Nashville Hot Chicken is fried and dunked in hot oil combined with spices, making it extra crispy and flavorful.
5 from 3 votes

By Christie Vanover | Published July 23, 2019 | Last Updated June 14, 2022

Home | Recipes | Fried Nashville Hot Chicken

Over the years, I’ve made fried Nashville Hot Chicken a few times. I tried different online recipes, but I was never fully excited about the results.

The seasoning blends were usually obnoxiously too spicy (and I like heat) or the chicken skin got too greasy.

With some research and practice, I finally knocked this at-home recipe out of the park.

platter of fried Nashville hot chicken
platter of fried Nashville hot chicken

Why is It Called Hot Chicken?

Nashville Hot Chicken is traditionally fried and then dunked in oil combined with ground hot peppers.

In Nashville, you can get a hot version that literally kills your tastebuds. While that’s an experience you might want to try just once, I prefer a spice level that’s more tolerable.

My buddy Derek Wolf from Over the Fire Cooking launched a Nashville Hot Chicken Seasoning that hits the mark. You can taste a blend of robust peppers with a little heat on the backend. It also has some undertones of a barbecue potato chip, which I dig.

Nashville Hot Chicken Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken: You’re welcome to purchase chicken already broken down choosing your favorite parts: breasts, thighs, legs or wings, but it’s less expensive to buy the whole bird and break it down.
  • Flour: All-purpose flour works best. I have not experimented with other types of flour. If you do, please let us know how it goes in the comments below.
  • Nashville Hot Chicken Seasoning: Instead of blending multiple spices to create a the seasoning, try this blend from Spiceology.
  • Buttermilk: See substitution notes below.
  • Tabasco Sauce: This will add a little heat to the buttermilk soak, so the chicken meat is flavored along with the crispy skin.
  • Peanut Oil: This is my favorite type of frying oil, because it has a high smoke point, but if you have a peanut allergy, vegetable or canola oil will work, as well.

Substitutions: If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make it by combining 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Or combine 3/4 cups of Greek yogurt with 1/4 cup of milk. That’s the combo I use in my homemade biscuits.

bottles of BBQ rubs on black background

Nashville Hot Chicken Equipment

  • Knife and Cutting Board: These are needed to break down the chicken. You won’t need them if buying chicken already pieced out.
  • 3 Mixing Bowls: You’ll use two to dredge the chicken and one for the sauce.
  • 2 Large Sheet Pans and 2 Wire Racks: One setup will be for the raw chicken and the other set is for the cooked chicken.
  • Grill or Stovetop
  • Large Skillet or Dutch Oven
  • Tongs
  • Thermapen: This instant read thermometer will help you know when your chicken is cooked through.
  • Ladle: To transfer the hot oil to the bowl to make the sauce.
  • Strainer: By placing the strainer over the bowl, you’ll remove any bits when transferring hot oil to make the sauce.

How to Get Crispy Fried Chicken

This might be the only time in your life when it’s okay to double dip. Actually, you need to triple dip.

Start by seasoning your flour with some of the chicken seasoning, and mix the buttermilk with some Tabasco sauce.

chicken dredged in flour.

Then, dunk the chicken in the flour mixture, the buttermilk and hot sauce and then back into the flour.

That double layer of flour is going to get you the double layer of flaky, crispy skin that will be screaming for the hot dunk.

chicken dredged in flour and buttermilk resting on rack.

Perfect Fried Chicken Requires the Right Temperatures

The temperature of your oil will ensure your chicken cooks through while the skin is perfectly crispy. You can use a Thermoworks Thermapen to measure both the oil and chicken meat.

OIL TEMPERATURE350-375F / 176-190C degrees
FINAL MEAT TEMPERATURE165F / 74C degrees

How to Fry Chicken

The Kentucky girl in me learned to make fried chicken many years ago. In addition to the triple dip, you’ve got to cook at the right temp.

skillet with oil over charcoal.

Whenever I fry food, I like to do it outside. That way my house doesn’t smell like cooking oil, and I don’t splatter grease all over the kitchen.

The KUDU Grill is a good choice for frying. It comes with a large skillet that easily holds 4-5 pieces of chicken.

If you’re cooking with oil over charcoal, be extra careful. When I need to raise and lower the pan to adjust the heat, I take the pan out of the ring first. That way, it won’t accidentally slide down and create a grease fire.

If you prefer to cook this on the stove, set your burner to medium heat and adjust the temperature up or down, until your oil reaches 350-375F degrees. A good way to measure the oil temp is with your Thermapen.

Nashville hot chicken frying in skillet.

Once your oil reaches 350-375F degrees. Carefully add the chicken to the pan.

I don’t really cook on time. Instead, I wait for the bottoms of the chicken pieces to get golden brown. If your oil is too hot, this will happen too quickly, so make sure to check the oil before adding chicken.

Also, your oil temperature will drop when you add the raw chicken, since it’s colder. That’s okay. If you keep the coals going (or the burner on if using the stove), the temp will rise back up.

Golden brown Nashville hot chicken frying in skillet.

When they reach that point, I give them a flip.

If I feel they need it, I’ll flip them a few times for even coloring.

Instant read thermometer showing temperature of chicken is 166.

How to Know When the Chicken is Done

The goal is to reach an internal temp of 165F degrees. I test the temperature with my Thermapen. It’s also what I use to test the oil temperature.

The total cook time is probably about 15 minutes. It will depend on how hot your oil is and how many pieces you add to the pan.

Instead of worrying about the time, just pop open a beer and kick back and enjoy the outdoors. That’s my grilling philosophy.

How to Avoid Greasy Fried Chicken

Here’s where a Nashville Hot Chicken recipe can either suck or rock your world.

If you stop at this point, you’ll have great Kentucky fried chicken recipe, but to make it Nashville Hot Chicken, you need to dunk it in a mix of ground peppers and oil.

You need to use hot oil. If you use room temperature oil, I guarantee you you will have greasy chicken.

tongs dunking Nashville hot chicken in hot sauce.

Spoon out some of that hot oil you fried the chicken in. Carefully, pour it over a strainer into a bowl. Working quickly, stir in more of the seasoning.

Fried chicken in bowl of Nashville hot sauce.

Then, dunk each piece in the chile pepper oil.

Since the oil is still hot, it will basically fry the pepper flavor onto the skin.

To help remove any excess grease, place the chicken on a rack over a sheet pan.

Nashville hot chicken on rack.

Then, make it an official platter of Nashville Hot Chicken by serving it on white bread with pickles.

That bread will soak up any excess hot oil, and it’s scrumptious. I like using Texas toast.

There ya have it. All it takes is six ingredients and some honky tonk music, and you can transport yourself to Nashville just like that.

Platter of fried Nashville hot chicken

GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips

  • Dredge the chicken in flour and buttermilk three times for extra crispy skin
  • Make sure your oil is at 350-375F degrees for even cooking
  • Cook the chicken to an internal temperature of 165F degrees
  • To avoid greasy chicken, use the hot oil to make the dipping sauce
Platter of fried Nashville hot chicken.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Nashville hot chicken spicy?

It can be. If you order it at Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, where the recipe received, notoriety you can order it anywhere from light mild to XXX hot. This recipe however isn’t too spicy…if you can handle a little heat. The seasoning is made with sugar, chili powder, garlic and paprika. To make it spicier, add cayenne to the sauce.

Why is my chicken skin burning before my chicken is cooked through?

If this happens, that means your oil is too hot. Be sure to heat the oil to 350-375F degrees. Then, add your chicken and flip it as it browns to ensure even cooking.

Can I make this with chicken tenders or boneless, skinless breasts?

Absolutely. Use any cut of chicken you like. If you use skinless tenders or chicken breasts, you’ll still get a great outer crunch with that triple dip in the flour mixture and buttermilk hot sauce.

Want even more great grilling recipes? Subscribe to my newsletter and follow me on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok for my latest grilling adventures. If you make this recipe, I’d love for your to leave a comment and rating below. Thanks.

platter of fried nashville hot chicken with pickles

Fried Nashville Hot Chicken

Nashville Hot Chicken is fried and dunked in hot oil combined with spices, making it extra crispy and flavorful.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients
 

Optional Sides

  • 4 slices white bread
  • pickles

Instructions
 

  • Prep Chicken: Break the chicken down into 8 pieces (2 breasts, 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, 2 wings).
  • Prepare Dredge: In a medium bowl, combine the flour and 2 tablespoons of Derek Wolf Nashville Hot Chicken Seasoning. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk and Tabasco sauce.
  • Dredge Chicken: Place each piece of chicken in the flour. Shake it off. Dip in the buttermilk. Shake a bit. Dredge back in the flour. Shake it again. Place on a rack over a sheet pan.
  • Heat Oil: Pour the peanut oil in a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven. Heat it to 350-375F degrees.
  • Fry Chicken: Add a few pieces of chicken at a time to the skillet. Once the underside becomes nice and golden, give it a flip. Continue cooking to an internal temperature of 165F degrees.
  • Drain: Place the cooked chicken pieces on a clean rack over a sheet pan.
  • Make Dipping Sauce: Place a strainer over a medium bowl. Ladle 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the hot oil through the strainer into the bowl. Stir in 1/4 cup of Derek Wolf Nashville Hot Chicken Seasoning.
  • Dip Chicken: Dip each piece of chicken into the hot oil, and return it to the rack to drain. Serve over white bread with pickles.

Video

Notes

  1. Instead of buying and breaking down a whole chicken, you can also buy chicken pieces like breasts, drumsticks, legs and wings. 
  2. If you don’t have buttermilk, see the substitution suggestions above.
  3. When using a 12-inch skillet, the oil should be about 3/4-inch deep.
  4. If using a smaller skillet or pot, you will use less oil and you may need to cook in batches. When it’s time to cook the second batch, make sure the oil heats back up to 350-375F degrees.  
  5. If you like your hot chicken even hotter, add some cayenne to the hot oil.

Nutrition

Calories: 544kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 41gFat: 33gSaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 149mgSodium: 412mgPotassium: 701mgFiber: 4gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 5365IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 178mgIron: 5mg
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