Copycat Applebee’s Honey Pepper Chicken Mac and Cheese



For Honey Pepper Chicken:

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

For Mac and Cheese:

  • 8 oz elbow macaroni or your preferred pasta
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


Honey Pepper Chicken:

  1. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
  2. Dredge each piece in flour, then dip in beaten eggs, and coat with breadcrumbs.
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the chicken until golden brown and cooked through. Set aside.
  4. In a small saucepan, mix honey, soy sauce, black pepper, and garlic powder. Heat over low heat until well combined. Pour the sauce over the fried chicken and toss to coat.

Mac and Cheese:

  1. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour to create a roux. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Gradually whisk in the milk, making sure there are no lumps. Continue to cook and stir until the mixture thickens.
  4. Reduce heat to low and stir in the shredded cheddar and Parmesan cheese until melted and smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce and stir until well coated.


  1. Serve the honey pepper chicken over the mac and cheese.
  2. Drizzle with extra honey pepper sauce if desired.
  3. Garnish with chopped parsley or green onions, if desired.
  4. Serve hot and enjoy your delicious Copycat Applebee’s Honey Pepper Chicken Mac and Cheese!

This recipe recreates the beloved flavors of Applebee’s Honey Pepper Chicken and combines them with creamy, cheesy mac and cheese for a comforting and satisfying meal that everyone will love!

Here are some helpful tips to make your Copycat Applebee’s Honey Pepper Chicken Mac and Cheese even more delightful:

  1. Marinate the Chicken: Consider marinating the chicken pieces in a mixture of honey, soy sauce, black pepper, and garlic powder for a few hours or overnight before dredging and frying. This will infuse the chicken with extra flavor and tenderness.
  2. Double-Crumb the Chicken: For an extra crispy coating on the chicken, dip each piece in the beaten eggs and breadcrumbs twice before frying. This creates a thicker and crunchier crust that pairs perfectly with the honey pepper sauce.
  3. Add Heat: If you like a bit of heat, add a pinch of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes to the honey pepper sauce for a spicy kick. You can also drizzle hot sauce over the finished dish for an extra burst of flavor.
  4. Use Different Cheese: Experiment with different types of cheese for the mac and cheese portion of the dish. Smoked gouda, pepper jack, or Monterey Jack cheese can add unique flavors and richness to the sauce.
  5. Add Vegetables: Incorporate sautéed vegetables such as bell peppers, onions, or broccoli into the mac and cheese for added texture and nutrition. These veggies not only enhance the flavor but also provide a pop of color to the dish.
  6. Mix in Bacon: Everything is better with bacon! Consider adding crispy cooked bacon pieces to the mac and cheese for an extra layer of smokiness and crunch. Simply crumble the bacon and stir it into the cheese sauce before adding the pasta.
  7. Finish with Fresh Herbs: Garnish the finished dish with chopped fresh parsley, chives, or cilantro for a burst of freshness and color. These herbs add brightness to the dish and complement the rich flavors of the chicken and cheese.
  8. Serve with Garlic Bread: Pair your Honey Pepper Chicken Mac and Cheese with garlic bread or garlic knots for a complete and satisfying meal. The garlic-infused bread perfectly complements the flavors of the dish and helps soak up any extra sauce.
  9. Drizzle Extra Honey Sauce: Before serving, drizzle extra honey pepper sauce over the plated dish for an added touch of sweetness and flavor. This extra sauce enhances the overall taste experience and makes the dish even more indulgent.
  10. Allow Chicken to Rest: Let the fried chicken pieces rest on a wire rack for a few minutes after frying to allow excess oil to drain off and the crust to crisp up further. This step ensures that the chicken remains crispy and delicious when served.

By incorporating these tips, you’ll take your Copycat Applebee’s Honey Pepper Chicken Mac and Cheese to the next level, creating a dish that’s even more delightful and memorable for your taste buds!

Here are some tips to help you nail it:

  1. Balance the Flavors: The key to replicating Applebee’s Honey Pepper Chicken is finding the right balance of sweet, savory, and peppery flavors. Taste and adjust the honey pepper sauce to your liking, ensuring it’s not too sweet or too salty.
  2. Crispy Chicken: To achieve perfectly crispy chicken, ensure your oil is hot enough before frying. Preheat the oil to around 350°F (175°C) and fry the chicken in batches to prevent overcrowding, which can lead to soggy coating. Also, double-dredging the chicken in flour and breadcrumbs can create an extra crispy crust.
  3. Infuse Flavor: Marinating the chicken in a mixture of honey, soy sauce, black pepper, and garlic powder before breading and frying can infuse it with extra flavor. Consider marinating for at least 30 minutes or even overnight in the refrigerator for maximum flavor.
  4. Creamy Mac and Cheese: The secret to a creamy mac and cheese lies in the cheese sauce. Be sure to cook the flour and butter mixture (roux) until it turns golden brown to avoid a raw flour taste. Gradually add the milk while whisking continuously to prevent lumps. Use high-quality sharp cheddar and Parmesan cheese for maximum flavor and creaminess.
  5. Season Well: Don’t forget to season each component of the dish generously. Season the chicken with salt and pepper before frying, and season the cheese sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust the seasoning as needed to ensure a well-balanced flavor profile.
  6. Choose the Right Pasta: While elbow macaroni is the classic choice for mac and cheese, feel free to experiment with other pasta shapes like cavatappi, penne, or rotini. Choose a pasta shape with nooks and crannies to hold onto the cheese sauce for maximum flavor in every bite.
  7. Garnish Thoughtfully: A sprinkle of fresh herbs like chopped parsley or green onions can add a pop of color and freshness to the dish. Consider garnishing each serving with a drizzle of extra honey pepper sauce for an added flavor boost.
  8. Serve Hot: For the best dining experience, serve your Copycat Applebee’s Honey Pepper Chicken Mac and Cheese hot and fresh from the kitchen. The crispy chicken and creamy mac and cheese are at their peak when served immediately.

By following these secrets, you’ll be well on your way to creating a restaurant-worthy Copycat Applebee’s Honey Pepper Chicken Mac and Cheese that will impress even the pickiest eaters!

Here are some of the most popular questions and their answers related to Copycat Applebee’s Honey Pepper Chicken Mac and Cheese:

  1. What does Applebee’s Honey Pepper Chicken Mac and Cheese taste like?
    • Applebee’s Honey Pepper Chicken Mac and Cheese is a delicious combination of crispy fried chicken coated in a sweet and savory honey pepper sauce served over creamy macaroni and cheese. It has a perfect balance of flavors with hints of sweetness from the honey and a kick of heat from the pepper.
  2. Can I make this dish ahead of time?
    • While the fried chicken is best enjoyed fresh, you can prepare the mac and cheese ahead of time and reheat it before serving. Store the fried chicken separately from the mac and cheese to maintain its crispiness.
  3. Can I use a different type of pasta for the mac and cheese?
    • Yes, you can use any type of pasta you prefer for the mac and cheese, such as penne, rotini, or shells. Choose a pasta shape that holds onto the cheese sauce well for the best results.
  4. How can I make this dish healthier?
    • To make a healthier version of Copycat Applebee’s Honey Pepper Chicken Mac and Cheese, you can bake the chicken instead of frying it, use whole wheat pasta for the mac and cheese, and reduce the amount of cheese or use a lighter cheese sauce.
  5. What sides go well with this dish?
    • Popular side dishes to serve with Copycat Applebee’s Honey Pepper Chicken Mac and Cheese include steamed vegetables, a side salad, garlic bread, or coleslaw. These sides complement the richness of the dish and add variety to the meal.
  6. Can I adjust the level of spiciness in the honey pepper sauce?
    • Yes, you can adjust the level of spiciness in the honey pepper sauce by adding more or less black pepper or by incorporating other spicy ingredients such as red pepper flakes or hot sauce to suit your taste preferences.
  7. How do I store leftovers?
    • Store any leftover mac and cheese and fried chicken separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Reheat the components separately in the microwave or oven until heated through before serving.
  8. Can I freeze this dish?
    • It’s not recommended to freeze Copycat Applebee’s Honey Pepper Chicken Mac and Cheese as the texture of the macaroni and cheese may become grainy upon thawing. However, you can freeze leftover fried chicken for up to 2-3 months and reheat it in the oven or air fryer for a crispy texture.

These are some of the most common questions related to Copycat Applebee’s Honey Pepper Chicken Mac and Cheese, and I hope these answers are helpful!