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Buffalo chicken wings are all the rage, but if you’re tired of them, try this buffalo chicken pasta salad instead.
When the weather gets warm, pasta salads are a healthy lunch or dinner choice. Buffalo chicken pasta salad is a tasty option. Plus it’s great for sharing at picnics, potlucks, and more!
What Is Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad?
Simply put, it’s pasta salad made with buffalo chicken. Different recipes call for different ingredients, but at the heart of this dish lies a well seasoned and shredded buffalo chicken.
Can I Cook Pasta Ahead Of Time For Pasta Salad?
You can! You can cook pasta up to two days in advance.
How Do You Make Pasta Salad The Day Before?
Pasta salad can be made ahead of time if you follow one simple rule. Don’t add moisture to the salad.
For this recipe, that means mixing in the mayo and maybe even the juicy chicken right before you get ready to serve the pasta salad. You can store them separately until you are ready to serve.
How Do Tou Keep Pasta From Absorbing Mayo?
This is a two-step process.
- Spritz the cooked pasta (after it has cooled) with oil to create a barrier.
- Chill the pasta in the fridge before adding the mayo.
The oil will create a barrier between the pasta and the mayo, and chilling the pasta will also slow down the absorption rate. That being said, eventually, the pasta will absorb some mayo. But taking these two steps will help slow things down considerably.
Why Does My Pasta Salad Have No Flavor?
The main issue here is making sure that all the individual components of your salad are properly seasoned and can stand alone on flavor.
- For the pasta, that means salting the water properly.
- For the chicken, that means making sure you season it well enough with sauce to taste good on its own.
- And for the mayo, that means making sure you use a mayo you actually like.
How Can You Tell If Pasta Salad Is Bad?
- Smell it. That will always be your first clue. If it smells “off”, don’t eat it.
- Touch it. If it feels at all slimy, toss it. Pasta salad, even with sauce or mayo, should never be slimy.
- Time it. If your pasta salad is over 3 days old, toss it.
The Buffalo Chicken
If you can’t find a clean Buffalo sauce at the store, here’s one you can make at home.
- 1 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce – or any clean hot sauce you prefer.
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 tbsp. onion powder
- ½ cup honey – (if you prefer less spicy) or ¼ cup (if you prefer more spicy)
- 2 tsp. molasses
- 1 tsp. paprika
- ½ cup barbecue sauce – I make this BBQ Sauce. If you want to buy sauce, Bone Suckin’ Sauce is clean and delicious.
Stir everything together and pour a good portion of it over your chicken to cook. You can even add a little after cooking to refresh the flavors. And if you really want the buffalo flavor to come through strong in your pasta salad, you can add a little extra to the pasta salad too.
How Do You Fix Over-Salted Pasta Salad?
It happens to the best of us. We get a little overzealous with the salt shaker, and what could have been a great pasta salad, instantly becomes inedible.
In one word: Acid.
You’ll want to add, in very small amounts, some sort of acid such as vinegar. This works great in a salad like this because the buffalo sauce has vinegar in it. But you don’t want to overdo it either because then your pasta salad will become too sour instead of too salty. It’s a fine balance. So stir in very small amounts at a time, stirring and tasting as you go.
Best Types Of Pasta To Use For This Pasta Salad
- Penne pasta
- Rotini pasta
- Bowtie pasta
- Macaroni noodles (elbow)
Recipe Additions And Variations
If you want to round out the salad a bit more, here are some additions you can make.
- ½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
- ½ cup finely chopped celery
- ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
- ½ cup grated carrots
- ⅓ cup ranch dressing
- ½ cup blue cheese crumbles (Or ⅓ cup blue cheese dressing)
- ⅓ cup sliced green onions
- 1 tsp. ground black pepper for some extra bite
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes (or grape tomatoes)
- If you don’t have time to make buffalo chicken, use a rotisserie chicken, shred it, and simply add as much buffalo wing sauce to the pasta salad as you like for flavor.
About The Ingredients
½ pound package dry pasta – cooked al dente to package directions
1½ cups shredded buffalo chicken – see notes above
½ cup chopped red onions – the smaller you chop them, the better
⅓ cup mayonnaise – no sugar added
1 cup green peas – cooked
How To Make Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad
Place the cooked and cooled pasta in a large bowl.
To the pasta, add the shredded buffalo chicken and chopped onions.
Next, add the mayo and peas.
Using a wooden spoon, stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper as needed and serve.
How To Store Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad
Pack it up tight in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to three days.
Can You Freeze Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad?
It’s not recommended, though you could certainly freeze buffalo chicken by itself. But once added to the pasta salad, it’s best to avoid the freezer. Neither mayo nor pasta does very well in the freezer.
Recipe Supplies For Making Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad
To make this recipe, you’ll need a large mixing bowl, a wooden spoon a cutting board, and a good knife. You can click any of the images here and they will take you to that item on Amazon. (Affiliate links)
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Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad Recipe Card + Video
Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad Recipe
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- 1 Large mixing bowl
- ½ lb. dry pasta (cooked to package directions)
- 1½ cups cooked and shredded buffalo chicken (see notes above)
- ½ cup chopped red onions (the smaller you chop them, the better)
- ⅓ cup mayo (no sugar added)
- 1 cup cooked peas
- Place the cooked and cooled pasta in a large mixing bowl.
- To the pasta, add the shredded buffalo chicken and chopped onions.
- Next, add the mayo and peas.
- Using a wooden spoon, stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper as needed and serve.