Thursday, August 26, 2021

Buffalo Chicken Cobb Salad

Craving a big, hearty salad that's packed with protein? Fix this quick & easy buffalo chicken cobb salad. It's layered with crisp lettuce, tender chicken, tangy buffalo sauce, crumbled blue cheese, creamy avocado, juicy tomatoes, crunchy cucumber, salty bacon, and more! Top it with a quick homemade blue cheese dressing or red wine vinaigrette and you're ready for a satisfying meal that'll make everyone happy to eat their veggies. (low-carb, gluten-free grain & grain-free)

Buffalo Chicken Cobb Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

So many folks grumble about eating salads, but, honestly...I crave them! The key to making the best salad is a really good homemade dressing. After all, the lettuce is basically just a vessel for the dressing, right? 

Once you get that part squared away, simply throw on a bunch of delicious toppings to add a variety of flavors & textures so the meal isn't boring. Use whatever you like! It's your salad after all. 

Today's salad is an example of that. Buffalo chicken isn't a classic cobb salad ingredient. However, the tangy, spicy buffalo sauce pairs beautifully with the savory & creamy elements of a cobb salad (funky blue cheese crumbles, protein-packed egg, creamy avocado, salty bacon), so it just works.

Also...cobb salads are typically dressed with a vinaigrette, but this one isn't (at least not today). Nope, I went big with the buffalo chicken theme and poured my homemade blue cheese dressing all over it. It was deeply satisfying. Let's just say if you love wedge salads because of the bacon & blue cheese, you NEED to try this.

Not into creamy dressings? I've got you covered. I've also made this salad with my homemade red wine vinaigrette & it turned out amazing. You get less of those cooling & creamy flavors, with more tanginess + sweetness instead. So...you have options! (There's always ranch, too, although my blue cheese dressing has received high praise from ranch lovers - FYI.)


ingredients for making buffalo chicken cobb salad


Ingredients For Buffalo Chicken Cobb Salad

  • Cooked Chicken: I almost always use meat from a whole chicken, which I shred ahead of time to keep on hand (in the fridge or freezer) for a variety of recipes. To save time, I'll grab a rotisserie chicken from the store, but when I'm planning ahead I'll roast a whole chicken in the oven or cook a whole chicken in my crock-pot. After I've removed the meat, I save the bones & skin to make chicken bone broth in my slow cooker. It's an excellent way to stretch your budget! 
  • Buffalo Sauce: You can make your own with hot sauce, butter & a bit of garlic powder (blitz it to emulsify the fats), or grab the bottled stuff to save time. I used this buffalo sauce made with avocado oil. Costco sells two-packs for a great price if you have one local to you. 
  • Romaine Lettuce: I typically prefer romaine because it adds an extra crunchy texture to each bite, but any lettuce works here. I've also made it with baby red butter lettuce (mmmm). 
  • Microgreens or Sprouts (Optional): These add a bit of crunch & mild spice to the salad and also bumps up the nutritional content (they're packed with vitamins & minerals). 
  • Crumbled Cooked Bacon: I prefer to bake my bacon ahead of time in the oven on a sheet pan (no mess or babysitting required) then pour the excess grease into a glass jar to save for homemade soups. I store the cooked bacon in the fridge and pull out 2-4 strips at a time to use for salads, snacking & other recipes. 
  • Hard-Boiled Eggs: This is a classic cobb salad ingredient. You can boil & peel your own (cheapest option) or buy them pre-made from the store (fastest). The ones I used today were from Trader Joe's, but I usually buy them from Costco since the two-packs make a great snack. 
  • Blue Cheese: One of my favorite cheeses to add a strong pop of funky flavor + creaminess to salads. It's also a classic cobb salad ingredient, so I wouldn't skip it. (Although, if you have to make a swap, I'd do crumbled goat cheese or feta.) I like to buy wedges of blue cheese & crumble it myself to make it chunkier. Add more or less depending on how much you enjoy it (occasionally or in every bite). 
  • Cherry Tomatoes: These are easy to get year-round & taste the sweetest so they're my go-to for salads. If you can't find cherry tomatoes, use grape tomatoes or your favorite big tomatoes cut into chunks. 
  • Cucumber: This adds a hydrating & cooling crunch to the salad. I use English cucumbers or Persian cucumbers so there's no need to peel. 
  • Avocado: I buy medium or large Hass avocados (my favorite variety) when they're just barely ripe and store them in the fridge to extend their shelf life. 
  • Red Onion: I use this in nearly all of my leafy salads, sandwiches & wraps to add a spicy crunch + mild onion flavor. If you can't find this, substitute thinly sliced radish instead. 
  • Green Onion: This adds a mild onion flavor that pairs well with the blue cheese + buffalo sauce. I keep a bundle in my fridge (it has a long shelf life if you use this kitchen hack) for salad dressings, soups & stir-frys. 
  • Blue Cheese Dressing or Homemade Vinaigrette: If you're looking for a cool & creamy topping for this salad, definitely make my blue cheese dressing. If you want something lighter & tangier, fix a quick batch of my red wine vinaigrette. For a vinaigrette that's a tad sweeter, try my maple balsamic vinaigrette. (You can find links to all three dressings in the recipe card below.)
Quick & Easy Buffalo Chicken Cobb Salad with Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing


How to Make This Buffalo Chicken Cobb Salad

This salad comes together quickly for an easy weeknight meal. It's fastest when your chicken, bacon & eggs are already cooked so all you have to do is make the dressing, prep the salad & assemble. To get the most bang for your buck, fix all three earlier in the week, use part of them for other recipes, and save the rest for this meal. 

  1. Prepare the Dressing: It'll take 5-10 minutes to throw together a homemade blue cheese dressing or vinaigrette, so do that first to give the dressing some time to infuse. It'll taste even better if you make it 2-3 hours beforehand and stick it in the fridge to let the flavors develop. 
  2. Warm the Chicken (Optional) & Toss with Buffalo Sauce: If you're pressed for time, you can take the cooked chicken straight out of the fridge and toss immediately with the sauce, but I prefer the meat slightly warm on the salad so it's softer & juicier. To do this, simply place the chicken in a skillet set on medium heat with a teaspoon of cooking oil and cook until warmed through (3-5 minutes). Add the buffalo sauce, toss the chicken until coated, and remove from heat until you're ready to assemble. 
  3. Prep the Toppings: Do this while the chicken is warming to save time. Chop the lettuce (wash & drain first). Slice the cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, green onion & avocado. Halve the eggs & crumble the bacon + blue cheese.
  4. Assemble the Salad: Divide the lettuce between two big bowls then place half of each topping (microgreens, warmed buffalo chicken, blue cheese, avocado, bacon, egg, tomato, red onion, green onion) on each bowl. Top with freshly ground black pepper & when you're ready to eat, generously drizzle your homemade dressing over everything. 

Easy Buffalo Chicken Cobb Salad Recipe with Blue Cheese Dressing

Time-Saving & Make-Ahead Tips

To Save Time:

  • pick up a rotisserie chicken & shred the meat ahead of time
  • use pre-washed & chopped lettuce (I used a bag of Trader Joe's organic romaine hearts for this)
  • buy a bottle of buffalo sauce (I like this one from Primal Kitchen)
  • grab some hard-boiled eggs from the store
  • buy your avocado several days ahead of time so it has time to ripen (if it's already ripe, stick it in the fridge to slow down the process)

Ingredients to Prepare/Make Ahead (If Desired):

  • Lettuce (if you're using a head of lettuce, wash, dry & chop it, then place in a sealed container lined with paper towels to absorb any condensation, and store in the fridge)
  • Bacon (I bake mine in the oven so it's mess-free and then store the strips in the fridge)
  • Chicken (If using a rotisserie, shred or chop the cooked chicken as soon as you get home so it's easier to remove all the meat. If you're making the chicken yourself, fix your favorite recipe, chop or shred up enough for these salads and place that portion in a container in the fridge for later.)
  • Salad Dressing (Totally optional, but this gives the dressing more time in the fridge to develop its flavors. If you're using fresh ingredients, (i.e. not close to expiring) it will last a week in the fridge, if not, only make it 2-3 days ahead of time.)
  • Hard-boiled eggs (If you're making these at home, you'll want to do this ahead of time so you have plenty of time to let them cool before peeling. Want something extra fabulous? Fix your own soft-boiled eggs instead!)
  • Buffalo Sauce (If you want to go the homemade route, here's a quick buffalo sauce recipe from Little Sunny Kitchen that's made with simple ingredients.)

More Salad Recipes You'll Love:

buffalo chicken salad, chicken cobb salad, cobb salad,
Main Dishes
American
Yield: 2
Author: Elaina Newton - The Rising Spoon
Buffalo Chicken Cobb Salad

Buffalo Chicken Cobb Salad

Prep time: 15 MinCook time: 5 MinTotal time: 20 Min
Craving a big, hearty salad that's packed with protein? Fix this quick & easy buffalo chicken cobb salad. Top it with a homemade blue cheese dressing or red wine vinaigrette and you're ready for a satisfying meal that'll make everyone happy to eat their veggies. (low carb, gluten-free grain & grain-free)

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon of cooking oil (like olive oil)
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) of shredded cooked chicken (I used rotisserie)
  • 3 tablespoons of buffalo sauce (I used this bottled one with avocado oil)
  • 8 ounces of chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 an ounce of microgreens or sprouts (optional)
  • 1/4 cup of crumbled cooked bacon (2-4 strips)
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, halved
  • 3 tablespoons (1 ounce) of crumbled blue cheese
  • 3/4 cup (3-4 ounces) of sliced cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup of sliced cucumber (I prefer English or Persian)
  • 1/2 a small Hass avocado, pitted & thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup of thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons of sliced green onion
For Serving:

Instructions

  1. Prepare your homemade dressing (blue cheese or vinaigrette) and set it aside to infuse while you make the salad.
  2. Place a skillet over medium heat, add 1 teaspoon of cooking oil, and add the cooked shredded chicken. Warm the chicken for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then turn off the heat. Add the buffalo sauce, toss until all the chicken is coated, and set aside.
  3. Assemble the salads by layering the lettuce into two large bowls (wide & shallow is best for presentation) and topping each bowl with half of the ingredients (microgreens, buffalo chicken, bacon, eggs, blue cheese, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, red onion & green onion).
  4. When you're ready to eat, drizzle the tops of the salads with your preferred amount of homemade dressing or vinaigrette & sprinkle with ground pepper + salt, to taste.

Notes:

Make-Ahead Tip: If you're making this in advance, store the dressing separately and wait until the day you plan to eat it to slice the avocado so it doesn't turn brown. For more tips + substitution ideas, see the blog post.

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