What did you do last night?

Stovetop BBQ Chicken Shells and Cheese I howsweeteats.com

Know what we did? Well, what we did after a bunch of work and some cleaning that left me so exhausted that I complained all through dinner? (Shocking.) But… we watched Walk the Line. OMG. One of my all-time favorite movies… EVER. And of course, one of my husband’s all time favorite movies ever too because he is a cahhhrazy Johnny Cash fan.

Stovetop BBQ Chicken Shells and Cheese I howsweeteats.com

Want to know something funny? Well, I find it funny… my husband finds it pathetic… you will just find it annoying… but when the movie first came out, and I was intensely obsessed with it, I bought the soundtrack and only listened to THAT… like not the real songs. Like not the real songs sung by the real artists who were immensely famous for their craft. I decided that I liked the way Joaquin and Reese sang better than Johnny and June. Because I barely knew anything about the REAL people, because I 1.lived (live?) in a bubble, 2. was young and outrageously naive and 3. lacked (lack?) any admirable taste in music.

This almost ended our engagement. Seriously.

Stovetop BBQ Chicken Shells and Cheese I howsweeteats.com

And for the record, most people (with the exception of like, 17-year old girls and 65-year old women) still know I for sure lack any kind of taste in music… especially like when my cousin told me earlier this week that she was going to see My Morning Jacket and Band of Horses in concert and I just looked at her like she had 20 heads. Um whaaaaat? I don’t know any bands about sweaters and ponies.

Okay. Now that I just discussed my sad and boring life for a few paragraphs, let’s get to the good stuff.

Stovetop BBQ Chicken Shells and Cheese I howsweeteats.com

This comes on the heels of one of our favorite dishes – buffalo chicken baked pasta – but it lacks the whole “baking” thing because I was… insanely lazy. And hungry. I can’t not tell the truth. Especially to you, my favorite invisible internet friend. And I couldn’t imagine turning on the oven and WAITING for it to bake. I mean who has the patience for THAT?

Not I.

Stovetop BBQ Chicken Shells and Cheese I howsweeteats.com

And you know… I wish I could say that we ate this as a full meal… but no. I had to make turkey burgers too because this *wasn’t enough* protein for dinner. At least according to that guy I live with. But the good news is that I – me, myself and I – ate it as a meal. With a few chunks of chocolate afterwards. Oh and peanut butter. Just how I roll. Or, err… survive.

Stovetop BBQ Chicken Shells and Cheese I howsweeteats.com


Stovetop BBQ Chicken Shells and Cheese

Yield: serves 4-6

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes


2 cooked chicken breasts, cut into cubes

4 cups whole wheat pasta shells

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 red onion, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup flour

2 cups low-fat milk

4 ounces white cheddar cheese, freshly grated

4 ounces gouda cheese, freshly grated

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce

4 green onions, thinly sliced

1 handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

1 handful of fresh parsley, chopped

crumbled bacon for topping


Toss chicken with 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce and set aside.

Heat a large soup-type pot over medium-low heat. Add olive oil and butter, then toss in sliced onions with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until caramelized. While onions are cooking, prepare water for pasta and bring to a boil. I only cooked my pasta for about 5 minutes because it will go directly into the hot cheese sauce. I tried to time it so my pasta was done only a few minutes before adding it to the sauce, but if it's done much earlier, just set it aside in a colander.

Increase heat to medium under the onions and add flour, whisking constantly to create a roux. Cook for 5 minutes, until golden and fragrant, stirring often. Add in milk, whisking constantly, and stir for another 5 minutes until slightly thickened. Reduce heat to medium-low and add in grated cheeses and mustard. Continue to stir until sauce is creamy and cheese has melted. Add in shells and stir to coat, then toss in chicken. Drizzle the rest of the BBQ sauce on top.

Serve immediately with green onions, bacon, parsley and cilantro on top - and more sauce if desired!

Note: this reheats well - just add a splash of milk and stir, stir, stir.

Stovetop BBQ Chicken Shells and Cheese I howsweeteats.com

Green stuff = health food. Work it.

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104 Responses to “Stovetop BBQ Chicken Shells and Cheese.”

  1. #
    Tasha @ ThatsSoYummy — August 23, 2012 @ 6:54 am

    I think my kids would love this, looks delicious!


  2. #
    Ali @ Peaches and Football — August 23, 2012 @ 6:56 am

    I love pasta! I’ve never watched Walk the Line and don’t know any songs that Johnny and June sang together. I’m in a much more air-tight (sound-tight?) bubble than you. ;)


  3. #
    Nicky @ Pink Recipe Box — August 23, 2012 @ 6:57 am

    I can totally see myself devouring bowls of this stuff over and over… Pinning!


  4. #
    heather — August 23, 2012 @ 7:03 am

    O-M-G. I’m so hungry! (waaaah) Looks absolutely deeee-lish!


  5. #
    Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers — August 23, 2012 @ 7:07 am

    This looks fantastic!! I don’t know what more to say, but I must make this!! So perfect for a summer weekend!! With a Margarita in hand! :)


  6. #
    Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) — August 23, 2012 @ 7:22 am

    Hm, steamy cheesy pasta. The bbq sauce at first tricked me and I thought there was lobster in this–it’s very early, and yet, I would be happy to eat this for breakfast.

    Umm…I’ve been up since like 5 am (for no reason, other than the fact that my sleeping patterns are just strange on random occasions) and I’ve been sorting through photos on the computer, whilst listening to Ace of Base (rediscovered on my hard-drive), so I’m not one to talk about excellent taste in music either…


  7. #
    Lynne @ 365 Days of Baking — August 23, 2012 @ 7:33 am

    Oh, looks so good and I LOVE that it’s prepared on the stove top! Quicker is SOMETIMES better!
    And this will be great if I can figure out how to prepare it on my now ELECTRIC stove *GAG* without burning it.
    We’ve moved and I miss my gas *weeping*…


    • Megan — August 24th, 2012 @ 7:54 am

      Funny comment:

      I recently moved into my own place as well. While I was apartment searching this one woman kept going on and on about the stove… I asked if it was gas and she said (excitedly x10) that it was electric!

      I couldn’t understand her excitement AND I didn’t take the place (not only for that BUT it was up there on the list!)


  8. #
    Rachel Cooks — August 23, 2012 @ 7:36 am

    We like the Walk the Line soundtrack better than the real thing too! I’m sure we’re going to some kind of musical hell for that but…oh well!


  9. #
    Sommer@ASpicyPerspective — August 23, 2012 @ 7:38 am

    Oh girl, this looks so homey and satisfying! And yes, I walked Walk the Line last might too! If it ever comes on TV I can’t resist.


  10. #
    Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat — August 23, 2012 @ 7:42 am

    Ok, you had a much better evening than me! What did I do? Mine started out fantastically. I treated myself to a bottle of my favourite fancy shmancy maple dark balsamic vinegar, and drizzled it over 1/2 a bag of Brussels sprouts as a pre-dinner snack (because Brussels sprouts are my all-time favourite veggie, minus the annoying capitalized B). It was amazing as expected, but here’s where things went south: They were so freaking good that I decided, “What the heck, let’s go crazy and do the same with the other half of the bag.” So I did, and ate them as I cooked dinner. By the time dinner actually WAS ready, I don’t think I was even hungry for it but figured I’d gone through the trouble of cooking and can’t JUST have Brussels sprouts for a meal, so I ate it anyway. About an hour later, I started to feel sick. Brussels sprout toxicity? Probably. Next time I’ll just stick to half a bag. ;)


    • Jessica — August 23rd, 2012 @ 10:26 am

      Yiiiiikes. I’m glad I like sprouts. :)


  11. #
    Kim@hungryhealthygirl — August 23, 2012 @ 7:43 am

    I LOVE that movie too! And for the record also love the Reese/Joaquin version! I’ve been thinking of coming up with a barbecue pasta recipe…this looks delicious.


  12. #
    Sophia — August 23, 2012 @ 7:55 am

    I have an abcessed tooth, so after i ate Cream of Tomato soup, i passed out. =)

    On the other hand, i made hubby Salmon Patties and Veggie Mac N Cheese. The Veggie Mac N Cheese had Butter, Salt, Pepper, Adobo, Steamed Broccoli, 1 lb Ziti pasta, 1 jar Alfredo Sauce, and 1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese. Dear Gawd, it was Yummy!!


  13. #
    Cindi — August 23, 2012 @ 7:56 am

    I love the real Johnny Cash, but was also OBSESSED with the soundtrack. Plus, I’ve been looking for a great bbq chicken pasta recipe. Thanks!!


  14. #
    sally @ sallys baking addiction — August 23, 2012 @ 7:57 am

    I love Walk the Line! SUch a great movie. The soundtrack is unbelievable too! This pasta… omg omg omg cheesy shells + bbq chicken… you’ve combined my favorite comfort food dinner with my favorite healthy dinner. i love youuuuu.


  15. #
    Eddie — August 23, 2012 @ 8:17 am

    I thought our engagement was over when I suggested our reception take place in a fire hall and we have a buffett.

    “But I like buffets. I eat…a lot.”


    • Jessica — August 23rd, 2012 @ 10:26 am

      Hey, I’ve been to some of the best weddings of my life at Fire halls!


  16. #
    JulieD — August 23, 2012 @ 8:20 am

    Love, love! I think Curtis would love this!!


  17. #
    Simply Life — August 23, 2012 @ 8:35 am

    I still am listening to some of the same music from years ago! I can’t help but like it even if everyone else has moved on :)


  18. #
    Kelly — August 23, 2012 @ 8:35 am

    Ah delicious. I haven’t been craving pasta because it is so freaking hot! In my mind pasta is a winter food. IS that weird? Probably.


    • Jessica — August 23rd, 2012 @ 10:25 am

      Nah, I sorta think the same thing.


  19. #
    Jessica L. — August 23, 2012 @ 8:39 am

    this looks fabulous!!

    and I haven’t heard of those bands either…


  20. #
    Kim in MD — August 23, 2012 @ 8:55 am

    I have never seen that movie…I must see it now! :-) This pasta looks amazing, and I love that you didn’t bake it!


  21. #
    Jordana — August 23, 2012 @ 8:59 am

    Ok so it’s 9am right now where I live, and my belly is growling is extremelyyyy loud after seeing this! I absolutely loved your bbq chicken pasta recipe and I’ve made it a few times, so I’m definitely going to make this. Not for breakfast or anything… just … later. I think. :)


  22. #
    Amanda at the red table — August 23, 2012 @ 9:01 am

    pssst: I love the Walk the Line Soundtrack too. I like Johnny Cash, but I also like the remakes! Plus, Reese Witherspoon is a WAY better singer than June!


    • Jessica — August 23rd, 2012 @ 10:24 am

      Hahaha, and my dad says she’s a lot better looking too. :)


  23. #
    Jessica — August 23, 2012 @ 9:02 am

    I love that movie, but I also love the spoof: Walk Hard. Which if you haven’t seen it, I think, it’s hilarious. But I have an odd sense of humor so don’t hold me to that…
    This looks fab by the way. I feel like bbq sauce or buffalo sauce + cheese and you can’t go wrong.


    • Jessica — August 23rd, 2012 @ 10:24 am

      What! I’ve never seen this.


  24. #
    Mal @ The Chic Geek — August 23, 2012 @ 9:06 am

    This looks delicious! Love BBQ and love mac and cheese- definitely need to make this


  25. #
    Yammie @ Yammie's Noshery — August 23, 2012 @ 9:09 am

    I tell you, we are the same person! I feel the same about Walk the Line. LOVE IT.


  26. #
    Lmac — August 23, 2012 @ 9:26 am

    OMG this looks amazing!!!

    Quick question… when you use pre-cooked chicken in a recipe like this, how do you cook it? Boiled? Baked?


    • Jessica — August 23rd, 2012 @ 10:23 am

      It totally depends – we ALWAYS have cooked chicken on hand because my husband eats so much of it… I think the quickest would be to broil it, but if you don’t want to turn on the oven, go ahead and boil it! I do that a lot too.


  27. #
    Katie — August 23, 2012 @ 9:53 am

    Seriousllllyyy why are we NOT neighbors?! I am head over heals for that movie. Just obsessed. I’m probably going to have to watch it tonight…or right now at 8am. And eat some bbq mac and cheese.


    • Jessica — August 23rd, 2012 @ 10:22 am

      Ugh. We so need to be.


  28. #
    Christina @ This Woman Cooks! — August 23, 2012 @ 9:56 am

    I loooove Walk the Line and the soundtrack!


  29. #
    Stephanie — August 23, 2012 @ 10:08 am

    Johnny Cash is the man! The movie was great!


  30. #
    RavieNomNoms — August 23, 2012 @ 10:12 am

    I can honestly say I have never seen a recipe like this. I am intrigued! How much fun! I haven’t seen the movie, but I heard it is was very good


  31. #
    Meg @ Peaches and Cake — August 23, 2012 @ 10:19 am

    I know I have to rely on all my hipster friends for music recommendations!


  32. #
    Averie @ Averie Cooks — August 23, 2012 @ 10:38 am

    chicken and cheese and shells – now THIS is the type of meal that my hubs would go nuts for!


  33. #
    alicia — August 23, 2012 @ 11:04 am

    Is there anything bacon doesn’t go with?MMMMM……… Tuna Fish?
    I didn’t have the time to do all the ingredients ,so Annies Shell Mac & Cheese had to do ,with a little bit of doctoring up with some Seriously Sharp Cheddar Cheese ………….was sooooooo good. I had to make another batch for the kids! Thanks ,Alicia


  34. #
    Kendra — August 23, 2012 @ 11:25 am

    OMG!! You are THE greatest!!! I die for that pasta bake but find it so labour intensive that I rarely make it. So THANK YOU!!! This will be made and devoured on the regular in my abode.


  35. #
    Carly @ Snack Therapy — August 23, 2012 @ 11:31 am

    I love pasta. Especially creamy pasta. Add some cheese? Heavenly.


  36. #
    Mia — August 23, 2012 @ 11:34 am

    I want to eat this. Right now. The boy I date does not like onions. Well, he “likes onion flavor, but not the sensation of onions in his mouth.” Whatever that’s supposed to mean. In some ways, he’s ruining my life.


  37. #
    Heather (Heather's Dish) — August 23, 2012 @ 11:35 am

    totally watched that movie too and have been singing johnny cash to wes all morning. it’s what i do!


  38. #
    Jimi — August 23, 2012 @ 12:03 pm

    Oh my word. This is making my stomach growl, and it’s not lunch time yet…and lunch, no matter where I go, will not be as good as this. Care to share what kind of barbeque sauce you prefer? We are always trying new ones and have never found a favorite.


    • Jessica — August 23rd, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

      Bone Suckin! It’s our absolute favorite… can’t beat it: http://bonesuckin.com/.
      Though I also really love homemade.


  39. #
    Michelle — August 23, 2012 @ 12:24 pm

    Confession — totally preferred the WTL soundtrack to the real thing for aaaaaaages [but I do know who My Morning Jacket and Band of Horses are ;)].

    You totally upped the ante by adding gouda to the cheese sauce. Swoooooooon!


  40. #
    Samantha — August 23, 2012 @ 12:31 pm

    This looks sooooooo good!! I’m adding it to my recipes-I’m-making-when-fall-comes list.


  41. #
    Nikki — August 23, 2012 @ 12:35 pm

    Wow, now THAT looks delicious!!


  42. #
    wendy — August 23, 2012 @ 1:07 pm

    ooh YUM. my boyfriend would die happy. i WILL make this.


  43. #
    Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes — August 23, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

    Your recipes get more amazing by the day! OMG!


  44. #
    addie @ culicurious.com — August 23, 2012 @ 1:33 pm

    yum, THIS is comfort food :)


  45. #
    The Meaning of Me — August 23, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

    It’s official – I now need a Pinterest to keep track of all the recipes from your blog that I need to keep track of and try. :)


  46. #
    j3nn — August 23, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

    <3 Johnny Cash!! I've been listening to his music since I can remember. And I <3 shells and cheese… YUM!!


  47. #
    Chrysa — August 23, 2012 @ 2:12 pm

    I’m only 30, but tell people that I “don’t know what the kids listen to.” I just found out who One Direction is and can’t name one of their songs. The only reason I even know the chorus to “Call Me Maybe” is because I watch the Today Show.


  48. #
    Rachel — August 23, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

    We have the soundtrack to Walk the Line and I also preferred it to the real thing. Don’t know why. Maybe because I was just impressed that two actors/actresses could sing so like the people they were impersonating! Anyway, love the movie and love the soundtrack! Aaaannnd every once in awhile, I listen to the real thing too.


  49. #
    Eileen — August 23, 2012 @ 2:38 pm

    This sounds like comfort food at its finest! I can totally see myself making a batch of this to eat for several lunches in a row. :)


  50. #
    Kristina — August 23, 2012 @ 3:29 pm

    we are so twins.

    not just because I prefer my mac + cheese UNbaked, but because I just admitted to listening to (um, owning and currently in my car…) the old Chumbawumba cd. *sigh*

    I am also all about soundtracks.



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