Filipino-style Chicken Baked Macaroni with meaty tomato sauce and cheese topping is sure to be a family favorite. It's hearty, tasty, and perfect for family dinners or holiday parties.
I spent Christmas in the Philippines last year, and since it was my first holiday there in 26 years, we decided to hold a mini family reunion. As expected of most Filipino gatherings, the highlight of the party was the food!
We had quite a delicious spread to enjoy amongst us with every cousin, aunt, and uncle bringing in their special dishes to the potluck.
I initially planned to make very own baked macaroni and pork barbecue for the party but opted in the end to just order from a popular restaurant in our town. I was on vacation, after all, and as much as I love my kin, I wasn't about to undertake cooking for 100 on my R & R.
Was I glad I did! I saved myself unnecessary work, and the food from the restaurant didn't disappoint. I enjoyed their Filipino-style Chicken Baked Macaroni so much I've recreated it at home many times over since I came back. Their BBQ pork, though? Don't stand a chance against mine. 😂🤣
Make sure to add this baked chicken macaroni to your Noche Buena menu. Using shredded chicken instead of ground beef is an excellent option for guests who are refraining from red meat and more budget-friendly, especially when serving a large crowd.
It's not only easy to make, but it can also be prepped up to 3 days in advance. You can either prepare the pasta mixture, refrigerate, and bake on the day of the event or bake it ahead of time and just reheat when you're ready to serve.
Cooking tips for the best chicken baked mac
- For better texture, undercook the pasta for about 1 or 2 minutes less than package's directions as it will continue to cook in the oven.
- My favorite trick for cooking chicken is poaching, a delicate cooking technique in which the meat is gently simmered in liquid, keeping it from overcooking and toughening. The chicken comes out moist and flavorful instead of dry and stringy as when vigorously boiled.
- Don't have access to sweet-style spaghetti sauce? Substitute with 3 cups tomato sauce, 1 cup tomato ketchup and add one tablespoon sugar or to taste.
- This recipe is a spot on copycat of the chicken baked macaroni I had in the Philippines. Yet amazing as is, you can kick things up by swapping the shredded cheese with the bechamel sauce topping I use for Filipino-style lasagna. I use Filipino quick melt cheese (Eden or Magnolia) as I love its mellow yet creamy flavor and also to keep in theme with our Pinoy tastes but feel free to substitute cheddar, Monterey Jack or your favorite cheese blends.
- Quick melt cheese can be a little difficult to shred due to its ultra-soft texture so pop it in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up before shredding.
- Use a baking dish with about an inch or so of headspace, so the foil doesn't touch the surface of the pasta. If you don't have one that's deep enough, loosely tent the pan to keep the foil from sticking to the melted cheese.
- For neater squares, allow the baked macaroni to stand for about 10 minutes before slicing.
- If you're prepping the pasta mixture in advance, keep in the refrigerator and just top with the shredded cheese when you're ready to bake. As the mixture is cold, increase bake time to about 1 hour.
Filipino-style Chicken Baked Macaroni
- 16 ounces small elbow macaroni
- 3 pounds chicken breast or thigh meat
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 8 ounces fresh button mushrooms, sliced thinly
- ½ red bell pepper, seeded, cored and chopped
- ½ green bell pepper, seeded, cored and chopped
- 35 ounces sweet-style spaghetti sauce
- 1 cup water
- 1 cube chicken bouillon
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- salt and pepper to taste
- 12 ounces quick melt cheese, shredded
- In a large pot over medium heat, bring about 4 quarts salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook 1 to 2 minutes less than package's directions. Rinse under cold running water and drain well. Set aside.
- In a small, heavy-bottomed pot, arrange chicken breasts in a single layer. Add enough water to cover, salt and peppercorns.
- Bring to a boil, skimming scum that floats on top. Lower heat, cover, and cook in a barely a simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes or until thermometer inserted in the thickest part of chicken reads 165 F.
- With a slotted spoon, remove chicken from heat and allow to cool to touch. Coarsely shred chicken and keep warm.
- In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add onions and garlic, and cook until softened.
- Add mushrooms and bell peppers and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes or until softened.
- Add spaghetti sauce and water. Bring to a boil.
- Add chicken bouillon, Italian seasonings, and salt and pepper to taste. Lower heat, cover, and simmer until slightly thickened.
- Add chicken and continue to cook for about 3 to 5 minutes or until heated through.
- In a large bowl, combine macaroni and sauce. Gently toss together until well-combined.
- Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a large baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer pasta-meat mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle shredded cheese evenly on top.
- Bake in a 375 oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until hot and cheese is melted.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 7 to 10 minutes before cutting into serving portions.