When I think of summer, I think of all my favorite hot-weather foods. Juicy watermelons eaten outside, tangy, veggie-filled salads that my winter self only dreams about, ice cream that you eat quickly so that it doesn’t melt down your hand…the sort of memories that make me so excited every year when the days start to turn warm.
The dark horse for summer nostalgia however, has to be my unyielding love for buffalo chicken dip. Unlike my passing interest in buffalo wings, I could eat this summer potluck classic on literally anything, and can almost always be found lurking by the dip bowl, using chips, carrots, celery, or even a stray grilled hotdog as vehicles for the tangy, creamy, offspring of buffalo chicken wings.
The origin of America’s collective favorite wing flavor is, unsurprisingly, Buffalo, New York - supposedly coming about as a happy accident in a bar called The Anchor Bar. The idea to deep fry chicken wings and toss them in a combination of bright red vinegar-based hot sauce and butter took the country by storm, and though the internet is inconclusive, we can only assume that the rich, indulgent dip that shares its name followed shortly after - transforming the dish further away from fried wings and traditional dipping sauce of blue cheese dressing.
Thus the base of the buffalo chicken dip emerged - with the addition of cream cheese, of course, because nothing is more American than cream cheese-based dips. Though many versions of this dip skip the blue cheese in favor of ranch, the presence of a little bit of blue cheese is unskippable flavor-wise as far as I’m concerned, even if blue cheese is “not your thing” (from one blue cheese skeptic to another - trust me on this!).
Buffalo chicken dip is greater than the sum of its parts. Cooked chicken, bright red hot sauce, blue cheese and cream cheese come together to create a bold, tangy dip that, to quote the culinary wisdom of Guy Fieri, “I could eat off a flip-flop”.
Since summer gatherings this year are destined to be smaller, more intimate affairs, I knew my usual vat of buffalo chicken goodness wouldn’t work. The idea to make the dip itself into a portable, sandwich version - something along the lines of a pulled pork sandwich, came to me after looking at pictures of old family gatherings growing up in Hawaii. We regularly stuffed golden, fluffy Hawaiian sweet rolls full of meats and cheeses for the perfect little party sandwiches, and I knew that the sweetness of the rolls would be the perfect complement to the bright flavors of the buffalo chicken dip. In this format, I figured you could share them with a small party, or rip, pack, and socially deliver them to friends.
I was emphatically not wrong. From the first few rounds of testing these sliders, I had people demanding the recipe. The final touch - a little melted garlic butter drizzle on top before a quick toast in the oven - transformed these little sandwiches from simply being “buffalo dip on a roll” into these indulgent, regal, “Buffalo Chicken Dip Sliders” in all their glory.
And so this recipe is my gift to all of the end-of-summer potlucks out there that need a little flexibility and a lot of flavor. These simple showstoppers are scalable, portable, and easily shared - but most important of all, they’re just so, so, good.