Nashville Hot Fried Chicken

Nashville Hot Fried Chicken Recipe

Though this here Nashville fried chicken recipe isn’t quite as hot as they serve it in the city it’s named for, it should get you sweating. If you want it hotter, douse yours with additional hot sauce.–Editors of Southern Living Magazine

LC Hot, Damn Hot! Note

Hot enough to make you holler. That’s how they like their fried chicken in Nashville. And who are we to argue? The folks who crafted this recipe rely on habanero sauce for the authentic Nashville hot chicken experience. (Wanna know exactly which hot sauce they use? Tabasco.) But that doesn’t mean you can’t tweak tradition if, say, you don’t care for things to be quite so hot. (Curious which hot sauces our recipe testers gave a whirl? Take a look beneath the recipe at our Tester’s Choice comments. Then give whichever one you please a try and kindly let us know what you thought in a comment below.)

Nashville Hot Fried Chicken Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 40 M
  • 55 M
  • Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (low-fat or non-fat is fine)
  • A 5-ounce bottle habanero hot sauce (see LC Note above)
  • 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken drumsticks
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons table salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder

Directions

  • 1. Whisk together the buttermilk and hot sauce in a large bowl or a baking dish. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours, turning the pieces occasionally.
  • 2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Place a wire rack in a roasting pan or on a rimmed baking sheet.
  • 3. Pour the oil in a large, deep skillet until it reaches a depth of 1 inch. Heat the oil to 325°F (163°C).
  • 4. Combine the flour, salt, pepper, and onion powder in a shallow bowl.
  • 5. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk mixture, allowing any excess liquid to drip off and discarding the mixture. Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess.
  • 6. Fry the drumsticks in the oil in batches, turning occasionally, until lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the fried chicken to the wire rack. Bake the chicken until cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes (or, if your drumsticks are particularly large, a few minutes longer). Don’t you dare forget to pass the napkins—lots of napkins.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Sita Krishnaswamy

Apr 29, 2014

I am in love with this Nashville hot fried chicken recipe. It came out of the oven nice and crispy. I tested this recipe with Frank's Original Hot Sauce, and it wasn't hot enough for me, so I doused it with more hot sauce. I will be keeping this in my repertoire of recipes.

Testers Choice
Larry Noak

Apr 29, 2014

This Nashville hot fried chicken recipe is a GREAT chicken dish. I stuck to the recipe exactly and the results were stellar. I used a sauce called El Yucateco. If you like HOT, you will LOVE this!

Testers Choice
Alexander Cowan

Apr 29, 2014

I have to say, I'm not a big fan of frying foods. That doesn't mean I don't like eating fried food, just not a fan of the oily mess you have to clean up afterwards. In making this Nashville hot fried chicken recipe, I expected to make a mess, so I was surprised when I really didn't. I'm pretty sure the fact that the chicken is fried at a lower temperature and then finished in the oven was why there wasn't the usual spatter, hiss, and pop when dropping cold, wet food into a vat of hot oil. The resulting chicken was crisp, insanely juicy, tender, and flavorful. Here are a few tweaks and observations I made along my deep fried journey:

Hot Sauce. First, I couldn't bear to use an entire 5-ounce bottle of my favorite hot sauce, Youk's of San Francisco. So instead I used Crystal Hot Sauce, which I love and is my go-to fried chicken hot sauce. While it doesn't pack the same heat as habanero hot sauce, it still possesses a mighty fiery, tasty punch. (I know, hot chicken purists are probably gasping right now, but I like what I like.)

Bowl Versus Zipper Bag. The recipe calls for mixing your ingredients in a bowl and then dunking the chicken into it and popping it in the fridge. I used a resealable plastic bag, which worked perfectly. Plus, when the chicken was done marinating, I was able to toss the whole bag in the trash. (I'm all about easy.)

Cook Time. I do get slightly paranoid when I'm cooking chicken, especially with so many recalls these days, so I used the longest frying time, which was 8 minutes. I flipped the chicken over every 2 minutes, which gave me a beautiful golden brown color. Seriously, this chicken looked amazing! I also finished the chicken in the oven for 15 minutes, which is when it registered 180°F on an instant-read thermometer. My chicken was so moist the juices were flowing down my fingers and onto my plate.

For Next Time. When I remove the chicken from the bag next time, I'll let it drip dry a spell before adding it to the flour dredge. On a couple of the pieces, the crust was coming off where the chicken was really wet with marinade. Just an observation.

Testers Choice
Mike S.

Apr 29, 2014

This Nashville hot fried chicken recipe sounded perfect and requires little time aside from the marinating. I used Tabasco Habanero Sauce, which gave a fiery, almost too hot, heat to the chicken. I cooked the chicken in the skillet for 8 minutes and finished it in the oven for 12 minutes. The chicken came out moist and juicy.

Testers Choice
Kristen Kennedy

Apr 29, 2014

Well. Wow. We like spicy food in our house, and this Nashville hot fried chicken recipe delivers a heck of a wallop. I made the first batch as written, and although my husband gobbled it down, my son and I couldn't handle the heat. I then doubled the amount of buttermilk, used half the amount of hot sauce, and marinated the chicken for only 4 hours. This imparted heat and flavor without overwhelming me or my son, and my husband still gobbled it up. Success! We have a huge supply of hot sauces in our pantry, and I can't wait to try this recipe using different ones for variation. Each time I've made this, I placed the buttermilk and chicken in a large, shallow baking dish and turned it every few hours. (I found piling the drumsticks in a large bowl with the small amount of buttermilk on the bottom made for messy and tedious stirring to coat. with only the very bottom drumsticks being submerged.) The flour mixture was delicious and I will continue to use it for regular fried chicken.

Testers Choice
Sofia Reino

Apr 29, 2014

Where do I start about this Nashville hot fried chicken recipe? This was a very tasty, juicy chicken. I was expecting it to be really spicy, so I decided to make a second, less spicy batch for my daughters by adding only half the amount of hot sauce. I used Trader Joe's Chili Pepper Sauce, which I tasted straight from the bottle and found to be pretty spicy. Truthfully, to really give the chicken a nice kick, I'd add actual chile peppers or use a much stronger, spicier sauce next time. My daughters were actually able to eat our "adult" batch. The time for frying in the skillet was spot on and turned the chicken a gorgeous golden brown color. Also, the chicken took 7 more minutes in the oven, perhaps because the drumsticks were so big. The final result, though, was a very juicy chicken with a nice crispiness on the outside. The 6 pounds ended up feeding us for dinner as well as lunch the following day. Next time, I'd like to use wings to see if the spiciness will penetrate the meat and not just the skin.

Testers Choice
Denise Grace

Apr 29, 2014

I'd never made fried chicken before, so I was drawn to the challenge of making it for guests. Wow! My chicken looked exactly like the photo, which for some reason really shocked me. What was even more amazing was the taste—totally moist, juicy chicken with awesomely crispy skin. The only thing I'd do differently the next time I make this recipe would be to use Tabasco brand habanero sauce—the one I bought didn't have enough heat for my liking. Otherwise, the dish was perfect! Hardly any leftovers, and I made a double batch! Success!

Comments
Comments
  1. Michael K. says:

    David–I’ve never had to make Nashville hot chicken since all of the good restaurants that feature it are within 5 miles of my house. The “original” is Prince’s [see below--ed.]. Comes in mild (scortching), hot (makes your hair bleed) and extra hot (thermonuclear) and I like them all. White bread and dill pickles on the side. When a well-known food journalist tried the hot, his comment was the chicken told him, “I’m gonna die today but I’m takin’ you m***** f*****s with me!!” Enough said. Most of the Nashville places also do breasts, thighs, and wings in addition to drumsticks. Another really great place is Hattie B’s–two locations. Not quite as spicy but yummy and great sides, too. The pimento cheese mac and cheese is wonderful.

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      Michael K., thank you for your colorful description of the heat levels. I love “makes your hair bleed.” Perhaps when I get down to Nashville you can lead me unto my death, too!

  2. Bkhuna says:

    “The folks who crafted this recipe rely on habanero sauce for the authentic Nashville hot chicken experience. (Wanna know exactly which hot sauce they use? Tabasco.)”

    Oops. Tabasco isn’t made with habanero’s.

  3. Compliments to Southern Living for providing an “interesting” recipe that gives chicken lovers a spicy angle on Nashville style hot fried chicken.

    PCHS enjoys reading all the comments.

    Peace, Love, & Hot Chicken Grease!

  4. Lisa Keys says:

    While my chicken had great flavor my coating was not one bit crispy. After marinating the chicken I did let it drain in a colander for a good 15 minutes. The chicken browned well. Next time I will pat the chicken dry with paper towels before coating with the flour mixture.

    • Beth Price says:

      Gosh Lisa, I’m so sorry that you had that problem. Patting the chicken dry might help, I would also double check the calibration of your thermometer. The oil temperature is so important as is not crowding the pieces of chicken. Try frying one or two pieces first and see if they crisp up.

  5. Kathleen says:

    This is in reference to Sofia’s review and her thinking of using wings next time.

    It will work, just prick the wings with a fork so all that goodness seeps in!

    • Beth Price says:

      Thanks Kathleen, I’ll be sure and let Sofia know your tips.

    • Sofia Reino says:

      Thanks, Kathleen. I will certainly try that next time. Will make a batch normal and another using your idea. I realize we are a family who tolerates hot food quite easily, so even the kids like it with a kick. Love your suggestion. Will keep you posted as to the results.

  6. Lisa Keys says:

    Thanks, Beth. I had a feeling that maybe the oil wasn’t hot enough even though I did use a thermometer.

    • Beth Price says:

      You are welcome! Let us know how the next batch turns out.

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      Hey, Lisa. What I do is bring a pot of water to boil and take its temperature. If the thermometer doesn’t read 212°C (100°C), I make a note of how over or under it is so that I can be right on the money.

  7. Edgar Mallory says:

    Instead of one inch of oil in a pan, can I use a deep fryer?

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Don’t see why not, Edgar. I’ve rarely known deep-frying to make anything worse….

  8. Ellen Price says:

    I heard about Nashville Hot Chicken on an NPR show today and had to try it! Not being a big fan of habanero (the heat’s fine, I just don’t like the taste), I used my favorite hot sauce, Cholula, and garlic instead of onion powder. I definitely agree on the “Frying in the Kitchen” comment and to avoid the oily/frying smell in the house, I cooked it on the deck in an electric frying pan. It turned out GREAT. Thanks for a wonderful recipe – I’ve bookmarked this site for sure!

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