This Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad is a spicy, tangy, and extra creamy twist on classic pasta salad. It’s made with tender macaroni, juicy chicken, and crisp veggies all tossed in creamy buffalo sauce. It’s perfect for summer BBQs and potlucks!
Classic pasta salad but for the buffalo sauce lovers? Yes, please. Imagine al dente elbow macaroni, tender shredded chicken, creamy mayo, ranch dressing, fiery buffalo sauce, and bits of celery and onion for crunch in every bite. YUM!
This is my go-to side dish for summer parties gatherings. The pasta salad needs a couple of hours in the fridge for the flavors to mingle, so I make it the night before. The next day, it’s perfect.
You may want to make an extra batch because buffalo chicken pasta salad goes quick and the leftovers are the best!
💗 Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It’s the perfect pasta salad for buffalo sauce lovers!
- It’s made with simple, easy-to-find ingredients you might already have.
- A delicious way to use rotisserie chicken.
- Great recipe to make in advance.
- Always a favorite at potlucks and cookouts.
- Gluten-free, paleo & vegetarian options.
🧾 Ingredients You’ll Need
- Elbow Macaroni – Elbow macaroni is classic in pasta salad, but feel free to use a different shape. Stick with short, funky shapes like cavatappi, shells, fusilli, and rotini. The grooves and crevices give something for the creamy buffalo sauce to cling to.
- Mayonnaise – The base of the “pasta salad sauce.”
- Ranch Dressing – Buffalo sauce and ranch go hand in hand, but if ranch isn’t your thing, use extra mayo or replace it with Greek yogurt or sour cream.
- Buffalo Sauce – This wouldn’t be buffalo chicken pasta salad without buffalo sauce. Use your favorite pre-made buffalo sauce (Frank’s Red Hot, The New Primal, Texas Pete, Tessemae’s, & Sweet Baby Ray’s, Tobasco, etc).
- Celery & Red Onion – chopped super small for a bit of crunch but mostly flavor.
- Cooked Chicken Breast – Any cooked chicken breast will due as long it can be diced or shredded. Using a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken is a huge time saver, but use what works for you.
🥣 How To Make Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad
1️⃣ Cook pasta al dente.
Start by cooking your pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Then, immediately pour into a colander and rinse under cool water. Let the pasta drain well.
2️⃣ Make pasta salad sauce.
Add the buffalo sauce, mayo, and ranch dressing to a large mixing bowl, and whisk into a smooth sauce.
3️⃣ Toss pasta salad.
Then, dump the cooled and drained pasta, cooked chicken, diced celery, and diced onion into the bowl. Toss everything together until incorporated and the pasta and chicken are well coated in creamy buffalo sauce.
4️⃣ Chill pasta salad.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for 2 hours. Give it another toss and serve cold. Enjoy!
👉 Recipe Tips
- Best types of pasta to use – Noodles with funky shapes tend to work better in creamy pasta salads because the grooves and edges give the sauce something to cling to.
- Make it spicier – Add cayenne to taste to boost the fiery flavor.
- Chill before serving – As tempting as it may be to dig in, let your buffalo chicken pasta salad chill first. It will make a huge difference.
- Small dice veggies – Try to dice the celery and onion as tiny as possible.
Paleo: With a few modifications, you can make this into a paleo pasta salad! Use grain-free macaroni (like Jovial foods grain-free cassava elbows), and toss with paleo mayonnaise, paleo ranch, and paleo buffalo sauce (like The New Primal or Tessemae’s).
Gluten-free: Use gluten-free elbows (like Barilla) or another short, odd-shaped noodle.
Vegetarian: Instead of chicken use chickpeas!
Load up the veggies: Add diced tomato, shredded carrots, diced bell peppers, and/or green onion.
Garnish: Sprinkle blue cheese or gorgonzola crumbles and chopped chives over the top right before serving.
♻️ Storing & Freezing
Storing: Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. The noodles will begin to absorb the sauce as it sits, so you may need to stir in more mayo or ranch to rehydrate the salad. NO FREEZING!
More Buffalo Chicken Recipes
Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad
- 1 Large Pot to cook the pasta
- 1 colander to rinse and drain the pasta
- 1 sharp knife & a cutting board
- 1 large bowl
- 1 Whisk
- 1 heavy spoon
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 1 cup celery diced small
- ½ cup red onion diced small
- 2 cups cooked chicken breast diced or shredded
- ½ cup ranch dressing
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup buffalo sauce
- Cook pasta according to the instructions on the package until al dente. Rinse the pasta well under cold water and let drain in a colander while preparing the rest of the ingredients
- With a sharp knife, carefully dice the celery and onion small.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk the buffalo sauce, mayo, and ranch dressing until fully combined.
- To the bowl, add the drained & cool pasta, cooked & cool chicken, diced celery, and diced onion.
- Toss everything together until evenly incorporated, and the pasta and chicken are coated in sauce.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge for 2 hours. Toss again and serve chilled.