside.
Prepare the cheese sauce: Wipe the skillet clean and melt the butter over medium heat. As it starts to melt, whisk in the flour. Then whisk in the milk, chicken broth, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Continue whisking frequently for 4-5 minutes or until mixture becomes thick. Then remove from heat and stir in both cheeses. Taste and add any salt or seasonings to taste.
Making the mac and cheese: Cut sun dried tomatoes into small pieces. To the skillet with the cheese sauce, fold in the sun dried tomatoes, cooked macaroni, spinach, chicken, mushrooms and onions and mix until everything is well combined.
Sprinkle with freshly cracked black pepper to serve!

Notes

MFP entry: LFF Tuscan Chicken Mac and Cheese

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1.5 cups (278g)

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 395Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 6gCarbohydrates: 37.6gFiber: 4gSugar: 2gProtein: 27.4g

Did you make this recipe?

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