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close shot of a golden brown crispy fried piece of nashville hot chicken

Last updated on January 22nd, 2024 at 01:37 pm

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Nashville Hot Chicken – Unbelievably Crispy!

Nashville Hot Chicken is a daringly spicy fried chicken recipe marinated with pickle brine, buttermilk, and hot sauce and coated in a sweet and fiery sauce that will take your breath away. Before you eat Nashville hot chicken, you need to prepare yourself a glass of ice water or get a cold beer to cool your mouth because this juicy fried chicken has a spicy sauce buttermilk mixture that takes hot chicken to the next level. This recipe is perfect for Game Night, especially along with a batch of our famous Honey Garlic Chicken Wings.

Nashville hot chicken really did originate in Nashville, Tennessee. In fact, this secret way of frying hot chicken was first done at Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack. It was Thornton Prince who developed this spicy fried chicken in the 1930s and now it is famous all over the world. The main difference is that he used pickle brine to marinate his chicken and then served it on white bread with pickle chips on top. 

Ingredients needed:

  • Whole chicken: Chopped into eight pieces or you can get it already cut up. 
  • Vegetable oil: Whatever frying oil you like from olive oil to peanut oil. 

Marinade:

  • Louisiana-style hot sauce: There are many brands and flavors. You can use your favorite. 
  • Pickle brine: The pickle brine breaks down the proteins for juicier chicken.
  • Buttermilk: Along with the pickle juice, the buttermilk breaks down the proteins in the chicken, so your Nashville hot chicken is nice and tender. 
  • Large egg: You need at least one egg to keep the coating on the chicken. 

Flour:

  • All-purpose flour: You can use whatever you like from whole wheat to almond or coconut flour. 
  • Garlic powder, onion powder, and salt: This is important for the flavor. You do not want a flavorless flour breading. 

Sauce:

  • Lard: This is used for its high smoke point and texture. You can use butter if you don’t have it on hand.
  • Butter: You need the butter for the flavor as well as the smoothness. 
  • Packed light brown sugar: This gives your Nashville hot chicken a bit of sweetness. 
  • Cayenne pepper: Use more or less to make your chicken more or less spicy.
  • Garlic powder: The garlic adds a touch of flavor you will miss if it is not there. 
  • Paprika: We used smoked paprika, but you can use sweet or regular paprika. 
  • Kosher salt: Just a bit for seasoning. 
  • Freshly ground black pepper: Not too much. Let the cayenne pepper do its thing.

How to make Nashville hot chicken from scratch?

  1. Make the buttermilk marinade: First, whisk the hot sauce, brine, buttermilk, and egg in a large bowl. Add the chicken pieces and toss to coat.
  2. Chill the chicken: After, cover the chicken with plastic wrap and chill for three to four hours. Make sure the chicken is covered with the marinade.
  3. Make the flour mixture: When you are ready to fry your chicken, mix the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt and put the flour mixture into a shallow dish. 
  4. Blot your chicken: Now, remove the chicken pieces one at a time, and blot gently with a paper towel, placing them on a baking sheet covered in parchment or wax paper. Do not get rid of the marinate just yet. 
  5. Toss your chicken: Next, you want to toss your chicken pieces in the chicken breading until they are evenly coated. Do one at a time until you have finished all the remaining chicken pieces before you start frying chicken. 
  6. Marinade again: Then, put the breaded chicken pieces back into the marinade to coat all the chicken. Dredge chicken in the flour mixture again before putting it on a wire rack to dry. Let chicken sit for about 15 minutes.
  7. Make the buttery hot sauce: While you wait, make the sauce with melted butter, lard, garlic powder, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, kosher salt, and black pepper. Put it all in a large pot over medium-high heat. Stir until it is all melted and smooth. Leave it on low heat, stirring occasionally while you fry the chicken. 
  8. Heat the oil: After, pour the oil into a cast iron skillet or dutch oven about a third of the way full. Heat to 350 degrees F. 
  9. Keep the hot oil hot: When the oil is ready, place several chicken pieces in the oil, skin side down. You will have to fry in batches so you can keep the oil temperature no less than 325 degrees F. 
  10. Fry the chicken: Continue to fry the chicken until it is golden brown, and the internal temperature is 160 degrees F. This usually takes about 10 minutes per side. 
  11. Remove and drain: When it is done, remove fried chicken and let the excess oil drip down on a paper towel. Then transfer chicken to a rack to drain completely.
  12. Serve immediately: Last, coat the chicken in the butter mixture and serve with Nashville hot sauce. 

Recipe variations:

  • Cooking oil: Feel free to use another oil such as peanut oil, canola oil, or whatever you use for frying chicken.
  • Add your own: You can add your own favorite spices like onion powder, chili powder, basil, thyme, red pepper flakes, or even some sugar if you like it a little bit sweet. 
  • Boneless chicken: Instead of using a whole chicken, you can just use boneless chicken thighs or breasts. Since boneless thighs are dark meat, they are extra juicy.
  • Extra crispy: If you like your Nashville hot chicken extra crispy, add a teaspoon of baking powder to your flour mixture. 
  • Chicken breast sandwich: Use boneless chicken breasts and you can make a Nashville hot chicken sandwich. Just slather some mayo on two slices of white bread, add the chicken, and toss on a few pickle chips. 
  • Make it hotter: Want your Nashville hot chicken even hotter? You can add more cayenne pepper or toss in some crushed red pepper flakes. 

Frequently asked questions

Why is my chicken dry?

Nashville hot chicken should never be dry. With all the marinating and breading, it should stay juicy. However, there is always the chance that you cooked it too long. This is especially true if you are using boneless chicken. Make sure you shorten the cooking time to seven minutes for boneless Nashville hot chicken. 

What is the purpose of the pickle juice?

This is a southern tradition for flavor, but it also helps tenderize your chicken. The pickle juice breaks down the protein in the meat, so you have tender chicken every time with lots of juiciness and flavor. Some people use lemon juice for this, but pickle juice gives this recipe its Nashville flavor. 

How do I keep the breading from falling off?

Make sure your frying oil is hot enough before placing the chicken into the skillet. Once it is in there, do not touch it until the cooking time is up. Also, do not crowd the pan when frying spicy Nashville hot chicken. Too many pieces touching each other makes the breading fall off and lowers the oil temperature. 

How to store leftovers:

  • Store: You can store your leftover Nashville hot chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for three to five days. 
  • Freeze: To save longer, wrap your Nashville hot chicken in plastic wrap and then put it in a freezer bag and you can freeze it for several months. 
  • Thaw: The night before serving, put your frozen leftovers in the fridge to thaw them out. 
  • Reheat: You can reheat it in the microwave for a minute, but it may not be as crispy. If you want it crispy, put it on a baking sheet and heat it in the oven at 400 degrees F for five to eight minutes. 

More chicken recipes to try:

Nashville Hot Chicken

  • Prep Time30 MIN
  • Cook Time15 MIN
  • Servings 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Marinade:

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup pickle brine
  • 2 tablespoons Louisiana-style hot sauce or more if you want it really spicy
  • 1 large egg

Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup lard or use butter instead
  • 1 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper you can use 2 tablespoons if you prefer the sauce spicier
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

Marinate:

  • Whisk the marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl until fully combined.
    buttermilk egg and hot sauce in a bowl
  • Add the chicken pieces, and toss to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours, or overnight.
    raw chicken pieces in a buttermilk marinade

Flour coating:

  • Mix the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt in a shallow flat dish. Set aside.
  • Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade, blot with paper towels, and set them on a dish or cutting board. Don’t discard the marinade.
  • Toss the chicken pieces in the flour mixture until evenly coated.
  • Dip each chicken piece back into the marinade and coat all sides. Let the excess drip back into the bowl.
    dipping a breaded chicken drumstick in an egg mixture
  • Coat the chicken pieces in the flour mixture again, then arrange them on a wire rack to dry – about 15-20 minutes.

Sauce:

  • In the meantime, add the sauce ingredients to a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until melted and fully combined.
    hot sauce ingredients in a saucepan

Fry:

  • Pour the vegetable oil into a deep cast iron skillet until about 1/3 full. Heat the oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175°C).
  • Gently place the chicken pieces into the hot oil, skin side down, do NOT overcrowd the pan, and fry the chicken in batches. Fry the chicken pieces until the internal temperature reads 160 degrees Fahrenheit (70°) – about 8 minutes per side.
  • Transfer the fried chicken to a wire rack (placed in a baking sheet lined with paper towels) to drain.
  • After about 5 minutes, brush the chicken with the prepared sauce on both sides.
    brushing fried chicken pieces with sweet and spicy sauce
  • Serve immediately with your favorite dipping sauce!
    dipping nashville hot chicken in a red sauce

Nutrition Facts

Cooking tips:

  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees F so you can keep the deep-fried chicken warm while you finish cooking. 
  • Another way to reheat your fried chicken is in the air fryer for a few minutes at 350 degrees F.
  • If you do not want your chicken too hot, use less cayenne pepper. 
  • Hot chicken goes great with mashed potatoes and greens. 
  • Do not forget to put out a bowl of extra sauce for those who like their Nashville hot chicken drenched. 
  • If you really like spicy fried chicken and you happen to be in Nashville, stop at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken or Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack. They have been deep frying hot chicken for years, so they know how to do it right and they serve it even hotter than this Nashville hot chicken recipe. 

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Comments

(26)
Allyson Zea

Allyson Zea

Absolutely delicious!! My family asks for this on a regular basis!!

Tisha

Tisha

Give me all the spice!!! This looks so good

Clarice

Clarice

I am not really a fan of spicy food but I am pretty sure my husband would love this. Thank you for sharing the recipe. Would love to try this.

Lynndee

Lynndee

My husband and son love those kind of chickens. And the hotter, the better.

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