Apparently I have this thing with salads.
When we go out to eat, I order salad.
It’s the middle of Winter, half the country was covered in snow last week and I’m sharing a recipe for salad.
In my brain, there’s no such thing as a “salad recipe”, which makes today’s post stranger than it already feels.
I’m very much so the toss-it-in, see-what-else-it-needs and like-it-or-make-dinner-yourself kinda gal.
So I dedicate today’s post to all those who need recipes. Who appreciate recipes.
Who don’t want to mess around with experimenting and substitutions and such and just want to make it right the first time.
Honestly, I don’t blame you.
Allow me to share with you the official recipe for one of the best salads you’ll ever make: Buffalo Chicken Bacon Ranch Salad.
Let’s start off by talking about the two things that make this buffalo chicken bacon ranch salad absolutely amazing: Buffalo sauce and bacon.
Buffalo sauce is my all-time favorite sauce ever, and it just so happens to be one of the few sauces that don’t contain fake ingredients or weird additives that can cause allergy-like reactions (yes, I’m talking to you MSG). We’re not brand-loyal, but actually prefer store-brand over the popular name brand. Just pick up whatever is your favorite and affordable or use this recipe to make your own.
Bacon is… well, bacon is just awesome. Does this need a discussion? I didn’t think so. Alrighty then, moving on.
Next up is color and crunch. See those carrots? They totally jazz up the color of this salad and make it incredibly vibrant. Plus they’re a vegetable. Not that a salad technically isn’t a vegetable by definition, but hey, bonus points for adding some orange to the mix.
About those bell peppers… I know they’re not in season for most of the country, but I found them on sale a few weeks ago and I couldn’t resist. They’re sweet, crunchy and taste amazing in almost everything, but they’re especially delicious in this salad. And they’re red, which is kinda cool in a salad too.
Finally, we’re taking this salad WAY BEYOND awesome by adding cheese. But not just any cheese.
Wait – you thought I was going to say blue cheese?
No way Jose! Swapping Gorgonzola for blue is one way we save on cheese, and when you’re mixing it up with a bunch of other yum-o items, you can’t even tell the difference.
I save dollars. You enjoy dinner. Win-win.
Now, here’s a secret that I’ll share just with you, my frugal foodie friends… because truly, only you guys will understand.
All those magnificent, colorful, healthy and crunchy toppings? There’s no more than 1 cup of each!
One of the keys to enjoying fun things like bacon, chicken and cheese on a salad is by keeping the portion control, under control. When you have several toppings (there’s six in this salad, including the green onions), a little bit of each really goes a long way. Add any more than a cup and you’ll be taking bites wondering if there’s any lettuce in that salad after all.
Unless you’re only eating bacon, of course.
- 3 cups of lettuce (romaine, iceberg, spring, bibb, etc.)
- 3 cups of greens (baby kale, spinach, etc.)
- 1 cup chopped chicken
- 1 bell pepper, diced into ½" pieces
- 1 large carrot shredded
- 3 pieces of bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 2 oz Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
- 2 green onions, white and green parts, sliced thinly
- ½ - 1 cup prepared homemade ranch dressing
- ¼ - ½ cup buffalo sauce
- Combine salad ingredients and toppings in a large bowl.
- Toss with ½ cup of homemade ranch dressing. Pass additional homemade ranch dressing at the table.
- Drizzle buffalo sauce on top of salad, as desired.
- Enjoy this buffalo chicken bacon ranch salad!
Additional Recipe Notes
I wrote this recipe to accommodate families with kids who aren’t fans of spicy foods. If this doesn’t apply to you, toss the buffalo sauce directly in with the homemade ranch dressing and spice it up!
You can’t tell by the picture, but the chicken in this recipe was actually leftover from a few different taco nights! When there’s leftover chicken at a meal, I dice it up and put it in a freezer-safe bag. I add to it when I can, and when there’s a full cup, I either make chicken and spinach enchiladas or this salad.
We don’t have leftover bacon often, but you can still save up to $2 per pounds by buying “ends and pieces” instead of full strips! If you go this route, cook up the whole package and measure out 1/4 – 1/3 cup for this salad. Freeze the rest like the chicken for a different meal.
Your buffalo chicken bacon ranch salad cost will depend on the season (wait until the snow thaws) and availability of ingredients. However, these are the prices I paid in my area:
- lettuce: $0.50
- greens: $0.50
- chicken: $2
- bell pepper: $0.50
- carrot: $0.25
- bacon: $0.42
- Gorgonzola: $1.00
- homemade ranch dressing: $0.50
- buffalo sauce: $0.63
- onions: $0.25
Total cost for Buffalo Chicken and Bacon Ranch Salad is $6.55. We would typically serve dinner biscuits, or overnight artisan bread with this salad and call it a meal, and a frugal way to eat six different vegetables!