buffalo chicken cobb salad

Earlier this summer, I made what I thought was just a dinner salad that turned out to be my new favorite dinner salad of all time and it was literally all I could talk about for the next few weeks. Incessantly. Insufferably. I didn’t even wait to ask if you’re into buffalo wings (of course you are), cobb salads (you could be, I can just tell) or looking for a dinner idea. It’s just not who I am.

Perhaps even less surprising was realizing I have very strong opinions about how to adapt the idea of buffalo wings to things that are not buffalo wings, which means I’m about to break down my favorite parts of all this:

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* The lightness: I find buffalo wings to be as unheavy as fried chicken wings dipped in a buttery hot sauce and then dipped again in a blue cheese ranch dressing can be. It’s because they’re not breaded; the crisp is from the skin itself. For the purposes of this salad, you could definitely use a crispy breaded chicken cutlet if you’d like, however, I was completely happy with grilled chicken thighs.

* The dressing two-fer: Buffalo sauce is a buttery hot sauce mixture that’s piercing and thin. The creamy dressing is ranch-like and thicker. For me, the interplay of these two textures and flavors is everything, so this salad had to have two “dressings,” vs. just mixing them together.

* The blue cheese-less blue cheese: I adore blue cheese dressing but my weird take on it is that I prefer the blue cheese outside the dressing. If not, I end up having a eating-the-whole-pint-of-ice-cream-just-to-dig-for-the-cookie-dough-nuggets experience with it, which I insist is a universal one. Sprinkling blue cheese over allows every bite to have some without smothering everything in any more dressing than I crave.

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* Everything else: Carrots and celery are essential when it comes to buffalo wings, in my opinion, not just plate garnishes. From there, I added more chunky vegetables — cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, diced red onion — that work well with these flavors and just enough leafy greens to fill it out.

* Salad bar-style: I serve everything unassembled, because it allows everyone at the table to make their salad with the ingredient balance of their dreams, including those that don’t want chicken, or blue cheese (more for me!), or even buffalo sauce. Plus, the leftovers keep fantastically — dressings in their own jars, lettuce in a bag, vegetables in a container — since they’re unmixed.

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Do I … overthink these things a little or do I obsess exactly enough? I hope you’ll try it and find out.



6 months ago: Pasta with Longer-Cooked Broccoli
1 year ago: Buttered Noodles for Frances
2 years ago: Deviled Eggs
3 years ago: Pasta with Pesto Genovese
4 years ago: Frozen Watermelon Mojitos
5 years ago: Corn Fritters and Bourbon Peach Smash
6 years ago: Hummus Heaped with Tomatoes and Cucumbers
7 years ago: Corn, Bacon and Parmesan Pasta
8 years ago: Tomato and Fried Provolone Sandwich
9 years ago: Easiest Fridge Dill Pickles and Grilled Peach Splits
1- years ago: One-Pan Farro with Tomatoes and Hot Fudge Sundae Cake
11 years ago: Bacon Corn Hash
12 years ago: Whole Wheat Raspberry Ricotta Scones
13 years ago: Mango Slaw with Cashews and Mint, Thai-Style Chicken Legs, Peach Blueberry Cobbler, and Scalloped Tomatoes with Croutons
14 years ago: Light Brioche Burger Buns, Blueberry Boy Bait, and Lemony Zucchini Goat Cheese Pizza
15 years ago: Chocolate Sorbet
16 years ago: Double Chocolate Layer Cake

Buffalo Chicken Cobb Salad

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Source: Smitten Kitchen
  • Print

    Creamy dressing
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • Juice of half a lemon (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Many grinds of black pepper
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh chives, divided
  • Buffalo sauce
  • 6 tablespoons hot sauce, ideally Franks
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • Salad and assembly
  • 6 to 6 1/2 cups diced fresh vegetables, such as celery, carrots, bell pepper, cucumber, and tomatoes
  • 1 cup diced red onion (from 1 small)
  • 4 to 6 ounces diced blue cheese, such as a Danish blue
  • 4 to 5 ounces romaine or baby gem lettuce, sliced or torn
  • 1 pound boneless chicken thighs, grilled and sliced, ideally still warm

    Make creamy dressing: Whisk everything to combine and add half (2 tablespoons) of the minced chives. Taste and adjust ingredients such as salt and pepper as needed.

    Make buffalo sauce: Whisk butter and hot sauce to combine and set aside.

    To serve: Arrange vegetables, onion, and blue cheese on a large platter. Place lettuce in a large bowl. I like to keep the chicken separate just in case someone doesn’t eat it.

    To assemble: Place some lettuce on plate, followed by chicken. Add all of the vegetables, onion, and cheese you like then drizzle with creamy dressing, followed by buffalo sauce. Garnish with remaining chives.


  • You could definitely omit the chicken here and still have an amazing salad. Diced firm tofu would be great, too, or you could grill it in strips.
  • Use any vegetables you like here, but if you’re curious, I used 1.5 cups celery (from 2 large ribs), 1.5 cups carrots (from 3 slim carrots, about 6 ounces total), 1 cup yellow pepper (from 1 large), 1.5 cups cucumber (from 1.5 Persian/small cucumbers, about 5 ounces), and 1 cup diced tomatoes (from larger cherry tomatoes).

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63 comments on buffalo chicken cobb salad

  1. Natasha

    Oh, this is just in time. I was already making chicken wings so this salad is a great alternative to carrot and celery sticks. Thank you!

  2. Kelly

    Woah, this looks fantastic! One of my favorite lunches is a scaled-down plate of buffalo chicken party dip with a big pile of veggie dippers, but this….THIS combines my favorite lunch with my favorite salad! We’ll see what my kiddos have to say about Cobb salad night sans bacon and avocado. I, for one, can’t wait! Thanks, Deb!

      1. Sheba Devonish

        I made this tonight as we are trying to get more veggies in our diet. I was so tired of making stir fry! This salad is DELISH! The flavours work together so well.

  3. Bentley

    You obsess exactly enough, and I come here for just that!! Sk recipes are always succinct but sparkly so I know you mean it when you say to take that extra step. Can’t wait to make this

    1. Rob

      I’ve always found powdered buttermilk best for baked goods. For this dressing I’d suggest soured milk: 2 Tbsp lemon juice or vinegar (cider or white work well) plus milk to equal 1 cup total. Let stand for a few minutes then stir to combine. Good luck!

  4. Nicole

    You are a genius! I was just saying last week how I need to satisfy my buffalo cravings at least once a month, and I don’t always want to go to the effort of making wings or buffalo cauliflower (though I do it anyway, lol), so this makes me soooooooo happy and I can’t wait to make it! And I happen to have some buttermilk from the farmer’s market that I was wondering what to do with (well, I have a litre, so I’m still going to need to figure out some other things, lol) ;)

  5. Amanda

    As a summer salad person, I’m very excited to make this! I also love a BBQ chicken salad. Seems like the buffalo sauce could be a direct switch for BBQ sauce, but would you make any other adjustments?

    1. Molly

      I thought Amanda meant swapping the buffalo sauce for BBQ sauce on the salad. If it were me (I love both bbq and buffalo, so this easily could be me), I would nix the carrots and celery in favor of corn kernels, black beans, and finely shredded red cabbage or -better- coleslaw. I can still see the buttermilk and blue cheese working well with BBQ but could also swap that out for more of a ranch style dressing and shredded sharp cheddar.

  6. Kristin

    Holy cow, I think I need to text my friends and set up a buffalo chicken cobb salad bar evening! And my picky husband can make his mostly veg free!

  7. Allie

    This looks amazing! Reminds me of all the hot wing hoagies I ate in high school i.e. adapting the idea of hot wings to things that are not hot wings.

  8. Aurora

    I saw this and had to make it right away (and at 10.5 weeks pregnant, my current relationship with food is a little interesting.)
    It was delicious, and I love customizable meals since one kid likes this vegetable and another likes that, and none of them like spice yet…
    I did tell my spice-loving single brother that this is right up his alley but that he could sub blue cheese dressing to save himself a step 😉

  9. Rhonda

    Terrific flavors! I cut the dressing and Buffalo sauce in half for two big servings and we both loved it!
    I’ve had a quart of buttermilk that has all been used in your recipes!

  10. C

    Another great protein+crispy crunchy option that I use when making a salad like this (because the blue cheese is absolutely non-negotiable, but we don’t need to go in for a penny, in for a pound on carbon /ethical /health impact) is cooked chickpeas that are crisped in the oven, using the same method as carrot salad and tahini with crisped chickpeas or the crisped chickpeas with yogurt.

  11. This was great. Im living in Portugal and can’t get Franks, but they have Piri-Piri sauce that worked just fine. I was glad my partner came and participated in the prep, because this was labor intensive for meal #one. Meal #two will be a breeze.

  12. EAF

    I’ve had an idea in my head for a salad just like this for some time! Of course my favorite cooking site did too. Thanks Deb!

  13. Debbie

    This Cobb Salad is The Bomb! Served it a party with great success and requests for the recipe. I couldn’t find buttermilk so used the powdered kind reconstituted. It was thin but tasted great. Next time I’ll just add less water.

  14. Ann Kaufman

    This was a knock it out of the park recipe! Just finished a huge plate of the Buffalo chicken salad.My husband is raving! I can’t say enough superlatives about it Thank you

  15. Stephanie

    So good! My husband is a fan of salads for dinner, but they need to be protein heavy. This one fit the bill perfectly! Served with a sourdough baguette for me who likes some starchy carbs too. Going into the salad for dinner rotation, thanks!

  16. LH

    I’ve now made this twice since it was published. Both times served with sweet tea and a half recipe of the crispy peach cobbler. Ooops!

  17. Gina J

    This sounded like a wonderful dish right out of the gate. I was looking forward to serving it for dinner tonight to my husband who has been working construction in the blazing heat and humidity of Florida. And it TOTALLY lived up to the anticipation. It is all the flavors we love about buffalo chicken wings but lighter and so fresh! All the cool veggies, the scratch-made sauces, even the darker, more flavorful and moist chicken thighs… delicious. This one is an instant obsession. It will be on repeat, especially this super hot summer. Thank you, Deb, for making our lives better with your food love and wit! You are my absolute favorite.

  18. Rebecca Fallon

    Perfect dish for the current heat wave! We made it tonight, great to prep ahead and chill everything. Delicious. I love how everyone can customize their plate. I will make this for friends. Yum!!

  19. PennyC

    This bad girl had to go back to beginner level Atkins, but I still found a way to make your Buffalo Cobb for dinner last night…less onion and tomato, more cuke and Romaine. Since I was cooking for one I used three chicken tenderloins (and ended up just using two in my bowl). It was a flavor explosion that I’ll probably be having weekly from now on. YUM and thank you!

  20. Kate

    Perfection! So much cool crunch necessary in the summer heat. The creamy dressing was spot on. We also set out hard boiled eggs and avocado for a veggie version.

  21. I chopped all the things while the chicken grilled and I added bacon and corn to the grill. Wow- so good and the best part is having salad for days later . The dressing is delicious . Thank you for a great take on a summer salad

    1. Aurora

      Buffalo wings are tossed in a mixture of butter and Frank’s. I kept my sauce in the fridge in its saucepan for a couple days and just rewarmed it to melt the butter.

  22. Sara

    I made this with tmrw chicken-less shreds (veg chicken that’s juicy like thighs) and it’s fantastic. This would be a really great flexitarian/family meal. Could do both chicken and not-chicken, everyone can pick which veggies they like, how much buffalo sauce etc.

    But it’s also a great meal-prep for one! I’ve just got a big container of all the veg and then made all the dressings etc. dinner for most of the week!

  23. Stacy

    Made something inspired by this tonight – the dressing combo’d with a Stilton crumble is devine. Refreshing! And very little is needed.

  24. Jennifer Hadfield

    YUM!! This was an excellent!! Prepared exactly according to Deb’s instructions and wouldn’t change a thing. Perfect meal for a warm summer evening.

  25. Nancy

    I have eaten this every day for two weeks. I bought a baked chicken breast at the take-away counter at the grocery store and I used rooster sauce instead of Frank’s. So good.

  26. I made this for a Girl Scouts pool party and it was a huge hit. People were able to jazz it up or down according to their taste. It was GF, I also roasted some tofu so it could be vegetarian (using the SK Every Day recipe!), and it was light yet filling on a very hot afternoon. I will definitely make it again!

  27. Sarah

    I’ve made this dressing four times this summer as dip for crudités, of which blanch green beans, carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes are my faves. Everybody raves about this ranch dressing. At some point, I’ve got to try the whole chicken salad part.

  28. Kimberly

    Wow! My family agreed this is our new favorite recipe that is delicious and healthy! This would also be a perfect meal for guests! Thanks!

  29. Bee

    Delicious dressing! I didn’t have buttermilk so made it with yogurt.
    Vegetarian sub for the chicken: tossed chopped cauliflower in the buffalo sauce and then roasted it. Delicious!
    I used grated emmental instead of blue cheese. Still delicious!

  30. Excellent recipe. The dressing drizzle with the Buffalo sauce on top of the crumbles truly made a perfect pairing. We only skipped the red onion but the rest was as written. My lips are a little fiery but in a good way.
    Deb – been following you since year 3 or 4, have all your books and many standards that came from you. This is added to the list. Thank you 1000 times over. I appreciate you sooo much.

  31. Mary Koepfle

    Oh Deb. I have followed you and your recipes for years. I sing your praises to all my cooking friends. I have all of your cookbooks – dog eared. But please, please write a book. I love your wit and sense of humor. I will buy your book. I will curl up with a plate of your delicious food while reading your book. You are a treasure. Write. Write about anything. You want to. I know it. Waiting … but still cooking.

  32. This summer, I prepared this dressing four times as a dip for crudités, my favorites being blanched green beans, carrot sticks, and cherry tomatoes. I’m quite eager to prepare this because I love summer salads!

  33. Jon

    I’ve made this four or five times in the past few months. And I know what kind of eye rolls I’m inviting with the “I used…” category of comments, but hear me out: the first time we all loved it, but I thought this would be even better if the chicken was fried. Every time since I’ve done Deb’s skillet chicken parm preparation (from the Keepers book) to fry the chicken, and it is delightful.

  34. Rose Miller

    I used the chicken marinade from SK’s Chicken Gyro Salad, another of our staples, and broiled the chicken as it is November and grilling is out. otherwise exactly as written is awesome.