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26 February 2020

This Nashville hot chicken recipe makes the best spicy, crispy fried chicken known for its wonderful heat. Plus, I’ll show you how to make it extra spicy! 

Have you ever tried Nashville Hot Chicken? If not, you are going to love it. It’s one of my favorite ways to enjoy fried chicken. Nashville Hot Chicken reached quick fame when it began to appear on menus everywhere a few years ago, and with good reason.

Nashville Hot Chicken is essentially chicken that fried golden, then dipped or brushed with a spicy hot oil made from the frying oil and a mixture of spicy seasonings. The result is fried chicken that is juicy and tender on the inside, crispy and spicy on the outside, and jam packed with flavor.

There are a few ways to make this recipe, and here is my version. I focus on three main steps: The Brine, The Dredge/Fry, and The Hot Oil.

For my spicy food lovers out there, I’ll show you how to make an extra spicy version with a few additions to each step. You can choose to make this without all the extras, though, and you’ll still get a wonderfully spicy fried chicken.

Let’s talk about how to make Nashville Hot Chicken, shall we?

Nashville Hot Chicken Recipe

Nashville Hot Chicken Ingredients

  • FOR THE BRINE
  • 1 cup pickle juice (or use the brine from pickled peppers for extra spicy, or both)
  • 1/2 cup pickle slices
  • ½ cup pickled peppers 
  • ½ cup water (enough to cover the chicken)
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 2-3 fresh spicy peppers, sliced (optional, for extra heat – I used a couple habanero peppers)
  • FOR THE CHICKEN
  • 4 pounds bone-in chicken (use chicken breasts, wings, thighs, whatever combination you like)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 2 cups flour (all-purpose)
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne (for extra spicy version)
  • 4 cups vegetable oil (or use peanut or canola, for frying)
  • FOR THE HOT & SPICY OIL
  • 4 tablespoons cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ghost pepper flakes or powder (optional, for an extra hot and spicy version!)
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • FOR SERVING: Pickled slices, white bread

Nashville Hot Chicken, ready to serve

How to Make Nashville Hot Chicken – the Recipe Method

First, add the chicken to a large bowl and add the pickling juices, pickles and pickled peppers, salt and fresh spicy peppers. Add enough water to cover, about ½ cup. Cover and refrigerate to brine for at least 4 hours. Overnight is best for the most flavor penetration.

Step 1: Brining the chicken in pickle juice, water and seasonings

When you’re ready to cook, remove the chicken and pat it dry. Season it with salt and pepper.

In one large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs and hot sauce.

In another large bowl, stir together the flour, paprika and cayenne.

Heat the oil in a large wide pot over medium-high heat to 350 degrees F. If you are unable to measure the temperature, add a droplet of batter to the oil. It is ready when the batter sizzles. Do NOT bring the oil to a boil. A cast iron skillet can work for this if the sides are high enough.

Dredge the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour…

Step 2: Coating the chicken in flour

Then into the buttermilk mixture…

Step 3: Dipping the chicken into the egg mixture

Then into the flour one more time.

Step 4: A second dip of the chicken into flour

Fry the chicken in the oil 8-9 minutes, or until they turn golden brown. An instant read thermometer inserted should measure 165 degrees F internally. Remove and drain on a paper towel lined plate, or on a wire rack.

Step 5: Draining the fried chicken on a wire rack

FOR THE HOT & SPICY OIL

Add the cayenne, brown sugar, ghost pepper flakes, paprika, garlic, cumin and salt and pepper to a heatproof medium bowl.

Seasonings for Nashville Hot Chicken

Carefully scoop out ¾ cup of the hot frying oil. Let the oil cool for a bit first. Whisk it into the seasonings until well combined.

Hot and spicy oil for making Nashville Hot Chicken

Brush the hot oil over the chicken and serve with pickle slices and white bread. And extra hot sauce!

Step 6: Brushing the fried chicken with our hot oil mixture

Boom! Nashville Hot Chicken on the table! Ready to enjoy! You’re in for one heck of a dinner, my friends. This recipe is awesome! I love it.

Nashville Hot Chicken on a plate, ready to serve

Recipe Tips & Notes

  • The Brine. Pickle brine is great, though I like to use the brine from my hot pickles recipe and sometimes the brine from my spicy pickled peppers, or a combination of both. Adding extra hot peppers will give you extra heat in the final dish. Also, the brine is optional. It adds extra flavor, but you can make this recipe without it if you’re in a hurry. The most essential is the hot oil.
  • Extra Spicy Version. If you want an extra hot version of this Nashville Hot Chicken Recipe, add extra spicy seasonings to the hot oil mixture. The recipe calls for cayenne pepper and other ingredients, but add ghost pepper flakes or hotter fresh peppers to the mixture and you will REALLY get some heat. Adding extra spicy chili flakes to the brine, the flour coating, and especially the Nashville hot oil will give you the extra spice you crave. Carolina Reapers, anyone? Yes!
  • Cooking/Frying Times. Cooking times can vary depending on the size of the chicken pieces. If you don’t reach internal temperature after 10 minutes of frying, finish the chicken in the oven at 300 degrees until you reach 165 degrees F internally. They will still stay nice and crispy. I had 3 very large chicken breasts, about 1.5 pounds each! I needed a little extra time. Thinner boneless chicken pieces will cook more quickly.

Three pieces of Nashville Hot Chicken on a plate, ready to serve

That’s it, my friends. Did you enjoy it? Did you make an extra spicy version? Of course you did, you crazy chilihead, you! I wish I could have enjoyed it with you. I hope you like it!

Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes

Nashville Hot Chicken on a plate, garnished with pickles

Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.

Step 6: Brushing the fried chicken with our hot oil mixture
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Nashville Hot Chicken Recipe

This Nashville hot chicken recipe makes the best spicy, crispy fried chicken known for its wonderful heat. Plus, I’ll show you how to make it extra spicy! 
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Brine Time4 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cayenne, chicken, fried chicken, recipe, spicy
Servings: 8
Calories: 756kcal

Ingredients

FOR THE BRINE

  • 1 cup pickle juice or use the brine from pickled peppers, or both
  • 1/2 cup pickle slices
  • ½ cup pickled peppers
  • ½ cup water enough to cover the chicken
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 2-3 fresh spicy peppers sliced (optional, for extra heat – I used a couple habanero peppers)

FOR THE CHICKEN

  • 4 pounds bone-in chicken use chicken breasts, wings, thighs, whatever combination you like
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 3 large eggs beaten
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 2 cups flour all-purpose
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne
  • 4 cups vegetable oil or use peanut or canola, for frying

FOR THE HOT & SPICY OIL

  • 4 tablespoons cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ghost pepper flakes or powder optional, for an extra hot and spicy version!
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • FOR SERVING: Pickled slices white bread

Instructions

  • Add the chicken to a large bowl and add the pickling juices, pickles and pickled peppers, salt and fresh spicy peppers. Add enough water to cover, about ½ cup. Cover and refrigerate to brine for at least 4 hours. Overnight is best for the most flavor penetration.
  • When you’re ready to cook, remove the chicken and pat it dry. Season it with salt and pepper.
  • In one large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs and hot sauce.
  • In another large bowl, stir together the flour, paprika and cayenne.
  • Heat the oil in a large wide pot over medium-high heat to 350 degrees F. If you are unable to measure the temperature, add a droplet of batter to the oil. It is ready when the batter sizzles. Do NOT bring the oil to a boil.
  • Dredge the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour, then into the buttermilk mixture, then into the flour one more time.
  • Fry the chicken in the oil 8-9 minutes, or until they turn golden brown. An instant read thermometer inserted should measure 165 degrees F internally. Remove and drain on a paper towel lined plate, or on a wire rack.

FOR THE HOT & SPICY OIL

  • Add the cayenne, brown sugar, ghost pepper flakes, paprika, garlic, cumin and salt and pepper to a heatproof bowl.
  • Carefully scoop out ¾ cup of the hot frying oil. Whisk it into the seasonings until well combined.
  • Brush the hot oil over the chicken and serve with pickle slices and white bread. And extra hot sauce!

Notes

Heat Factor: Medium to Hot, depending on how much you spice up the Nashville Hot Chicken oil.

Nutrition

Calories: 756kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 49g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Cholesterol: 260mg | Sodium: 3497mg | Potassium: 758mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 2708IU | Vitamin C: 28mg | Calcium: 152mg | Iron: 4mg
Nashville Hot Chicken Recipe

4 comments

  1. I Just made a deep grunting noise at my desk at work… The shame… LOL…
    Your photos are just amazing Mike and really make people want to make your recipe’s. Ive never experienced Nashville chicken, (being form SA and all), but heck it is on my radar to cook this week. Thank you and kindest

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Haha, thanks, Halima. I love how these photos turned out for sure. Super delicious! I hope you enjoy it.

  2. 5 stars
    I didn’t know this recipe, so I had to cook it imediately! I used chicken thighs for it, with smoked Reaper, smoked Ghost Pepper, Ancho, Guajillo and Paprika.
    I found it very original and soooo tasty! (even if I don’t understand why it tasted like cinnamon when there’s none in the recipe…) Once again, Mike: a great thank to you!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Awesome, Jeremie! Now that is one truly EXTRA SPICY version of this recipe. Right up my alley! Glad you enjoyed it. I LOVE this recipe. I’ve made it so many times, I finally got it on the site.

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