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Buffalo chicken pasta salad combines chicken, carrots + celery, and pasta in a creamy, zippy sauce! It’s a perfect side dish for a summer picnic or potluck, and it can also be a full meal if you add a big green salad.

overhead view of 2 bowls with buffalo salad

Being a native Buffalonian means anything related to Buffalo chicken is pure comfort food for me.

During high school I worked in a pizzeria, which was without a doubt the most fun job I’ve ever had before my transition to becoming a full-time blogger. We were always busy, continuously running around juggling orders, customers, and food prep. But most shifts went by in a snap!

And not to mention, break time always involved good food. Greek chicken salad. Chicken finger subs slathered with blue cheese sauce and a side of BBQ for dipping. Steak bombers with extra onion and a drizzle of hot sauce. White pizza with tomatoes and spinach. YUM. But back to Buffalo chicken.

It seems like the Buffalo chicken craze has taken over the food world. In terms of “Buffalo” flavor, you can find everything from dip, to grilled cheese sandwiches, to casseroles. You can’t go wrong with just about anything related to Buffalo chicken, pasta salad included.

front view of buffalo chicken pasta salad in bowl with subway tile in background

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • It’s a great way to reinvent leftover chicken! And it’s also the perfect use for rotisserie chicken. Leftover chicken can get a little dry, but the creamy ranch dressing in this salad is an easy fix for that.
  • You can use just about any small-ish shape of pasta that you like. I used cavatappi pasta, but rigatoni, fusilli, penne, bowties, shells, and elbow noodles all work well.
  • The sauce couldn’t be easier to mix up! It’s a combination of ranch, mayo, and Frank’s RedHot sauce.
close up top view of bowls of cold buffalo chicken pasta

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad Recipe – A Great Potluck Dish!

If you enjoy Buffalo chicken side dishes, you’ll go crazy for this one! It’s easy to make, whips up fast, and is always a crowd-pleaser.

You can make this with whatever leftover chicken (or turkey) you have on hand. Canned chicken will also work fine, and so will rotisserie chicken.

Here we keep the vegetables simple and add what would be served with Buffalo chicken wings: carrot and celery! Additionally, we use a little scallion to bump up the savory flavor.

The sauce is just a simple mix of mayo, ranch, and hot sauce with a little salt and black pepper to enhance it.

And let’s not forget the blue cheese on top! A little goes a long way, and of course if you prefer you can skip the blue cheese and go with shredded cheddar instead.

This is a great cold pasta salad to whip up for a picnic, potluck, and of course game day!

hand holding fork with bite of cold chicken pasta salad

Ingredients and Substitutions

Ingredients Explained

In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas where applicable. For the full recipe (including the ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.

buffalo chicken pasta salad ingredients
  • Pasta – I used cavatappi for this dish, but you can use any small shape of pasta you like. Rigatoni, fusilli, penne, bowties, shells, or elbows are all good options.
  • Cooked chopped chicken – Leftover chicken, leftover turkey, or rotisserie chicken work well.
  • Celery and carrot – Carrot and celery are classic vegetables that are typically served with Buffalo wings.
  • Scallion – Scallion adds savory mild onion flavor here.
  • Ranch – After moving outside of Buffalo, I realized that most people eat their chicken wings along with ranch for dipping, not blue cheese!
  • Mayo – We use a mixture of ranch and mayo for this creamy Buffalo salad dressing.
  • Frank’s RedHot sauce – Franks is a classic ingredient in Buffalo wing sauce. It adds the spicy component! Make sure you get the original sauce here, not what’s labeled as “wings sauce”.
  • Salt and black pepper – Salt elevates the flavor and pepper adds a little piquancy.
  • Crumbled blue cheese – As a Buffalo girl, I’m team blue cheese all the way! Because we’re simulating the Buffalo wing experience with this pasta salad, I wanted to incorporate blue cheese. But if blue cheese isn’t your thing, feel free to omit it or use shredded cheddar instead.

Instructions

how to make buffalo pasta salad with ranch
  1. Add the ranch dressing, mayo, Frank’s RedHot sauce, salt, and black pepper to a medium bowl. Mix well to combine the dressing.
  2. Add the cooked pasta, cooked chicken, scallion, celery, and carrot to a large bowl. Pour the dressing on top. Stir well to combine. Right before serving, sprinkle the blue cheese on top.

Storage

Store this pasta salad covered in the fridge for up to 4 days. It’s even better the day after you make it!

buffalo ranch pasta in white bowl

What is Buffalo Sauce Made Of?

For me, my pizzeria job during high school in Buffalo demystified “Buffalo” sauce. Real Buffalo sauce (i.e., the original version that you’ll find in Buffalo!) is just a combo of Frank’s Redhot sauce and melted butter. Those two ingredients are combined in varying ratios to make it hot, medium, or mild.

Authentic Buffalo sauce doesn’t contain seasonings, such as garlic powder or Worcestershire sauce.

At the pizzeria where I worked, mild and medium sauces also had a touch of ketchup added in for a hint of sweetness to help mellow out the hot sauce, which additionally contributes a touch of a vinegary tang that I love.

They also offered what they called “suicidal” wings, which were wings tossed with straight hot sauce doused in cayenne pepper. Every time a customer ordered the wings this way, just shaking them up made my eyes water. I was too chicken – pardon the pun – to even try them, lol!

More Pasta Salad Recipes to Try

bowls of cold pasta salad with creamy ranch dressing

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Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Yields: 10 servings
Buffalo chicken pasta salad combines chicken, carrots + celery, and pasta in a creamy, zippy sauce! It's a perfect side dish for a summer picnic or potluck, and it can also be a full meal if you add a big green salad.

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Ingredients
 

  • 8 ounces cavatappi pasta or any bite-sized pasta shape you like
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing store-bought or homemade
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/4 cup Frank’s RedHot sauce more or less to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups cooked chopped chicken rotisserie chicken works well
  • 3 scallions green and white parts, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium celery stalks diced
  • 1 large carrot shredded
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese or shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions
 

  • Cook the pasta to al dente according to the package directions; rinse and drain.
  • Add the ranch dressing, mayo, Frank’s RedHot sauce, salt, and black pepper to a medium bowl. Mix well to combine.
  • Add the cooked pasta, cooked chicken, scallion, celery, and carrot to a large bowl. Pour the dressing on top and stir well to combine.
  • Right before serving, sprinkle the blue cheese on top.

Notes

  • Pasta Shape: You can use just about any small-ish shape of pasta that you like. I used cavatappi pasta, but rigatoni, fusilli, penne, bowties, shells, and elbow noodles all work well.
  • Blue Cheese Substitute: If you prefer you can omit the blue cheese, or use shredded cheddar instead.
  • Storage: Store this pasta salad covered in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Nutrition

Calories: 270kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 621mg | Potassium: 188mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1285IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Buffalo Chicken Pasta, Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad, Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad Recipe, Buffalo Pasta Salad, Buffalo Ranch Pasta, Buffalo Salad Recipe

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buffalo chicken pasta salad recipe pin

This post was first published on An Edible Mosaic on July 1, 2016 and updated on May 3, 2024.

Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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4 Comments

  1. This salad is perfect for all of those 4th of July picnics going on this weekend! I love farfalle in salads and soups – perfect shape for this salad. I’ve always been a sucker for buffalo chicken tenders, but this may steal the top spot!

    Happy 4th of July, sweet Faith! Have a wonderful weekend…

  2. A lovely summer salad. Perfect for eating outdoors.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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