Chicken fajita meat is one of my favorite slow-cooker recipes. It’s simple, versatile, and can be portioned and frozen for future use.
While the traditional serving method for fajita filling is on tortillas or over rice, we think it’s a great way to kick mac and cheese (another favorite dish) up a few notches. Everyone knows the best thing about Mexican food is the combination of gooey cheese and spices, and what better way to achieve that than by using classic mac and cheese as a base?
Yes, you can cheat and use boxed mac and cheese for this, but if you’re brave enough to tackle a bechamel sauce (butter + flour + milk. I promise it’s not too hard!), you’ll end up with a very tasty (and impressive) homemade pasta dish. Feel free to save the second half of this recipe for any time you get a craving for plain ol’ mac and cheese.
Slow-Cooker Chicken Fajita Mac & Cheese
Makes 6 servings
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 1/2 – 2 cups frozen corn, pepper and onion mix (We use Wegman’s frozen Tex-Mex Blend. If using fresh veggies: 1 cup corn, 1/2 cup each diced onion and diced bell peppers)
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 2 tbsp. lime juice
- 2 tbsp. taco seasoning (can be pre-made, but we use The Pioneer Woman’s recipe)
- 1 tbsp. honey
- 16 oz. elbow macaroni (or small pasta of choice. Penne or shells work well, too!)
- 3 tbsp. salted butter
- 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk (Any kind works, but we’d advise against almond or coconut milk due to the flavor)
- 1/2 tsp. ground mustard
- 1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) shredded cheese (Use your favorite! We like an equal mixture of cheddar and monterey jack)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Optional toppings: salsa, guacamole, sour cream
- Put chicken breasts, veggie mix, garlic, lime juice, taco seasoning and honey in a slow cooker. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. When finished, shred the chicken breasts using two forks and stir to combine. (Alternatively, you can quick-cook them by boiling the chicken breasts in water, like in our buffalo chicken dip recipe, and combining the drained, shredded chicken with the seasonings and veggies afterwards.)
- During the last half hour of the chicken cooking, start making the mac and cheese: Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add flour and stir just until it forms a thick paste (roux). Add milk immediately (burnt roux = BAD!) and stir until smooth.
- Continue cooking milk mixture, stirring occasionally, until thickened, but still liquid. Add a bit more milk if it looks too thick. Add mustard, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
- Remove sauce from heat and add cheese. Stir until melted and incorporated, then combine with cooked pasta.
- Divide mac and cheese into 6 bowls and top with equal portions of shredded chicken. Serve with your toppings of choice.