Heard of the copycat Chick-Fil-A chicken nuggets by Just Bare at Costco? This easy Chicken Nugget Salad starts with air-fried chicken nuggets tossed in Buffalo sauce and is ready in five minutes!
When we are on a road trip, I love chicken nuggets with Buffalo sauce. When my kids told me about these copycat Chick-Fil-A chicken nuggets made by Just Bare (and available at Costco as of this writing), I had the urge to channel the road trip vibes in a salad. Thanks to the air-fryer, this amazing Chicken Nugget Salad (with my Mascarpone Ranch Dressing) was tossed together in five minutes —faster than an entire song on my road trip playlist.
Vacations are the best.
So is chicken nugget salad.
Why this recipe
- Five minutes. This is the air-fryer model I use that transforms these chicken nuggets from frozen to its glorious crispy texture in five minutes flat.
- Big Flavor. Tossing the air-fried chicken in a tasty Buffalo sauce (the same one I use on my Buffalo Chicken Pizza) shoots it to the next level.
- Perfect for 1 or 2 or 10 people. Any recipe that can be easily adjusted for whoever happens to show up is a good one in my book!
As I said a few times (and maybe too many times but just in case you missed it), the salad comes together in like 5 minutes because the ingredients are ones you probably have in your fridge. I love a recipe that makes the most of what you have on hand and have a whole from the fridge recipe category on the site dedicated to these kind of recipes.
And this salad is built around texture and big flavor. Here's what you'll need:
- Frozen chicken nuggets. (Just Bare Chicken Breast Chunks are my favorite but feel free to use your fav)
- Two kinds of cheese. I use a creamy blue cheese and a extra sharp cheddar (Cabot is my go-to)
- Some crunch. Thanks to diced celery and cucumber. And some optional shelled pistachios or sunflower seeds.
- Rich and creamy. Any kind of ranch or blue cheese dressing
- A little heat and zing. Diced red onions or pickled jalapenos would be so good too!
I told you this was easy.
- Air-fry or oven bake your chicken nuggets according to package directions.
- Toss them in a mixture of hot sauce and butter (I use Frank's Red Hot) .
- Chop up your salad ingredients and lay them on a blend of crisp romaine, butter lettuce and anything other greens you like .
- Layer on the chicken tenders and slather the whole salad in lots of ranch or blue cheese dressing .
I also am a big Sally and like my dressings "on the side". And if you haven't seen Meg Ryan order a meal in "When Harry Met Sally", go order it up on your favorite streaming app. I'm here for you.
Big Party. Cook up a large batch of chicken based on the number you'll be serving and make up a DIY salad bar for everyone to choose their favorites from the toppings.
- hard-boiled egg
- sesame sticks
- pickled jalapenos
The chicken nuggets, Buffalo sauce and salad ingredients can be prepped ahead and kept separate until you're ready to eat. This makes a super easy meal prep salad recipe!
Store the leftover chicken in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days. If the salad is dressed, you might be able to eat it the next day if you like leftover salad. It's not my thing so I typically make it and serve in individual bowls.
The chicken can be reheated for 2-3 minutes in the air-fryer at 400˚, or 30 seconds in the microwave or my favorite way...cold!
I love sharing ideas to help you successfully make this recipe right from the start. Some FAQ's:
Of course! An air-fryer just makes the chicken cook faster. Feel free to use a toaster oven, oven or skillet.
You betcha! Try some of the sauce used in my Chicken Lettuce Wraps for Thai chicken salad. Or skip the sauce all together for a classic chicken nugget.
So glad you asked! Fold it up in a tortilla with some cheese, brown one side on the stove for a cheesy nugget quesadilla.
…before you go...
If you make this recipe, be sure to give it a star rating and share your reviews in the comments below! Or pin the recipe by clicking on one of the images above and save it for later.
Buffalo Chicken Nugget Salad (air fried chicken nugget salad)
- air fryer (not required but helpful!)
For the Buffalo chicken
- 5-7 frozen chicken nuggets, I use Just Bare from Costco
- ⅛ cup Buffalo sauce, I use Frank's Red Hot
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the salad
- 2 cups chopped lettuce, butter, romaine or more
- ½ cup chopped cucumber
- ¼ cup sliced red onion
- ¼ cup chopped celery
- ¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
- ¼ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Mascarpone Ranch Salad Dressing, recipe here
- optional toppings, see notes
FOR THE BUFFALO CHICKEN
Using an Air-fryer
- Heat an air-fryer to 400° and place the frozen chicken tenders in the basket. Set the time for 5 minutes.
Using a conventional oven
- Cook the chicken nuggets according to the package directions. Proceed with the recipe as follows.
- Combine the hot sauce with the melted butter in a medium bowl and toss with the chicken until well-coated. Set aside.
- Meanwhile prep and chop the salad ingredients starting with all the veggies.
- Assemble the greens first and then the veggies in a serving bowl.
- Top the salad with the Buffalo chicken and sprinkle with the two cheeses.
- Toss with the dressing or serve it on the side. Also so good with my Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing!
- sunflower seeds or shelled pistachios
- hard-boiled egg
- sesame sticks
- pickled jalapenos