Healthy buffalo chicken dip is the perfect game day snack, appetizer or fun family meal! This creamy, slightly spicy buffalo dip is mild enough for kids and will quickly become your families go to favorite appetizer/snack! This dairy free buffalo chicken dip without cream cheese or mayo is ready in about 15 minutes!
Why you will love this recipe
- Easy to make – this dairy free buffalo chicken dip is a great way to use leftover or meal prepped chicken! Simply combine shredded chicken with a quick buffalo sauce made from hot sauce, soaked cashews and some spices. The entire recipe comes together in about 15 minutes and most of that time is spent in the oven.
- Simple, healthy ingredients – unlike traditional buffalo chicken dip recipes, this recipe has no dairy, no milk, no cheese and no mayo! Instead, the creamy buffalo sauce is made with hot sauce and soaked cashews (no cream cheese). The topping for this dip is made with almond flour breadcrumbs which helps make this recipe gluten free and Whole30 friendly! Trust me you are going to be blown away by this healthy buffalo chicken dip recipe!
- Comfort food everyone will love – Don’t be surprised when this dairy free buffalo chicken dip disappears first from your appetizer spread! It’s seriously addicting and if you don’t tell others that it’s a healthier version, they won’t even know! You can make this nut free too if needed! This recipe is naturally gluten free, dairy free, paleo, Whole30 and keto friendly so it will please almost everyone at your party or table!
- Can easily be doubled or tripled to feed a crowd or made for meal prep! This buffalo chicken dip without cream cheese can easily be made to feed a large crowd, simply make it in a larger casserole dish, nothing else needs to change. You can even omit the topping and instead combine all the ingredients in a slow cooker instead to help keep the dip warm.
- Shredded chicken – you can use shredded chicken breast or thighs. Since the sauce is so creamy, I prefer to use chicken breast but use whatever you have on hand. You could even use rotisserie chicken or canned chicken if needed.
Creamy Buffalo Sauce
- Raw cashews, soaked – cashews help to create that creamy consistency you are looking for in buffalo chicken dip. They break down completely and are pretty neutral in flavor, making them the perfect base for this sauce! You can also use hemp hearts or raw sunflower seeds if you are nut free.
- Water – water is needed to help the cashews break down in the blender. You could also use your favorite dairy free milk to make the sauce even thicker, but I don’t find it necessary.
- Hot sauce – the hot sauce is what gives this buffalo dip it’s flavor and spice. Use whatever your favorite hot sauce is! Franks Red Hot (Original), Jalapeno Hot Sauce from Trader Joe’s are two of my favorites but I will also use Texas Pete Original when in a pinch (not Whole30 approved).
- Spices: Dried chives, dried parsley, dried dill, salt – these spices help to really balance out the flavors and are the typical spices you get in ranch dressing. They add a ranch like quality to the buffalo dip that makes it irresistible.
Almond Flour Breadcrumb Topping
- Almond flour (or almond meal) – almond flour browns up nicely in the oven and helps to create that breadcrumb consistency on top of the dip. You could also use ground up sunflower seeds, hemp hearts or your favorite gluten free breadcrumb instead.
- Avocado oil (or extra virgin olive oil) – avocado oil has a very neutral flavor and is perfect to add a little fat to the breadcrumb mixture so it stay moist without burning when under the broiler. You could also use extra virgin olive oil, melted coconut oil, melted ghee or butter as well.
- Salt – salt helps to elevate the flavor of the breadcrumb mixture.
How to make dairy free buffalo chicken dip
Check out the step by step instructions in this how to make Whole30 buffalo chicken dip story!
Start by cooking and shredding the chicken if needed. The easiest way to do this is to cook your chicken in the instant pot for 15 minutes on high pressure. Let the pressure naturally release for 5 or more minutes before manually releasing the pressure. Shred with two forks or use your kitchen aid mixer or hand mixer to shred large quantities fast.
Soak the cashews in boiling hot water or cook them in the microwave or on the stove. See tips below on all the ways you can soak cashews for this recipe.
After 5 minutes, drain the cashews (carefully) and add them to the blender with clean water and hot sauce. Blend at least 1 minute until smooth.
Add the spices to the blender and blend 5-10 seconds to incorporate. Don’t add the spices ahead or it will change the color of the sauce.
In a small casserole dish, add the shredded chicken. Pour the creamy buffalo sauce over top and stir well to fully coat the chicken and distribute the sauce.
In a small bowl, combine the almond flour, avocado oil and salt. Sprinkle this mixture over top of the buffalo chicken dip.
Bake in a 425F oven for 5 minutes with chicken that was recently cooked or 10 minutes if the chicken was cold from the fridge.
After baking, turn on the broiler and broil the topping for 3-4 minutes. Keep a close eye on this after minute 2 to ensure no burning. If you have a single spot or two that gets too dark, simply spoon off that topping and discard it.
Serve the whole30 buffalo chicken dip with veggies, chips or as a meal with rice, cauliflower rice or potatoes.
- Be sure to soak your cashews – even if you have a very high speed blender, soaking raw cashews can help to ensure you get a really creamy sauce every time. I like to use water heated in an electric kettle to make soaking cashews as easy as possible.
- Use a hot sauce that you enjoy. This recipe is written to be pretty mild and kid friendly. If you want a spicier sauce, reduce the amount of water you use so the sauce doesn’t get too watery. For example, if you want to add 2 more tablespoons of hot sauce, you will want to reduce the water to 6 tablespoons (there are 8 tablespoons in ½ cup).
- This recipe is a great use for leftover chicken. If you are using cold chicken from the fridge, increase baking time from 5 minutes to 10 minutes at 425F before turning the oven on broil. This will help ensure the dip is hot enough.
- Double or triple this recipe easily! Simply increase the size of your casserole dish along with the ingredients. You can also make this in the crockpot, but you will want to omit the breadcrumb topping as it will not brown without the broiler.
How to serve Whole30 buffalo chicken dip
Serve this at your next game day party or as an appetizer. You can serve it with:
- Veggies: Celery, carrots, bell peppers, cucumber slices, jicama sticks for dipping.
- Chips – you can use tortilla chips, potato chips or even pita chips to serve along side this healthy buffalo chicken dip.
- Crackers – make your own crackers (these pumpkin sunflower crackers would be so great with this dip) or buy your favorite. Simple Mills has some great gluten free options!
Other ways to use this dip
Instead of serving this as a dip, we often make it for dinner instead! Here are some fun ways we have made this in the past:
- Over rice or cauliflower rice
- Over baked potatoes or baked sweet potatoes
- On sweet potato toast
- Stuffed in zucchini boats or stuffed bell peppers (with rice or cauliflower rice)
- Over pasta (reserve some of the pasta cooking liquid and add it in to help the sauce stick)
- On tortillas or pitas to make a wrap
- As nachos over tortilla chips
What is the best hot sauce to use
To keep this recipe Whole30 friendly, be sure to check the ingredients of your hot sauce. Two great Whole30 friendly options that are easy to find are:
- Franks Red Hot (original)
- Trader Joe’s Jalapeno Hot Sauce
If you are not worried about making this Whole30 friendly, you can use whatever hot sauce is your favorite. We love and often use Texas Pete Hot Sauce as it’s easy to find and budget friendly (I pick it up at Aldi).
I have not tried this with store bought buffalo sauce (instead of hot sauce) but imagine it will work well with buffalo sauce as well.
How to soak cashews
Soaking raw cashews helps to ensure they will break down in the blender and create a thick, creamy sauce. Here are the different ways you can soak cashews:
- Boiling hot water – if you have an electric kettle at home, you can simply bring the kettle to a boil and pour the hot water over the cashews. Let the cashews sit at least 5 minutes before draining and discarding the water.
- Boil on stove – bring water and cashews to a boil on the stove. Once boiling, cook 2-3 more minutes to ensure the cashews get soft. Carefully drain and discard the water the cashews were boiling in.
- Microwave – add cashews to a large cup or bowl (I like to use a quart size mason jar). Add just enough clean water to cover the cashews (don’t overfill it). Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Allow the cashews to sit in the microwave 5 minutes before carefully removing and draining the water.
- Counter – you can soak cashews on the counter for 8-12 hours. If you plan on soaking them longer, move the cashews to the fridge. Drain and discard the water before using.
How to cook chicken to shred easily
- Stove – add chicken to a pot with water. Bring the water to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes, covered. Remove chicken from the water and shred it.
- Instant pot – add the chicken to the instant pot with 1-2 cups of water. Turn on high pressure for 15 minutes. Once done cooking, naturally release pressure at least 5 minutes (or longer). Manually release pressure if needed. Remove the chicken from the water and shred it.
- Crockpot – add the chicken and 1 cup of water to the slow cooker. Put on the lid and cook 4 hours high heat or 8 hours low heat. Remove from crockpot and shred.
- Store-bought option – Buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. Discard the skin and shred the chicken (you can use a combo of thighs and breast if needed).
How to shred chicken
Two forks – simply use the two forks to pull apart the chicken and shred it. If you are only shredding a pound or so of chicken, this is easy enough to do.
Hand mixer or kitchen aid mixer – add the chicken to a bowl and use your hand mixer or kitchen aid mixer to shred the chicken for you. This is really quick and easy but does create more clean up. This is great if you are shredding 2+ pounds of chicken at a time.
How much chicken is 1 pound when cooked
1 pound of chicken when cooked is about 3 cups of shredded chicken.
Can you make this in advance?
Yes, this healthy buffalo chicken dip can be made in advance. There are two options on how to do this:
- Make the entire thing (minus the breadcrumb topping) in advance and store covered in your fridge up to 2 days before heating/serving. When you are ready to serve, allow the dip to come up to room temperature for about 15 minutes while the oven is preheating. Make the breadcrumb topping and sprinkle it over top. Cook at 425F for 10 minutes before turning on broil for 3-4 minutes.
- Make the chicken and sauce ahead and store them separately until read to serve. The chicken can be made up to 2 days in advance. You can make the creamy buffalo sauce up to 4 days in advance (store them both in the fridge). When you are ready to serve, assemble the dip and make the breadcrumb topping, sprinkle it over the top. Let the dish sit out for about 15 minutes at room temperature while the oven preheats. Cook at 425F for 10 minutes then turn to broil 3-4 minutes.
Can you make this dairy free buffalo dip in the crockpot
Yes. Add the shredded chicken and buffalo sauce to the crockpot. Cook on low for 1-2 hours. Since the breadcrumbs will not be able to brown under the broiler, I don’t recommend adding them. You can sprinkle the top with green onion or crushed up crackers right before serving.
Fridge – store in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge with fresh cooked chicken. Chicken should only be stored in the fridge for 3 days total after cooking, so your leftover storage time may be different if you used leftover chicken.
Freezer – freeze in ½ or 1 cup servings (I use and recommend Soupercubes for this). Once frozen, transfer to a freezer safe bag or container and freeze up to 1 month. Defrost in the fridge and reheat in the microwave or oven.
How to reheat leftovers
- Microwave – microwave on high for 1 – 1:30, stirring half way through.
- Oven – reheat in a 350F oven for 10 minutes or until hot.
- Chicken – you can use shredded chicken breast or chicken thighs for this recipe. You can also use leftover rotisserie chicken or even canned chicken (drained). You can replace the chicken with 2 cans of white beans (rinsed and drained) to make this vegan friendly.
- Raw cashews – raw cashews help to make the creamy sauce. You can also use raw sunflower seeds (you will need to soak these as well) or hemp hearts (no need to soak these).
- Hot sauce – hot sauce is a key ingredient to making this buffalo chicken dip. You can also use buffalo sauce if that is all you have.
- Spices – the spices included help to mimic ranch seasoning. If you don’t have dried chives, you can use 1 teaspoon garlic powder + 1 teaspoon onion powder. If you don’t have dried parsley or dill you can omit them. You can also use 1.5 tablespoons of your favorite ranch seasoning in place of all the spices. You likely will still need a pinch of salt though.
- Almond flour – almond flour can be substituted with ground roasted sunflower seeds or hemp hearts to keep it nut free. You can also use your favorite gluten free breadcrumbs or even grind up your favorite crackers in the food processor.
- Avocado oil – adding avocado oil helps the breadcrumbs crisp up easily under the broiler. You can use extra virgin olive oil, melted coconut oil, melted ghee or melted butter as well.
If you love this recipe, you should try
- Air Fryer Buffalo Chicken Thighs
- Buffalo Shrimp
- Buffalo Turkey Meatballs
- Oven Baked Buffalo Chicken Thighs
- Buffalo Cauliflower Salad with Tahini Ranch
Dairy Free Buffalo Chicken Dip$8.10 Recipe/$2.03 Serving
- 3 cups shredded chicken (from 1 pound of raw chicken) - $5.79
Creamy Buffalo Sauce
- Preheat oven to 425F.
- Cook chicken if needed. I like to use the instant pot for this. Add 1 cup of water to the instant pot and cook high pressure for 15 minutes. Let pressure naturally release at least 5 minutes. Once pressure has been released, open the instant pot and shred the chicken.
- Soak the cashews in boiling hot water 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, strain the cashews and add them to a high speed blender along with fresh water and hot sauce. Blend on high 1 minute.
- After blending the buffalo sauce, add the spices and blend 5-10 seconds.
- Add the shredded chicken and buffalo sauce to a small casserole dish. Stir well to combine.
- In a small bowl combine the almond flour breadcrumb ingredients. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over top of the buffalo chicken dip.
- Bake in a 425F oven for 5 minutes (for freshly cooked chicken) or 10 minutes if chicken was in the fridge.
- After baking, turn on the broiler and broil for 3-4 minutes. Be sure to watch the dip to ensure it doesn't burn.
- Serve hot with chips or veggies or on top of rice, pasta or cauliflower rice.