The world needs more simple but totally delicious cold lunch options! My Easy Buffalo Chicken Salad has shredded chicken breast, diced veggies, and my favorite Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce. Meal prep it with a pita for lunches or stay Whole30 with greens and more veggies!
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Here’s a quick update on our Whole30 this month (in case you wanted to know): We’re on Day 27. It flew by way faster than I ever would have guessed. There has been an extreme amount of dishes, but otherwise, it’s all thumbs up from us. You can’t weigh or measure yourself until after the 30 days, but here are a few non-scale victories we have have noticed after 27 days:
- I cook way more vegetables than I used to. I accomplished a Whole30 goal of relying less on grains and legumes (okay, beans) to bulk up meals and we eat more vegetables than we used to.
- All my clothes are looser. Some things (that were on the larger side before Whole30) no longer fit. This weekend I donated over half my closet of clothes and it felt really good.
- Acid reflux and heartburn are completely eliminated. We were worried because Tums have cornstarch so they’re off-limits. But neither of us have needed a single Tum since Day 1.
- No more random unexplainable aches (including stomach aches). Sometimes it was when I got out of bed. Sometimes it was my wrist (I’ve been told there’s some tendonitis there). Sometimes my stomach would ache after excessive dairy (I think?). Sometimes my shoulder, etc. But these issues seem very diminished and rarely occur at all anymore.
- I’m 100% confident around nutrition & ingredient labels. I’ll always find you, added sugar!! I always knew how to read a label, but my recognition of ingredients and what to avoid has drastically improved. This is knowledge I’ll carry with me long after Whole30.
One of my other goals during this Whole30 was to share recipes I knew I would continue to make after Whole30. A prime example of a recipe that meets this criteria is this Easy Buffalo Chicken Salad. I’m a sucker for buffalo chicken anything on a menu, so it only fits that I add more of these kinds of recipes to Project Meal Plan!
Here’s what I’ve got going currently in the “buffalo” flavor category:
- Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Bake
- Whole30 Buffalo Deviled Eggs
- Instant Pot Buffalo Chicken Meatballs Meal Prep
Try one of those if you like buffalo chicken as much as I do!
What kind of chicken is best for this recipe?
The best kind of chicken to use for this recipe is chicken breast, baked, pressure cooked, boiled, or steamed. I prefer to cook with ButcherBox (affiliate link) chicken, but any chicken breasts from the grocery store will work. You can use leftover chicken (use one pound) or cook up two breasts (around 8 ounces each) to use for the chicken salad with one of these methods:
- Oven: Preheat oven to 425F. Lay chicken in a rimmed baking pan lined with aluminum foil (for easy clean up). Rub with 1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 20-30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165F.
- Instant Pot: Place your raw chicken breasts into the pot with 1 cup chicken broth. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook on Manual or High Pressure for 8-9 minutes for raw or 12-14 minutes for frozen (higher end of the range for thicker breasts). Let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes, then quick release the rest of the pressure.
Shred the chicken as finely as possible for the best texture chicken salad. I prefer to shred my chicken just after cooking – I think it’s easier to finely shred at a warmer temperature than when chilled.
Tell me about Whole30 Mayo.
Whole30 mayo – aka plain mayo with zero sugar – is easy to make if you have any kind of blender, but particularly easy if you have an immersion blender. It takes a raw egg, light olive oil or avocado oil, mustard powder, and lemon juice. The problem with most mayonnaise from the store is the added sugar, not the mayo part! Here’s the homemade mayo recipe I followed from Whole30.
How do you make the Easy Buffalo Chicken Salad?
Start with your shredded chicken in a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients. This includes:
- diced carrots (about 1 cup or 2 medium carrots)
- diced celery (about 1 cup or 2 stalks of celery)
- diced red onion (1/4 of one onion)
- 1/2 cup compliant mayonnaise (make at home or use Primal Kitchens)
- 1/3 cup favorite Buffalo sauce (Frank’s!)
- 2 tablespoons compliant Ranch (Primal Kitchens or Tessemae’s – or use more mayo if you don’t have Ranch)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- salt & pepper
Mix it all the way up, then DIG IN. I love chicken salads because they are easy, quick, delicious and forgiving (like if you don’t have not enough or too much of something). Still always delicious no matter how you eat it!
Whole30 Meal Prep Ideas
- add some random lettuce from your fridge and a hard-boiled egg (that’s what I did!)
- use Butter lettuce or Romaine to make lettuce wraps
- eat the salad over greens and add some nuts and fruit to the side
Non-Whole30 Meal Prep Ideas
- stuff all this buffalo chicken goodness into a pita
- wrap it all in a spinach or sun-dried tomato wrap
- dip pita chips or other crunch snacks into it
How long does the Easy Buffalo Chicken Salad last?
I would be sure to eat this salad within 4 days of whipping it up, or less if you used leftover chicken instead of fresh cooked. Keep it in the fridge in an airtight container or your favorite (also airtight) meal prep containers!
The containers pictured are these 2 Compartment Glass Meal Prep Containers from Prep Naturals. The containers are dishwasher safe, however I prefer to handwash the lids so they last longer.
Can I freeze the Easy Buffalo Chicken Salad?
I would not freeze this buffalo chicken salad. Unfortunately, I don’t think it would thaw very well due to the mayonnaise and celery content. Everything I’ve read suggest mayonnaise does not freeze well. And I’m certain celery is not a good freezer candidate either.
A better idea to avoid food waste is to make a half batch with only one chicken breast or around 8 ounces of chicken. Half all the ingredients and it should make 1 large or 2 small servings.
More cold lunch meal prep ideas from Project Meal Plan:
- Chicken & Hummus Plate Lunch Meal Prep
- Whole30 BLT Wraps Meal Prep
- Meal Prep Satay Inspired Thai Chicken Salad
My Easy Buffalo Chicken Salad has shredded chicken breast, diced veggies, and my favorite Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce. Meal prep it with a pita for lunches or stay Whole30 with greens and more veggies!
- 1 pound leftover cooked, shredded chicken breasts (see note for cooking instructions if needed)
- 2 medium carrots, finely diced (about 1 cup)
- 2 stalks of celery, finely diced (about 1 1/4 cup)
- 1/4 of a red onion, finely diced
- 1/2 cup compliant mayonnaise (homemade or Primal Kitchens)
- 1/3 cup Buffalo sauce (I use Frank’s Red Hot)
- 2 tablespoons compliant Ranch dressing (Primal Kitchens or Tessemae’s – or use more mayo if you don’t have Ranch)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon each salt & pepper
- Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well mixed.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge and enjoy within 4 days. Serve for lunch with greens, hard-boiled egg, nuts, fruit, or stuff in a pita/wrap if not Whole30.
To cook chicken breasts: Oven: Preheat oven to 425F. Lay raw chicken in a rimmed baking pan lined with aluminum foil (for easy clean up). Rub with 1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 20-30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165F.
Instant Pot: Place your raw chicken breasts into the pot with 1 cup chicken broth. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook on Manual or High Pressure for 8-9 minutes for raw or 12-14 minutes for frozen (higher end of the range for thicker breasts). Let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes, then quick release the rest of the pressure.
Make a half batch of this recipe to serve 2 if you only have one chicken breast (at least 8 ounces).
Nutrition information estimated with My Fitness Pal and includes buffalo chicken salad only.
- Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
- Calories: 380
- Sugar: 1g
- Fat: 30g
- Carbohydrates: 3g
- Protein: 26g
Keywords: cold lunch, buffalo chicken, paleo, whole30, chicken, meal prep, buffalo sauce, primal kitchens,
Even if you aren’t Whole30-ing, I still think you’ll enjoy this seriously easy Buffalo Chicken Salad! Tag me or use the hashtag #projectmealplan to show me your version and how you meal prep it!