Nashville Hot Chicken served with pickle slices over two slices of white bread and a side of macaroni and cheese
Chicken, Mains

Nashville Hot Chicken

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It’s just the best! Crispy, golden fried “hot chicken” smothered with a cayenne flavored oil, just like they do it in Nashville. If you like spicy, this hot chicken is absolutely irresistible. If you’ve never had authentic hot chicken, get in your car right now and just drive to Nashville. Don’t even think about it. Just go. Ok, maybe do some planning first, but it is definitely worth a trip. My recipe is not over the top hot. You can definitely feel the heat, but it isn’t meant to be painful. Feel free dial up the cayenne if you really want to sweat!

Tastes Just Like Young Love ????

Here I am all the way back in 2012 after my first Nashville hot chicken experience.

The historic day I tried hot chicken in Nashville for the first time 🙂

We were in town soaking up all the live music we could and celebrating Dylan’s birthday. I guess he would have been turning 24 that year. It was an unforgettable weekend all around and to top it all off his sister sent us to Bolton’s Spicy Chicken and Fish – an experience I will never forget. It took me about an hour to track down this picture, but I had so much fun looking through some of our best memories as a young couple. I was searching between 2011-2015. I knew it fell somewhere in that range ha. As you can imagine, I stumbled across quite a few gems from that era!

Now Let’s get to Frying up Some Hot Chicken!

Breaking Down A Whole Chicken

Let’s be honest, this is not the most enjoyable task for most, but it does has some advantages. It really isn’t a hard thing to do, but it can be pretty messy. I like this tutorial by Natasha’s Kitchen.

Advantages

  1. Buying a whole chicken and breaking it down yourself can save you quite a bit of money.
  2. You can save the carcass in your freezer for making homemade chicken stock, limiting waste and stretching your dollar even further.
  3. Bone-in chicken tends to be juicier, and using the whole chicken provides a variety of light and dark meat.
  4. Once you get the hang of it, it can give you a sense of accomplishment to see how quickly and cleanly you can break down your chicken.

Of course you can always opt to spend a little extra money and buy pre-cut pieces. You might not end up with the standard 8 piece chicken, but it is a great way to save some time and limit stress if you don’t like the idea of cutting one up yourself. Don’t skip the bone-in chicken though! When I go this route, I tend to use bone-in thighs and legs.

Tips for Frying Chicken

  1. Be patient! Whatever you do, do not add your chicken to the frying oil until it has reached a temperature of 350 degrees. The best part about fried chicken is that crispy golden skin, and patience is key here. Don’t let all that hard work of breaking down your own chicken go to waste!
  2. Use a kitchen thermometer. You want to maintain an oil temperature around 350 degrees, and you will likely need to adjust your heat several times as the chicken cooks. Having a kitchen thermometer for checking the oil temperature and checking the chicken for doneness is crucial.
  3. Finish it in the oven. It is pretty challenging to cook bone-in chicken to doneness by frying alone. Most times you will end up overcooking the skin before the meat is cooked through. Once the chicken is perfectly golden on each side, pop it in a preheated 350 degree oven to finish. I check mine in 5 minute increments until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.

White Bread is a Must!

Good old fashioned classic white bread is an absolute must with hot chicken. That sweet, soft bread is the perfect vehicle for sopping up any extra spicy oil. The combination is just unbeatable. Serve this up with my Southern Style Mustard Greens and my Nana’s Baked Macaroni for the ultimate Southern comfort food!

I hope you love it! Let me know what you think about the heat level. ????????????

Print
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Nashville Hot Chicken served with pickle slices over two slices of white bread and a side of macaroni and cheese

Nashville Hot Chicken


  • Author: Katelyn
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour (plus time to marinate)
  • Yield: 68 servings 1x

Description

Crispy, golden fried “hot chicken” smothered with a cayenne flavored oil, just like they do it in Nashville! This hot chicken has the right amount of heat to allow those authentic bold flavors to shine through without being painful. Feel free to dial up the cayenne if you like it extra hot!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 15 to 6 pound whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • Peanut oil for frying

Marinade

  • 1 cup buttermilk 
  • 2 tablespoons pickle juice
  • 2 tablespoons Texas Pete hot sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt 

Spicy Oil

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika 
  • 2 tablespoons reserved cooking oil (oil that the chicken was cooked in)

Flour Dredge

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions

Marinate Chicken Overnight

  1. Break down your whole chicken into 8 pieces for frying.
  2. Mix marinade (buttermilk, pickle juice, hot sauce, sliced garlic & salt) in a medium bowl and add the chicken pieces. Toss to coat.
    bone in chicken marinating in buttermilk garlic hot sauce mixture in stainless steel bowl
  3. Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, but preferably overnight for the most tender fried chicken. 

Dredge Chicken

  1. Combine ingredients for flour dredge (flour, kosher salt, black pepper) in a large bowl.
  2. Working with one piece at a time, remove chicken from refrigerator and use tongs to pick up each piece individually (allowing excess marinade to drip off) before tossing in the flour dregde until fully coated. 
  3. Place each flour coated piece of chicken on a plate. 
    bone in chicken pieces breaded with flour and seasoning on a plate

Prepare Spicy Oil 

  1. Melt butter in small sauce pan over medium low heat on stove top.
  2. Add cayenne pepper, brown sugar, kosher salt, garlic powder, onion powder chili powder and paprika.
  3. Whisk to combine, cook for 1 minute until aromatic, then turn off the heat. 
    spicy hot oil simmering on stove for Nashville Hot Chicken recipe
  4. You will add reserved cooking oil (after frying the chicken) and reheat to liquefy towards the end of the recipe. 

Fry Chicken

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (you will finish the chicken in the oven after shallow frying). 
  2. Set a wire cooling rack inside of a sheet pan and set aside. 
  3. Pour enough peanut oil into a large cast iron skillet or other frying pan so that it is about 3’8″ deep.
  4. Heat the oil over medium heat on your stove top until it reaches 350 degrees F
  5. Place chicken gently into the frying oil using tongs, being extremely careful not to splash oil out of the pan. You will likely need to fry the chicken in at least two batches depending on the size of your pan. 
    chicken frying in hot oil in cast iron skillet on stove
  6. Adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a temperature of 350 degrees. 
  7. Fry on each side for 4 to 5 minutes or until golden brown. Cooking time can vary greatly depending on the temperature of your oil and the size of your chicken. Keep a close eye on it (it is totally fine if you end up needing to turn it more than once).
    chicken frying in hot oil in cast iron skillet on stove
  8. When the chicken is perfectly golden, carefully remove each piece and place on the wire rack set inside your sheet pan. 
  9. Put your pan in your preheated oven and cook in 5 minute increments until you reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Depending on the thickness of your chicken this step could take between 5 to 20 minutes. 
  10. Once chicken is cooked through. Place on a separate wire cooling rack or plate lined with paper towels. Pat dry any excess oil. 
    Fried chicken cooling on a wire cooling rack
  11. When all of the chicken is nearly cooked, set your saucepan with spicy oil back over low heat to liquefy and add two tablespoons of the frying oil. Whisk to combine.
  12. Brush each piece of chicken with spicy oil on each side and serve alongside plain white bread and sliced pickles!
    Nashville hot fried chicken rubbed in hot spicy oil cooling on a wire rack

Notes

  • Always, always have a fire extinguisher handy when frying on the stove top with large amounts of hot oil.
  • This dish is medium hot for hot chicken! Feel free to adjust the cayenne pepper for a milder or spicier version. 
  • Category: Mains
  • Method: Fried
  • Cuisine: Southern

Keywords: chicken, fried chicken, southern, spicy

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