Healthy Buffalo Chicken Salad

Make this healthy buffalo chicken salad with quinoa for a light and nutritious dinner, or meal prep for the week’s lunches.

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The weather is warming up, which means we’re craving light and fresh meals like this healthy buffalo chicken salad. Nutritious, satisfying, and flavorful, this easy buffalo chicken bowl is perfect for meal prep or a healthy dinner! With just a few simple ingredients, you can make this recipe in under an hour.

What This Recipe Entails

You’ll make each component for this salad separately – quinoa, greens & veggies, chicken, and buffalo sauce – and then combine them into a buffalo chicken bowl.

  • Prep time: 30 to 45 minutes
  • Cook time: 12 to 15 minutes

The quinoa will cook for about 20 minutes, and the chicken needs to marinate for about 20 minutes (both of these steps are included in prep time above). If you get the quinoa on the stove first, then start marinating the chicken, you can overlap these steps – and then start preparing the greens and veggies while those two ingredients are in progress. By stacking steps like this, you can keep the prep time down to about 30 minutes.

A healthy buffalo chicken salad bowl.

Healthy Buffalo Chicken Salad Ingredients

You don’t need any complicated ingredients to make this healthy buffalo chicken salad bowl! A simple 3-ingredient marinade for the chicken, plus quinoa, greens, fresh veggies, and buffalo sauce is really all you need:

  • Rainbow quinoa
  • Chicken breast
  • Vegetable oil
  • White vinegar
  • Salt
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Baby arugula
  • Red onion
  • Shredded carrots
  • Scallions
  • Roma tomato
  • Lemon
  • Buffalo sauce – melted butter, Frank’s Red Hot, light ranch dressing

As with any salad, the fresher the ingredients the better. You’ll want to make sure all of your greens and produce are super fresh and ripe, so that the salad is crunchy in contrast to the soft quinoa and tender chicken.

We highly recommend making your own buffalo sauce for this buffalo chicken salad. Our recipe is made with melted butter, Frank’s Red Hot, and ranch dressing, so it’s super simple! It’s thick and creamy, which means it coats the chicken very well – so the added effort is definitely worth it. However, you can use your favorite store-bought buffalo sauce if you prefer.

How To Make A Healthy Buffalo Chicken Salad

Making our buffalo chicken bowl is a 4-part process: make the quinoa, make the salad, make the buffalo chicken, and assemble. Here’s a step by step breakdown of how you can approach this recipe:

  1. First, prepare the quinoa according to package directions. You’ll want to give it some time to cool down to room temp before tossing it with the salad.
  2. Next, marinate the chicken in vegetable oil, vinegar, and salt for 20 minutes at room temperature.
  3. In the meantime, mix together the salad ingredients – romaine lettuce, arugula, red onion, carrots, scallions, and tomato – in a large bowl. Add fresh lemon juice and toss to coat.
  4. Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, add the chicken and cook until done, flipping every 3 minutes or so. Then, transfer the chicken to a cutting board and rest for 2 to 3 minutes before slicing into thin strips.
  5. Now, make the buffalo sauce. Combine melted butter, Frank’s Red Hot, and ranch dressing in a small bowl and whisk thoroughly until the texture is even and smooth. You may need to heat it in the microwave for about 15 seconds to help incorporate the ranch.
  6. Then, transfer the chicken to a large bowl, pour in the buffalo sauce, and toss to coat.
  7. Finally, fluff the quinoa and stir in lemon juice. Combine the quinoa with the salad ingredients, then serve topped with buffalo chicken and optional toppings such as ranch dressing, blue cheese crumbles, or croutons.

It’s important to make the quinoa first, so that it has time to cool down before you mix it in with the salad ingredients and serve. If you mix piping hot quinoa in with your greens and fresh veggies, the steam will cause the salad to wilt and become soggy. Room temperature quinoa adds extra nutrition and an interesting texture to a buffalo chicken salad without compromising the quality of your fresh ingredients.

Note that you’ll want to make the salad in an extra-large mixing bowl. All the greens and veggies take up a ton of space, and you’re going to have to mix the quinoa into this bowl as well!

Buffalo chicken salad with quinoa.

Serving Suggestions

You can optionally use ranch dressing, blue cheese dressing, blue cheese crumbles, or even extra buffalo sauce as toppings for your buffalo chicken salad. You can also add croutons if you want some extra crunch.

This healthy salad is perfect for lunch or a light dinner. It’s nutritious, filling, and satisfying enough to enjoy on its own as a main course.

Buffalo Chicken Bowl Meal Prep

Buffalo chicken quinoa salad is great for meal prepping for your week’s lunches. With components that can be made separately in large batches, you can make everything ahead of time on Sunday and save yourself time throughout the week. You can even portion out all of your salads into ready-to-go lunch containers. Just make sure to keep the chicken and any extra dressing in a separate container so the salad doesn’t get soggy.

A buffalo chicken salad.

Storing Leftovers

If you aren’t meal prepping these salads and have leftovers, you can keep the salad and quinoa mixture fresh in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Same goes for the chicken. But again, just like with the lunches, make sure the chicken and any extra dressing are stored separate from the salad mixture to keep it fresh. Once you are ready to serve, everything can be combined.

If you store the chicken separately, you can reheat it before adding it to the salad if you want – just pop it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. However, we think this salad is almost better as leftovers when everything is cold the next day!

Try our healthy buffalo chicken salad bowl recipe and please rate and share below if you love it!


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Healthy Buffalo Chicken Salad

Make this healthy buffalo chicken salad with quinoa for a light and nutritious dinner, or meal prep for the week's lunches.
Servings 3 salads
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rainbow quinoa dry

Chicken

  • pound chicken breast
  • cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 2 pinches salt

Salad Mix

  • 4 large leaves romaine lettuce chopped
  • 1 cup baby arugula packed
  • ¼ small red onion sliced
  • ½ cup shredded carrots
  • 4 medium scallions sliced
  • 1 medium roma tomato diced
  • 1 medium lemon juiced

Buffalo Sauce

  • ¼ cup Frank's Red Hot
  • tablespoons butter melted
  • ½ tablespoon light ranch dressing

Instructions

  • First, make the quinoa according to the package directions and let cool to about room temp.
  • Next, combine the chicken breast, vegetable oil, vinegar, and salt in a bowl and let marinate at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
  • In the meantime, combine the salad ingredients in a large bowl: lettuce, arugula, red onion, carrots, scallions, and tomato. Add the juice from half a lemon and toss to coat well.
  • Next, preheat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the chicken and cook until done, flipping every 3 minutes or so, for about 9 to 12 minutes total.
    Transfer chicken to a cutting board and rest for 2 to 3 minutes before slicing into thin strips.
  • Now, make the buffalo sauce. Combine the Frank's Red Hot, melted butter, and ranch dressing in a small bowl and whisk thoroughly until combined. You may need to microwave it for about 15 seconds to help fully incorporate the ranch.
    Then, add the chicken to a large bowl, pour in the buffalo sauce, and toss to coat.
  • Fluff the quinoa and stir in the juice from half a lemon. Then, add the quinoa to the salad and mix well to combine.
  • Serve the quinoa and salad mix topped with buffalo chicken and optional toppings like ranch dressing, blue cheese dressing or crumbles, or croutons.

Notes

Preparing quinoa: You want to make sure this is the first thing you do so that the quinoa has time to cool down before mixing it into the salad! If you mix piping hot quinoa into the greens and veggies, they will wilt from the steam and become soggy. The best way to keep this salad fresh and crispy is by using room temperature quinoa.
Buffalo sauce: Our homemade buffalo sauce is thick and creamy, so it coats the chicken especially well. It’s definitely worth the extra minute it takes to throw it together! But if you want to make this recipe simpler, you can use your favorite store-bought buffalo sauce.
Cooking the chicken: To get the best flavor and texture from your chicken, cook it over medium high heat on a stainless steel pan, cast iron skillet, or grill. The sear will help keep the chicken tender and add flavor. Chicken should always be cooked to an internal temp of 165 degrees F which can easily be checked by a meat thermometer
Meal prep & storage: Buffalo chicken quinoa salad is great for meal prepping for your week’s lunches. With components that can be made separately in large batches, you can make everything ahead of time on Sunday and save yourself time throughout the week. Portion out all of your salads into ready-to-go lunch containers, and make sure to keep the chicken and any extra dressing in a separate container so the salad doesn’t get soggy.
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Author: Nicole & Alex
Calories: 638kcal
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main, Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: arugula, buffalo chicken, buffalo sauce, carrots, chicken breast, lemon juice, quinoa, red onion, roma tomato, romaine lettuce, salad, scallions

Nutrition

Calories: 638kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 17g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 80mg | Sodium: 1083mg | Potassium: 1037mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 7528IU | Vitamin C: 31mg | Calcium: 89mg | Iron: 4mg

If you have any questions regarding the information presented in this post, please refer to our Nutrition Disclaimer here.

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