Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Chickpea Bake
I couldn’t figure out what to name this Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Chickpea Bake, because it reminds me of mac and cheese, but there’s no mac! Plus, with the chicken and the chickpeas, I keep calling this my Cheesy Chick-Chick Bake in my head, but no one else would know what that means, so…Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Chickpea Bake it is! Kind of a mouthful, but once you try it you won’t care either way. This dish is SO good. It’s ooey, gooey, cheesy and saucy with a bit of a kick and the chicken and chickpeas are super hearty and filling. You’ll never miss the pasta! Plus, a serving is only 426 calories or 6 Weight Watchers SmartPoints on Freestyle!
If you’re thinking “chickpeas instead of pasta??” have no fear. My mom was over when I made this and said she’d try a bite even though she doesn’t like chickpeas. I made her a little cup of it and she ate the whole thing! I originally got the idea for this Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Chickpea Bake after seeing Lauren from Climbing Grier Mountain post something similar. I immediately loved the idea, and now that I’m back to making new recipes after my maternity leave I knew I wanted to make this first! I know a few of you will ask me if you can use all reduced fat cheese to lower the points, but honestly, I want to say no. For a dish like this where cheese is one of the dominant flavors, I think this blend of full fat and reduced fat sharp cheddars really adds a strong cheesy flavor to the rich, creamy sauce. Plus, if you’re following the Freestyle program, the chickpeas and chicken breast are 0 points, so you might as well indulge in a little cheese! I love the added crunch from the crumb topping as well, so I wouldn’t skip that either, though you can use panko instead of regular bread crumbs if you like.
Looking for more lightened up comfort food casseroles? Check out my Bubble Up BBQ Chicken and Beans Bake, Meat and Potatoes Bake, Spinach and Chicken Phyllo Bake, Bubble Up Chicken Alfredo Bake, Cottage Pie, One-Pot Cincinnati Chili Spaghetti Bake, Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Potato Bake, Chili Cornbread Bake, Bubble Up Pizza Casserole, Layered Chicken Enchilada Bake, Teriyaki Chicken and Rice Casserole, Eggplant Parmesan Casserole, Bubble Up Chicken Pot Pie Casserole, Chicken Parmesan Quinoa Bake, Deep Dish Sloppy Joe Casserole and many more in the Casseroles section of my recipe index!
Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Chickpea Bake
Yield: 8 (about 1 1/2 cup) servings
- 4 tablespoons light butter, sliced (I use Land O’Lakes)
- 3 tablespoons flour
- ¾ teaspoon salt, divided
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups skim milk
- 4 oz 50% reduced fat sharp cheddar, shredded (I use Cabot 50%)
- 4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (I used Cabot Seriously Sharp – pick one with lots of flavor!)
- 1/3 cup Buffalo wing sauce (I used Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wings sauce)
- 4 (15 oz) cans chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
- 12 oz cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped or shredded (I like to make mine in the slow cooker)
- 1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
- ½ teaspoon dried parsley flakes
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly mist a 9×13 casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.
- Place the butter in a medium saucepan and bring over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Add the flour, ½ teaspoon of the salt and the black pepper to the butter and stir to combine. Add the milk a little at a time and whisk the flour mixture into the milk each time until smooth. Turn the heat up to medium and add the shredded cheeses. Whisk together and then whisk on and off for about 5 minutes until smooth and thickened. Stir in the Buffalo wing sauce.
- Combine the drained, rinsed chickpeas and the chicken in the prepared casserole dish and pour the cheese sauce from step 2 over the top. Stir it all together until well combined and settled into an even layer in the casserole dish.
- Spread the bread crumbs in a dry medium skillet and bring over medium heat. Keep an eye on the bread crumbs for a few minutes, pushing them around with a spatula every few minutes until they start to turn golden. They go from lightly golden to dark brown quickly, so keep your eyes peeled! When the crumbs are golden, remove them from the heat and combine them with the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt, the parsley and the garlic powder.
- Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the contents of the casserole dish and place the dish in the heated oven. Bake for 40-45 minutes until baked through and bubbly.
Weight Watchers Freestyle SmartPoints:
6 per serving (SP calculated using the recipe builder on weightwatchers.com)
Weight Watchers Points Plus:
11 per serving (PP calculated using a Weight Watchers brand PointsPlus calculator and the nutrition information below)
Nutrition Information per serving:
426 calories, 42 g carbs, 8 g sugars, 15 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 34 g protein, 7 g fiber (from myfitnesspal.com)
Inspired by Climbing Grier Mountain