Fan of your favorite restaurant recipes but want to make them at home? This Copycat Applebee’s Honey Pepper Mac and Cheese is the perfect copycat recipe. Filled with mac and cheese, chicken and bacon it is completely addicting!
Honey Pepper Mac and Cheese is one of my favorite copycat restaurant meals around. With so many different flavors combined into one makes it seriously flavorful.
Now you can make it at home with this delicious recipe, bringing your favorite copycat meal right to your table. Some of my other favorite copycat recipes include Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup, Wahlburgers Sloppy Joe and Texas Roadhouse Rattlesnake Bites.
There are so many different recipes from your favorite sit down or take-out places that you can easily recreate at home and this Honey Pepper Chicken Mac and Cheese is one of my favorites and most popular on my site. Want to find out how you can easily make it at home? Keep reading.
HOW TO MAKE APPLEBEE’S HONEY PEPPER CHICKEN MAC AND CHEESE:
- Bake or deep fry chicken strips until done (you can also make your own), set aside.
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- Meanwhile in medium saucepan mix all your Honey Pepper sauce ingredients and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until thickened, stirring often..
- To make your cheese sauce melt your butter and cream together in medium sauce pan.
- Once melted add your cheese and garlic and stir until combined and reduce heat until all cheeses are blended in.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add pasta to large bowl and pour sauce and crumbled bacon over top, stir to combine.
- Dip each of your chicken strips into the honey pepper sauce until coated. Set aside.
- When ready to serve, dish up your pasta and top with chicken strips and sprinkle with basil.
There are so many different elements to this Honey Pepper Chicken Mac and Cheese, you have the chicken, sauce and the cheese sauce. I know all of them together sound daunting, but in the end it is worth it. It really is super creamy and delicious.
HOW TO MAKE A CHEESE SAUCE:
Traditionally making a cheese sauce you would create a rue, I decided against it for this recipe as the creamier sauce without the flour added to it helps the noodles soak up the sauce without becoming dried out and pretty much diminishing. We first start with melting butter and cream together.
Add your cheeses one at a time making sure that each are melted in before adding the next one, this ensures that the cheese are melted evenly. Then you add in salt and pepper to taste, this is always a personal preference, I’m a salt person so I love extra salt on my food, but use your judgement. You then stir in the pasta to this sauce along with your bacon.
TIPS ON MAKING HONEY PEPPER SAUCE:
- I’ve had comments on peoples sauce not thickening, this will thicken once it is cooled slightly, do not wait for it to thicken while simmering, you will waste your time, let it cool for a few minute and it will thicken right up.
- You need to keep your eye on the sauce and make sure it is on a low enough simmer where it won’t boil over.
- Whisk the honey pepper sauce often, this will also help it not boil over and get those flavors blended in perfectly.
Copycat Applebee’s Honey Pepper Chicken Mac and Cheese will 100% become one of your favorite recipes out there. It is simple as all the ingredients are pretty much just dump and go and it is PACKED full of all the flavors.
Hands down this recipe is one of the ones most requested at our house more than any. It makes a large enough batch to feed the whole family and it costs less to make this than it does to actually go to the restaurant and purchase a single plate.
If you want the perfect copycat recipe that you can make at home then you need to add this Honey Pepper Chicken Mac and Cheese to your menu fast!
Honey Pepper Chicken Mac and Cheese
- 1 16 oz box spiral noodles
- 1 25 oz. bag breaded chicken strips
- 5 slices bacon cooked and crumbled
- Salt and Pepper
Honey Pepper Sauce:
- 3/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 3 Tbs soy sauce, low sodium
- 1/4 cup pineapple juice
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 Tbs vinegar
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 stick butter
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, freshly shredded
- 3/4 cup colby jack cheese, freshly shredded
- 2-3 cloves minced garlic
- Chopped fresh basil
- Bake or deep fry chicken strips according to package directions (you can also make your own), set aside.
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- Meanwhile mix all your Honey Pepper sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and let cool slightly to thicken.
- To make your cheese sauce melt your butter and cream together in a large pan.
- Once melted add in your cheese one at a time, stirring after each addition then and garlic and stir until incorporated and everything in melted.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add pasta to pan with sauce and stir to combine, add in your bacon and stir until incorporated.
- Dip each of your chicken strips into the honey pepper sauce until coated and set aside.
- When ready to serve, dish up your pasta and top with chicken strips and sprinkle with basil and additional bacon if desired.
I LOVE this recipe!! I normally cook it for 2 or 4 people. Well, my family wants me to make it for them (11 people). Can I cook the pasta the night before, add all the ingredients and then cook it/reheat it in the oven the next night? Would it taste the same or would it be better to cook everything in the same night?
I have never tried to make this ahead of time so I honestly do not know the outcome, but for freshness I would say make it right before serving for best results.
spot on to applebees. super easy to follow the instructions. never made homemade mac n cheese until this. absolutely delicious.
Just made this and I think it was better than Applebees!
Have to agree with the others – this recipe was BETTER than the Applebee’s version! Probably could have used TWO bags of the chicken tenders as it made a whole box of macaroni pasta. My foodie family members LOVED it too!
This is mine and my hubby’s all-time favorite meal! I make it at least once a month! Thank you so much 😍
Love this recipe! My family makes this all the time.
So delicious, better than Applebees!
This is so good!! I think Applebee’s version is very bland. This is packed with flavor and a great comfort food meal. My honey pepper sauce never gets thick but i don’t care. Thank you so much for this recipe!
This recipe is a 5/5! It is so much like the restaurant! One tip I’ve found is if you make your sauce the day before and let it chill over night it is the consistency of a BBQ sauce and sticks extremely well!
I love this recipe, I have made this for my family so many times and it’s delicious. However the past few times, the honey pepper sauce was really sticky and hardened really fast. Does anyone know why this might be happening?
This is so good and very close to the original. I forgot to buy heavy cream but made do with half and half and a little cornstarch slurry. I also dipped the chicken strips, broiled them for a few minutes and then dipped them again. Turned out super yummy and definitely is going on the “make it again” list
I’ve made tons of recipes and have never wrote a review but this recipe was perfect. It was EXACTLY like the Applebee’s version. The only thing I added was chopped green onion to the sauce/pasta mixture but it was great! I’ll definitely be making this again. Thanks for sharing!