Chef John's Nashville Hot Chicken

4.7
(80)

If you've never had Nashville Hot Chicken, we're talking about mouthwateringly, ultra-crispy, fiery fried chicken with a cayenne-infused glaze, and by 'glaze' I mean melted butter and lard. For the record, I've never been to Nashville, so I can't tell you how authentic this is, but it works for me. Serve chicken pieces on white bread and brush with extra sauce if you like. Serve with pickles.

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Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
16 mins
Additional Time:
2 hrs 24 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs
Servings:
4

You don't need to travel to Tennessee to enjoy delicious Nashville hot chicken. This crispy, spicy, fried chicken will make the best chicken sandwich you've ever had in your life. Be sure to reserve the extra sweet-and-spicy sauce — it's so good, you'll want to keep adding it to the chicken (even if your mouth is already feeling fiery hot).

Be sure to save the recipe now before your mouth starts watering!

overhead view looking down at Nashville hot chicken on top of bread and served on a plate
Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

What Is Nashville Hot Chicken?

The name gives a lot away: Nashville hot chicken — fried chicken with a spicy kick — originated in Nashville, Tennessee.

The first Nashville hot chicken (served with white bread and pickles) is believed to have come from Prince's Hot Chicken Shack in Nashville. But the delicious fiery chicken has expanded nationwide, served daily at countless restaurants and in home kitchens.

How to Make Nashville Hot Chicken

Chef John's Nashville hot chicken is pretty traditional. You'll find the full recipe below, but here's a brief overview of what to expect:

Make the Marinade

Combine buttermilk, pickle brine, hot sauce, and egg. Pour the marinade over the chicken pieces and refrigerate for up to four hours.

Bread the Chicken

Remove the chicken from the marinade and blot dry. Toss the chicken in a flour and salt mixture, then place the chicken back in the marinade until coated. Dredge the chicken again in the flour mixture. Let the coating dry for 15 minutes.

Make the Hot Sauce

Combine the butter, lard, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, kosher salt, and pepper over medium-high heat. Cook until the fat melts. Keep the sauce warm until ready to use.

Fry the Chicken

Fry the chicken on each side until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. Transfer the chicken to a rack to drain, then brush with more sauce. Serve on a piece of white bread (or bun) with pickles and reserved sauce.

How Spicy Is Nashville Hot Chicken?

Nashville hot chicken is quite spicy. Not only is the chicken marinated in hot sauce, but it's also coated in a cayenne pepper sauce. However, the cayenne pepper sauce includes other ingredients like brown sugar and butter that tame the heat a bit.

The good news is that you can add as little or as much hot sauce as you want. Adjust the amounts in the marinade or don't top your fried chicken with as much sauce if you want it a little milder.

What to Serve With Nashville Hot Chicken

Nashville hot chicken goes great with traditional sides like french fries and coleslaw. But you can also serve it alongside some Southern favorites, like cornbread, hush puppies, mac and cheese, or corn on the cob.

How to Store Nashville Hot Chicken

Store Nashville hot chicken leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. Reheat in the oven or air fryer for the crispiest results.

Allrecipes Community Tips and Praise

"I have made this several times and it's always a big hit when hosting," says alb. "When it's just for my little family we take the leftovers and make chicken salad for lunch. As other reviewers have mentioned, I learned after my first time, do not make the sauce too early — otherwise the spices, butter, and lard will separate instead of staying together."

"My husband and sons love hot food," according to Lis. "Me, not as much. I was kind of scared of the amount of cayenne pepper in this recipe but the fats and the brown sugar took the edge off. It was fantastic — all of us agreed. It was hot, but not the kind of hot where you are gulping milk in order to stop crying."

"I lived in Nashville for a few years and learned a trick or two from some friends' mommas," says kb4ird. "Folks, this is the real deal. Secondly, I hate frying...pan frying, deep frying, you name it, I hate to do it. More specifically, I hate the clean-up. This is so worth it. It was delectable!"

Editorial contributions by Bailey Fink

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces

Marinade:

  • 1 cup buttermilk

  • ¼ cup pickle brine

  • 2 tablespoons Louisiana-style hot sauce

  • 1 large egg

Flour:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons fine table salt

Sauce:

  • ¼ cup butter

  • ¼ cup lard

  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper

  • 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 cup vegetable oil for frying, or as needed

Directions

  1. Arrange chicken pieces in a large bowl.

  2. Whisk buttermilk, pickle brine, hot sauce, and egg together in a mixing bowl. Pour marinade over chicken and stir to ensure each piece is thoroughly coated. Cover and let chicken marinate in refrigerator 2 to 4 hours.

  3. Mix flour and salt together in a shallow flat dish. Remove chicken from marinade and blot with paper towels. Reserve marinade. Toss chicken in flour until thoroughly coated. Return chicken to marinade, coating all sides; remove chicken from marinade allowing excess to drip back into the bowl. Coat the chicken once again in flour mixture. Place on a rack. Repeat with all chicken pieces. Allow to sit out about 15 minutes to allow coating to dry out a bit.

  4. Place butter and lard in a large pot. Add cayenne pepper, brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, kosher salt, and black pepper. Place over medium-high heat. Cook and stir until fats melt. Remove from heat; keep sauce warm.

  5. Fill cast iron skillet about 1/3 of the way with vegetable oil. Heat oil to 350 degrees F over medium-high heat. Carefully place chicken into hot oil, skin side down. Maintain an oil temperature of 325 degrees F, adjusting heat as need. Fry until instant read thermometer reads 160 degrees F, 8 to 10 minutes per side.

  6. Transfer chicken to a rack to drain. Brush with the sauce on both sides.

    overhead view looking down at Nashville hot chicken on top of bread and served on a plate
    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

Cook's Note

For best results, Chef John recommends tossing the chicken pieces with 1 tablespoon kosher salt in a bowl; cover and refrigerate overnight.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

1115 Calories
66g Fat
75g Carbs
54g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Calories 1115
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 66g 85%
Saturated Fat 23g 114%
Cholesterol 258mg 86%
Sodium 3755mg 163%
Total Carbohydrate 75g 27%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 54g
Vitamin C 8mg 42%
Calcium 141mg 11%
Iron 6mg 35%
Potassium 624mg 13%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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