King Ranch Mac & Cheese

This mac and cheese is so, so good! When I was growing up mac and cheese was a side dish in my family, often accompanied by meatloaf and baked beans. I know for many of you, mac and cheese is the meal. Well, this recipe will take that plain old dish right over the top. Just serve with a side salad and dinner is complete. My husband and I like it with just the tomatoes with mild green chilies and not the extra spices. You can adjust to your liking. This also freezes well, but after just one bite, you will not want to freeze it!


  • 8 ounces cavatappi pasta
  • 2 Tbsp. salted butter
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, dices
  • 1/2 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 lb. pasteurized prepared cheese product (such as Velveeta), cubed
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2/3 cup half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 4 cups cooked chicken (such as shredded rotisserie chicken)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cook the pasta according to the package directions and drain.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Melt the butter in the skillet and sauté the onion and bell peppers until soft, 7 to 8 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes and cook until almost all of the liquid has evaporated, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the cubed cheese and stir constantly until the cheese is melted.
  5. with the skillet still over medium heat, stir in the sour cream and half-and-half.  Season with the cumin and cayenne pepper.  Stir in the chicken.
  6. in a 3-quart Dutch oven or baking dish, combine the chicken/cheese mixture with the cooked pasta evenly.  Sprinkle with the grated cheddar and bake until the cheddar is melted and the mixture is bubbling, 5 to 10 minutes.
  7. Serve hot.