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Chili’s Buffalo Chicken Salad [Copycat Recipe]

Chilis Buffalo Chicken Salad Recipe
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Chicken salad is my go-to meal whenever I don’t feel like eating loads of carbs or experimenting. I find it hard to ruin the chicken salad, right? 

So it’s kind of always safe to order one, at least for me. I wanted to recreate Chili’s Buffalo Chicken Salad, so I’m sharing my take on it with you.

I made everything from scratch, with fresh and high-quality ingredients, so it’s safe to say this salad is even better than the original. It is spicy, tangy, and amazingly juicy! Plus, it’s not oily at all, as I oven-baked the chicken tenders instead of frying.

What is Chili’s Buffalo Chicken Salad Made Of?

My favorite part of this chicken salad is Pico de Gallo. This classic, spicy, Mexican dip is a perfect match with leafy greens and crispy chicken. Jalapeños, cilantro, and lime skyrocket the taste and make a simple salad a delicacy.

One more thing that is worth the attention is tortilla strips. I made mine at home and coated them with all my favorite spices – cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and sweet paprika. 

I crisped them in the oven, along with turkey bacon. I LOVE crunchy salads, as the texture is as important as the taste!

Chili’s Buffalo Chicken Salad copycat recipe

How to Make Chili’s Buffalo Chicken Salad?

Making copycat recipes is always so much fun. It’s a challenge to recreate flavors at home you only tried a few times, but I think I nailed this one! Here are all the ingredients for this amazing, nutritional salad!

  • Chicken – For this salad, you’ll need chicken breasts. This part of lean meat is amazing to build a salad around. It pairs well with different flavors, plus it’s loaded with proteins.
  • Flour – You’ll use all-purpose flour only to blanket chicken strips and make them crunchy.
  • Eggs – Eggs are there to help the flour stick to the meat and keep it juicy inside.
  • Breadcrumbs – Breadcrumbs are a finishing touch for crispiness.
  • Vegetables – I did a copy-paste of all the vegetables they serve, so I’m just going to list them here: Romain lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, spring onion, and red onion. Tomatoes and onions are part of Pico de Gallo which adds a touch of Mexico and spice. Lettuce and carrots bring freshness and crispness to the table and soothe piquant flavors.
  • Herbs and spices – I’ll start with fresh ingredients you’ll need cilantro, jalapeños, and lime, which are part of Pico de Gallo. Now, let’s get to the spices: salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. I didn’t add more, as the buffalo sauce is spicy enough.
  • Buffalo sauce – Use any kind of buffalo sauce you want. I opted for hot wing sauce.
  • Blue cheese – Crumbled blue cheese on top adds a touch of earthiness. It has a rather funky and prominent aroma but blends here flawlessly. Still, if you aren’t a fan of strong cheeses, be free to skip it or replace it with some other.
  • Tortilla – I would never skip crispy tortilla strips in this salad. I love them spicy. Also, you can use store-bought, but I decided to make them at home.
  • Bacon – Amazingly crunchy turkey bacon is superb in this salad. It adds a touch of smokiness to round the whole meal.
  • Ranch – Ranch is a perfect dressing to freshen up this salad. You can use store-bought, but I made one from scratch with sour cream, mayonnaise, buttermilk, lemon juice, and spices. I used dill, chives, salt, pepper, parsley, garlic, and onion powder

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Let’s get on chopping!

Step 1: Preparing the Chicken 

Recently, I’ve been making “fried” chicken in the oven. With the right breading mix, you’ll get exactly the same flavor, but without oil and standing by the stove. Plus, I love to mix the breading in one bowl, so your hands will be mess-free, I just hate when it happens.

In a bowl, big enough to dip the chicken, mix flour, eggs, and spices. I added salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. Give it a good stir, so it’s smooth without lumps of flour.

I like to cut the chicken breasts into strips right away, as they become crunchier and bake faster. So, dip the chicken strips into the coating and let it soak for a moment while you’re preparing the crunch.

In a zip-lock bag or a bowl combine breadcrumbs and more salt and pepper, if you want. Place the chicken in the mix and coat it thoroughly with crumbs.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, spray it with some cooking oil, and arrange the chicken strips, leaving a good amount of space between them. This will help the meat to be super crispy on every side.

Preparing the Chicken for Chilis Buffalo Chicken Salad

Spray some more oil over the tenders and bake them at 400-450 °F (200-230 °C), depending on how strong your oven is. Bake them for about 12-14 minutes, but place them in the middle rack, so you don’t have to turn them over.

Also, I like to broil them for an additional 3 minutes to crisp them up even more.

Step 2: Preparing Pico de Gallo

While the chicken bakes, chop the veggies for Pico de Gallo. You’ll need tomato, spring onion, red onion, and jalapeño. Keep everything the same, pea-size, so it can have a cohesive look. 

Juice a lime, pour it over the vegetables, mix, and let it sit for a bit to soak up the flavors. 

Preparing Pico de Gallo for Chilis Buffalo Chicken Salad

Step 3: Making Tortilla Strips

Slice a tortilla into the strips, brush it with some oil, and coat it with some paprika and pepper. Arrange it on the baking paper and toss it in the oven for 3-5 minutes, right after the chicken to crisp up.

Preparing the Tortilla Strips for Chilis Buffalo Chicken Salad

Step 4: Making a Ranch Dressing

If you’ve decided to make a ranch from scratch, here are the tips. In a dish, mix together sour cream, mayo, buttermilk for the texture, and lemon juice for the zing.

When it comes to spices, go for salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, dill, parsley, and chives. Combine everything well and you’ll have a perfect dressing in a spare of 2 minutes.

Preparing the Ranch for Chilis Buffalo Chicken Salad

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Step 5: Assembling the Salad

In a bit larger bowl, pour the desired amount of buffalo (hot wing) sauce, place the chicken tenders in, and give them a good coat.

On a large plate, make a bed out of chopped Romain lettuce and shredded carrot. Top with Pico de Gallo, sprinkle crumbled turkey bacon and blue cheese and round it with buffalo chicken tenders.

You can drizzle the ranch sauce on top or leave it in the bowl at the side. 

Assembling the Chilis Buffalo Chicken Salad

How to Store Chili’s Buffalo Chicken Salad?

When it comes to chicken, I’m really strict about storing it in the fridge. I always do it within two hours sitting at room temperature. The key to keeping the chicken crispy is letting it cool at room temperature and placing it in an airtight container.

Sometimes, I divide the tenders with a paper towel, so it absorbs the possible moisture. Also, don’t coat the chicken in buffalo sauce before storing, hence the breading will soften. 

I store ranch dressing in a separate mason jar, in the fridge, of course. It actually has a long shelf life, up to 2 weeks. Still, I prefer to eat it before, within a week.

Pico de Gallo will stay fresh for 3 days when stored in the fridge, in airtight containers. When stored longer, tomatoes become a bit mushy and lose their structure.

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Chili’s Buffalo Chicken Salad

Chili’s Buffalo Chicken Salad [Copycat Recipe]

Author: Laura Bais
This is my take on the famous Chili's Buffalo Chicken Salad. I LOVE the crispy, spicy chicken and fresh vegetables. I made Pico de Gallo with some jalapeño and drizzled it with lime juice for the zing. The star of the meal is the signature buffalo sauce for coating the chicken.
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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Main Course, Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 1 portion
Calories 700.4 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 grill pan

Ingredients
 
 

For the Chicken

  • 4 oz chicken breast
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg (medium)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 5 tbsp buffalo sauce

Pico de Gallo

  • 1 Romain tomato (small)
  • ½ red onion
  • 1 spring onion
  • ½ jalapeño
  • ½ lime (juiced)

Tortilla Strips

  • ½ tortilla
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • pepper (to taste)

Ranch Dressing

  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • ½ tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp buttermilk
  • ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • dill, parsley, chives (to taste)

For Salad

  • ½ carrot (shredded)
  • 2 cups Romain salad

Instructions
 

Preparing the Chicken

  • In a bowl, big enough to dip the chicken, mix flour, eggs, and spices: salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. Give it a good stir, so it’s smooth without lumps of flour.
  • Cut the chicken breasts into strips. Dip the chicken strips into the coating and let it soak for a moment while you’re preparing the crunch.
  • In a zip-lock bag or a bowl combine breadcrumbs and more salt and pepper, to taste. Place the chicken in the mix and coat it thoroughly with crumbs.
  • Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, spray it with some cooking oil, and arrange the chicken strips.
  • Spray some more oil over the tenders and bake them at 400-450 °F (200-230 °C). Bake them for about 12-14 minutes in the middle rack. Broil them for an additional 3 minutes for the crisp.

Preparing Pico de Gallo

  • Chop tomato, spring onion, red onion, and jalapeño into pea-size pieces. Juice a lime, pour it over the vegetables, mix, and let it sit for a bit to soak up the flavors.

Making Tortilla Strips

  • Slice a tortilla into the strips, brush it with some oil, and coat it with some paprika and pepper. Arrange it on the baking paper and toss it in the oven for 3-5 minutes, right after the chicken to crisp up.

Making a Ranch Dressing

  • In a dish, mix sour cream, mayo, buttermilk, and lemon juice. Season with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, dill, parsley, and chives.

Assembling the Salad

  • In a bit larger bowl, pour the buffalo (hot wing) sauce, place the chicken tenders in, and give them a good coat.
  • On a large plate, make a bed out of chopped Romain lettuce and shredded carrot. Top with Pico de Gallo, sprinkle crumbled turkey bacon and blue cheese and round it with buffalo chicken tenders.
  • Drizzle the ranch sauce on top or leave it in the bowl at the side.

Notes

Storing Tips
Store the chicken for up to 3 days, without coating it in sauce before. Ranch will be good for up to 2 weeks and Pico de Gallo for 3 days.
Before diving into the nutritional details, please review our Nutritional Disclaimer page for important context and clarifications.

Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 700.4kcalCarbohydrates: 81.5gProtein: 43.9gFat: 22.6gSaturated Fat: 6.8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6.6gMonounsaturated Fat: 5.8gTrans Fat: 0.04gCholesterol: 255mgSodium: 3101.1mgPotassium: 1125.3mgFiber: 8.9gSugar: 11.5gVitamin A: 7729.3IUVitamin C: 31.2mgCalcium: 260.6mgIron: 6.9mg
Keyword baked crispy chicken, buffalo chicken, buffalo sauce, crispy chicken, hot wing sauce, pico de gallo, tortilla strips