Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad

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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!

A close up of a bowl filled with buffalo chicken pasta salad sitting on a white, marble surface.

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.

  1. Spritz the cooked pasta (after it has cooled) with oil to create a barrier.
  2. 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.

Buffalo chicken pasta salad fills a small bowl which sits on a white, marble surface.

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.

A yellow bowl sits filled with buffalo chicken pasta salad on a white, marble background.

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

A stainless steel mixing bowl holds cooked rotini pasta.

Place the cooked and cooled pasta in a large bowl.

Chopped red onions, shredded buffalo chicken and cooked rotini pasta in a mixing bowl.

To the pasta, add the shredded buffalo chicken and chopped onions.

Green peas, may, shredded chicken and cooked pasta in a mixing bowl.

Next, add the mayo and peas.

Buffalo chicken pasta salad mixed together and sitting in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon.

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)

Mixing bowl sold on Amazon (affilate link)
Wooden spoon sold on Amazon. (affiliate link)
Cutting board sold on Amazon (affiliate link)
Chef knife sold on Amazon (affiliate link)

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A close up of a bowl filled with buffalo chicken pasta salad sitting on a white, marble surface.

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad Recipe

Delicious, hearty pasta salad with buffalo chicken. Note that the recipe time here assumes you have the components of the recipe prepared and ready and/or cooked. Allow extra time for prepping components if you don't have them ready.
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Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 247kcal
Author: The Gracious Pantry

CLICK TO WATCH THIS RECIPE IN ACTION!

Equipment

  • 1 Large mixing bowl

Ingredients

  • ½ lb. dry pasta (cooked to package directions)
  • cups cooked and shredded buffalo chicken (see notes above)
  • ½ cup chopped red onions (the smaller you chop them, the better)
  • cup mayo (no sugar added)
  • 1 cup cooked peas

Instructions

  • Place the cooked and cooled pasta in a large mixing bowl.
    A stainless steel mixing bowl holds cooked rotini pasta.
  • To the pasta, add the shredded buffalo chicken and chopped onions.
    Chopped red onions, shredded buffalo chicken and cooked rotini pasta in a mixing bowl.
  • Next, add the mayo and peas.
    Green peas, may, buffalo chicken and cooked pasta in a mixing bowl.
  • Using a wooden spoon, stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper as needed and serve.
    Buffalo chicken pasta salad mixed together and sitting in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon.

Notes

Please note that the nutrition data given here is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 247kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 77mg | Potassium: 208mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 38IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 1mg
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