Buffalo Chicken Pizza with Chive Pesto
This buffalo chicken pizza has saucy shredded chicken, Mozzarella, garlic oil, bleu cheese, and homemade chive pesto. It goes great with a side of creamy ranch and a cold beer on Game Day or even just a lazy Friday night!
Buffalo chicken pizza is not something that would have ever popped into my brain. Luckily, I am married to a man who grew up eating homemade pizza multiple times a week (can you imagine?!) and I guess that means that you have to get creative after a while. He was the first person to make me this pizza with lots of ranch and bleu cheese, of course, and then I was hooked.
It also just so happens to be my ultimate buffalo chicken situation because while I love wings, eating them gives me real anxiety. The greasy fingers, the working around tiny little bones? No thanks. I mean, I’ll do it because they’re delicious, but it’s not my favorite. But when you put it all on some homemade dough and bake it up until everything’s all melty? It’s just the best.
The best buffalo chicken pizza situation
As my contribution to this year’s Big Game, I really had my heart set on making a buffalo chicken pizza. But, I also wanted to create a more elevated version of the usual pizza you see at restaurants or in other recipes. In this version, we’re starting with my favorite homemade pizza dough a la Marc’s family. Then, we’ll brush it with garlic oil and top it with Mozzarella, shredded Buffalo chicken, and bleu cheese. Once it’s baked up, cheesy, and bubbly, we’ll finish it off with a quick homemade chive pesto which is zesty, a little nutty, and adds a pop of freshness to cut the richness. The result is a pizza that is decadent, savory, a touch spicy, and full of cheese.
Also, I highly recommend serving this pizza with some good-quality ranch and a cold beer. It’s the perfect snack for Game Day because it’s easy to double (or even triple). And, it can just sit in a warm oven until your guests arrive. But, it’s actually really good at room temperature if you have late-comers showing up to the party. This pizza is the best way to serve wings without the actual work or making your kitchen a huge mess. Let’s talk about how to make it!
The ingredients you’ll need
To make this recipe, you’ll need:
For the pizza
- Pizza dough – I would definitely recommend going with a homemade dough (it’s so easy I promise) but storebought is fine too.
- Shredded chicken – you can either boil chicken or use rotisserie, whatever is easiest.
- Buffalo sauce – my favorite is Frank’s but any will do!
- Olive oil – for the base of the pizza.
- Garlic – to add a little more flavor to the base.
- Cheeses – whole milk Mozzarella and bleu cheese.
- Red onion – I like my pizza without but my husband likes it with. Add red onion if you’re into it!
- Ranch dressing – for dipping! Opt for something high-quality if possible. It makes a big difference flavor-wise.
- Corn meal – this will prevent the pizza dough from sticking. It also adds that classic “crunchy” bottom that you get from pizzerias.
For the pesto
- Chives – this will make up the base and replace the traditional basil.
- Pine nuts – optional but adds a nice nutty flavor.
- Garlic – because you can never have too much garlic.
- Parmesan – to add a little saltiness.
- Olive oil – to thin out the pesto.
- Salt and pepper – preferably Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper.
Let’s make it!
Now that you have all of the ingredients, here’s how to make this buffalo chicken pizza.
The chive pesto
This pesto is really simple to make with either a mortar and pestle or a food processor. Since it’s a small amount, I typically just make it in a mortar and pestle for ease.
- Place a roughly chopped garlic clove in a mortar. Add a pinch of salt and use the pestle to mash until you have a smooth paste.
- Add roughly chopped chives in batches, mashing until everything is broken down and smooth.
- Next, add the pine nuts and Parmesan and grind the mixture until everything is broken up.
- Add the oil 1 Tablespoon at a time until everything is mixed, smooth, and a drizzling consistency. Finish with a pinch of salt and pepper, to taste.
Quick note: if you’re making homemade dough, you’ll want to start a couple of hours before you want to eat to make sure that the dough has enough time to rise.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk together flour and salt.
- Next, activate the yeast in a small bowl with warm water, olive oil, and a pinch of sugar.
- Combine the two mixtures and knead until the bowl is clean and you have a tacky dough.
- Then, oil a clean bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and cover with a clean linen. Let rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2-2 hours.
- When the dough is doubled, divide it into two pieces. On a floured surface, pat each dough into a thick disc with the tips of your fingers.
- Then, gently pick up the dough, holding it upright, and letting it drop towards the counter. Rotate the dough with your hands, and repeat this motion until you have a dough circle that is about 8-10” across.
- Place the dough on a pizza peel, a flat sheet pan, or a cutting board dusted generously with corn meal to prevent sticking. Repeat with the second piece of dough.
The buffalo chicken pizza
Now that everything’s prepped, it’s time to make the pizza!
- First, mix the shredded chicken and buffalo sauce until combined.
- Next, brush each pizza dough with olive oil. Sprinkle with minced garlic.
- Divide the Mozzarella cheese between each pizza followed by the buffalo chicken, bleu cheese, and red onion, if using.
- Slide the pizzas onto a pizza stone or hot pan in a 500°F oven. Then, bake for 9-10 minutes until the bottom of the pizza is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.
- Finish by drizzling the pizzas with the chive pesto. Slice and serve with ranch dressing. Enjoy!
- Pizza dough – if you don’t want to make homemade dough, store-bought is totally fine. However, just make sure to follow package directions to ensure that the pizza doesn’t burn.
- Shredded chicken – to make buffalo chicken pizza without chicken, try jackfruit or even cauliflower for a vegetarian option.
- Buffalo sauce – Classic Frank’s is the best, but use the ‘spicy’ version if you want a little heat.
- The base – I went with olive oil and garlic to make this pizza a little lighter. But, you can also use ranch as a base for a richer option. Just use 1/4 cup of ranch dressing per pizza as the sauce instead of the garlic oil.
- Mozzarella – replace some of the Mozz with cheddar, pepperjack, or Jack cheese for a little extra flavor.
- Bleu cheese – it’s kind of hard to replace bleu cheese, but you can always use Gorganzola for a fancier option! If you’re not a fan of bleu cheese, I would just leave it off altogether.
- Red onion – thinly sliced green bell peppers are also delicious on this pizza!
- Chive pesto – if you’re not a huge fan of chives, regular pesto would be great. Or, to cut down on the onion flavor, use half chives and half parsley in the pesto.
To store the pizza, just place leftover slices in an airtight container. The leftover pizza will keep in the fridge for up to a week, but it tastes best flavor-wise if you eat it within 2-3 days.
To reheat, you can either microwave it or heat it in the oven. Microwave it for 30-60 seconds per slice, depending on the strength of your microwave. To heat it in the oven, just place the slices on a sheet pan in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
As for freezing, I would not recommend freezing this pizza. It’s best when made fresh and enjoyed within a few days.
Buffalo chicken pizza is great with just a cold beer and some creamy ranch, but it also goes nicely with a variety of snacks and side dishes. Here are just a few of my favorite dishes to serve with this pizza!
As a snack
If you’re enjoying this pizza as a snack on Game Day or at a party, try serving it with:
- BBQ Chicken Nachos with Cilantro-Lime Crema
- Beer Cheese Fondue
- Pigs in a Blanket with Everything Seasoning & Parmesan
- Tempura Fried Cheese Curds with Sriracha Mayo
- Zhoug Hummus
- Savory Palmiers with Parmesan & Everything Bagel Spice
As a meal
If you want to eat this pizza for dinner, try these side dishes to add a little freshness to the meal:
- Watermelon Salad with Feta & Nectarines
- Spring Panzanella Salad
- Kale Salad with Greek Yogurt Caesar Dressing
- Carrot Salad with Pistachios + Queso Fresco + Shallot Dressing
A few helpful tools
Of course, you don’t need anything special to make buffalo chicken pizza. But, if you’re a fan of homemade pizza and really want to get into it, these are some of the tools I recommend for that:
- Pizza stone – there’s really no better way to bake homemade pizza. The stone helps transfer the heat to the bottom of the dough so that you can a crispy exterior and a soft, pillowy interior. I use this one.
- Pizza peel – honestly, it just makes life so much easier for transfering your pizzas into the oven. I used to think they were overrated but they are definitely not!
- A good pizza wheel – for reasons I cannot explain, cutting pizza is one of my least favorite kitchen chores. However, I will say that a good, sharp pizza wheel makes it much more bearable. This is the one I have and love!
Tips & tricks
- Don’t overcook the chicken or it will get dry in the oven. I like to boil it just until the internal temperature reaches 165°F, shred, and spread it on the pizzas.
- Using a pizza stone is really the trick for amazing homemade pizza. However, if you don’t want to buy one, you can also just slide the pizzas onto a sheet pan that has been pre-heated in the oven.
- Heat the oven very, very hot. Like, as high as your oven will go. Most commercial pizza ovens heat to 800-900°F so the hotter the better. Mine goes to 500°F and it works great!
- Allow the oven to heat for at least 30 minutes if possible. Letting it heat for a while will make sure your pizza stone is screaming hot.
- If you don’t want to make two pizzas, you can always go Sicilian-style and make one big pan pizza. This is typically how we do it on lazy nights.
More pizza recipes to try
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Buffalo Chicken Pizza with Chive Pesto
- 1 small garlic clove, roughly chopped
- 1/2 c chives*, roughly chopped
- 1 Tbs pine nuts, toasted
- 2 Tbs Parmesan, grated
- 2-4 Tbs olive oil
- Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
Buffalo Chicken Pizza
- 1.75 lbs pizza dough***, preferably homemade or storebought
- 1 1/2 c shredded chicken (about 1/2 lb. uncooked boneless, skinless chicken)
- 1/2 c buffalo sauce
- 2 Tbs olive oil*****
- 4 small garlic cloves, minced
- 3 c whole milk Mozzarella, shredded
- 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced (optional)
- 1/4 c bleu cheese, crumbled
- Ranch dressing, for serving
- Cornmeal and flour, for dusting
- Pizza stone, optional but recommended
- Wood or metal pizza peel, optional but recommended
- Place the garlic clove in a mortar**. Add a pinch of salt and use a pestle to mash the mixture until smooth.
- Add a small handful of chives and mash until smooth. Continue griding the chives in batches until the herbs are broken down and there are no large chunks left.
- Add the pine nuts and Parmesan and grind until the mixture is smooth. Add the olive oil 1 Tablespoon at a time, mixing until you reach your desired consistency. Taste and add salt and pepper to season.
Buffalo Chicken Pizza
- Preheat your oven to 500°F. If you have a pizza stone, make sure it's on a rack in the lower 1/3 of your oven while it heats (if not, just use a regular sheet pan). If you have the time, let the oven heat for 30 minutes or so to make sure the stone is very hot. Generously dust a pizza peel or wood cutting board with cornmeal.
- In a small bowl, combine the chicken with the buffalo sauce and toss until combined. Set aside.
- Next, it's time to stretch the dough. First, divide your pizza dough into two pieces. On a floured surface, press each dough into a thick disc with the tips of your fingers. Then, pick up a round of dough, holding it upright. With your hands at the top of the dough (at the 12 o'clock position), allow the bottom to stretch toward your counter (at the 6 o'clock position). Rotate the dough in your hands, and allow it to stretch more. Continue repeating this motion until you have a circle roughly 8-10'' across. Place the pizza dough on the pizza peel/cutting board dusted with cornmeal. Repeat with the second piece of dough.****
- Brush each pizza dough with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Then, divide the minced garlic cloves evenly over the top of each pizza dough.
- Divide the Mozzarella, buffalo chicken, and red onion between the two pizzas. Finish by sprinkling the bleu cheese crumbles evenly over the pizzas.
- Slide the pizzas onto the hot pizza stone or sheet pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the bottom of the pizzas are golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Remove the pizzas from the oven using a pizza peel. (Alternatively, use a spatula to slide the pizzas onto a cutting board). Drizzle or dollop the chive pesto over the pizzas. Use a sharp pizza wheel or knife to cut each pizza into 8 slices. Enjoy with some creamy ranch dressing.
xo Sara Lynn
*Song of the day: Kokomo, IN by Japanese Breakfast