This crispy buffalo chicken salad features a bed of leafy greens topped with crunchy veggies and crispy baked buffalo chicken. Drizzle it with a homemade avocado ranch to balance out the heat. It's an easy recipe for dinner and can be stored as meal prep for a delicious lunch.
If you love hearty chicken salads, you'll love this crispy chicken salad with honey mustard dressing.
A salad delivers greens, protein, fiber, and fat, all the components of a well-balanced, healthy meal. I grew up thinking I had to eat a salad to be healthy. But now that I come up with my own. Especially when it involves crispy chicken and creamy dressing.
Everyone is buffalo chicken obsessed around here. Our healthy buffalo chicken dip is one of the most popular recipes on our website and ever since publishing it we keep iterating on all of the buffalo chicken recipes like buffalo chicken pasta, buffalo chicken meatballs, and buffalo chicken zucchini boats. You get the point. And so the streak continues with this healthy buffalo chicken salad. It's like healthy boneless buffalo wings on top of a bed of your favorite salad toppings.
Here's Why You'll Love this Buffalo Chicken Salad
I used the crispy cornflake chicken from our hot honey chicken tenders as the base for this recipe and coated them in buffalo sauce. They're dredged in a gluten-free flour, egg, and cornflake mixture and then baked to tender, juicy perfection. While the chicken is baking, assemble the salad and make the dressing. It makes this a quick (20 minutes or less) meal.
- Well balanced with the spice from the chicken and cooling creamy dressing.
- Crispy chicken that happens to be gluten-free, like our crispy chicken salad—but with buffalo sauce!
- Full of fresh veggies that will make you feel good.
- Fiber and fat will keep you full thanks to avocado in the salad and dressing.
- Great for lunches and dinners, and even better for meal prep! The chicken is great cold in the salad, so no reheating necessary.
Key Ingredients + Why You Need Them
Here are the main ingredients in this buffalo chicken salad recipe. Skip down to the recipe card below for the full recipe and exact measurements.
- Chicken: Chicken tenders are the main protein in the salad. I love to use tenders because they're usually the same size, compared to chicken breasts, coming in a range of sizes. Additionally, they cook much quicker, making this recipe even faster. If you're really in a pinch and want to used pre-cooked chicken, toss some shredded rotisserie chicken with buffalo sauce instead (it won't be crunchy).
- Spices: this bold blend of spices coats the chicken before it's baked. It includes smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
- Cornflakes and flour: we used gluten-free flour and pear-sweetened cornflakes to keep the chicken gluten-free. These create the dredging components of the chicken to give it a really crunchy crust.
- Eggs: a few eggs act as the binder to hold the cornflakes in place on the outside of the chicken.
- Lettuce or mixed greens: Romaine lettuce is the base for the salad and adds crunch and nutrition. See the section below for other options.
- Fresh vegetables and herbs: veggies add nutrients, color, and crunch to the salad, while herbs add a ton of fresh flavor. We used carrots, bell peppers, red onion, green onion, and chives.
- Avocado: the creamy, cooling texture and flavor balances out the spicy buffalo chicken. It also adds healthy fats and fiber to keep you full.
- Blue cheese crumbles: This adds a creamy, tangy flavor to the salad and pairs well with the spicy buffalo chicken. It's optional if you want to keep this recipe dairy-free.
- Buffalo sauce: buffalo is one of everyone's favorite wing sauces for good reason, but there's several brands you can choose from. Coating thee crispy chicken in Primal Kitchen Buffalo sauce is our favorite way to serve it (it's the best hot sauce IMO), but you can use any hot sauce, like Frank's.
- Dressing: skip down to the recipe card for the most delicious avocado ranch dressing. You could also make homemade whole30 ranch dressing, store bought ranch, or any other creamy dressing to offset the spicy chicken.
How to Make Buffalo Chicken Salad
This is an overview with step-by-step photos, to make this easy recipe. Full printable instructions are in the recipe card below. You can also view the video tutorial below to watch instead of reading.
Start by preparing the dredging station for the crispy buffalo chicken. Place 3 medium bowls next to a parchment lined baking sheet. Fill one with the flour and spices, one with beaten eggs and the last with the crush corn flakes.
Place the chicken tenders in the flour mixture and turn to coat them, then place them in the egg to fully coat both sides too. Transfer them to the cornflake mixture, turning to coat completely, and arrange the chicken tenders on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat the process with all of the chicken tenders and arrange them on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 160°F, leaving 5-10 degrees for carryover cooking.
While the chicken is cooking, assemble the salad. Add the shredded romaine and cabbage to a large bowl and stir to mix. Top it with chopped celery, red pepper, shredded carrots, red onion, and avocado.
When the chicken is done, remove it from the oven and immediately cover it in buffalo sauce. Turn it in the sauce a few times to coat it then add the chicken on top of the salad. You can also dice the chicken into cubes and serve it that way.
Finish with crumbled blue cheese, if using, thinly sliced green onion, and chopped chives. Drizzle the salad with the creamy avocado ranch dressing or serve the salad and have individuals dress it separately.
- Start with good quality chicken tenders: Choose chicken tenders that are firm to the touch and free of any bruises or discolorations.
- Use a well-seasoned breading mixture: A mixture of flour, cornflakes and spices will help the chicken develop a crispy crust.
- Serve the salad with a creamy dressing: A creamy dressing, such as ranch or blue cheese, will help balance out the spiciness of the buffalo sauce and add flavor to the salad.
- Garnish with fresh herbs: Fresh herbs, such as chives and green onion, can add a burst of flavor and color to the salad. Definitely worth the add to set this salad apart.
- Use an instant read thermometer: this is always helpful when cooking protein! Overcooked chicken is chewy and tough. Cook it perfectly for a juicy tender chicken.
Recipe Variations & Modifications
Make them lettuce wraps: swap the bowl for a wrap! Use butter lettuce instead of romaine and place the buffalo chicken inside it with all of the fresh veggies and toppings. Drizzle with the dressing and enjoy!
Fresh greens: try another green, like spinach or arugula, or a mix of them all.
More veggies: use up whatever veggies you have left in the fridge, you can't go wrong with ingredients like snap peas, shredded brussels sprouts, chopped broccoli or green peppers.
Quick chicken: grab a rotisserie chicken, or leftover chicken, and toss it with your favorite wing sauce.
Don't like bleu cheese crumbles? Skip it all altogether or try another cheese like cheddar or feta.
Use store-bought dressing: swap the avocado ranch for a blue cheese dressing, classic ranch dressing, or dairy-free ranch dressing (we like Primal Kitchen), if needed.
If you make this recipe, I’d love for you to give it a star rating ★ below. You can also tag me on Instagram so I can see it!
More Hearty Salad Recipes
- BBQ chicken salad with cilantro Lime Ranch
- Tomato peach burrata salad
- Crispy chicken salad
- Curry chicken salad
Buffalo Chicken Salad
Buffalo Chicken Tenders
- 1 ½ lbs chicken tenders
- ⅓ cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour gluten-free if needed
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups crushed corn flakes (we used Nature’s Path Gluten-Free pear-sweetened corn flakes)
- 1 teaspoon EACH: smoked paprika and kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon EACH: garlic powder and onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup buffalo sauce (we like Primal Kitchen or Frank Red Hot)
Creamy Avocado Ranch Dressing
- 1 medium avocado
- ½ cup plain greek yogurt, coconut cream or sour cream
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 teaspoons chopped chives or ½ teaspoon dried
- 1 teaspoon dried dill
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- ⅓ cup milk or almond milk plus more if needed
Buffalo Chicken Salad
- 2 heads Romaine lettuce shredded
- 1 cup shredded cabbage or coleslaw
- 3 celery ribs sliced and chopped
- ½ cup shredded carrots
- ½ thinly sliced red onion
- 2 avocados sliced
- 3 thinly sliced green onions
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives
- 4 ounces blue cheese crumbles or shredded cheddar cheese optional
- Baking Sheet
- Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Make the crispy chicken: Prepare the dredging station. Add ⅓ cup of the flour to a medium bowl and whisk the eggs in a separate medium bowl. Finally, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour and spices to a third bowl with the crushed corn fakes and toss well.
- Dredge the chicken tenders in the flour mixture then place them in the egg to fully coat both sides and then place them corn flake mixture, turning to coast completely. Repeat the process with all of the chicken tenders and arrange them on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake in the preheat oven for 12-15 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 160°F, leaving 5-10 degrees for carryover cooking. Remove the chicken from the oven and immediately toss them in your favorite buffalo sauce.
- Make the dressing: While the chicken is baking, make the dressing, if using. Add all of the ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend on high until smooth and creamy. Transfer it to a jar and set aside.
- Assemble the salad: add the shredded romaine and cabbage to a large salad bowl and stir to mix. Top it with chopped celery, shredded carrots, red onion and avocado.
- When the chicken is done, remove it from the oven and immediately cover it in buffalo sauce. Turn it in the sauce a few time to coat it.
- Place the whole tenders on top of the salad or cut the chicken up into bite size pieces and arrange them on top. Finish with crumbled blue cheese, if using, thinly sliced green onion and chopped chives. Drizzle the salad with the prepared dressing or serve the salad and have individuals dress it separately.