When football season rolls around, a buffalo chicken recipe is the must-have item at any game day gathering. But considering it usually appears in the form of deep-fried wings, greasy burgers, or dips loaded with cheese and creamy dressings, it’s definitely not scoring any points in the nutrition department. 

Until now. These 21 dishes not only use the distinctive flavors in unique ways (buffalo chicken egg rolls, anyone?), they also cut back on some of the heavier ingredients without sacrificing that signature spiciness. Thanks to these recipes, “buffalo chicken” and “healthy” might actually go together in the same sentence. 

Dips

Photo: For Those Who Savor

Lighter mozzarella and cream cheese may cut some of this dip’s fat content, but what really stands out is the satisfying kick from the harissa powder—a North African spice—which blends perfectly with the rest of the ingredients. If you’ve never used it before, this is a great way to get acquainted.

Photo: Lexi's Clean Kitchen

Get some extra veggies into your guests and indulge their buffalo chicken cravings by tossing spinach and onions into their dip. Their taste buds will thank you, and their bellies will thank them.

Photo: Laura Fuentes

With only four ounces of blue cheese in this dip fit for eight, the not-so-secret ingredient behind its super creamy texture is an entire package of hummus, stirred into the chicken and buffalo sauce, and baked. Thanks to those chickpeas, your friends will be scooping up some extra fiber alongside all that flavor without even knowing it.

Photo: Plaid and Paleo

Don’t be intimidated by the prospect of making your own Paleo mayo for this recipe; it takes just three ingredients and the work of a blender, while pulsed cashews add even more nondairy creaminess. Make this dip for your vegan/Paleo/Whole30 friends, but just watch—carnivores will relish it too.

Photo: Wholefully

It doesn’t get better than a dip that cooks, keeps warm, and stays creamy in a single pot for hours. With reduced-fat cream cheese and Greek yogurt balancing out the cheddar and blue cheese, this snack has the flavor and the staying power to last all game long.

Snacks

Photo: Hungry By Nature

These meatballs become perfectly seared on the outside while staying juicy on the inside by getting browned in a pan before baking in the oven. Sound like a lot of work? Don’t worry—from the rolling to the cooking, it all takes less than 30 minutes.

Photo: Hold the Grain

Eating food on a stick will never stop being the most fun, so we guarantee these chicken and veggie skewers will be a hit no matter who you’re serving them too. If you don’t have ghee on hand for the marinade, go ahead and use butter (it makes everything better, anyway).

Photo: Honey and Birch

Instead of getting dumped in a fryer, these egg rolls stay grease-free thanks to the healthier, oven-baking technique. Crispy, golden, and filled with juicy, spicy chicken, we’re guessing they’ll become delicious contenders for your new favorite appetizer.

Photo: Skinny Mom

While pinwheels are a fun, retro snack, they often involve a bit too much cream cheese. These opt for a hot sauce and yogurt-ranch dressing mix as a spread for a less gloppy, more buffalo chicken-y result. The healthy upgrades go further with high-fiber, whole-wheat wraps instead of enriched flour tortillas, plus the addition of spinach leaves and onion.

Photo: Mantitlement

Celery sticks aren’t just for peanut butter—they make a great vehicle for shredded, spiced-up chicken too. These appetizers have just the right balance of creamy and crunchy. Plus, with only 1/4 cup mayonnaise, they’re a deliciously lighter alternative to the heavier finger foods that might be on the table.

Photo: The Girl Who Ate Everything

Bottled blue cheese dressing isn’t making anyone’s “healthiest foods” list anytime soon, but you’re spreading 1/2 cup between 40 servings of these spicy bites, so don’t stress too much. Plus, these poppers are baked instead of battered and fried, so there’s no question they’re better for you than the traditional bar snacks.

Photo: A Healthy Life For Me

Fast food restaurants serve up some pretty questionable versions of nuggets—why settle for those when you can make much-cleaner versions at home that actually have chicken in them? Coated with coconut flour, seasoned with simple spices, and baked instead of fried, there’s nothing icky about these bites or how you’ll feel after eating them.

Photo: Maebell's

With the heartiness of a biscuit but the fluffiness of a soufflé, “puffs” is the perfect word to describe these airy bites. Each one is packed with chicken, cheese, and a hint of sauce—who wouldn’t love buffalo chicken dip in muffin form?

Entrees

Photo: Peas and Crayons

Add this to the ever-growing list of delicious ways to stuff sweet potatoes. The buffalo chicken filling is so tasty, you may not even need extra toppings, but if you love your spuds fully loaded, pile on some healthy extras like chopped scallions and Greek yogurt.

Photo: My Life Cookbook

Add some more sustenance to your cheesy buffalo chicken mixture by throwing in some cooked quinoa. Giving the dish more protein and fiber, quinoa is a simple addition to make a filling, gluten-free main meal.

Photo: Prevention RD

Without guacamole and sour cream, these may not be your regular tacos, but they’re equally awesome. In fact, with the grilled meat, ranch-coated romaine, and blue cheese crumbles wrapped inside the tortilla, there’s so much flavor here that you don’t even need extra toppings.

Photo: Spices in My DNA

Do we even need to provide a reason to eat buffalo chicken-flavored mac and cheese? Didn’t think so. Still, let’s take a second to appreciate that this one goes the extra mile to exercise moderation, using low-fat milk and light cream cheese to balance out the cheddar and butter.

Photo: Jay's Baking Me Crazy

Feed a hungry crowd with this grain-, gluten- and dairy-free dish. Spaghetti squash makes it look and taste like a pasta casserole, and with a bit of ranch dressing and three eggs binding it all together, we promise nobody will miss the cheese.

Photo: Sugar Dish Me

Tossed in buffalo sauce, panko-dusted, and baked until crisp, these chicken bites are perfect for tucking into lettuce wraps and topping with crumbled blue cheese. The addition of quinoa and avocado makes them much more filling while still keeping them lighter than traditional buffalo chicken sandwiches on bread.

Photo: The Balanced Berry

Double the comfort-food factor of your entrée by combining buffalo chicken flavor with spaghetti for this warm, garlicky, sweet, and spicy pasta dish. While this blogger uses dairy-free cream cheese, use the regular stuff if that’s what you have on hand.

Photo: Foodologie

In case we haven’t given you enough reasons to experiment with spaghetti squash recipes, here’s one more. This dish also has shredded cabbage and carrots for even more veggie action, plenty of spice from the full cup of buffalo sauce, and lots of garlicky chicken. We think you’ll like it.

READ THIS NEXT: These 49 Healthy Dip Recipes Put Guac and Hummus to Shame
 

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