Why This Recipe Works
- A combination of blue cheese dressing and Buffalo sauce evokes the taste of classic Buffalo wings in salad form.
- Crisp, fresh vegetables and creamy avocado tame the hot sauce.
When someone says “Buffalo chicken,” I immediately think of the bar-food classic of greasy wings in buttery hot sauce, the cool crunch of celery and carrots, and chunky blue cheese dressing. Salad is pretty much the farthest thing from my mind. And yet, what is a salad anyway? Sure, the word evokes a seemingly healthy dish of lightly dressed green leaves and other vegetables, but it's a flexible term that also includes things like a Cobb salad, which contains as much animal protein and fat as it does vegetable matter. Which is to say, can Buffalo chicken be salad-ified? Of course it can!
To that end, my go-to Buffalo chicken salad pulls out all the stops. There’s tender chicken that’s been marinated with lemon juice and Frank’s Red Hot, slices of creamy avocado, and crisp vegetables that are tossed in two different dressings: a blue cheese-based one and a sweet, spicy vinaigrette made with hot sauce and brown sugar. You could easily skip all of that and just toss chopped Buffalo chicken with some lettuce and store-bought dressing and call it a day—but then what would you want this recipe for? The goal here isn't merely to chop up the key components of Buffalo chicken and toss them together in a serving bowl, it's to create something just a bit more thoughtful, where the chicken is plump and tender, the flavors balanced, and the whole thing a satisfying one-dish meal.
Getting the Chicken Right
Perfect chicken in a Buffalo-inspired salad is a different proposition from perfect chicken in a hot bar-food presentation. When served hot, we might want chicken with its skin on, cooked up crispy so it's juicy and delicious. Cold in a salad, though, and that same skin suddenly becomes a little less of an obviously desirable thing (though, for the record, most of us at Serious Eats are all-in on chicken skin regardless of the situation). For the widest possible appeal, we've opted for boneless, skinless chicken thighs, which will remain juicy even if cooled to room temp or served chilled, and with no skin to upset the pickier eaters among us.
Here, a quick marinade of hot sauce and lemon juice helps to tenderize and flavor the chicken thighs. As Serious Eats contributor Tim Chin wrote in his marinades investigation, using an acid like lemon juice lowers the pH of the marinade, denaturing proteins and producing in a more tender result. Acids can also help meats hold onto moisture, making for juicier chicken that’s less likely to dry out. For ease and convenience, we marinate the chicken for just 30 minutes here. While the tenderization effect will be minimized, you can marinate the chicken for longer—up to eight hours—for a more dramatic effect. Longer than that and you risk the meat turning mushy from the exposure to acid.
Use the Crunchiest Vegetables... and a Ripe Avocado
Bold flavors and hefty ingredients like chicken, celery, and thick blue cheese dressing call for equally bold textures to stand up to it all. That means opting for hearty romaine lettuce instead of leafy greens that wilt easily, along with fresh vegetables that pack real crunch. Instead of the carrot and celery sticks that are normally served with Buffalo wings, I shave the carrots into long ribbons and thinly slice the celery, helping them incorporate more seamlessly into the salad.
Red cabbage, cucumbers, and red onions bring extra crispness, while plump cherry tomatoes lend a pop of bright acidity. The richness of a ripe avocado provides textural contrast, helping to highlight the bite of the other vegetables while also helping to tame the heat of the Buffalo dressing.
Two Dressings Are Better Than One
Most salads call for one dressing, which is fine and dandy. But think of your favorite Buffalo wings: they’re coated in a buttery, spicy sauce and served with a chunky blue cheese dressing that helps to temper the heat. But to capture the full-on flavor of Buffalo chicken, we need to introduce that element in more ways than just on the chicken alone. The solution? An additional Buffalo dressing. Made with Frank’s Red Hot, light brown sugar, and lemon juice, the sauce is sweet, spicy, and tart. Tossed with the crisp vegetables and tender chicken, the two dressings work in tandem to bring this salad-ized version of a classic Buffalo chicken to life.
Buffalo Chicken Salad
Marinating and Resting Time35 mins
A salad made for the Buffalo wing lover in your life.
- For the Chicken:
- 1/2 cup (120ml) Frank’s Red Hot or other Louisiana-style hot sauce
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
- 1 pound (454g) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- For the Blue Cheese Dressing:
- 2/3 cup crumbled mild blue cheese (3 ounces; 90g)
- 1/2 cup (120ml) mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup (120ml) sour cream
- 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume
- Freshly ground black pepper
- For the Buffalo Dressing:
- 1/4 cup (60ml) Frank’s Red Hot or other Louisiana-style hot sauce
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (17g) light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
- For the Salad:
- 2 medium carrots (6 ounces; 170g), peeled and trimmed
- Two 8-ounce romaine lettuce hearts (8 cups; 485g), thinly sliced
- 1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage (2 1/2 ounces; 71g), from 1 medium cabbage
- 1 cup thinly sliced celery (3 ounces; 85g), from 2 medium ribs celery
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes (6 ounces; 170g)
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced Persian cucumber (2 ounces; 57g), from about 1 cucumber
- 1/4 cup very thinly sliced red onion (1 ounce; 28g), from 1 small onion
- 1 medium ripe Hass avocado (6 ounces; 170g), pitted and thinly sliced
For the Chicken: In a medium bowl, whisk together hot sauce and lemon juice. Add chicken and turn to coat evenly. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to broil with rack 6 inches from heat source and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Remove chicken from marinade, letting any excess marinade drip back into the dish. Arrange chicken in an even layer on prepared baking sheet. Broil until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 170°F (77ºC), 10 to 12 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes. Slice chicken against the grain.
Meanwhile, for the Blue Cheese Dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together blue cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, vinegar, and salt. Season with pepper to taste, along with additional salt, if desired. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Buffalo Dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together hot sauce, oil, brown sugar, and lemon juice. Season with salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Salad: Using a vegetable peeler, peel carrots lengthwise to create long ribbons. Cover carrot ribbons with damp kitchen towel and set aside until ready to use.
In a large bowl, toss together romaine, cabbage, carrot ribbons, and 1/2 cup blue cheese dressing. Arrange on a large platter. Top with celery, tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, avocado, and sliced chicken. Drizzle with blue cheese dressing and Buffalo dressing, season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
Make-Ahead and Storage
The blue cheese dressing and Buffalo dressing can be made up to 1 week in advance and kept in an airtight container refrigerated.
The chicken can be marinated and cooked up to 1 day in advance, and brought to room temperature before serving.
Combine lettuce, carrots and celery in a salad bowl. Combine ranch dressing and blue cheese crumbles in a small bowl. Add oil and butter to hot pan with the chicken. Season with salt and pepper and sear for 2 or 3 minutes, then add hot sauce.How to make Kylie Jenner salad? ›
Whisk together rice vinegar, toasted sesame seed oil, soy sauce, tahini, brown sugar substitute, salt and pepper. Add salad components. To the bowl, add lettuce, shredded red cabbage, green onion, cilantro, slivered or sliced almonds, toasted sesame seeds, black sesame seeds and grilled chicken.What is buffalo style chicken? ›
Slow-roasted chicken breast is generously covered with hand-applied spices — red pepper, garlic and paprika — to capture that classic Buffal…How does Gordon Ramsay make chicken salad? ›
Slice or shred the meat from 1/2 roast chicken. For the dressing, mix the juice of 1/2 lemon with 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, adding any pan juices in the roast chicken and salt and pepper to taste. Toss the chicken inside dressing. Add the watercress towards the chicken right before serving and toss to blend.What is buffalo chicken sauce made of? ›
What is buffalo sauce made of? Traditional sauce is made of cayenne pepper sauce (we used Frank's RedHot), butter (to cool down the hot sauce a little), vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and spice.What's the difference between hot chicken and buffalo chicken? ›
Nashville hot chicken is marinated in seasonings, fried and spiced with cayenne pepper, and a hot sauce topped with pickles. Buffalo chicken, on the other hand, is coated in a wet sauce. Like a crystal hot sauce, it is hard to keep them crispy due to their wetness.What salad does the Kardashians always eat? ›
7 years of KUWTK has taught us that Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, Kendall and Kylie all tend to opt for Health Nut's ultra-filling 'Chinese Chicken Salad'. To complete the order, the sisters often add a Mango Iced Greentini, which is a refreshing combo of green tea, mango, and honey powder.How did Kylie lose so much weight? ›
The Keeping Up With The Kardashians star then revealed she was 'down 40 lbs' and was 'just trying to be healthy and patient. ' As for how she managed to lose weight so easily, she said that walking and pilates are her 'favorite combo'.What salads does Kendall Jenner eat? ›
Wild rice, kale, avocado, goat cheese, roasted chicken, and balsamic vinaigrette.Is buffalo chicken good for you? ›
Rich in protein: Buffalo wings contain great amounts of protein, essential for the growth and repair of every cell in the body. Loaded with several minerals: Buffalo chicken wings contain many essential minerals including phosphorus and selenium, which support cell function and maintain chemical balance in the body.
It can be! Buffalo sauce is usually available in mild, medium, and hot options. When you make homemade Buffalo sauce, you have the ability to control the spiciness level — use more cayenne pepper if you like it hot or less if you prefer milder flavors.Is buffalo better than chicken? ›
There's no doubt buffalo is healthier – it contains 40% more protein, yet significantly less fat and calories. Buffalo is also an excellent source of of iron, zinc, phosphorous, niacin, selenium, and vitamins B6 and B12, and providing all nine essential amino acids your body needs for growth and maintenance.How long is homemade chicken salad? ›
It's tempting to stir up a big batch so that we can enjoy leftovers for a few days. But how long is it safe to keep chicken salad on hand? The short answer is to store chicken salad in a sealed container in the fridge or cooler for no more than four days.Is chicken salad actually healthy? ›
Definitely — chicken salad is full of lean proteins, minerals, and vitamins. It is low in sugar, carbs, and fiber while high in protein. Therefore, this low-calorie salad is good for your health.Why is chicken salad healthy? ›
Chicken salad is rich in lean protein and a decent source of iron. Depending on what other ingredients it contains, it might also provide fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Still, using ingredients such as mayonnaise or serving the salad on a croissant adds calories and fat.Is buffalo chicken made of buffalo? ›
Sadly, there are no mystical winged bovines involved. A Buffalo Wing is a chicken wing section (wingette or drumette) that is generally deep fried, un-breaded, and coated in vinegar-based cayenne pepper hot sauce and butter.What are the ingredients in buffalo chicken deli meat? ›
Chicken Breast, Water, Contains 2% or less of Dextrose, Salt, Carrageenan, Vinegar, Sodium Phosphate. Coated with Hot Sauce Powder (Aged Cayenne Pepper Seeds and Skins, Salt, Distilled Vinegar, Canola Oil, Natural Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Garlic Powder).What does buffalo chicken taste like? ›
The authentic buffalo-style chicken is deep-fried until it's crunchy and then thrown in a pan of hot sauce until it's evenly coated. It has a distinct tangy and spicy taste that you can adjust depending on your preference: mild, medium, or hot.