Spicy, Crunchy, Creamy, & Craveable Buffalo Chicken Rice Bowls
I absolutely cannot resist a good buffalo chicken salad. If it’s on a menu, I WILL order it. This hearty buffalo chicken bowl recipe is inspired by one of my favorite salads at Crisp & Green, a fast-casual salad shop here in Minneapolis. The obsession is so strong it fueled multiple trips per week last fall. To finally reign in our takeout budget, I had to figure out a homemade version. 😇
These satisfying bowls are equal parts buffalo chicken salad & hearty power bowl. Its fresh & flavorful ingredients make a meal that feels both light & healthy yet completely crave-able – the best of both worlds! The main components of this buffalo chicken bowl recipe are an easy skillet buffalo chicken, spiced roasted cauliflower, & an herby yogurt ranch drizzle. They’re all easy to prepare, especially with some meal prep!
As is the case with all salads & bowl-style meals, it takes time to prep a number of ingredients that create the perfect combination of well-balanced flavors & textures. As written, the recipe reflects how I like hearty buffalo chicken bowls the most. If it feels too high maintenance for you, feel free to make the elements that sound the most delicious to you & leave out what’s not as inspiring. Buffalo chicken bowls are easily customizable so you should enjoy them the way you love most!
Buffalo Chicken Bowl Recipe Highlights
If you’re obsessed with all-things-buffalo chicken, you’re going to love this buffalo chicken rice bowl recipe. It’s…
- DOWNRIGHT CRAVE-WORTHY. A fun combination of flavors & textures makes these bowls shine. Your tastebuds will love the combo of spicy hot sauce with creamy ranch drizzle & tender brown rice with crispy roasted cauliflower. SO good!
- GOOD-FOR-YOU. Veggies, grains, greens, & more – this recipe uses simple, healthy ingredients to build a filling & nourishing meal.
- TOTALLY VERSATILE. It’s so easy to customize a buffalo chicken bowl with different grains, cheeses, vegetables, or greens. A few simple modifications also make this recipe vegetarian or vegan – be sure to check the Recipe Notes for plenty of simple swaps & substitutions!
I have a feeling these are your new favorite chicken power bowls! ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make Hearty Buffalo Chicken Bowls, or jump straight to the recipe & get cooking!
Key Components in these Hearty Buffalo Chicken Bowls
Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.
These bowls consist of 3 main components: buffalo chicken, roasted cauliflower, & herby Greek yogurt ranch dressing. Everything else is easy to layer in for extra texture & flavor. Here’s what you need to get started!
- Buffalo chicken – Cubed chicken breasts or thighs both work well for the buffalo chicken. Butter, garlic powder, smoked paprika, & Frank’s RedHot Sauce season the chicken with classic buffalo flavor. You can also use any other buffalo sauce you prefer, but I love Frank’s (it’s classic!).
- Roasted cauliflower – Use bite-sized cauliflower florets & season with garlic powder, paprika, & olive oil before roasting in the oven.
- Herby Greek yogurt ranch dressing – This homemade yogurt drizzle is an easy at-home version of classic store-bought ranch! Mix Greek yogurt, garlic, fresh dill & chives (or green onion) with apple cider vinegar & water, then drizzle the dressing alllll over the bowl.
- Brown rice – Or any other type of rice you love! Other grains like quinoa or farro would also be great in this grain bowl.
- Greens – I love to use baby arugula here, but any fresh greens would work!
- Veggies – Thinly sliced cabbage & grated carrots add a satisfying crunch & some extra veggies to the buffalo chicken bowl. I’m not a big fan of celery, but if you want that classic buffalo chicken pairing you can add some here too!
- Cheese – Crumbled bleu cheese is classic, but I’m partial to sharp white cheddar. Use what you love!
While you can use any hot sauce you love to make these buffalo chicken bowls, in my opinion, it’s not buffalo chicken without Frank’s RedHot. A tangy-spicy hot sauce made from aged cayenne peppers, garlic, & vinegar, Frank’s RedHot is the hot sauce used in the original buffalo chicken wings recipe. As legend has it, way back in 1964, the cooks at Anchor Bar & Grill (located in Buffalo, NY) created a wing sauce on the fly by combining melted butter & paprika with Frank’s RedHot. The infamous buffalo sauce was born.
You can find Frank’s RedHot very readily – it’s in the condiments aisle at most conventional grocery stores & is also available online.
How to Make Buffalo Chicken (My Go-To Easy Skillet Recipe)
Making buffalo chicken in a skillet is so simple & quick! It takes just 3 easy steps…
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
Prep the chicken. Cut the boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or thighs, if using) into bite-sized cubed pieces. Why? ⇢ Cutting the chicken into pieces helps it cook faster & gives more surface area for the meat to soak up the delicious buffalo seasoning & sauce.
Cook & season the chicken. Melt some butter in a skillet & then add the cubed chicken. Season with garlic powder, paprika, S&P, then cook until the chicken is golden-brown. Why? ⇢ Seasoning the chicken before coating in hot sauce creates an added layer of spiced, garlicky flavor. It’s seriously irresistible!
Pour in the hot sauce. Add Frank’s to the skillet & toss the chicken to coat every piece evenly in the sauce. No heat necessary here – the hot pan will quickly warm up the sauce & then the chicken is ready to go!
*Easy Recipe Variation!
Skip the chicken & make your rice bowl vegetarian or vegan! You can still enjoy a super satisfying & craveable rice bowl without the buffalo chicken. For a vegetarian bowl, roast some extra cauliflower florets with garlic powder & smoked paprika. You can also add sweet potatoes to the sheet pan as well for more variety. If you’re missing the tangy-spicy hot sauce from the chicken, toss the roasted cauliflower in some Frank’s once they come out of the oven for a buffalo cauliflower bowl. Easy!
Homemade Ranch with a Twist: Herby Yogurt Ranch Dressing Drizzle
This drizzle is the perfect finishing touch for any buffalo chicken rice bowl (or buffalo cauliflower bowl!). While I adore classic store-bought ranch, this homemade version is worth the extra effort (& it’s SO easy to make).
To make a Greek yogurt ranch dressing, simply combine Greek yogurt with a splash of ACV, finely chopped garlic, finely chopped dill, fresh chives or green onion, & S&P. Whisk in enough water to create your desired drizzly consistency, making it easy to pour ALL over the buffalo chicken bowls.
Meal Prep Tip
Prep the yogurt ranch dressing up to 5 days in advance & store it in your fridge until you’re ready to use. I love having a go-to sauce in my fridge to save hands-on prep time required at dinnertime! As a bonus, you can drizzle your herby yogurt ranch dressing on anything & everything else throughout the week (it’s that good!).
Hearty Buffalo Chicken Bowl Assembly
Once you prepare the three main components of the buffalo chicken bowls then the rest is all about assembly. This is where my love for power bowls really thrives. 😎 I’m obsessed with creating the perfect combination of flavor & texture in every bite by thinking about the value of each layer.
Here’s how I like to assemble a buffalo chicken bowl. I recommend using a large, shallow bowl for the perfect balance of ingredients.
- First, start with a layer of rice (or another grain of choice!). Grains make a sturdy foundation for any bowl.
- Next, greens. Top the rice with a handful of arugula or greens of choice & shredded cabbage for a great crunchy contrast to the tender grains.
- Pile on the skillet buffalo chicken & roasted spiced cauliflower. They’re the core of the bowl, so don’t be shy!
- Add-ons & finish with a generous drizzle of herby ranch yogurt dressing. The creamy dressing is the perfect first bite & warms up your palette for the tangy & spicy Frank’s.
- Serve the buffalo chicken bowls immediately & enjoy!
Easy Buffalo Chicken Bowl Variations & Other Tips + Tricks…
Buffalo chicken bowls are 100% customizable, so feel free to use whatever sounds most delicious to you. Add other veggies, proteins, cheeses, or grains based on your preferences, or leave out things that aren’t as inspiring. Here are some easy ways you can mix things up:
- Alternate proteins – Rotisserie chicken works great here! Since it’s pre-cooked it saves some time & if you have rotisserie chicken leftovers, this buffalo chicken recipe is a great way to use it up. Shrimp or tofu would also work well.
- Alternate grains – Quinoa & farro are also delicious in this bowl!
- Alternate veggies – Roast some sweet potatoes alongside the cauliflower or add chopped celery instead of carrots or cabbage.
Whatever ingredients you use in your buffalo chicken bowl, a little bit of meal prep goes a long way! Bowls are time-consuming to prepare but so worth it, which is why I keep making them for both lunch & dinner! Here are a few ways to keep things simple & save time:
- Cut the vegetables. Grate the carrots, slice the cabbage, & break down the cauliflower into florets so everything is ready to go.
- Prep the herby ranch yogurt drizzle or skip it all together & use store-bought ranch (anything that saves time is a win on a weeknight).
- Cook the grains ahead of time & store them in the fridge. They won’t be piping hot in the bowl, but that’s ok! You can also use 60-second grain packets that save a ton of time & still taste delicious.
I can’t wait for you to try these Hearty Buffalo Chicken Bowls! They’re the perfect balance of light-yet-satisfying, & I know you’re going to love them as much as we do. If you do give them a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations! ♡ Happy cooking!
More Recipes Like This:
Kick standard buffalo chicken salads up a few satisfying notches with Hearty Buffalo Chicken Bowls!
These power bowls are LOADED with goodness: tangy, spicy buffalo chicken, spiced roasted cauliflower, carrots, rice & greens. Finish with a drizzle of Greek yogurt ranch dressing for iconic buffalo flavor. They’re light & healthy, yet completely satisfying & crave-worthy.
As is the case with any hearty salad or bowl-style meal, a little bit of prep is involved to pull together all of the components. Feel free to take or leave any component depending on how much time you have (e.g. skip the roasted cauliflower, use store-bought ranch dressing, opt for just rice or just greens, etc.). This is a flexible recipe – have fun with it!
Easily vegetarian or vegan & majorly meal prep-friendly. Check the Recipe Notes, below, for the full how-to!
- easy skillet buffalo chicken, below
- simple roasted cauliflower, below
- 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice (1/2 cup dry cooked according to package directions)
- 2 cups packed baby arugula or greens of choice
- 2 cups packed thinly sliced cabbage
- 2 large carrots, peeled as desired & grated
- 4 ounces crumbled bleu cheese or shredded sharp white cheddar
- herby ranch yogurt drizzle, below
for the easy skillet buffalo chicken:
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cubed into bite-sized pieces (see Recipe Notes)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/3 cup Franks RedHot or buffalo sauce of choice
- kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired
for the simple roasted cauliflower:
- 1 small head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets (approx. 16 ounces or 4 cups florets)
- 1 overflowing tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired
for the herby ranch yogurt drizzle:
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (whole milk or 2% is best)
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 3–4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives or green onions
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 3–4 tablespoons water
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
- Preheat the oven: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, ensuring an oven rack is positioned in the center of the oven. Line a large baking sheet with foil for easy clean up as desired. Gather & prep ingredients according to Ingredients List, above.
- Roast the cauliflower: Place the cauliflower florets on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle the olive oil over top, sprinkling with garlic powder, smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Toss to coat, arranging the cauliflower such that they’re spaced out & have room to roast. Transfer to the oven & roast 25-30 minutes, until tender & browned. Remove from the oven & set aside for buffalo chicken bowl assembly.
- Cook the easy skillet buffalo chicken: Meanwhile, as the cauliflower roasts, prep the buffalo chicken. Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Once melted, add the cubed chicken to the skillet, seasoning with the garlic powder, smoked paprika, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Cook, flipping occasionally, 2-3 minutes per side, or until the chicken is cooked through with golden brown edges. Pour in the hot sauce. Stir to combine, tossing the chicken to coat it evenly in the sauce & pan drippings. Set aside for buffalo chicken bowl assembly.
- Prepare the herby ranch yogurt drizzle: Meanwhile, as the cauliflower roasts & the buffalo chicken cooks, prep the ranch yogurt. In a small bowl, combine the Greek yogurt, garlic, chive or green onions, dill, & apple cider vinegar. Season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Whisk to combine. If needed, thin the mixture out with 3-4 tablespoons water, just until your desired consistency is reached. Set aside for serving, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Assemble the buffalo chicken bowls: Add the rice, arugula or greens of choice, & finely shredded cabbage to a large, shallow bowl. Pile the easy buffalo chicken, roasted cauliflower, grated carrots, & cheese over top. Finish with a generous drizzling of the herby ranch yogurt drizzle. Serve immediately – enjoy!
- Ingredient Notes:
- Chicken breasts vs thighs: You can use either boneless, skinless chicken thighs or chicken breasts for these hearty buffalo chicken bowls. While I typically gravitate towards thighs (they’re so much more flavorful & juicier!), I am partial to chicken breasts for this particular recipe.
- Vegetarian buffalo bowls: These hearty buffalo bowls are easily made vegetarian by omitting the buffalo chicken. Instead, double up on the roasted veggies – either double the cauliflower or add a large sweet potato. Roast as directed in Step 2, though be sure to use 2 baking sheets as needed to ensure the veggies have enough room to roast well. Once they come out of the oven, toss with Frank’s & assemble the bowls as described in Step 5.
- Vegan buffalo bowls: These hearty buffalo bowls are easily made vegan as well. Follow the vegetarian buffalo bowls guidance above. Swap the Greek yogurt with your favorite dairy-free yogurt substitute & be sure to omit cheese or use your favorite dairy-free cheese.
- Storage & Reheating: Leftover buffalo chicken, roasted cauliflower, & herby yogurt ranch drizzle will keep, stored in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days. Reheat the chicken & cauliflower in the microwave until warmed through, then assemble buffalo chicken bowls as desired.
- 20-Minute Meal Prep: Nearly all of the active prep work for these hearty buffalo chicken bowls comes from prepping the veggies & the herby ranch yogurt drizzle. Prep either or both in advance to get a head start on your buffalo chicken bowls – it takes 20 minutes, tops:
- Vegetable prep: Grate 2 large carrots, thinly slice enough cabbage for 2 cups packed, & break down 1 small head of cauliflower into bite-sized florets. Transfer to individual airtight containers & store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (>10 minutes active prep)
- Prepare the herby ranch yogurt drizzle according to Step 4 of Recipe Directions above. Store in a jar or airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (>10 minutes active prep)
Keywords: buffalo chicken bowl recipe, easy grain bowl salad recipe
Recipe by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography & Food Styling by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.