South-of-the-Border Cheesy Chicken Pasta Casserole

I partnered with Boar’s Head to bring you this post, but all thoughts are my own.

Which recipes do you whip up without consulting a book, magazine or Pinterest board? You know the ones: Your true family favorites. This cheeesy chicken pasta casserole has become one of my all-time favorites, and I think it will soon become one of yours, too.

South-of-the-Border Cheesy Chicken Pasta Casserole Recipe

Have you ever been making one of those cherished family favorite dinners when a bold blast of inspiration hits?

That happened to me last week. After putting on some pasta to boil for our basic mac ‘n’ cheese, I reached into the fridge for the butter, milk and cheddar. But instead I grabbed the 3 Pepper Colby Jack from Boar’s Head.

The result was as simple to make as our basic mac but it was punched up with bold heat from the cheese, crunch from the tortilla chips and freshness from some diced tomatoes and green onion. An entirely new cherished recipe was born!

This is where basic mac ‘n’ cheese meets bold spicy flavor. It’s simple and comforting but with a nice zing. The addition of cooked chicken breast to the mac makes it a complete meal especially if served alongside a refreshing salad of equal parts diced avocado and cucumber tossed with chopped cilantro, a squeeze of lime, salt and pepper.

If you’re planning to have a Cinco de Mayo party or just a Mexican food night, you’ll also want to check out my recipes for Edamole (guacamole made with Edamame) and Mexican Lime Soup, which can be made up in just 15 minutes!

Sopa de Lima (Mexican Lime Soup) - This flavorful chicken and lime soup comes together in just 15 minutes, making it perfect for dinner tonight!


Now let’s bake up some cheesy chicken pasta casserole.



South-of-the-Border Cheesy Chicken Pasta Casserole

  • Author: Christine Pittman
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings


This is a Mexican take on macaroni and cheese, with chicken added for extra protein.


  • 1 lb cavatelli or elbow macaroni
  • 2 and 1/2 cups milk (fat-free works just as well as full fat here)
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cups Boar’s Head Bold 3 Pepper Colby Jack
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt or more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp coarse black pepper or more to taste
  • 3/4 lb chopped Boar’s Head Bold Chipotle Chicken (optional)
  • 4 ounces of tortilla chips (about 40 chips)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions


  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Cook the pasta according to its package directions. If the pasta finishes cooking before everything else is ready to go, no worries. Drain it, return it to the pot and cover it. The pasta will be fine waiting there for a few minutes until everything else is ready.
  2. While the pasta cooks, measure the milk into a microwave-safe measuring cup. Warm it in the microwave until really steamy, 3-4 minutes. Put the tortilla chips into a resealable plastic bag. Remove the air from the bag, seal it and smash the chips until all pieces are smaller than 1/2″. Set aside.
  3. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk until it forms a smooth paste. Cook, stirring continuously, until lightly browned, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  4. Splash in about 1/4 cup of the steamed milk and whisk until smooth. Add a little more milk and whisk, then a little more milk and whisk. One more time before drizzling in the remaining milk. Stir well. Place the saucepan over medium heat. Cook stirring continuously until the milk begins to bubble. Remove from the heat. Add the 3 Pepper Colby Jack. Stir until it has melted in and the sauce is an even orange color.
  5. Transfer the cooked pasta to a 9×13 inch baking pan or a large casserole dish. Pour on the sauce and add the chicken, if using. Stir to combine. Sprinkle the tortilla crumbs over top and bake until opening the oven door fills the kitchen with the smell of toasting corn chips and the sound of bubbling cheese, about 15-20 minutes. Top with the tomatoes and green onions before serving.


The above recipe was adapted from Mark Bittman’s more basic recipe for Baked Macaroni and Cheese. Heating the milk in the microwave to speed things up as well as all the South-Of-The-Border twists are my own.


Boar’s Head Bold $20 Visa Gift Card Giveaway

(UPDATE: This giveaway has ended)

Disclosure: Boar’s Head provided me with the gift card used as a giveaway in this post. The opinions that I’ve expressed about their product are my own and have not been influenced by this compensation.

13 Responses to “South-of-the-Border Cheesy Chicken Pasta Casserole”

  1. phyllis — June 6, 2012 @ 6:18 pm (#)

    Mac and cheese looks and sounds delicious, for me especially as I like heat in my food and the Mexican twist is exciting. Is the Boars Head contest only for U.S. citizens? We buy it when in Florida, but not in Canada.

    • Christine — June 6, 2012 @ 6:38 pm (#)

      The contest is open to US and Canada. Not sure if it’s open to family members though :(. Glad you like the hot Mexican twist. Knew you would!

  2. Mike Pittman — June 6, 2012 @ 1:15 pm (#)

    Love the new look!

    • Christine — June 6, 2012 @ 2:37 pm (#)

      Thanks bro!

  3. Lauren | Sweet Splendor — June 6, 2012 @ 12:44 pm (#)

    Wow, this is such a great idea! Who would have thought?? Great blog!

    • Christine — June 6, 2012 @ 2:37 pm (#)

      Thanks Lauren!

  4. Angela — June 6, 2012 @ 12:25 pm (#)

    This recipe has won the coveted cheat day spot in my weekly meal prep…thanks for creating and sharing it!

    • Christine — June 6, 2012 @ 2:36 pm (#)

      Ange! Glad you like the idea. Let me know how your family likes it. Thanks for visiting!

  5. Katie — June 6, 2012 @ 12:01 pm (#)

    This mac & Cheese sounds amazing! Great giveaway too!

    • Christine — June 6, 2012 @ 2:36 pm (#)

      Thanks Katie!

  6. Michelle — June 6, 2012 @ 11:19 am (#)

    Love the new site!!! Looks great :) And that recipe looks right up my alley. Definitely something the kids will eat :)

    • Christine — June 6, 2012 @ 11:30 am (#)

      Thanks Michelle! The Mac has quite a bit of heat. If your kids aren’t spice-lovers, I’d cut the sauce with half plain jack. If they like heat, then pile it on!


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