There are a crazy number of food holidays.  I don’t know who comes up with these things, but these days it seems if you can think of a food, there is probably a day, week or even a month honoring that food.  For the most part I pay no attention to these dates, save a few.  National Grilled Cheese month in April is a no-brainer of course, and I cannot possibly resist Pi(e) Day.  I usually forget about chocolate chip cookie day until a reader reminds me, and then I absolutely must celebrate it.  And of course, I absolutely will always celebrate National Macaroni and Cheese Month which is now – January!  There’s still time to take advantage :)

As I have in years past, I teamed up with my friends from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board to create a new recipe in celebration of mac and cheese month for the 30 Days, 30 Ways with Mac and Cheese Blog.  This year the theme is mac and cheese versions of other classic dishes.  Many possibilities came to mind, but the accidental excess of bell peppers in my fridge combined with my near-constant craving for chicken fajitas led to this.  Chicken fajita mac and cheese.  If you’re a little wary of combining these two dishes, don’t worry – I was right there too.  But one bite of this and I was sold.  Oh, yes sir.  These two dishes meet in a very happy marriage.  Cheesy pasta goodness with tender sautéed onions and peppers and spiced chicken.  It far surpassed my expectations and now is one of my absolute top favorite mac and cheese recipes, a title I don’t take lightly.   My mouth is watering again just thinking about it.


12 oz. pasta shapes, such as rotini
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
1 tsp. cumin
½ tsp. paprika
Dash of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tbsp. butter
3 bell peppers (multiple colors), seeded and thinly sliced
1 small to medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chiles
½ cup sour cream
6 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese*
6 oz. shredded pepper jack cheese*


  • 01

    Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Butter a 2 quart baking dish.  Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Cook pasta according to the package directions just until al dente.  Drain well.

  • 02

    Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken, cumin, paprika, and cayenne to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is just cooked through and no longer pink.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove the chicken to a large bowl; set aside.

  • 03

    In the same skillet, melt the butter.  Add the sliced peppers and onion to the pan and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.  Mix in the garlic and green chiles and sauté about 2 minutes more.  Remove from the heat and transfer the veggie mixture to the bowl with the chicken.  Add the sour cream and shredded cheeses to the bowl along with the pasta.  Mix everything together until well combined.  Transfer to the prepared baking dish.

  • 04

    Bake for 15 minutes until slightly browned and bubbling.  Let cool briefly before serving.

  • 05

    *For best results, always use freshly shredded cheese.  Pre-shredded cheese comes coated in things such as flour, cornstarch to prevent clumping and results in an unpleasant, gritty texture when melted.
  • Samara Touchton

    Genius! I just developed a new pregnancy craving. Thanks Annie!

  • Catherine Melton

    I don’t eat chicken, but I’m for SURE going to be making a version of this without it! YUM

  • Annie Standing

    Oh my word, this looks divine! I love mac and cheese and am always looking for ways to change it up, going to have to make this :)

  • JanetFCTC

    Oh my… this is my idea of wonderful mac and cheese. I could eat sauteed peppers and onions until they were coming out of my ears and mac and cheese with it? I think I could manage that hehe

  • My dad made something like this the last Christmas we were fortunate to spend with him and it was DELICIOUS!! He used linguine but it was cheesy and fajita-y. Well, you get it. Now, this random dish will always have a place in my heart. :)

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape

    I love all your mac and cheese recipes and this one looks like another winner!

  • Caroline L.

    What… Stop. This sounds so wonderful and my stomach is grumbling because I haven’t had dinner – this sounds so amazing.

  • Andrea Johnson

    I made this tonight for my roommates, and we all LOVED it! Thanks for sharing such great recipes all the time :)

  • annieseats

    Awesome! So glad to hear you enjoyed it :)

  • Julie

    I made this last night and it was so amazingly good. Thanks for creating and sharing it!

  • Erica

    I made this for my family the other night and it was WONDERFUL!!! We are vegetarians, so I omitted the chicken. Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe!

  • Himel

    Wow!! looking delicious to me.I definitely try this at my home.
    Chicken fajita recipe

  • Tina @ Tina’s Chic

    Delicious and easy! Awesome combo. And I agree…fresh shredded cheese is better. :) Thanks for the idea, as I’m sure to try it!

  • Jen

    Just made this for dinner…threw together what I had on hand…leftover fajitas, tomatoes from the garden and whole wheat macaroni…I added some boudin cheese as well as all the bits and pieces of cheese on its last leg! I’m always glad when I can use leftovers instead of having them languish in the fridge! Thanks for the idea!

  • Lori S H

    I just made this and it was a huge hit! I added a cup of crumbled goat cheese as well as a 1/4 cup of parm since I doubled the recipe and didn’t have enough of the other cheeses. This a crowd pleaser for teenage boys for sure! : ) Thanks!

  • Jordan Ray

    Loved this recipe! Thank you for a fun twist on Mac and cheese night! My dinner guest begged for the leftovers!