I've been working on a buffalo chicken dip for a while now, after 5 years and many batches I think I have the recipe down to a science. Before I get into the recipe I want to explain some of my ingredients and choices, this isn't your typical buffalo dip!
Most Buffalo dips I've tried are too thin and liquid to scoop, have huge chunks of chicken, or taste like mostly ranch dressing. Most of the ones that are made correctly are done in a brownie pan and after just a few minutes have a hard crust that forms making it difficult to get to the tasty dip hiding inside. My recipe attempts to solve all of these issues and more creating a consistent and thick Buffalo Chicken Dip that's perfect for dipping!
Many people also make this dip with blue cheese. If thats what you like then go for it. I have found the blue cheese to be overpowering, even just an ounce or two can overwhelm the dish with the blue cheese flavor. Not everyone likes blue cheese either, so its best to just leave it out.
Quality and brand name ingredients help make this dip even better. Use Franks Red Hot sauce because it's consistent in flavor and balances well with the other ingredients. After the dish is done you can add a different hot sauce if you wish. I find that using Hidden Vally Ranch dressing and Philadelphia cream cheese add a specific flavor that cheaper products do not. I would highly recommend using the exact brands and sizes that are shown in the recipe. The recipe will almost completely use the entire bottle of franks etc. so its best to buy everything fresh and not just whatever you have floating around.
With that said... lets look at the ingredients.
Step 1: Ingredients and Tools
Makes about 2 quarts. Takes 30 mintues
- 2 lbs of skinless boneless chicken breast
- 12oz+ of "Hidden Vally Ranch" ranch dressing
- 12oz+ of "Franks Red Hot" hot sauce
- 16oz (2 packages) Regular Philadelphia Cream Cheese (NOT low fat etc)
- 8oz Shredded "Mexican" blend cheese
- 2qt (small) crock pot
- 2qt+ pot to heat the sauce
- 4qt+ pot or pan to boil chicken
- Stand Mixer (kitchen Aid etc) or food processor to shred chicken
- Knives, Spatulas, and other typical kitchen tools
Step 2: Cook the Chicken
This recipe is very simple to make once you have done it a few times. I tend to make everything in a specific order because it's more efficient.
First, take your chicken breasts and trim any fat etc from them with a knife.
Cut each breast into about 1-2" chunks. This will help the chicken cook faster and prepare it for shredding later.
Their are many ways to cook chicken, however we want to cook the chicken in a way that gives us nice even and tender pieces without any browning or loss of moisture. The easiest way to do this is to boil the pieces of chicken in a pot or pan with water.
Place all the chunks of chicken from the cutting board into a pot or pan and fill it up with water. Set the stove to med-high and stir it every 5 minutes or so.
While you are waiting for the chicken to cook we can move onto making the sauce.
Step 3: Make the Sauce
As I said earlier, I have tried a few variations and ratios of the sauce. What I have found that works best is a 1:1 ratio of Franks hot sauce to ranch dressing, at least at this stage. Later, if this is too hot or too mild we can adjust the final result, but its a great starting point.
Start with the cream cheese and unwrap and cut it into smaller pieces to make it easier to mix. If you take the cream cheese out when you begin prepping the chicken it will have softened enough to be easier to work with.
Measure out 12 oz of Franks and pour it into the 4qt pot along with the cream cheese. You can measure out the Ranch dressing but a typical bottle of 16oz, only about 12oz comes out easily anyway, so go ahead and squirt as much as you can into the pot and save some time. You can always add more ranch or hot sauce later to taste.
Set the heat on the sauce to medium-low and stir the three ingredients together. If the sauce starts bubbling too much reduce the heat.
The cream cheese is notoriously difficult to break up though the heat helps. Keep breaking it apart with a spatchula while stirring.
Step 4: Shred the Chicken
By the time the sauce is beginning to heat on the stove the chicken should be about done cooking.
Drain the chicken with a strainer and put the chunks of chicken in the mixing bowl or other open bowl to cool a little before shredding.
Their are many ways to shred the chicken. Some people just cut the chicken into small chunks and call it a day, but if you have a stand mixer or a food processor its actually easier and faster to shred it.
Once the chicken is relatively cool and no longer steaming, use the normal paddle attachment (typically white) to shred the chicken in a stand mixer. It doesn't sound like it will work so I included a video clip to show whats happening. Basically, using the normal paddle attachment, the paddle never touches the sides of the bowl. When you have chunks of chicken the paddle traps the chicken between the paddle and the inside of the bowl and tears it apart as it spins. Set the mixer to low (1-2) and in about 2-3 minutes you will have perfectly shredded chicken.
Step 5: Mix Together
By the time the chicken is shredded the sauce should be hot and all the ingredients well mixed.
Take the shredded cheese and add it to the mixing bowl of shredded chicken. Both should be about the same consistency and mix together easily.
Add about 1/3rd of the shredded chicken and cheese mixture to the crock pot.
I transfered my sauce to a small 1L/4cup pitcher to make pouring it easier. Pour about 1/3rd of the sauce on top of the chicken you just added into the crock pot.
Repeat adding chicken and sauce layers into the crock pot two more times until all of the chicken and sauce have been added. I've found adding the dry and wet ingredients in layers this way makes them more consistant and easier to mix.
Take a spoon or spachula and stir everything in the crock pot together.
Step 6: Heat and Eat
Set your crock pot to High and heat everything for at least 30 minutes. This will help melt the shredded cheese and mix all of the ingredients together.
Stir again to make sure everything is mixed thoroughly.
Now you can taste the dip to see how hot it is. I highly recommend testing it with whatever chip etc you plan on serving it with to get the full effect. Tostitos Scoops and Fritos both work well, but almost any cracker, trisket, or toasted bread will be great.
If the dip still taste too mild add an ounce or two of franks and mix everything again. If the dip is too hot, add a few ounces of ranch to cool it down. I've found this exact recipe to be a perfect amount of flavor and heat for most people and I rarely have to adjust it.
Now for the best part, serve the dip! You can serve immediately by setting the crock pot to low/warm or you can put the dish in the fridge over night and reheat with the crock pot to serve in the morning. A small crock pot is only about $10 and I bought one just for making this dish. It not only keeps the dip warm but also keeps the top of the dip from becoming hard and crusty. Because of this, and the fact that the chicken is well shredded and blended the dip maintains a consistant texture like a spread and is easy to dip or spread.
Get creative and add this dip on top of cheese and crackers, pizza, etc. I prefer Franks but feel free to add other hot sauces or blue cheese if you like.
yodelbat made it!