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What type of cheese is best for buffalo chicken?

Buffalo chicken is a popular dish made by coating chicken pieces in a spicy hot sauce, usually Frank’s RedHot or a similar cayenne pepper hot sauce, and baking or frying them. The cooked chicken is then typically served with a ranch or blue cheese dipping sauce to help cool down the heat. One of the keys to a great buffalo chicken dish is pairing it with the right cheese for the dipping sauce. But with so many cheese options available, how do you know which type of cheese works best?

Quick Answers

Here are some quick answers to common questions about cheese and buffalo chicken:

– Traditional buffalo chicken is served with a creamy blue cheese dressing. The bold, salty flavor of blue cheese balances out the heat of the buffalo sauce.

– Ranch dressing is also popular with buffalo chicken. Ranch has a cooler, more mellow flavor that can still tame spicy heat.

– Cheddar, monterey jack, and cream cheese are other good melty cheese choices for buffalo chicken dipping sauces.

– Soft cheeses like goat cheese or brie can pair well too but may be harder to incorporate into a creamy sauce.

– Grated parmesan or shredded mozzarella provide great cheese flavor when sprinkled on top of buffalo chicken.

The Case for Blue Cheese

If you ask most buffalo chicken fans what the “right” cheese is, they will likely answer blue cheese without hesitation. There are some compelling reasons why blue cheese is considered the classic pairing for buffalo chicken:

It balances heat perfectly

Frank’s RedHot buffalo wing sauce, the original and most popular sauce for buffalo chicken, packs some serious punch. It’s tangy, buttery, and very spicy. Cool and creamy blue cheese dressing helps counteract that intense heat. The sour, salty creaminess cools your mouth with each bite. Other cheeses may overwhelm or clash with the buffalo sauce’s strong flavors.

It has the right texture

Blue cheese dressing is thick and luxuriously creamy. It coats the chicken and clings to each dip well. Runnier cheeses like ricotta or goat cheese don’t have the right consistency to properly stick to the chicken. They can be messier and more frustrating to dip.

The flavor stands up to the sauce

Milder cheeses can become one-note or just taste boring next to flavorful hot buffalo sauce. But bold, pungent blue cheese is well suited for the task. Its sharpness and hint of funkiness give it a presence that enhances the buffalo chicken instead of getting lost in it.

Other Cheese Options

While blue cheese may be the tried and true choice, it’s not for everyone. Some people find it too overpowering or pungent. Others may be avoiding milk products. Here are some other cheese choices that pair deliciously with buffalo chicken:


Cool, herbaceous ranch dressing is probably the second most popular dip for buffalo chicken after blue cheese. It has a milder flavor that highlights the chicken and buffalo sauce instead of competing with it. Ranch’s cooling effect helps tame the heat. Using a ranch sauce made with cheese like cheddar, monterey jack, or cream cheese adds extra richness and flavor.


Sharp cheddar cheese has enough bite to stand up to spicy buffalo sauce and enough melty creaminess to bring everything together. A cheddar-based cheese sauce is easy to make at home by melting cheddar into milk or cream with seasonings. The intensity of the cheddar flavor can be adjusted by using milder or more aged, sharper cheddar.

Monterey Jack

Monterey jack is a perfect middle ground cheese for buffalo chicken. It melts extremely well into a creamy sauce. It has a creamy, buttery taste that highlights the flavors already present in traditional buffalo sauce recipes. Pepper jack cheese adds a touch of heat.

Goat Cheese

Tangy, tart goat cheese may seem like an unlikely pairing for spicy buffalo chicken. But its distinct flavor and texture contrast nicely. Goat cheese is too soft to mix into a sauce, but crumbles wonderfully as a topping over shredded chicken. The creaminess offsets the crispy chicken coating.


Whether fresh or shredded, mozzarella cheese is a great melty topping for heating up buffalo chicken dishes like pizza, sliders, pasta bakes or nachos. Whole milk mozzarella softens into satisfying gooey strings. Part-skim mozzarella has a bit more structure. Using mozzarella along with provolone or parmesan adds more dimension.

Queso Fresco

For a fresher, lighter take on buffalo chicken dipping sauce, try crumbling queso fresco cheese. This moist, mild Mexican cheese softens slightly when heated but maintains a nice texture. Combining it with cream cheese and fresh herbs makes a zesty sauce. Queso fresco doesn’t melt smoothly though, so it’s best used in chunks or crumbles rather than in a sauce.

Choosing the Right Cheese

The possibilities are nearly endless when it comes to cheese for buffalo chicken. Here are some factors to consider when selecting the best cheese for your needs:

Flavor Intensity

Do you want the cheese to be front and center or take a backseat? Strong blue cheese or aged cheddar will come through prominently. Mozzarella or monterey jack have a milder presence that highlights other flavors. Factor in the spice level of your buffalo sauce too. Milder cheeses pair better with hotter sauces.


Creamy, gooey melted cheese or crumbles of firmer cheese? Sauces and dips need cheeses that melt smoothly like cheddar, jack, or cream cheese. Fresh mozzarella works better as a topper. Soft cheeses can be blended into dips or used as crumbles.


Are you making a sauce for dipping or cooking another dish? Melty cheeses like cheddar or monterey jack work best for sauces. Mixing in parmesan or blue cheese gives extra flavor. To top entrees, use crumbles or shreds of cheeses like queso fresco, goat cheese, or mozzarella.

Dietary Needs

Tailor your cheese choice to meet dietary restrictions. Lactose-free options include vegan cheese or aged, harder cheeses like parmesan. Goat and sheep’s milk cheeses work for cow’s milk allergies.

Best Cheeses for Buffalo Chicken Based on Purpose

Here is a breakdown of the best cheese choices for various buffalo chicken recipes:

For Buffalo Chicken Dip

Cream cheese and ranch dressing provide richness. Sharp cheddar and monterey jack add lots of cheesy flavor. A dash of blue cheese makes it extra indulgent.

For Buffalo Chicken Sliders

Sliders need cheese that melts nicely like cheddar, pepper jack or Swiss. Shredded mozzarella gives stretchiness. A slice of provolone or monterey jack makes a nice melty topping.

For Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Pizza is great with stretchy fresh mozzarella. Grated parmesan adds personality. Provolone or monterey jack are smooth melters. Ricotta makes a creamy base.

For Buffalo Chicken Pasta

For buffalo chicken mac and cheese, gooey cheddar, monterey jack or velveeta cheese sauces pair perfectly. Add crumbled blue or goat cheese for a flavor pop.

For Buffalo Chicken Nachos

Nacho cheese sauce is a classic pair for its smooth melted texture. Monterey jack or pepper jack give a cheese flavor boost. Top with crumbled queso fresco or shredded cheddar.

For Classic Buffalo Chicken Wings

The traditional pairing is creamy blue cheese dipping sauce. For toppers, shredded mozzarella, parmesan, cheddar and monterey jack work well.

Ranking Cheeses for Buffalo Chicken

Based on all the factors discussed, here is one perspective on ranking different cheeses from best to worst for buffalo chicken:

Rank Cheese Notes
1 Blue Cheese Classic pairing, balances heat perfectly
2 Monterey Jack Great melty texture, nice buttery flavor
3 Cheddar Bold, sharper flavors stand up to buffalo sauce
4 Ranch Cooling and creamy, great integrated with cheese
5 Mozzarella Melty and stretchy fresh mozz is perfect topper
6 Pepper Jack Spicy pepper jack adds its own kick
7 Goat Cheese Tangy, creamy crumbles pair well
8 Queso Fresco Mild, fresher cheese contrasts nicely
9 Provolone Mild flavor gets lost
10 Swiss Too mild, not the right texture


Ultimately the “best” cheese comes down to personal preferences for flavor, texture, purpose, and dietary needs. Classic blue cheese and monterey jack are tried and true pairings that are hard to top. But don’t be afraid to branch out and experiment with cheeses like goat cheese, queso fresco, pepper jack, or other melty cheeses. The key is finding a cheese that complements buffalo chicken instead of overwhelming it. Whichever cheese you choose, adding a creamy, cooling cheese element to spicy buffalo chicken is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.