Nashville Hot Fried Chicken

Nashville hot fried chicken boasts just the right level of heat which it takes from a bath of buttermilk and habanero sauce. It’s the style served at Prince’s Hot Chicken down South. Here’s how to make it at home.

A platter of Nashville hot fried chicken with a jar of whipped butter in the background.

Hot and spicy enough to make you holler. That’s what we think about this Nashville hot fried chicken. Which is exactly how they like their fried chicken in Nashville. The folks who crafted this recipe rely on Tabasco hot sauce for the Nashville-style hot chicken experience. But that doesn’t mean you can’t tweak tradition if you fancy an alternate hot sauce. It’s all good. Really, really good.–Renee Schettler

Nashville Hot Fried Chicken

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 40 M
  • 55 M
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 2 reviews
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Special Equipment: Deep-fry or candy or instant-read thermometer



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.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Place a wire rack in a roasting pan or on a rimmed baking sheet.

Pour enough oil in a large, deep skillet to reach a depth of 1 inch. Heat the oil to 325°F (163°C).

Combine the flour, salt, pepper, and onion powder in a shallow bowl.

Remove the chicken from the buttermilk mixture, allowing any excess liquid to drip off, and discard the mixture. Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess.

Fry the drumsticks 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 forget to pass the napkins—lots of napkins. Originally published April 29, 2014.

Print RecipeBuy the Southern Living: No Taste Like Home cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Recipe Testers' Reviews

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.

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!


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  1. This may be one of the simplest but most delicious versions of fried chicken I have tried. I might of been too timid to use the habanero, baby steps here, so I used Crystal or Franks, and it scales down for even just a few pieces. Fried chicken seemed like such a big “fussaria” that my mom almost never made it, so I am thrilled to find ways to make it at home, especially now when the idea of going out to dinner is too daunting. This is a “when are you making it again please” item now!

    1. We’re so happy you loved this, Irene, and thanks for taking the time to let us know!

  2. 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!

    1. 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.

  3. 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!

    1. 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.

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