Nashville Hot Chicken – This recipe for spicy, crunchy Nashville-style fried chicken is truly mind-blowing! A few unique tweaks make our dish perfectly spiced, with slightly sweet and smoky flavors you will love.

nashville hot chicken recipe close up in serving basket

Why We Love This Nashville Hot Chicken Recipe

If you have ever lived in the south, you likely have a favorite fried chicken spot, amirite?

One of our personal favorites is this amazing chicken shack here in Asheville called Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack which makes Nashville-style deep-fried chicken. Each piece of crispy, crunchy, and juicy fried chicken is brushed with spicy oil, so it’s bright red, crisp, and spicy hot.

Seriously, I cannot get enough. So we decided to make our own homemade version of Nashville Hot Chicken, inspired by this beloved local joint. We added just a touch of sugar to balance the spicy, along with a bit of smoked paprika for depth and intrigue.

If you like classic chicken and are a fan of all things spicy, you are going to love this Nashville Hot Chicken!

Spicy fried chicken cut open to expose juicy breast, in a serving basket with pickles.

Ingredients You Need

This Nashville Hot Chicken recipe has two main components: Fried chicken, and the mind-blowing spicy oil that is brushed onto the crispy chicken skin.

To make the fried chicken you need:

  • Bone-in chicken with skin – about 8 pieces total (chicken breast, thighs and legs)
  • Dill pickle juice – the secret ingredient for a perfect southern brine
  • Sugar – adds a bit of sweetness to balance the heat
  • Buttermilk – either store-bought or learn How to Make Buttermilk
  • All-purpose flour – or your favorite gluten-free flour mix for frying
  • Cornstarch – to get the crispiest, crunchiest fried chicken
  • Creole or Cajun seasoning – adds spice and depth of flavor
  • Peanut oil – or vegetable oil, Canola oil, for frying

For the homemade spicy oil you need:

  • Reserved fry oil – from when you fry the chicken
  • Brown sugar – for a perfectly smoky-sweet flavor
  • Seasonings – cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, salt

Our version of this oil would be considered medium-spicy at a place like Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack or at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken in Nashville. You can make the chicken more or less spicy by adding or reducing the amount of cayenne pepper.

Chicken being brined in a ziplock bag in a pickle juice brine.

How to Brine Chicken for Frying

Spicy or not, the best fried chicken recipes always start with a pickle juice brine. This sour and salty flavor creates pieces of chicken that are perfectly crispy fried on the outside and juicy on the inside. Do not skip this step!

  1. First, warm the pickle juice on the stovetop or in the microwave. (It doesn’t need to boil, but should be just hot enough to dissolve sugar.) Stir in the sugar until dissolved.
  2. Remove from the heat and allow the liquid to cool slightly. Then add the pickle juice brine into a large zip bag. Add the chicken pieces and zip the bag closed, removing as much air as possible.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, but longer is better. If you can brine the chicken for 8 hours or overnight, that’s best for easy prep and the most flavorful chicken.
Hand dipping chicken legs in flour to fry.

How to Make Nashville-Style Fried Hot Chicken

Once the chicken has brined for 1 to 8 hours, set out two shallow dishes. Pour the buttermilk and hot sauce into one shallow dish and whisk well. In the second dish, combine the flour, cornstarch, and creole seasoning. Mix well.

Now drain the brine off of the chicken, and set out a metal rack. Working one piece at a time, dunk the chicken in the flour mixture, then in the buttermilk mixture, and then dip back in the flour mixture. This double-coating dredge makes the crunchiest and crispiest fried chicken skin.

Breaded thighs and breasts on a rack before frying.

Place the breaded chicken pieces on the wire rack as you go. Pro Tip: It’s good for the chicken breading to rest before frying in a pan, so don’t heat the oil until all the chicken has been well coated.

After all the chicken is breaded, set a large saucepot (or dutch oven) on the stovetop and clip a cooking thermometer to the side of the pot. Pour enough frying oil into the pot to fill it about two-thirds full. Turn the heat on medium to medium-high and bring the oil to frying temperature.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Set another rack on a baking sheet for the cooked fried chicken. You want to hold the chicken in the oven after frying to keep warm as you work in batches.

Hot oil on the stove top for frying chicken.

Once the oil temperature reaches 350 degrees F, carefully place 3-4 pieces of chicken in the fry oil. Use tongs to move the chicken so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Fry for 7-8 minutes, until golden brown.

Get the Complete (Printable) Mind-Blowing Nashville Hot Chicken Recipe Below. Enjoy!

Tongs taking out a piece of fried chicken from the pot of oil.

Use the tongs to carefully pull the chicken pieces from the hot oil and place them on the clean rack. Test the chicken with a meat thermometer… The largest pieces should be 165 degrees F inside.

Then place the fried chicken in the oven to keep warm and crisp.

Fried chicken on a wire rack.

Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces, continuing to place the fried chicken on the rack in the oven as they are cooked. Turn off the stovetop heat as soon as all of the chicken is done.

Spicy hot oil in a measuring cup after being mixed.

How to Make Spicy Oil for Fried Chicken

After all of the pieces of chicken have been fried and are resting in the oven, make the spicy oil.

Use a ladle to scoop ¾ cup of fry oil from the pot into a heat-proof mixing bowl or measuring cup. Add the cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt. Stir to mix thoroughly.

Brushing hot oil onto fried chicken.

When ready to serve, remove the rack from the oven and brush the spicy oil over all sides of the fried chicken pieces.

Nashville hot chicken recipe in a basket on white bread with pickles on top.

Tips for Success

  • To make gluten-free Nashville hot chicken, use a gluten-free replacement flour!
  • Don’t fry fridge-cold chicken! You want to take the chicken out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you are going to bread it. This will help the oil stay hot and not drop in temperature too much once you add the chicken.
  • You must use an oil with a high smoke point! Use a neutral oil with a high smoke point like vegetable, canola, grape-seed or peanut oil. Only use peanut oil if you are sure no one you are serving has a peanut allergy!
  • Make sure the oil is ready before frying! The best part about fried chicken is the crispy skin. You can only get that golden crisp if the oil is at just the right temperature!

Serving Suggestions

Like at Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack or Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, we recommend that you serve Nashville Hot Chicken with the traditional two slices of white bread and pickles.

Enjoy as a main dish with all of your favorite southern side dishes! Some classics include Homemade Mac and CheesePotato Salad, Coleslaw, Baked Beans, and Perfect Southern Collard Greens.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my chicken crispy on the outside but not fully cooked on the inside?

This might happen if the oil you are cooking the chicken in is too hot. So the outside gets brown and crispy before the inside has a chance to cook! If you are unsure if the chicken is done on the inside, use a meat thermometer to check that the internal temperature has reached 165 F!

Do I have to let the chicken rest after breading?

Definitely! This is a very important step in making this Nashville hot chicken recipe. It will sure that the breading stays on the chicken instead of falling off in the oil.

Why is my fried hot chicken soggy?

If your hot chicken is soggy, your oil might have been too cold, or you placed too many pieces of chicken in the oil at one time. Each time you add a piece of chicken to the hot oil, the temperature will go down. Be sure to cook in batches to make sure that the oil stays at a consistent temperature!

How should I store leftovers?

After making this hot chicken recipe, let the fried chicken cool to room temperature before storing leftovers in an airtight container, and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat the Nashville Hot Chicken pieces for just a few minutes in an air fryer or 350 degree F oven for the crunchiest and yummiest leftovers!

Nashville spicy fried hot chicken with pickles and bread.

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Mind-Blowing Nashville Hot Chicken Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 14 minutes
Brine Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 34 minutes
The Best Nashville Hot Chicken – Our recipe for spicy, crunchy Nashville-style fried chicken is truly mind-blowing with a few special tweaks.
Servings: 8 pieces

Ingredients

For the Fried Chicken –

For the Spicy Oil –

Instructions

  • Brine the Chicken: Warm the pickle juice on the stovetop or in the microwave. Then stir in the sugar until dissolved. Pour the pickle juice brine into a large zip bag. Add the chicken pieces. Zip the bag closed. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, but longer is better. (If you can brine the chicken for 8 hours or overnight, that’s best!)
  • Once the chicken has brined, set out two shallow dishes. Pour the buttermilk and hot sauce in one shallow dish. Mix well. In the second dish, combine the flour, cornstarch, and creole seasoning. Mix well.
  • Drain the brine off the chicken. Set out a metal rack. One at a time, dunk the chicken pieces in the flour mixture, then the buttermilk, then back in the flour mixture. Place the breaded chicken pieces on the rack. (It’s good for the chicken breading to rest before frying, so don’t heat the oil until all the chicken has been well coated.)
  • Set a large saucepot on the stovetop and clip a cooking thermometer to the side of the pot. Pour enough fry oil into the pot to fill it about two-thirds full. Turn the heat on medium to medium-high.
  • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Set another rack on a baking sheet for the cooked fried chicken.
  • Once the oil temperature reaches 350 degrees F, carefully place four pieces of chicken in the fry oil. Use tongs to move the chicken so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Fry for 7-8 minutes, until golden brown. (The largest pieces should be 165 degrees F inside.)
  • Use the tongs to carefully pull the chicken pieces from the hot oil and place them on the clean rack. Place the fried chicken in the oven to keep warm and crisp.
  • Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces. Place the second batch of fried chicken in the oven. Turn off the heat.
  • For the Spicy Oil: Use a ladle to scoop ¾ cup of fry oil from the pot into a heat-proof mixing bowl. Add the cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt. Stir to mix.
  • When ready to serve the chicken, remove the rack from the oven and brush the spicy oil over all sides of the fried chicken pieces. It’s traditional to serve the chicken over 2 slices of white bread, topped with pickles.

Video

Notes

Our version would be considered medium-spicy at a hot chicken shack. You can make the chicken more of less spicy by adding or reducing the cayenne pepper.
Let the fried chicken cool to room temperature before storing leftovers in an airtight container, and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1pc, Calories: 704kcal, Carbohydrates: 42g, Protein: 28g, Fat: 48g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 92mg, Sodium: 741mg, Potassium: 547mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 4684IU, Vitamin C: 15mg, Calcium: 90mg, Iron: 4mg
Course: dinner, Main, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Sommer Collier
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