Crockpot Buffalo Chicken is easy, juicy, versatile with customizable heat so everyone wins!
This Crockpot Buffalo Chicken is destined to become a new “dump and run” recipe favorite! The chicken is seeping with flavor from a bevy of seasonings as well as your favorite buffalo wings hot sauce. You can add more or less hot sauce at the end of cooking to control the level of heat so it can be mild OR as spicy as you want it. This Crockpot Buffalo Chicken is stand-alone delicious with just potatoes, rice or zoodles or it is fabulous in sandwiches, wraps, salads, nachos, tacos and more (I’ve included tons of recipe ideas)! This Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken reheats beautifully so it’s make ahead friendly and freezer friendly too!
Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken
With the advent of school and football season, I thought it was only right to share an EASY and CROWD-PLEASING recipe – Crockpot Buffalo Chicken! No babysitting the chicken, no worrying about overcooking the chicken (or barely), no dirtying multiple dishes, simply throw the ingredients into the slow cooker to simmer, soak and slurp up flavor while you go about your day.
In fact, whenever someone tells me my recipes look great but they don’t cook, I tell them to check out my Slow Cooker recipes (click HERE), because, anyone can throw ingredients into a slow cooker and fool everyone into thinking you are a chef! And with one bite of this Buffalo Chicken, you will fool them all.
This Crockpot Buffalo recipe also gets points for its major versatility. We love having it on hand for lunch or dinner to stuff it in wraps, load on potatoes, add it to pasta or salads and we love having it on hand for Game Day to load on potato skins, nachos or in taquitos. No matter how you serve it, this Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken will be a touchdown!
What is Buffalo Chicken?
If you have been following my cravings for any time at all, you have probably noticed my slight obsession with buffalo wings hot sauce. It is different than other sauces in that it is a cayenne pepper hot Sauce with a butter base.
Most foodstorians agree buffalo chicken first appeared as buffalo wings in the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY. Frank and Teressa Bellissimo owned that bar, but Teressa is credited with the invention of buffalo chicken wings.
The story goes that her college age son came in one night with a group of friends looking for a quick snack. Teressa decided to fry up some wings and toss them in a concoction of butter and cayenne pepper sauce. The buffalo wings were a huge hit and the bar soon became famous for them.
Today, buffalo chicken refers to any chicken smothered in buffalo wings hot sauce. It can be wings, thighs, breasts or shredded Crockpot Buffalo Chicken. I personally love the ease, flavor, juiciness of Crockpot Buffalo Chicken – all the tender chicken without the prep, fatty frying, or bones!
WHAT BUFFALO SAUCE SHOULD I USE?
I have seen several recipes for Crockpot Buffalo Chicken with Franks ORIGINAL Hot Sauce – not buffalo sauce – which I’m sure taste delicious, but they are not Buffalo Chicken. What makes Buffalo Chicken, Buffalo Chicken, is to use BUFFALO hot wings sauce.
Buffalo Wings Hot Sauce is a spicy hot sauce with the addition of melted butter, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and garlic. It is spicier, smoother, richer, rounder and less of a pure cayenne punch than original hot sauce – it is just plain more delicious in my opinion.
I use Frank’ BUFFALO WINGS Sauce – NOT Frank’s original sauce. You’ll want to look for “Wings” on the label. Frank’s Buffalo Wings sauce is usually located with the other condiments, such as barbecue sauces.
That being said, you can use a different cayenne pepper hot sauce if you prefer but you might also want to add some butter as well.
What else can I use Buffalo Hot Wings Sauce on?
If you’re worried about purchasing a bottle of buffalo wings hot sauce just for this Crockpot Buffalo Chicken recipe – worry no more! It is fabulous to jazz up practically everything. Specific recipes using buffalo hot wings sauce include:
- Buffalo Mac and Cheese
- Honey Buffalo Hot Wings
- Buffalo Chicken
- Buffalo Chicken Stuffed French Bread
- Buffalo Chicken Dip Ring
- Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
- Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Foil Packets
- Buffalo Chicken Kabobs
- Buffalo Chicken Salad (with new VIDEO)
- Buffalo Chicken Tacos
- Sweet and Spicy Cranberry Meatballs (Slow Cooker)
- Sweet and Spicy Pineapple Salsa Chicken (slow Cooker)
- Honey Buffalo Ribs
- Buffalo Chicken Burritos
HOW SPICY IS CROCK POT BUFFALO CHICKEN?
The beautiful thing about this Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken recipe is you can customize the heat. Individuals can even add more hot sauce to their own individual servings if they would like it spicier.
This Crockpot Buffalo Chicken recipe uses 3 tablespoons Franks Buffalo Wings Sauce while the chicken is cooking. The chicken soaks up this spicy pleasure while it tenderizes. After you shred the chicken, you can decide how much additional buffalo wings sauce you would like to add – if any.
The spicier you would like your chicken – the more sauce. You may use zero additional hot sauce, a couple tablespoons or ½ cup – all depending on your desired heat level AND the actual spice level of your hot sauce.
INGREDIENTS FOR CROCKPOT BUFFALO CHICKEN
This Crockpot Buffalo Chicken is a spinoff of my crazy popular buffalo chicken marinade. I’ve used the same seasonings, a hint of sweet and salty and of course that fabulous punch of heat. You will need:
- Chicken: I use chicken breasts in this Crockpot Buffalo Chicken recipe. They emerge wonderfully juicy from cooking in the flavor bath all day. You may also use chicken tenderloins or boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but they will likely require a shorter cook time, so make sure to check the chicken for doneness earlier.
- Hot sauce: as previously discussed, use BUFFALO wings hot sauce for true buffalo chicken. Be aware that Buffalo Wings Sauce is spicier than other hot sauces so you will want to add less at the end of cooking. If you don’t have buffalo wings sauce, you can substitute with your favorite hot sauce and add more at the end of cooking.
- Honey: is needed to balance all the heat – but will NOT make your chicken sweet at all like in honey buffalo chicken or honey buffalo meatballs.
- Soy sauce: adds a depth of savory, salty YUM. Please use only reduced sodium soy sauce or your Crockpot Buffalo Chicken will be too salty.
- Seasonings: dried parsley, garlic powder, salt, dried chives, onion powder, ground cumin and smoked paprika. They add layers of flavor without having to use any packets of seasonings or relying on purely the hot sauce for flavor.
CAN I USE FROZEN CHICKEN FOR CROCKPOT CHICKEN RECIPES?
- Although it is tempting to add frozen chicken directly to your crockpot, this is a big no-no. The chicken spends too long in the “danger zone” at room temperature as it thaws and can grow bacteria.
- Chicken – no matter what cut – needs to be thawed before it is added to the slow cooker.
- It is best to thaw your chicken overnight in the refrigerator so it thaws evenly and completely.
- If you are in a big hurry, and needed your thawed chicken yesterday, you can use the microwave. Place chicken in a microwave safe dish and use the defrost setting, rotating the chicken occasionally. Take care not to thaw to the point the chicken starts to cook.
HOW TO MAKE CROCKPT BUFFALO CHICKEN
- Rub chicken with oil. This protects the chicken from drying out in the slow cooker.
- Add slow cooker ingredients. Add hot sauce, honey, soy sauce and seasonings and give them a stir. It won’t seem like a lot of liquid, but it is plenty; the chicken will continue to release moisture as it cooks.
- Cook. Cook on low for 5-7 hours or on high for 2-4 hours or until chicken is tender enough to shred. The key to tender chicken is to cook it long enough. If it’s not easily shredding, it simply needs more time to tenderize.
- Shred Chicken. Shred chicken directly in the crockpot or remove it to a cutting board.
- Tenderize Chicken. Cook shredded chicken in the crockpot another 20 minutes on LOW. You will be amazed at what this one step does for your chicken! It allows the shredded chicken to absorb the sauce in every nook and cranny, and to become flavorful through and through
- Drain liquid. Most of the liquid will be absorbed by the shredded chicken as it cooks, but you will likely still have some excess liquid. You will want to drain your chicken of this excess liquid, otherwise the chicken can be watery instead of saucy.
- Get Saucy! Return shredded chicken to slow cooker, taste and decide how much additional buffalo sauce you would like to add.
Tips for Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken
- Trim chicken: It’s tempting to add chicken breasts directly to the crockpot, but you’ll want to inspect them first and trim off any excess fat or cartilage or it will get shredded directly into your chicken and can have unappetizing, chewy results. Your chicken will also shred much easier if it’s a nice, clean cut.
- Don’t overcook chicken: You will want to check your chicken breasts towards the earlier end of the cooking window to make sure they don’t become overcooked. Although its harder to overcook chicken in the crockpot, it can be done with dry results.
- Cook chicken long enough: On the other end of the spectrum, you’ll want to cook the Crockpot Buffalo Chicken long enough so it’s shred-apart tender. If the chicken isn’t easily shredding with a fork – cook on!
- Add hot sauce to taste: Don’t just pile on the hot sauce at the end of cooking. Taste the chicken and decide how much -if any-additional hot sauce you would like to add. Remember you can always add more hot sauce but it is hard to take it away so start with less.
- Customize heat: If some of the partakers like heat, and others don’t like as much heat, you can allow individuals to dress their own servings of Crockpot Buffalo Chicken with desired amount of buffalo wings sauce.
Can I add Cream Cheese to Crockpot Buffalo Chicken?
Absolutely! If you’re looking to make Crockpot Buffalo Chicken either creamy or less spicy, then adding cream cheese is an excellent idea.
Add cubed, softened cream cheese after you’ve shredded your chicken and have added it back to the crockpot. Let the chicken continue to cook on LOW an additional 30 minutes or so or until you can easily stir the cream cheese into the chicken. Add hot sauce to taste.
I recommend using full fat cream cheese because it melts much more easily.
What Toppings are best with Buffalo Chicken?
Buffalo Chicken is delectable on its own but it benefits greatly from a secondary flavor profile. Here are some of my favorite toppings to make your Crockpot Buffalo Chicken exponentially more delicious:
- Blue cheese dressing: tones down the heat and adds a complimentary zingy tang.
- Blue cheese crumbles: always a favorite with buffalo wings sauce to cut through the heat.
- Ranch: tones down the heat and adds a complementary flavor.
- Sharp cheddar cheese: is a fabulous pairing with buffalo chicken on potatoes, nachos etc. also tones down the heat.
- Bacon: salty, crispy bacon + buffalo chicken – especially with cooling blue cheese or ranch – is always a big win.
- Green onions: adds a fresh zip of flavor.
- Pico de gallo: the vibrant fresh, zippy flavor brightens the entire chicken.
What side goes with buffalo chicken?
This Crockpot Buffalo Chicken pairs beautifully with so many sides! We love it with:
- Potatoes: Kicked Up Classy Creamy Potato Salad, Baked Parmesan Fingerling Potato Fries or Company Mashed Potatoes
- Comforting Sides: Million Dollar Macaroni and Cheese, Baked Beans with Brown Sugar and Bacon, Slow Cooker Creamed Corn
- Breads: Award Winning Sweet Moist Cornbread, Cheesy Pull Apart Pesto Bread, Bacon Ranch Pull Apart Bread
- Pasta Salad: Creamy Bacon Pea Pasta Salad, Cowboy Pasta Salad
- Salad: Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese Ranch, Cucumber Salad, Spinach Salad, Broccoli Strawberry Salad
- Corn: Elote (Mexican Grilled Street Corn), Corn Salsa or Grilled Corn on the Cob
- Fruit: Grilled Pineapple, Mango Salsa, Pina Colada Fruit Salad or Perfect Fruit Salad
- Veggies: Roasted Asparagus, Glazed Carrots, Roasted Cauliflower, Sautéed Lemon Garlic Brussels Sprouts, Roasted Broccoli, Roasted Honey Carrots
- Crockpot Veggies: You can add vegetables directly to the crockpot to cook with your chicken. Just be aware some veggies take longer to cook than others, for example broccoli takes longer to cook than bell peppers, so you would want to add bell peppers towards the end of cooking.
How to Serve Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken:
- Buffalo Chicken with Grains: pile Crockpot Buffalo Chicken on white rice, brown rice, cauliflower rice, quinoa, couscous, etc.
- Low Carb Buffalo Chicken: pile on spaghetti squash, cauliflower rice, zoodles or any other spiralized veggies; pile it in zucchini boats and top with cheese and bake until melted.
- Buffalo Chicken Bowls: go one step further with your grains or low carb options and pile on veggies such as steamed or roasted broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, bell pepper, zucchini, lettuce, etc., black beans. I also love adding mangos or pineapple then topping with some Greek yogurt and blue cheese crumbles.
- Buffalo Chicken with Potatoes: pile it on mashed potatoes or in stuffed baked potatoes with any of the following toppings: cheddar cheese, blue cheese, bacon, broccoli, ranch dressing or blue cheese dressing.
- Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches: always a fav! You can keep it simple and just use chicken or add cheese, lettuce, pickles, bacon, tomatoes, ranch dressing, etc. I recommend toasting the buns first so the chicken doesn’t make them soggy.
- Buffalo Chicken Sliders: I have a detailed recipe coming soon, but essentially, you slice Hawaiian rolls in half, place half of the rolls in a buttered 9×13 baking dish, cut side up and bake for 7 minutes to lightly toast. Next, top with mozzarella cheese, chicken and blue cheese crumbles, then place tops on. Brush top of sliders with melted butter mixed with dried parsley, dried chives, garlic powder, salt. Bake, covered at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Uncover and cook for an additional 5 minutes to toast the tops.
- Buffalo Chicken Wraps: Spread a flatbread or tortilla with blue cheese or ranch dressing, then top with Crockpot Buffalo Chicken along with any of your favorite veggies: tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, etc.
- Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps: Stuff Bibb lettuce with Crockpot Buffalo Chicken and desired veggies and drizzle with blue cheese dressing or ranch dressing.
- Buffalo Chicken Salad: instantly make any salad a meal by adding Buffalo Chicken or get a little fancier and follow my Buffalo Chicken Salad recipe with Blue Cheese Cilantro Ranch.
- Buffalo Chicken Soup: add buffalo chicken to any chili or soup for instant flavor and protein.
- Buffalo Chicken Pizza: use my favorite homemade pizza or shortcut it with store-bought pizza dough. Cover pizza with ranch dressing or blue cheese dressing. Top with chicken, sharp cheddar, mozzarella, bell peppers, mushrooms, artichokes, etc. and bake according to directions. Garnish with blue cheese crumbles and a drizzle of buffalo wings sauce to taste.
- Buffalo Chicken Tacos: you can use Crockpot Buffalo Chicken in my soft Buffalo Chicken Taco recipe or make hard tacos like my baked fiesta ranch tacos.
- Buffalo Chicken Burritos, Quesadillas, Tostadas: add buffalo chicken to tortillas along with your favorite fixings and either roll up or grill up for quesadillas.
- Buffalo Chicken Nachos: pile Crockpot Buffalo Chicken on top of your favorite cheesy chips and drizzle with blue cheese or ranch.
- Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese: Add this Buffalo Chicken to my Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese recipe and use less wings in the mac sauce OR add to any pasta you want to add a little protein to.
How long is Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Good For?
Buffalo Chicken should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When stored correctly, Crockpot Buffalo Chicken is good for up to 5 days. If you aren’t going to use all of your chicken within that time, the you can freeze any leftovers.
How to FREEZE Crock Pot Buffalo CHICKEN Recipe
This Crockpot Buffalo Chicken recipe freezes very well. You can either freeze it before or after cooking:
To freeze before cooking:
This method comes in handy when you want ZERO thinking or prep at dinner time, or to use up hot sauce or chicken OR to gift to a friend so all they have to do is cook the chicken.
- Place thawed or frozen chicken in a freezer safe container or freezer bag.
- Add all crockpot ingredients and give them a stir.
- Squeeze out any excess air, seal and label.
- Freeze for up to three months.
- When ready to cook, defrost chicken overnight in the refrigerator.
- Cook recipe according to directions.
To freeze after cooking:
- Let chicken cool completely.
- Transfer chicken to either a large freezer size bag or divide into smaller size bags. Alternatively, transfer to airtight container(s).
- Press air out of the freezer bag, seal, label and freeze for up to 3 months.
- When ready to use, defrost chicken overnight or microwave on defrost setting, stirring occasionally.
- If defrosting chicken overnight, warm it in the crockpot for 1-2 hours on LOW or transfer to a large Dutch oven and warm until heated through, stirring frequently.
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