Buffalo Chicken Salad

4.86 from 7 votes
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A fun twist on the famous appetizer: here’s a delicious buffalo chicken salad tossed with a spicy ranch dressing. The recipe contains various fresh vegetables and crumbles of blue cheese that keep you craving more.

Are you a fan of spicy buffalo wings or buffalo chicken dip? If so, then you’ve come to the right place!

Colorful buffalo chicken salad served in a large white bowl.

I enjoy putting buffalo sauce on just about everything! This inspired me to create a hearty buffalo chicken salad. I marinate the chicken breast in a hot sauce mixture for maximum flavor to infuse more tanginess and heat.

I build the salad with sturdy pieces of romaine topped with crunchy vegetables, juicy tomatoes, creamy avocado, and blue cheese. A generous drizzle of spicy ranch dressing completes this dish—no more bones to eat around or sticky fingers. Just grab a fork and dig in!

Recipe ingredients

Ingredients to make a chicken salad with buffalo sauce.
  • Chicken: Use boneless, skinless chicken breast for a quick cooking, lean protein option. Purchase a 1-pound package.
  • Marinade: To make this buffalo chicken recipe flavorful, soak the pieces in Franks’s Red Hot sauce, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Dressing: A combination of ranch dressing, hot sauce, and cayenne.
  • Lettuce: To incorporate crunchiness into the salad, use romaine lettuce. It’s crisp, refreshing, and sturdy enough to hold up to heavy meat and toppings. Slice them into ½-inch thick strips, making them easy to grab with a fork. You could even serve the salad on the romaine hearts to make appetizer boats or lettuce wraps.
  • Toppings: Crisp cucumbers, red onions, juicy tomatoes, creamy avocado, and tangy blue cheese crumbles.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Prepare the chicken

Four chicken cutlets on a white cutting board.

Step 1: Slice the breasts in half to create thin cutlets so the marinade can absorb into the meat quickly.

Make the marinade

Step 2: The chicken cutlets get a brief soak in a buffalo sauce marinade. It combines Frank’s Red Hot sauce for heat and spice, olive oil for richness, and salt and pepper to enhance the savory taste. What’s great is you can use extra marinade to drizzle over the salad.

Marinate the chicken

Chicken breasts in a baking dish being marinated in Frank's hot sauce and pepper.

Step 3: Marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 60 minutes. The hot sauce has a lot of distilled vinegar, so don’t let it sit much longer. The vinegar causes the proteins to contract, release moisture, and yield dried-out pieces.

Cook the chicken

Chicken breast cooking in a cast iron skillet.

Step 4: Cook the chicken in olive oil over medium heat. It will take about 5 to 7 minutes per side. It’s ready when the internal temperature in the thickest part of the breast reaches between 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC).

Shake off the excess marinade before cooking so the liquid doesn’t steam in the pan. You can blot the surface with paper towels for an extra golden brown exterior. Grilled chicken is an excellent option if you prefer a smokey taste.

Rest the meat

Chicken breast on a wooden cutting board and sliced into pieces after resting the meat.

Step 5: Rest the chicken for about 10 minutes to let the juices redistribute and allow for carryover cooking. You can slice, dice, or shred into pieces.

Make the dressing

Bowl of ranch, cayenne, and hot sauce.

Ranch, hot sauce, and pepper.

Bowl of spicy ranch dressing after whisking the ingredients together.

Whisk until combined.

Step 6: I use my homemade ranch dressing as the base, made from buttermilk, sour cream, mayonnaise, savory spices, and fresh herbs. However, grab your favorite store-bought product for convenience. For a kick of heat, stir in hot sauce and cayenne pepper.

Dress the salad

Bowl of romaine lettuce drizzled with a spicy ranch dressing flavored with hot sauce.

Step 7: Toss the lettuce with about ¼ cup of the spicy ranch dressing to coat evenly. Reserve the remaining for guests to add on more if desired.

Step 8: When topping a buffalo chicken salad, I incorporated the crunchy fixings: carrots, celery, and cucumber. Creamy avocado helps tame the heat of the buffalo sauce. Sweet tomatoes complement the spicy hot sauce.

Don’t forget the blue cheese! It adds a sharp, salty, and tangy element to the salad. I like to add the dressing and the reserved buffalo marinade on top right before serving for extra heat.

Flavor variations

Now that you know how to make buffalo chicken salad recipe, switch up the flavors! Try these tasty options:

  • Chicken: For a quick and easy option, use leftover roasted chicken. Just shred or dice it up and toss it with the marinade to flavor the pieces.
  • Hot Sauce: Crystal or Tobasco will have a thinner consistency than Frank’s RedHot. For a thicker consistency, use homemade buffalo sauce, or look for buffalo wing sauce at the store for a quick swap.
  • Lettuce: This chicken salad would be even more delicious with grilled romaine. It adds a warm, charred element. If desired, you can substitute with other types of lettuce like iceberg, baby spinach, kale, or spring mix.
  • Dressing: If you love blue cheese, try my blue cheese dressing.
  • Cheese: Instead of blue cheese, use a crumbly gorgonzola, feta, cotija, or queso fresco.
  • Toppings: Add pickled red onions, sliced green onions, or crunchy homemade croutons.

Serve this with

Frequently asked questions

Can I use dark meat?

Yes, you can use boneless, skinless chicken thighs if you prefer dark meat. Trim off excess fat before marinating so the chicken isn’t too greasy.

What can I substitute for blue cheese?

Some semi-soft cheeses have a pungent taste and intense aroma due to ripening with the edible mold Penicillium. Feta and goat cheese is still spicy but doesn’t have the blue vein running through their curds. Shredded mozzarella, Monterey, pepper jack, or cheddar cheese are milder substitutes.

Buffalo chicken salad served with avocado, blue cheese, tomatoes, and onions.

Hot sauce vs. buffalo wing sauce

Hot sauce combines dried red pepper like cayenne, vinegar, water, and seasonings. It’s thinner in consistency and is used as an ingredient to add heat. Buffalo wing sauce uses hot sauce as its main ingredient, along with more vinegar for pungency, additional seasonings, and thickening agents to help the sauce cling to the chicken. Butter, oil, cornstarch, or products like xanthan gum make a stickier, thicker sauce.

Buffalo Chicken Salad

A fun twist on the famous game day appetizer, here's a delicious buffalo chicken salad tossed with a spicy ranch dressing.
4.86 from 7 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Servings 4 servings
Course Salad
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

Buffalo Chicken Marinade

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ cup hot sauce, Frank’s RedHot recommended
  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon for cooking
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Spicy Ranch Dressing

  • 1 cup ranch dressing
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce, Frank’s RedHot recommended
  • teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional

Salad

  • 8 cups romaine lettuce, ½” thick slices
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup sliced celery, ¼" thick
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup diced cucumber, ½” dice
  • 1 medium avocado, sliced
  • ½ cup crumbled blue cheese
  • ¼ cup sliced red onion, ⅛” thick

Instructions 

  • Prepare the Chicken – Cut each chicken breast in half horizontally lengthwise to make 2 thinner cutlets, 4 total.
  • Make the Marinade – In a medium bowl, whisk together the hot sauce, olive oil, salt, and black pepper—Reserve ¼ cup for topping the salad.
  • Marinate the Chicken – Add the chicken to a baking dish or large resealable plastic bag. Add the remaining buffalo sauce marinade, and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate. Press out the excess air if using a plastic bag. Marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 60 minutes.
  • Cook the Chicken – Heat a large cast iron skillet or grill pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, and heat until hot and shimmering but not smoking. Shake off the excess marinade from the chicken, then add it to the pan and cook until golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes per side.
    Cook until the internal temperature reaches 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC) on a meat thermometer. Transfer to a clean plate to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Slice the Chicken – After resting, slice the meat against the grain. If desired, chop into cubes. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Make the Dressing – In a medium bowl, combine ranch dressing, 2 tablespoons hot sauce, and cayenne pepper (if using)—season to taste.
  • ​​Dress the Salad – Add romaine lettuce to a large bowl and ¼ cup of spicy ranch dressing. Gently toss to combine.
  • Add the Toppings – Top the lettuce with carrots, celery, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, blue cheese, and onions. Serve with remaining ranch dressing and buffalo sauce marinade on the side.

Recipe Video

Notes

  • Dressing Yield: About 1 cup
  • Storing: The undressed salad and dressing can be covered and stored separately in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Grilled Chicken: Preheat the grill over medium-high heat between 375 to 400ºF (191 to 204ºC). Clean and grease the grates with oil. Keep one burner off for indirect heat cooking. Place the chicken on the direct heat side and close the lid. Cook each side for about 5 to 7 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC). If browning too quickly, move to the indirect heat side to complete.
  • Using Pre-Cooked Chicken: 2 ½ cups of shredded, sliced, or cubed chicken.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 699kcal (35%)Carbohydrates 19g (6%)Protein 32g (64%)Fat 56g (86%)Saturated Fat 11g (55%)Polyunsaturated Fat 19gMonounsaturated Fat 23gTrans Fat 0.01gCholesterol 101mg (34%)Sodium 2180mg (91%)Potassium 1343mg (38%)Fiber 7g (28%)Sugar 8g (9%)Vitamin A 14198IU (284%)Vitamin C 50mg (61%)Calcium 185mg (19%)Iron 3mg (17%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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  1. Robin B Moses says

    Where do you give amounts for honey, garlic powder and vinegar? I started making this but am totally stuck.