Bacon, Ranch, and Chicken Mac and Cheese
Dress up classic macaroni and cheese with applewood-smoked bacon, chicken, and Ranch dressing-inspired seasonings for a delicious twist on this classic dish.
Dress up classic macaroni and cheese with applewood-smoked bacon, chicken, and Ranch dressing-inspired seasonings for a delicious twist on this classic dish.
Haven't made it yet, but......where’s the ranch? Somehow ranch and dill together doesn't sound good to me. I will add ranch powder, omit dill and get back to you
Our family loves this recipe! My kids (4 and 6) devour it, which doesnt happen often when meat is involved. If following the recipe exactly, it can turn out a bit bland in flavor, but is still good. I do adjust the recipe in a few ways. First I double the recipe for our family of four, this leaves enough leftovers for the next day. By doubling the recipe, I use a full can of cream of mushroom so none goes to waste. I also saute freshly chopped onions and garlic in place of the powders. For the cheese, I use a blend of sharp cheddar along with the 6 cheese Italian blend. This adds a bit more flavor, and adds that needed "cheese" flavor that can sometimes be missing with only the Italian blend. I do still top with the Colby-jack blend because that also adds more flavor as well. If I am short on cheese, I have also used just the Colby-jack and it has come out just as good. But I prefer a mixture of cheeses for texture and flavor.
I had no issues with the preparation of the recipe. It came together smoothly and easily. I used three pieces of bacon, and one medium sized chicken breast (which I seasoned with a modest amount of salt and pepper). I also cut the bacon prior to cooking it to save time. While the chicken wasn't bad, it didn't seem to contribute much to the recipe. Everyone cherry-picked the bacon out and wanted more. Next time, I believe I'll just use bacon - and probably moreso. I know this takes away from the "light" factor. It was a good creamy, mildly cheesy dish. I thought it had great flavor. The leftovers re-heated well.
We love this! The first time I made it I did not have dill, so I added extra onion and garlic powder (still don't have dill so never add it). The second time I made it, at the request of my husband, I made the following changes, used 3 pieces of bacon (this is how we have ours packaged) and added chopped mushrooms. I sauteed the mushrooms with the chicken. I also mixed the mushroom soup, milk, and seasonings together so the flavor has more time to develop as it cooks. These changes were such a big hit, it is how I make it every time. I have also been playing with the idea of adding fresh thyme from my garden.
I omitted the dill and used a punch of thyme. My family loved the dish and fought for who was going to get the leftovers for lunch the next day.
I omitted the chicken the second time I made as I didn't find it added anything to the meal and added extra bacon. My Husband loves it when I make this. It makes great leftovers.
Pretty good with a few modifications. I used cream of onion instead of mushroom. This gave it a little more flavor. I actually used 10oz of can chicken, but I did saute it with a little bit of bacon drippings. I also seasoned it with garlic powder, pepper, and onion powder. Here's the twist: I added about 1/4 cup ranch dressing to the chicken after it sauted. (Now it is truly Bacon, RANCH and Chicken Mac n' cheese!) I also used a triple blend cheddar cheese instead of the Italian and coby-jack blends. I probably used a total of 1 and 1/2 cups cheese and 2 slices of hickory bacon. I'm sure this doesn't classify as "light" now, but it sure tasted yummy!
Like many of the other reviews, I was surprised that it seemed a bit bland but the blandness seems to be more related to the chicken and not the sauce. Next time, I will season the chicken before cooking. To lighten the recipe up a little more we omitted the bacon and used liquid smoke to capture the bacon flavor.
I found this really dry and not very flavorful. It sounded much better than it tasted. It seems as if the others that liked it made many changes. If I were to try it again, I would follow one of their recipes instead.
The first time I made this it was good, but not super flavorful. The second time I made it was much better because I doubled the amount of the spices and also added a 2nd slice of bacon that I sprinkled on top. i definitely recommend doing both those things to add more flavor.
i made this recipe and i used cream of celery soup in stead of cream of mushroom and i substituted all the oil with butter...and i seasoned the chicken with salt pepper and dried oregeno. then while i was letting the mixture sit for 4 minutes i added 1/8 teaspoon on dried oregeno and 3 dashes of hot sauce. this recipe turned out great the way i made it! ill make this one again!
I found this recipe pretty bland. If i were to make it again, i would use sharper cheeses to see if that helps.. just was lacking something.
Made this tonight and family loved that there were no leftovers. Made it though with cream of chicken soup instead of the mushroom and used 4 slices of turkey bacon. I mixed the bacon with the chicken and macaroni instaed of sprinkling it over. I also did not use dill since I didn;t have and instead seasoned the chicken with garlic powder, onion powder, and some dry ranch mix.
This ended up dry for me and really bland even with seasoning the chicken and pasta along the way. There was no descernable cheese flavor either. I wouldn't bother making again.
very good macaroni and I did it without the bacon
You call this LIGHT?? Look at all that fat and sodium, cholesterol, etc.!
This recipe is fantastic! It smelled wonderful and had the family drooling long before it was done. I used extra cheese (on accident) and doubled the bacon. If using dried dill, I suggest sprinkling it as you can always add more if needed. I used 1/4 tsp. and it was a bit strong.
Took a lot of different bowls to make it in and a lot of clean up, hence the 3 stars. Flavor was good; next time going to double the powders and dill. Wouldn't necessarily call it a mac n cheese, more of a noodle casserole. Pretty good though. We will definitely make again.
It is interesting to me that many people complained that this recipe is bland. This is because Cooking Light made their usual mistake in casseroles of concentrating all the flavor in one layer of the casserole and virtually ignoring the flavor of the other layers. Casseroles are only tasty if you season every component. Try lightly salting the pasta water and peppering and lightly salting the chicken. You will be amazed at the difference. If you are really concerned about the added sodium, try omitting the salt from the cheese sauce (cheese is pretty salty anyway) and divide the allotted salt among the pasta and chicken.
We loved this recipe. I used pre-cooked chicken and real onions and garlic. It took time to prepare but I did it in advance and heated it in the oven for half and hour before eating. I also used already shredded cheeses. I used more dill than the recipe called for, also. It came out great!
This is a keeper... Taste fantastic, the portion is great and the combination is perfect. Love it!
This dish was a hit with my family. They loved the flavor. I didn't have dill but it tasted great anyway.
This came out very good and I hesitated to give it a lower rating, but it was quite time-consuming to prepare, between the chopping and the shredding. Also, what to do with the remaining crm/mush soup? I used rigatoni instead of elbow macaroni as that was what I had on hand, increased the bacon to 3 slices and used a scant amount of dried dill. Served with fresh green beans sauteed in garlic. Caveat: the recipe says to spoon mixture into a baking dish, however NONE of mine could be used under the broiler! Had to use a LeCreuset iron pot to broil it.
My family gets excited when I make this dish. My slow eating 5 yr old is done in 15 minutes and asking for seconds! I make a few changes. I use whole wheat pasta, add a little extra bacon, season the chicken with a little garlic powder, salt and pepper before cooking, substitute ranch seasoning mix for the onion powder, garlic powder, and dill. Finally, I use sharp cheddar instead of colby jack, only because it is more convenient.
I found this recipe from my Cooking Light Mix and Match Low Calorie Cookbook. I have to say, first of all, that I was skeptical because there was so little cheese, and I'm not a fan of dill. I decided, however, to make the recipe as-is, minus the fact that I used non-fat cheddar cheese, because that's what I happened to have on hand. Nothing from a low calorie cookbook should taste this good. It is not your 'typical' super cheesy mac and cheese, but the flavor you get from the combo of the cream of mushroom soup, onion powder, garlic powder, and dill more than make up for it. Super Delish!
This was fantastic. Everyone loved it, even the picky 2yo. The applewood bacon really made this dish. It gave it a smokey, salty rich flavor. The cheesy sauce turned out really nice. I used cream of chicken soup instead of cream of mushroom because that's what I had on hand, but it turned out great. This would make a fabulous dish to take to a potluck or prepare for a family with a new baby etc. To make a complete meal, serve with tossed salad or green beans.
Our whole household LOVES this recipe. Excellent, even though it's a bit high in fat & calories for us. I substituted fresh garlic (1 clove) & 1/4 an onion instead of powdered, cooked them along with the chicken in the bacon drippings, and then removed all to set aside before cooking butter/flour mix. I usedTrader Joes condensed portabella mushroom soup instead of Cambpells. I used triple the amount of dill because I really like that flavor. I also cooked everything but the pasta in copper saucepan. Before I broiled, I added a liberal shake of red pepper flakes to give it some kick! Then I just put the whole saucepan under the broiler. No cooking spray used. Less pans to wash :) Was perfect! In fact, better than perfect! Enjoy!
YUMMY. I made exact except I don't buy cream of ?? soups anymore and wasn't about to buy one to use 1/3 of a can. I increased milk to 2 cups and 3 tablespoons of flour with small amount of chooped mushrom and let that thicken up as the recipe calls.
I'll make this again -- it was really good! I used three pieces of bacon and omitted the chicken. It was not hot enough just being in the broiler for 3 mintues, so next time I'm going to bake it for about 15 minutes instead.
The flavor intensity increased the second day we ate this meal. I used radiatore pasta which has mored ridges to keep the sauce in place. It felt like a comfort food.
Unlike some of the reviewers here, I found this recipe to be very flavorful. It smelled and tasted of ranch rather strongly, and was super cheesy and delicious. My roomies raved and I plan to make this again to store in the freezer for individual microwave meals. This will actually be eaten without my prompting! The whole house smelled like ranch and bacon. Perhaps part of the success of the dish came from using dill fresh from my garden. Supermarket herbs get bland quickly.
skipped the chicken and used center cut bacon instead. turned out with strong dill flavor. will cut back on dill next time but was a good twist on traditional mac and cheese.
Although this of course isn't the best mac & cheese on the planet, it's ridiculously good for a light version. I didn't let my sauce boil enough, so the mixture was fairly soupy, but it thickened up well as leftovers. I might try it again with shrimp since I tend to get sick of chicken. I also used a few slices of center cut bacon instead of springing for applewood - still quite bacon-y. I found the spice mixture to be a spot-on ranch flavor. I know a lot of people want to go all out w/ calories if you're talking about pasta & cheese, but I appreciated this version's calorie count. Plus, the serving size is huge.
I was disappointed in this recipe. It didn't have much flavor and wasn't very cheesy. It needs something to make it creamier. With all the mac and cheese recipes out there, I probably won't make it again.
Considering I'm on a diet and my fiance isn't, it's sometimes hard to find a recipe that suits both of our needs, but this one does it. Delicious meal! Got a thumbs up from my fiance, and from me.
This recipe was fantastic! Everyone in the family really enjoyed it including the picky ones. I have shared this with a few friends and immediately was asked for the recipe! Definitely a keeper!
I really liked this lightened version of Mac 'n Cheese. Since only one slice of bacon is used, I used a really good quality applewood smoked bacon. A couple of other hints... I wisked the flour into the milk before adding it to the melted butter. It took a bit longer to thicken but was really smooth. I added the soup at this point. If using dried dill, remember to only use 1/3 the amount suggested. Finally, I used pepper-jack cheese on top and finished with cracked pepper before serving.
I followed the recipe exactly. But there was something about the dill that made me think I was eating a tuna noodle dish. I would make again but omit the dill and see if the other flavors came through.
Followed this recipe as it was written and I loved it. My husband didn't get it and he thought it was bland. He couldn't taste the ranch but I could the next day when I reheated it for lunch.
I love the mac n' cheese part of this recipe, but the dill was not a hit with my boyfriend, and we both agreed that the chicken just isn't necessary. Eliminate both those things, and you have a side dish that would be a hit. We'll make it again, but omit those two ingredients.
Awesome. Followed the recipe exactly, except used 2 tsp. ranch dressing mix instead of onion powder, garlic powder, dill and salt. Served with steamed broccoli and a side salad.
Like some of the other reviewers, I was surprised that this wasn't more flavorful. The texture was good, but the main taste was the cream of mushroom soup, not the cheese.
I thought this recipe was good. I used 4 pieces of turkey bacon instead of regular bacon and I added a little more chicken than it called for. Next time I may use less pasta.
My family loved this recipe. A great comfort food recipe. I loved how quick it was to make. I didn't have fresh chicken, so I used canned and I think it turned out just fine. We used whole grain shell pasta and used more bacon than the recipe calls for. I probably wouldn't go out of my way to buy two different kinds of cheese next time. A bonus was learning how to replicate a Ranch flavor without having to use a spice packet with an ingredient list a mile long.
I was unimpressed. I thought this recipe was noticeably lacking in the flavor department, which was sort've a surprise because it looked like it would be pretty hearty. Alas, it tasted like a "light" dish. At the very least it could use some browned onions, a sprinkling of fresh chopped parsley before serving, or perhaps even some pureed roasted garlic mixed in. Still, it wasn't terrible. It's also much better when fresh out of the oven. Furthermore, it was fairly cheap, made a filling serving, and came together in less than 90 minutes (from start-to-finish including prep, cooking, clean-up and stowing leftovers). In general my palette tends towards more aggressively flavored dishes, but for those who don't mind things a little mild in the flavor department, this may be just what you need. I could imagine this might be a nice healthy Mac and Cheese alternative to serve to kids. A simple side salad of chopped romaine, whole-wheat croutons, and a light toss with Kenâs Light Caesar dressing would make it a fairly easy and healthy meal for a family of four.
This was a crowd pleaser for guests, including a toddler! The only change we made was to use 3 pieces of bacon instead of 1. The cheese and bacon crust on the top was definitely the best part (most flavorful and great texture), but combined, the dish was well-balanced. If I were in the mood to not cook light, I'd put in half the pasta, broil a bacon and cheese layer, then put in the other half of the pasta and broil another layer for more of that hard cheese-and-bacon crust. We'll be making this again!
Although the "ranch" flavor isn't very strong, this recipe still has really good flavor, and was fairly easy. This is going on the "make again" list!
My husband and I found the onion and garlic powder overpowering. Will saute fresh onions and garlic next time. Definitely needed more chicken Enjoyed the fresh dill. Think the serving size is a bit too large.
Definately one of the best CL mac-n-cheese recipes. My kids and husband loved it! Very creamy, not too greasy.
Overall the meal was delicious. It could have used more flavor and definitely more chicken. I loved the top with all of the cheeses and bacon.
It is a GOOD recipe, but I would jazz it up a bit. First I would make it easier to make by using pre-cooked chicken. I would also kick up the spices, add sauteed onions and add more cheese. The bacon was a WONDERFUL addition to the top and I would add even more. I will definitely make it again!!
This was not flavorful at all. While I didn't expect the ranch flavor to hit me in the face, I didn't taste it at all. I will say I made one substitution - I used 98% reduced fat cream of celery just becase I don't like mushrooms. Tabasco sauce was required at meal time to kick this one up!
Everyone loved this recipe! It's a great dish and I totally loved the dill, bacon and chicken combo. I doubled this recipe and put in the refrigerator until I was ready to cook it. I baked it when I got home from work at 350 for 20 minutes.
I was sorry I was not as impressed with this recipe as the other reviewers were. I thought it was good, but not great. I made followed the recipe according to directions, except added a little more bacon. My sauce did not thicken enough, so I had to add a little cornstarch. The ranch flavor was good, but I felt the overall flavor was bland. I couldn't find the 6 cheese blend so I used Sargento Italian Parm and (?) cheese blend, and some reduced fat cheddar together. I baked it before broiling because the noodles were cold by the time I got to the broiling stage. If I were to make this again, I might leave out the chicken, I don't think it was necessary. It was good. I was expecting knock-your-socks-off good, which I didn't think it was. I don't know if I will make this again.
This recipe is absolutely amazing! It was absolutely delicious. All of my family and I wanted seconds and thirds! Anyone who is a mac & cheese fan would absolutely love to make this!! This beats the store-bought mac & cheese any day! Thanks so much Cooking Light!
Delicious. My family and I will definitely make this again! It's so rich and creamy and cheesy. Everyone wanted seconds and thirds!