Nashville Hot Chicken

Nashville hot chicken with pickles, bread, and beer.

The Spruce / Diana Rattray

  • Total: 70 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 50 mins
  • Marinate: 4 hrs
  • Yield: 6 servings

Nashville hot chicken is Southern fried chicken, but with a hot and spicy difference. The fried chicken is finished with a spicy sauce made with a generous amount of cayenne and black pepper. This version of hot chicken can be adjusted to suit your heat tolerance. For super spicy chicken, increase the amount of cayenne, or cut back on the cayenne for a milder coating.

Nashville hot chicken is traditionally served with sliced white bread and pickles. Add a side of macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, or Southern-style greens for a fantastic meal.

Ingredients

  • For the Chicken
  • 3 pounds chicken pieces (bone-in, skin-on)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground)
  • For the Coating
  • 1 cup whole milk (or buttermilk)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons hot sauce (e.g., Texas Pete's, Frank's, Tabasco)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Vegetable oil (for deep frying)
  • For the Hot Sauce
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (reserved from the used cooking oil)
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper (or more)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Nashville hot chicken.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  2. Dry the chicken pieces with a paper towel and arrange them in pan or baking dish. Rub the chicken with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

    Chicken pieces with salt and pepper marinade.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  3. In a deep, heavy skillet or saucepan, heat about 2 inches of oil to 325 F. Place a cooling rack in a rimmed baking pan. Preheat the oven to 200 F.

    Place a cooling rack in a pan.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  4. In a bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and hot sauce.

    Combine the milk, eggs, and hot sauce.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  5. Pour the milk and egg mixture into a wide, shallow bowl. Put the flour in a separate wide, shallow bowl.

    Dredging containers.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  6. Dip a chicken piece in the flour and turn until it is thoroughly coated.

    Dredging the chicken legs.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  7. Dip the flour-coated chicken in the milk and egg mixture and turn to coat.

    Dredging the chicken pieces.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  8. Dip the chicken piece in the flour once again, turning to coat.

    Dredge the chicken.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  9. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

    Breaded chicken pieces.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  10. Fry the chicken in small batches in the hot oil for 16 to 19 minutes, or until the pieces reach about 165 F at their centers on an instant-read thermometer. Chicken breast pieces will take 15 to 17 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces to the prepared pan with the cooling rack and place the pan in the oven. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces. Set the cooking oil aside to cool slightly.

    Remove the chicken to a rack.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  11. In a heatproof bowl, combine the cayenne pepper, brown sugar, paprika, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, and the garlic powder. Add about 1/2 cup of the hot cooking oil to the spices and stir to blend.

    Combine the spices with the hot oil.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  12. Brush the hot oil over the chicken pieces. Stir the oil frequently as you brush.

    Brush the hot oil over the chicken pieces.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  13. To serve, arrange the chicken pieces on plates with slices of white bread and pickles.

    Nashville hot chicken with the fixins!
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray