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Nashville Hot Chicken Recipe

There are few things I love more than this Nashville Hot Chicken recipe. The contrast between tender-on-the-inside chicken and its crispy, spicy outside is out of this world. Add pickles and creamy slaw and it’s absolute perfection.

You can make and serve this Nashville Hot Chicken recipe any number of ways. I love it as a sandwich, but it’s also delicious served open-faced on a thick slice of soft bread, too. I eat Keto most of the time, so if I’m not indulging with a bun, I’ll have just the chicken (keto adjustments are listed in the recipe) with the coleslaw and pickles.

Nashville Hot Chicken on a bun with pickles and coleslaw

What is Nashville Hot Sauce made of?

Nashville hot sauce uses cayenne pepper for the heat and a little brown sugar to add a subtle sweetness to balance the flavors. I like a little garlic, too, and I’ll sometimes add a little extra sugar if I’m in the mood for it. This recipe is my go-to and the one that everyone I’ve served it to loves the most. After you make it the first time, however, feel free to adjust these amounts if you want to try a little spicier or sweeter.

Ingredients

For the chicken

  • boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • pickle juice (just use what’s left from a jar of pickles)
  • buttermilk
  • hot sauce
  • an egg

For the coating

  • all-purpose flour (or whey protein isolate if you’re Keto or low-carb)
  • coarse salt

For the Nashville Hot Sauce

  • butter
  • lard
  • cayenne pepper
  • dark brown sugar (use Swerve for Keto)
  • paprika
  • garlic powder
  • salt and pepper

For topping and assembling

  • buns
  • coleslaw
  • pickles
  • mayonnaise
Nashville Hot Chicken recipe on a bun with pickles and coleslaw

How to make the BEST Nashville Hot Chicken

  • Mix the pickle juice, buttermilk, hot sauce, and egg in a large bowl until it’s thoroughly combined. Add the chicken and toss each piece so that it’s completely coated with the mixture. Pop it in the fridge for about 2 hours (you can leave it longer if necessary).
  • Remove the chicken from the mixture and pat them dry with paper towels (don’t discard the mixture).
  • Mix the flour and salt together in a shallow dish. Dip each chicken thigh into the flour mixture, then back into the pickle juice/buttermilk mixture to coat it completely, then once more in the flour mixture. Set aside the chicken to make the sauce.
  • Place all of the sauce ingredients into a saucepan. Cook on medium heat until it’s melted and smooth. Turn off the heat or to very low. (Reheat just before using if necessary).
  • Add the oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it reaches 350F, add the chicken. Cook until the chicken is crispy and cooked through to an internal temperature of 165F, about 5 minutes per side.
  • Place the chicken on a rack to allow any excess oil to drain off. Brush liberally with the sauce.
  • Place a chicken thigh on a bun and add the toppings.
Nashville Hot Chicken on a bun with pickles and coleslaw and a side of french fries

What goes with Nashville Hot Chicken?

Any southern-style side you like will go well with this Nashville Hot Chicken recipe. I usually just go for coleslaw, since it’s simple to make and I love the creamy contrast to the spicy chicken. But I’ve served it with everything from simple green beans to creamed corn. I stay away from spicy sides, as I want the chicken to shine, plus that might be a bit overwhelming in terms of flavors (and I love my heat)!

I’ve also made this with Sweet Corn Cake, which I realize isn’t even close to traditional (it’s also usually served with Mexican food), but trust me when I say that it really works here!

There’s a local joint near me that makes their own mean Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich, and it’s what I get every time we stop in. I just can’t stay away from it! I do prefer to make it at home since I like making it exactly the way I want it, but you’ll never find me turning this down.

Nashville Hot Chicken on a bun with pickles and coleslaw

Nashville Hot Chicken

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Tender on the inside with a spicy, crispy outside, this Nashville Hot Chicken recipe is worth every bite and calorie!

Ingredients

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • ¼ cup pickle juice (just use what's left from a jar of pickles)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
  • 1 large egg, beaten

For coating

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (or whey protein isolate if you're Keto or low-carb)
  • 1 tsp coarse salt

Sauce

  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup lard (see recommended products below for where I buy my lard)
  • 3 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar (use Swerve for Keto)
  • 1 tsp paprika (smoked paprika also works but will alter the flavor)
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp coarse salt
  • a few cranks of freshly ground black pepper

For frying

  • 1-2 cups cups canola or avocado oil

For topping/assembling

  • 6 soft buns
  • 2 cups coleslaw, divided
  • pickles
  • mayonnaise (if desired)

Instructions

  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix the pickle juice, buttermilk, hot sauce, and egg until it's thoroughly combined. Add the chicken and toss each piece so that it's completely coated with the mixture. Pop it in the fridge for about 2 hours (you can leave it longer if necessary).
  2. Remove the chicken from the mixture and pat them dry with paper towels (don't discard the mixture).
  3. Mix the flour and salt together in a shallow dish. Dip each chicken thigh into the flour mixture, then back into the pickle juice/buttermilk mixture to coat it completely, then once more in the flour mixture. Set aside the chicken to make the sauce.
  4. Place all of the sauce ingredients into a saucepan. Cook on medium heat until it's melted and smooth. Turn off the heat or to very low. (Reheat just before using if necessary).
  5. Add the oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it reaches 350F, add the chicken. Cook until the chicken is crispy and cooked through to an internal temperature of 165F, about 5 minutes per side.
  6. Place the chicken on a rack to allow any excess oil to drain off. Brush liberally with the sauce.
  7. Place a chicken thigh on a bun and add the toppings.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1435Total Fat: 111gSaturated Fat: 22gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 85gCholesterol: 205mgSodium: 1791mgCarbohydrates: 72gFiber: 4gSugar: 18gProtein: 39g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix. Includes the full 2 cups of oil, much of which is discarded after cooking.

Kristy Bernardo
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