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Nashville Hot Chicken (Easy Recipe)

Hot, crisp, and super delicious, Nashville hot chicken is the king of fried chicken

It’s so insanely succulent and impossibly fiery, you’ll want to lick the plate clean.

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Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwiches Served With Coleslaw Topped With Sliced Pickles

If flaming fried chicken is what you’re after, this Nashville hot chicken recipe is just the ticket.

From the mouthwateringly crisp coating and cayenne-infused sauce to the tender meat in the middle, it’s a real game-changer.

Luckily, there’s no need to take a trip to Tennessee to get your fix. So if you think you can handle the heat, give this recipe a try.

What is Nashville Hot Chicken?

It’s all in the name!

Nashville hot chicken is deep-fried chicken smothered in a fiery sauce. First, the chicken marinates in buttermilk, pickle brine, hot sauce, and eggs. It’s then double-coated in flour, making it really crispy after deep frying. Finally, it’s brushed in a sauce of lard, cayenne pepper, and spices.

As the name suggests, Nashville hot chicken has its roots in Nashville, Tennessee. And rumor has it, it first originated in Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack. 

Supposedly, Thornton Prince, the restaurant’s namesake, spent too much time out partying, and his girlfriend wasn’t too happy about this. 

So, she slathered his favorite dish, fried chicken, in lots of spices to teach him a lesson.

But instead of burning his taste buds off, Prince loved it so much he asked for seconds. And Nashville Hot chicken was born!

It quickly took the South by storm and is now a popular Southern comfort food all over the states.

You’ll find Nashville hot chicken at fast food joints, trendy restaurants, and home kitchens. 

It’s perfect for sharing as is or on some white bread with pickles for the ultimate fried chicken sandwich.

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Nashville Hot Chicken Served on Sliced White Loaf Bread Garnished With Pickles


Nashville hot chicken has three simple components: a buttermilk marinade, a flour mixture, and a homemade hot sauce. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Bone-in Chicken Pieces: You’ll want about eight pieces in total, including drumsticks, wings, breasts, or other cuts. Feel free to get a whole chicken and cut it into pieces.
  • Nashville Hot Chicken Buttermilk Marinade: Buttermilk is always the key to super tender, moist, and juicy fried chicken. Use either store-bought or homemade buttermilk (whole milk and lemon juice). 
    • Mix the buttermilk with pickle brine, hot sauce, and an egg to make the marinade.
    • Use whatever hot sauce you like, but I highly recommend a Louisiana-style hot sauce. 
  • Flour Mixture: I use all-purpose flour, but gluten-free flour would also work. Add salt for extra flavor. 
  • Vegetable Oil: I prefer something neutral, so it doesn’t impart any unusual flavor into the chicken. You’ll also want something with a high smoke point.
  • Nashville Hot Chicken Sauce: For the homemade spicy sauce, you’ll need to melt butter with lard, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, kosher salt, and black pepper. 

How to Store Nashville Hot Chicken

Store Nashville hot chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.

For the crunchiest results, don’t store the chicken stacked directly on top of each other. 

To avoid sogginess, place a piece of parchment paper in between the chicken layers. 

Reheat Nashville hot chicken in the oven or Air Fryer for optimal crispiness.

Nashville Hot Chicken Served with Pickles, Coleslaw and Bread

Tips for the Best Nashville Hot Chicken

  • Pickle brine is excellent in the marinade as it adds extra flavor. Use whatever pickle brine you like, but something spicy will kick up the heat even more.
    • If pickles aren’t your thing, use any chicken brine you like. That said, you won’t taste the pickles, I swear!
  • Make your fried chicken even spicier by adding other seasonings to the hot oil mixture. For example, try ghost pepper flakes or fresh peppers for some serious heat. And if you’re a real daredevil, throw in some Carolina reapers!
    • Alternatively, grind them up and add them to the flour.
  • Cooking times can vary depending on the size of the chicken pieces. So, be sure to watch the internal temperature of the chicken as it fries.
    • If it doesn’t reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit (70°C) after 10 minutes, finish cooking it in the oven at 300 degrees. 
  • Gently slide the chicken pieces into the hot frying oil, never drop it in from a distance! This will stop you from splashing the oil onto your hands and burning yourself. 
  • Once the chicken is fried, leave it on a rack to sit for a bit before adding the hot sauce. This helps the crispy breading stick to the chicken better. 
  • Try not to make the Nashville hot chicken sauce too early. Otherwise, the spices, butter, and lard will separate as it cools.
    • I like to make it right before I fry the chicken. Put it in a small pot and leave it on low to stay warm.
  • Lard is one of the key ingredients to authentic Nashville Hot chicken. But you can always skip it and double the amount of butter if you prefer. 
  • Be careful when handling the spices and hot sauce, especially around your eyes. Use gloves and always wash your hands after touching anything.

What to Serve with Nashville Hot Chicken?

Serve Nashville hot chicken on bread with pickles for the ultimate chicken sandwich.

It’s a great meal on its own, but it also pairs really well with:

More Flavorful Chicken Recipes You’ll Love

Ina Garten’s Lemon Chicken Breasts
Lemon Pepper Chicken Wings
Chipotle Chicken
Bang Bang Chicken
Buffalo Chicken Wings

Nashville Hot Chicken (Easy Recipe)



Prep time


Cooking time





Hot, crisp, and super delicious, Nashville hot chicken is the king of fried chicken. It’s so succulent and fiery, you’ll want to lick the plate clean.


  • 1 1 whole chicken, divided into 8 pieces

  • Marinade:
  • 1 cup 1 buttermilk

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 pickle brine

  • 2 tablespoons 2 Louisiana-style hot sauce

  • 1 large 1 egg

  • Flour:
  • 2 cups 2 all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons 2 fine table salt

  • Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup 1/4 butter

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 lard

  • 2 tablespoons 2 cayenne pepper

  • 1 tablespoon 1 packed light brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon 1 paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon 1/2 garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon 1/2 kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon 1/2 freshly ground black pepper

  • Vegetable oil for frying


  • Whisk the buttermilk, pickle brine, hot sauce, and egg in a large mixing bowl. Add the chicken, and toss to coat.
  • Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.
  • Just before frying, mix the flour and salt in a shallow flat dish. Set aside.
  • Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and blot gently with paper towels. Don’t discard the marinade.
  • Toss the chicken pieces in the flour mixture until evenly coated.
  • Return the chicken to the marinade and thoroughly coat all sides. Let the excess drip back into the bowl.
  • Coat the chicken in the flour mixture again, then place them on a rack to dry slightly – about 15 minutes.
  • While the chicken dries, make the sauce. Add the butter, lard, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, kosher salt, and black pepper to a large pot over medium-high heat. Stir until melted and smooth, then remove from the heat or leave on low, stirring occasionally.
  • Pour the vegetable oil into a cast iron skillet until 1/3 of the way full. Heat the oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175°C).
  • Gently place the chicken pieces into the hot oil, skin side down. Fry in batches to maintain an oil temperature of at least 325 degrees Fahrenheit (160°).
  • Fry the chicken pieces until the internal temperature reads 160 degrees Fahrenheit (70°) – about 8 to 10 minutes per side. Check the internal temperature using an instant-read thermometer.
  • Move the crispy chicken to a rack to drain. After about 5 minutes, brush both sides of the chicken with sauce before serving. Enjoy!
Nashville Hot Chicken

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Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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