Macaroni and Cheese with Ground Bison


Just in time for those cold winter days, here is a quick, hearty, and cheesy dish that’s perfect for busy weeknights or anytime you need a comfort meal. As a working mom with two active kids I totally understand how hard it can be to get dinner on the table. That’s why I love this recipe; it’s super easy to make, satisfying, and versatile.

The inspiration for this warming dish came a few weeks ago on a cold snowy night when my hubby and I attended a Cheeselandia event sponsored by Wisconsin Cheese. For any cheese lover, this event was nirvana. How could three pounds of cheese per person not be? We were treated to some fabulous cheeses in a beautiful venue. My husbands and my favorite cheese was an apple smoked cheddar. It’s a milder cheddar with a rich smoky flavor to start and a flavorful creamy cheddar to finish with a spicy paprika hint.

If you have the Muy Bueno cookbook, you’ll notice that the base of this dish is my mom’s Mexican Macaroni and Cheese, but heartier. The ground bison (buffalo) takes this dish from being just a side to a whole meal by adding a rich heartiness that any good comfort food has.

I love using ground bison because it so lean. Once it’s cooked I rarely have to drain any fat and is a healthy alternative. However, what sets this dish a side for every other mac and cheese recipe is the apple smoked cheddar cheese. The smoky flavor of this cheese goes so well with the bison, but how could it not. This cheddar cheese melts into a creamy consistency that is just magic.
As for the versatility of the recipe, it’s easy to experiment with different combinations. For example, instead of using green peppers, try substituting with roasted poblano peppers and pepper jack cheese for a spicy south-western flavor.

This is some bougie mac n cheese made with apple smoked cheddar cheese and ground bison. I remember when I was a little girl begging my mom to buy Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni, but she never did. Till this day I have never tried it. This is my grown-up version of hamburger helper and I have a sneaky suspicion it tastes so much better than the boxed version.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Macaroni and Cheese with Ground Bison

This is some bougie mac n cheese made with apple smoked cheddar cheese and ground bison.

Macaroni and Cheese with Ground Bison


  • 3 ½ cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups of elbow macaroni
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil
  • ½ cup yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • 2 gloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground bison
  • 1 (8-ounce) can of tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons tomato bouillon
  • 2 cups shredded apple smoked cheddar cheese


  1. Bring water and salt to boil in a medium sauce pan. Add macaroni and boil uncovered for 12 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, sauté onion, green pepper, and garlic in butter or olive oil for 2 minutes. Once the onion is translucent, transfer sautéed ingredients to a plate and set aside.
  3. In the same skillet, brown ground bison over medium heat. Drain fat.
  4. Combine ground bison and sautéed ingredients. Add macaroni with the water to the skillet. Add tomato sauce, bouillon, and bring to a boil uncovered.
  5. Once the mixture is boiling, turn off heat. Sprinkle cheese on the top and cover until the cheese melts.
Photography by Jenna Sparks