Buffalo-Style Turkey Mac and Cheese Recipe

This spicy version of mac and cheese puts a new twist on a classic dish. Made with turkey breast and pasta combined with a buffalo-style sauce, this is comfort food at its best.

September/October 2018

  • Turkey Buffalo Mac-'n'-Cheese combines two favorite flavors in one dish.
    Photo by Holly A. Heyser
  • Cover of the book "Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail."
    Cover courtesy Ogden Publications Archives

Yield: 8-10 servings

This buffalo-style mac and cheese isn’t the most highfalutin’ dish in the book, but who cares? It’s awesome.

I got the idea for it from a cookbook called Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese that my friends Stephanie Stiavetti and Garrett McCord wrote a few years back. I decided to add meat to my version. Fair warning: this is not low fat, and you’ll eat far more than you ever thought possible.

If you’re wondering about my naming a specific hot sauce, it’s because Frank’s is the hot sauce used in Buffalo, New York, where Buffalo chicken originated. There is no substitute.

If you happen to have leftovers, they’ll keep in the fridge for several days.



  • 1 pound turkey breast, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 cups buttermilk3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3⁄4 cup Frank’s hot sauce
  • 1 pound pasta, elbows or small shells


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1⁄2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
  • 2 1⁄2 cups whole milk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard, optional
  • 10 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1⁄4 cup Frank’s hot sauce
  • 2⁄3 cup sour cream


  • 1⁄2 to 1 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley


To Make Filling:

  1. Marinate the turkey breast in buttermilk overnight, or at least for a few hours. Rinse off the buttermilk when you’re ready to cook.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add enough salt to make the water quite salty. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. Heat the butter in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the turkey, and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic, and continue to cook for 1 more minute. Turn off the heat, and stir in the Frank’s hot sauce.
  4. Boil the pasta until it’s softened but still too al dente to eat; it’ll cook more in the oven. Drain and set aside.

To Make Sauce:

  1. In another pan, heat the butter over medium heat, and stir in the flour. Cook, stirring almost constantly, until the mixture turns the color of peanut butter, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Mix the cream and milk together, and pour it, a little at a time, into the pan, stirring constantly.
  3. Stir in the dry mustard, then add the shredded cheese, a little at a time, stirring constantly until it’s incorporated into the sauce.
  4. Add more cheese, and repeat.
  5. Turn off the heat, and stir in the Frank’s hot sauce and sour cream.

To Assemble:

  1. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or something similar. Place half the pasta in the dish, followed by the filling, the remaining pasta, and then the sauce. Sprinkle blue cheese evenly over the casserole.
  2. Mix the breadcrumbs and parsley together, and sprinkle over the blue cheese.
  3. Bake for about 40 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven, and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

More from Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail:

Pheasant Soup with Egg Noodles

Buttermilk Fried Rabbit

Cooking Wild Game Birds

Excerpted with permission from Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail by Hank Shaw, photography by Holly A. Heyser, and published by H&H Books.

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