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.
If you want to make it even better, like we actually make it at Applebee’s. Fry up your own bacon and use all the leftover bacon grease when making the sauce. It makes the sauce even more delicious.
I’m SO happy I found this!!! This used to be my favorite dish from Applebee’s until I recently developed an allergy to red meats – including bacon. 😭 Now I can make this and omit it!! Can’t wait to try it 💓
Made this last night – My boyfriend said he thought it was even better than Applebee’s version! Very pleased with the turnout, and even more pleased with the financial aspect – he always adds extra chicken, bacon, and sauce to it when we order it, so while this wasn’t exactly a cheap meal to make (since I didn’t have chicken, bacon, or a variety of cheeses on hand – if you keep your kitchen better stocked than myself, this could easily be only a $5-10 trip to the grocery store), it definitely was cheaper than ordering it for both of us, especially with his customizations…AND we had three full servings left over, packed away for lunches.
(Side note – I appreciate that your version of 4 servings actually provided more than 4 servings. Most recipes seem to be about 2.5-3 servings when you’re working with adults who are actually hungry)
When I remake it I will probably cut down the butter to 1/2-3/4 stick instead of a full stick. The cheese sauce when fresh was well mixed, but as I’m sitting here eating my leftovers, the bottom of the bowl is definitely a layer of melted butter
Yes that is the bad part about cheese sauces, when reheated they like to separate and become greasy! But I’m so happy that you enjoyed this recipe! Its my husbands favorite.
This came out so amazing!! Next time I probably won’t use a full stick of butter as it caused the cheese to separate pretty quickly from the pasta and there was quite a bit left at the bottom of the servings. But the chicken was soooo good! Definitely gonna use the chicken recipe for other meals!
My 12 year old made this tonight as this is one of her favorite dishes from Applebee’s. It came out amazing except the sauce had a very strong lemon flavor….I’m assuming from too much lemon? She squeezed the juice from one lemon. I’m not exactly sure how intensely she squeezed but I’m assuming that was the problem? Has anyone else had an overwhelming lemon flavor in the sauce? Is there any way to fix it as we have a lot left!
Really loved this one!
You absolutely nailed it; identical (if not better) to Applebee’s. My wife made this tonight and I couldn’t be happier with the results. Thank you!
My family loves this meal!!!!
This dinner was awesome! My husband went back for 3rds and said it was great each time and he is picky! I love that you used chicken tenders that can just grab from the freezer. It really made this an easier meal. I personally love the no roux approach. It makes the sauce so much creamier without that floury grit I get when I have made similar sauces in the past. Thank you one of our new favs!!!
Made it for a potluck about a year ago & it was a big hit. It went fast 🙂
Amazing!!!!! So yummy, try to not eat too much cause I sure did
This was a great recipe, but I have one question, how long can the sauce stay in the fridge? Does anyone know?
Your recipe is actually better than the original now. The have cut corners to the point where it’s served on a plate instead of a bowl, cut down on the cheese sauce, changed the pasta to something bigger that holds none of the diminishing sauce, no breadstick, less bacon, overall much smaller portion, and charge for a little extra sauce on the side.
Thanks so much AJ. I agree they have really cut their portions and there really isn’t anything to the pasta when you order it from Applebees! I would much prefer to make mine at home (although not quicker than ordering) you sure do get a lot more and larger portions!
Holy Moly this looks so good. Adding this to my try list.
Best Mac and cheese ever made!
I love a good copycat recipe. This is spot on!
This is one of my family’s favorite dinners! Thanks for a wonderful recipe we can make at home
This is our new favorite mac and cheese recipe. So good and hearty!
Can I mix some of the ingredients in advance? Traveling to a cabin tomorrow and plan on making this. Trying to make things as easily as possible….
I read the reviews before I made this and was prepared for the sauce to not thicken because I have the worst luck with that! But i told myself i would make this the first time without changing just to see. I’m so glad that I did! I followed this recipe to a T and it came out beautifully! And it tasted delicious! Thank you for this recipe!!
Have made this a half a dozen times now. My and Hubby’s favorite meal. Thanks so much!
It’s my husbands favorite too! So happy you liked it!
I have made this so many times now for my son. He loves it and says it is almost exactly like his favorite dish at Applebees! You have saved me a lot of money with this recipe.
Thats so great to hear! This is one of our families favorite recipes and such a good copycat one for sure!