Nashville Hot Fried Chicken

4.62 from 70 votes
1 day 1 hour
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Nashville Style Hot Fried Chicken is famous for its spiciness!  One bite and you’ll be hooked!  It will become your favorite fried chicken indulgence for dinner or your next picnic! You’ll love my baked beans recipe and Cream Cheese Corn Casserole with it!

Photo of Nashville Style Hot Fried Chicken on gray rimmed platter drizzled with hot sauce.

Nashville Style Hot Fried Chicken!  Oh, baby!

Living in the South, fried chicken is a part of everyday life!  If you’re ever in Memphis, you must try Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken!  Because I live in Tennessee, Nashville Style Hot Fried Chicken is also something I hear a lot about.

Photo of Nashville Style Hot Fried Chicken on gray rimmed platter drizzled with sauce.

The inspiration behind this recipe:

Last summer we traveled to Nashville for the big eclipse.  On my list was to visit Hattie B’s for her famous hot fried chicken.  Everyone else had the same idea and the line was at least 100-people long just to get in the door!  In the 95-degree heat, it was out of the question.

A while back, I reviewed Rebecca Lang’s Fried Chicken cookbook (Affiliate Link) so pulled it out when I was ready to make my Nashville Style Hot Fried Chicken.

Photo of the cover of Fried Chicken Cookbook by Rebecca Lang.

Now, I have to tell you that my attempts at making fried chicken in the past have been less than stellar.  In fact, I’ve had some fried chicken bombs.  It either wasn’t done or got too done and tasted burned.  I’m happy to report this chicken turned out amazingly good!

Crispy.  Spicy.  Tender.  Lovely!  Paying homage to Hattie B, I wouldn’t dream of comparing anything to hers, so I’m calling it Nashville Style Hot Fried Chicken.  Rebecca Lang refers to it as Tennessee Hot Chicken in the cookbook because I’m sure nothing compares to the original.

I followed the recipe in the book, but I really tried to simplify it for you.  If you’re unsure about the level of heat, just back off the spices and hot sauce.  You can always drizzle some extra hot sauce over it or serve it on the side.

How to make Nashville Hot Fried Chicken:

  • Mix up the marinade ingredients and marinate the chicken for at least 12 hours or overnight.
  • Remove it from the marinade and wipe off some of the excess marinade.
Photo of 8 raw chicken thighs in marinade in white dish ready to be battered and fried.
  • Batter up!  You’ll need three bowls:  Two for flour and spice combinations and one for the spicy buttermilk and hot sauce combination.
  • You’ll be going from wet (chicken with residual marinade), to dry (first flour combination), to wet (buttermilk combination) back to dry (second flour combination.)
Photo of the set-up for battering the chicken with flour and buttermilk.
  • Then fry, fry, fry!  I don’t have photos of the chicken frying because it’s really not that pretty and hot oil is something you never, ever want to take your eye off of.  Keep the temperature at about 335 degrees and you should be safe.  I used a deep fryer to easily maintain the temperature.
Photo of fried chicken on rack draining after being fried.
  • Drain on a rack and that’s it!  If you need to fry in batches, preheat an oven to 175 degrees to hold the chicken warm.
Close-up of fried chicken on rack after frying.
  • Mix up the sweet-spicy hot sauce to brush over the top.
Photo of Nashville Style Hot Fried Chicken on rack being brushed with hot sauce.
  • And enjoy with white bread and pickles!
Photo of Nashville Style Hot Fried Chicken on gray-rimmed platter with accompaniments: White bread, pickles and sauce.

Serve with:

More great spicy chicken recipes!

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Nashville Style Hot Fried Chicken Hero Shot - Chicken on gray rimmed plate drizzled with hot sauce

Nashville Hot Fried Chicken

4.62 from 70 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
Nashville Style Hot Fried Chicken is famous for its spiciness! One bite and you’ll be hooked! It will become your favorite fried chicken indulgence for dinner or your next picnic!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 1 day
Total Time 1 day 1 hour
Course Chicken and Turkey
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 1429 kcal



  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle chile powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup hot sauce - such as Tabasco or Frank’s
  • 8 chicken thighs - (about 4 pounds) on the bone with the skin


  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour - divided
  • 4 tablespoons cayenne pepper - divided
  • 4 teaspoons salt - divided
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 cups full-fat buttermilk
  • 1 cup hot sauce - such as Tabasco or Frank’s
  • Vegetable oil - for frying

Hot Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • 3/4 cup hot cooking oil

For Serving

  • 8 slices white bread
  • Dill pickle slices



  • Whisk marinade ingredients together in a small bowl. Place the chicken in a zipper-top bag and pour the marinade over the chicken. Seal the bag and rub to coat the chicken. (Double bag if the marinade aroma is strong.) Refrigerate 12 hours or overnight.


  • You'll need three bowls. In one bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper and 2 teaspoons salt. In the second bowl, combine remaining 4 cups flour, 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper, 2 teaspoons salt, paprika and garlic powder. In the third bowl, whisk together buttermilk and hot sauce.


  • Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat with paper towels to remove excess marinade. Discard the marinade.
  • In a deep fryer or large, deep cast iron pot, heat at least 3 inches of vegetable oil to 335 degrees. Set a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet.  Depending on the size of your deep fryer or pot, you may need to fry in batches. If so, preheat oven to 175 degrees.
  • Dredge each thigh in the first flour combination, then dip in the buttermilk mixture, then into the second flour combination.
  • Carefully and slowly, place the chicken pieces in the hot oil. (You want to immerse the chicken slowly so it does not stick to anything.) Fry for 16 to 18 minutes or until deep golden brown and a thermometer inserted into the center registers 165 to 170 degrees. Place chicken on the wire rack and place in the oven to keep warm if working in batches.

Hot Sauce

  • Whisk together brown sugar, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika and chipotle chile powder in a heat-proof bowl. When chicken is cooked through, turn the heat off the oil and allow any particles to settle to the bottom for a few minutes. Then ladle out 3/4 cup of the frying oil in the small heatproof bowl with the spices and whisk together. Immediately before serving, brush each piece with the sauce. Stir to keep the spices from falling to the bottom of the bowl.
  • Serve on white bread with dill pickle slices.

Recipe Notes

  • 8 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
  • 5 1/2 teaspoons salt


Serving: 2pieces | Calories: 1429kcal | Carbohydrates: 183g | Protein: 66g | Fat: 48g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 11g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 235mg | Sodium: 6969mg | Potassium: 1431mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 7072IU | Vitamin C: 98mg | Calcium: 368mg | Iron: 14mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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4.62 from 70 votes (64 ratings without comment)

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    1. Hi, Seth, Thanks so much for your question. I think this recipe could be adapted to an air fryer but I’ve never done it. If you give it a try, please report back and let me know how it goes! Thanks again.

    1. Hi and thanks so much for your question. Yes, this recipe could be made with boneless chicken breasts, thighs or even tenders. The cooking time is going to be much less so keep that in mind. Thanks again and hope you enjoy.

  1. I can’t find the marinade ingredients anywhere? May you please post them to me via a comment as I’m very keen to make this. Thanks very much.

    1. Hi, Eli, Thanks so much for your question. The marinade ingredients are right at the top labeled “MARINADE.” Thanks again and hope you enjoy!