Easy Buffalo Chicken Salad is a spicy, flavorful version of chicken salad. Made without mayo or dressing but has all the delicious flavors of Buffalo Chicken Dip
Why you should make Buffalo Chicken Salad
Chicken salad is excellent to keep in the fridge, so you always have a high protein, satisfying and delicious meal at the ready. However, eating the same chicken salad every single week gets boring.
But you know what’s not boring? This Buffalo Chicken Salad! It’s not boring at all.
What is Buffalo Chicken Salad
Buffalo Chicken Salad is a chicken salad made with all the delicious flavors of Buffalo Chicken Dip. There’s tangy yogurt, spicy wing sauce, rich blue cheese, fresh and crunchy celery, and chicken.
Why this Buffalo Chicken Salad recipe works
Each bite of this has a balance of spicy, tangy, rich, and cooling flavors. While I am not a big fan of yogurt in chicken salad, the tanginess of the Greek yogurt in this Buffalo Chicken Salad works so well to balance out the spiciness of the buffalo wing sauce.
What is in Buffalo Chicken Salad
Yogurt: Use a plain, strained-style yogurt in the Buffalo Chicken Salad. Regular plain yogurt will be too thin and cause your chicken salad to be watery. I use Greek yogurt but Skyr/Icelandic yogurt or other strained-style yogurt will work. Typically, I refuse to use yogurt in chicken salad, but as mentioned above, it works perfectly in this recipe.
Wing sauce: Wing sauce is different from hot pepper sauce. Be sure to buy wing sauce or buffalo wing sauce and not hot pepper sauce because that will turn this into inedible peppery chicken salad.
According to the internet, you can make your own. However, it’s worth it to me to save time by buying it at the store because you must buy hot pepper sauce anyway to make homemade wing sauce so you might as well save yourself the trouble and just buy it already made, right? The only time I think it’s worth making at home is if you need to make it dairy free by using non-dairy butter.
Note: wing sauce is insanely high in sodium. If you are concerned about your sodium intake, I suggest skipping this Buffalo Chicken Salad and trying an alternative like the Hummus Chicken Salad or Curry Avocado Chicken Salad which are both lower in sodium (and even easier to lower the sodium as needed).
Chicken: Chicken salad is a great way to use up leftover cooked chicken from a rotisserie chicken, roasted chicken, chicken cooked in a crock pot or grilled chicken. You can also easily poach the chicken or cook in a skillet and let cool & shred before stirring into the yogurt-wing sauce mixture.
Celery: Adding fresh diced celery to the Buffalo Chicken Salad gives it a nice contrast of textures with some crunch and it helps freshen up the salad. Similar to the fresh herbs, I think it really makes this chicken salad taste great. Plus, I like to serve the Buffalo Chicken Salad with celery sticks (unless I’m making a Buffalo Chicken Salad Sandwich).
Garlic: Both fresh and powdered garlic work well in this recipe. For ease, I suggest using powdered garlic since it is likely already in your pantry and you do not have to do any peeling or mincing. But for more authentic garlic flavor, use fresh.
Red pepper flakes: The red pepper flakes add a little extra kick but are optional if you want to tone down the spiciness of the Buffalo Chicken Salad.
Salt: Ok so this is optional, and I use the teeniest tiniest bit of salt because the wing sauce already has a lot of sodium and the cheese adds more as well. However, I think even the smallest pinch helps enhance the flavor. But I often forget to add it, so it’s an easy one to skip if you want.
Blue cheese: A little bit of blue cheese goes a long way, and the blue cheese is so tasty in this chicken salad. In my opinion, buying a piece of blue cheese and crumbling it at home gives better flavor than buying the blue cheese crumbles. However, if you like a more mellow blue cheese flavor, the blue cheese crumbles are great in this recipe.
Also, gorgonzola is another tasty option for a lighter blue cheese flavor. And while I love the kick blue cheese gives this chicken salad, but if you do not like blue cheese, you can skip it. It can easily be replaced or omitted.
Herbs: The fresh parsley brightens the Buffalo Chicken Salad, and I find it to be a really nice touch. An alternative is to use cilantro or dill, but use half of the amount of cilantro or dill than the recipe calls for and add more as needed. If you must skip the fresh herbs, you can use dried parsley or add a squeeze of lemon juice or pinch of lemon zest to give it a little extra flavor that will be lacking without the freshness of the herbs.
Cost of Ingredients for Buffalo Chicken Salad
- plain Greek yogurt 2/3 cup: $0.98
- wing sauce 1/3 cup: $1.28
- garlic 1 clove: $0.06
- red pepper flakes 1/4 tsp: $0.10
- cooked chicken breast 1 pound: $4.59
- celery 3 stalks: $0.42
- fresh parsley 1/4 cup: $0.25
- blue cheese 2 ounces: $1.12
TOTAL COST: $8.80 (Based on San Diego Sprouts 2019) or $1.10/serving
How to Make Buffalo Chicken Salad
You just stir together wing sauce and yogurt, chop some celery and parsley, shred some cooked chicken, crumble blue cheese, and stir everything together. For the step by step:
- Stir together yogurt, wing sauce, garlic and red pepper flakes.
- Add in chicken, and stir well.
- Stir in celery, parsley, and blue cheese.
How to Make a Buffalo Chicken Salad Sandwich
In case you want to take this a step further, you can turn this chicken salad into a tasty sandwich. The Buffalo Chicken Salad Sandwich recipe isn’t at all complicated, but here is the step by step:
- Toast two slices of bread. I like to use a heartier, seedy whole grain bread so it holds up to the chicken salad.
- Optional step: Mix a spoonful of yogurt and half a spoonful of buffalo wing sauce; spread it on each slice of bread. Or alternately, spread each slice with a few teaspoons of mayo.
- Add a piece of lettuce to one slice. Top with a sliced tomato if desired.
- Spread about 1/2 cup of Buffalo Chicken Salad onto the tomato (or lettuce) making sure to cover the entire space with chicken salad.
- Top with another slice of tomato and/or lettuce if desired.
- Then cover with the other slice of bread; cut the sandwich in half, and enjoy!
Tips for Making Buffalo Chicken Salad
Ingredient Options: You can use 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder in place of one clove fresh garlic. You can use cilantro or dill in place of parsley, but start by using half the amount and increase as needed. Or use 1 teaspoon dried parsley in place of the fresh.
How to Make Allergy Friendly: Depending on the wing sauce you use, this is nut free, gluten free, soy free and egg free. Be sure to check the ingredients lists to make sure it doesn’t have the allergen you are trying to avoid. If you want to make this dairy free, make your own wing sauce and use dairy free butter. Also, use a dairy free yogurt.
Flavor Substitutions: Not a fan of blue cheese, omit it. You can use feta to add a little kick. Or use gorgonzola for a lighter blue cheese flavor. Add 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest and/or 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice for a brighter flavor.
Oops! What to do if you make a mistake:
- Too much wing sauce: add a little more yogurt and chicken.
- Tastes too salty: add more chicken, celery and/or yogurt.
- Forgot parsley: add cilantro, dill or use dried parsley. Or skip the herbs and add a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest.
- Not spicy enough: add an extra 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes.
- Lacks flavor: allow the chicken salad to sit for at least 30-60 minutes before adding more wing sauce, blue cheese, or red pepper flakes. You can also add lemon juice or additional herbs to enhance the flavor.
Make Ahead Tips
Chicken salad is best made ahead of time, and this buffalo version is no exception. There’s nothing special to do other than I highly recommend making a double batch, so you don’t run out too quickly.
How to Store
Keep this tightly covered in a glass or plastic container in the fridge for up to 5 days. I do not recommend freezing chicken salad because the consistency is not right after defrosting. Best to keep this cold or on ice when not in the fridge and make sure to not leave it out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.
Nutrition benefits of this recipe
Chicken is full of protein along with many vitamins and minerals like Niacin important for cell growth and function, Vitamin B6 & Magnesium which support your nervous system, and Pantothenic Acid that helps your body break down macronutrients.
Yogurt provides your body with beneficial probiotics to promote gut health, immunity and digestion, and it is also a good source of Calcium for strong bones.
Is Buffalo Chicken Salad healthy?
While it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what “healthy” is for each person, this Buffalo Chicken Salad is high in protein and is a great recipe to get more veggies in your life since it pairs well with celery, bell peppers, carrots, and lettuce (as a salad or lettuce wrap).
I’m not big on focusing how many calories are in Buffalo Chicken Salad or any recipe for that matter. So I like to think about whether the recipe is delicious, satisfying and filling, and this recipe checks all three boxes.
The only thing you might want to consider with this recipe is the sodium content because of the buffalo wing sauce. If that is a problem, try another chicken salad recipe like Curry Avocado Chicken Salad and Hummus Chicken Salad.
Serve your Buffalo Chicken Salad with celery sticks & crackers for a snack, serve over lettuce or in lettuce wraps for a light lunch, or serve on bread for a Buffalo Chicken Salad Sandwich. Note that the recipe is low in carbs, so add a serving or two of carbohydrates (fruit, crackers, chips, bread, etc.) to make this a more substantial meal.
If you’re looking for a way to liven up chicken salad, this recipe for Buffalo Chicken Salad does the trick!
MORE CHICKEN SALAD RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE:
- Chicken Salad: the original classic chicken salad made without mayo
- Curry Avocado Chicken Salad: a dairy free, mayo free chicken salad made with avocado and seasoned with curry powder
- Hummus Chicken Salad: dairy free, gluten free, mayo free hummus for an allergy friendly chicken salad
- Pimento Cheese Chicken Salad: a mix of two Southern staples — chicken salad and pimento cheese
- Mexican Chicken Salsa Salad: a fresh salsa-like version of chicken salad with veggies
Buffalo Chicken Salad
- 2/3 cup Greek yogurt plain
- 1/3 cup wing sauce
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- pinch salt optional
- 1 pound cooked chicken breast chopped or shredded (about 4 cups loosely packed)
- 3 stalks celery diced
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley or cilantro, minced
- 2 ounces blue cheese crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
- Whisk together Greek yogurt, wing sauce, garlic, red pepper flakes, and pinch of salt (if using) until completely combined.
- Add in shredded chicken, and stir until completely combined.
- Stir in celery, parsley, and blue cheese.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Enjoy!
What to Use in This Recipe
*Recipe based on this one from PreventionRD
This post was originally published July 15, 2013. Text, recipe, and photos have been updated.
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