Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich

Crispy and crackly with just the right amount of tantalizing, mouth-burning spice. Make a deliciously spicy Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich!

For spicy lovers everywhere, this hot chicken sandwich was made for you! Just one bite and you’ll be swooning. I promise!

Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwiches are fried chicken sandwiches on steroids. Spicy steroids, that is! SO much intense spicy goodness.

What’s a Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich?

Nashville Hot Chicken is a type of fried chicken that originates in Nashville, TN. A thick, crunchy batter and generous slather of spicy oil makes hot chicken a local favorite that everyone is loving these days!

In sandwich form — with boneless skinless chicken — it’s especially delicious. The star is the Hot Chicken — fried chicken that’s lavishly basted in a spicy oil. Don’t skimp on the oil — it’s addictively savory and spicy with a touch of sweetness. Soft white buns, tangy pickles, creamy mayo, and crispy fresh cabbage makes for an utterly unforgettable treat. YUM!

If you ever thought fried chicken sandwiches were too tame and boring — a Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich is calling your name!

Nashville Hot Chicken on cooling rack, brushed with spicy oil

Ingredients:

  • Chicken thighs. For juicy, tender, flavorful fried chicken. I prefer boneless, skinless chicken thighs over boneless, skinless chicken breast. But you can easily sub with breast if you prefer. Make sure to halve chicken breast lengthwise and pound out to even thickness.
  • Buttermilk + Eggs + Tabasco. The wet mixture that creates a thick, crunchy coating.
  • Flour + Salt + Pepper. The dry mixture. Don’t skimp on the salt and pepper!
  • Spicy Oil. A mixture of cayenne, brown sugar, garlic powder, and smoked paprika.

To assemble:

  • White Bread/Buns. Adds to the homey, comfort factor. Any kind of soft, white bread works. Thick sandwich bread, milk bread, or even brioche buns.
  • Mayo. I recommend Hellman’s or Kewpie.
  • Pickles. Flat, sandwich-style pickles or pickle chips are A MUST!
  • Green cabbage. Shredded cabbage adds crisp freshness. If you’d like to go all out, I recommend subbing with Lime Cilantro Slaw instead.

Instructions:

  1. Prep dredging station: In one bowl, combine buttermilk, eggs, and tabasco sauce. In another bowl, combine flour and salt.
  2. Dredge chicken: coat chicken with flour on both sides, then dip into the buttermilk mixture, and finally finish with flour. Set aside on a plate.
  3. Deep fry: Add 2 inches of oil to a Dutch oven. Fry at 350F until crispy and crackly.
  4. Make spicy oil: Combine dry ingredients in a heat-proof bowl. Add oil from the Dutch oven and let the flavors combine. It will sizzle!
  5. Brush spicy oil: Baste fried chicken with spicy oil. Essential step to make the hot chicken!
  6. Assemble sandwiches: layer bread, hot chicken, cabbage, mayo, bread. Enjoy!

Pro Tips:

  • Create extra craggy batter. Add 1-2 Tbsp buttermilk mixture into the flour and gently mix before dredging. This creates all those shaggy, extra craggy bits of batter.
  • When dredging, start + end with flour. Essential to get that extra chunky texture! Start with flour. Then coat with buttermilk. Then end with another coating of flour.
  • Season buttermilk mixture + flour. The buttermilk mixture is seasoned with Tabasco. The flour mixture is seasoned with salt and pepper. Do not skimp on the seasoning!
  • Set up deep frying station. To deep fry at home, use a Dutch oven to regulate the oil temperature and prevent splashing. A candy thermometer clipped to the side is also helpful. And don’t forget the tools of deep frying: tongs for flipping the chicken (chopsticks also work) and a Spider strainer.
  • Transfer chicken to cooling rack fitted over a sheet pan. The air circulates all around the chicken, keeping the chicken crispy and crunchy, not soggy.
  • Deep fry 2x for extra crispy chicken. The first time, fry as per usual. The second time, fry for an additional 30-60 seconds. Double frying will yield extra crispy and crunchy chicken.
  • Brush spicy oil while the chicken is still hot. For best flavor! Also, makes it less greasy.
  • Double the chicken for big eaters. Simply add 2 hot chicken pieces to the sandwich.
Tray of fried chicken with bowl of spicy oil and brush in the corner

Make it a party:

Nashville Chicken Sandwiches are the BEST party food. In fact, I’ve only made hot chicken sandwiches for a crowd.

Good for game days, Superbowl, Oscar Night, or anytime you have lots of people mingling and hanging out.

What makes it ideal party food?

  • No utensils necessary. Grab a plate and eat with your hands!
  • Good at room temperature.
  • Easy prep — everything can be made ahead of time.
  • Special and unexpected. The secret to great party food!
  • Add easy sides: potato chips, fruit, vegetables + dip.

Adjust spice level:

Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwiches are meant to be spicy. But not everyone has the same spice tolerance.

An easy way to accommodate all the eaters in your life, especially at a party:

  • For spice lovers, brush spicy oil on both sides.
  • For spice novices, brush spicy oil on one side.
  • For spice intolerants, do not add any oil. An easy way to accommodate toddlers, kids, and those who cannot tolerate spice at all.

FAQ

Can I double the recipe?

Yes, the recipe easily doubles and triples.  However, when doubling, the buttermilk/egg mixture does not need doubling.  Just keep the same amount as for the 8 serving portion.

What kind of oil should I use to deep fry the chicken?

Any neutral flavored oil with a high smoke point works well. I recommend grape seed oil, avocado oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, or peanut oil. I don’t recommend olive oil or sesame oil, as they burn easily and will taste bitter.

What should I do with the leftover oil?

It’s really up to you. Some people throw out the leftover oil. I reuse the oil, if it’s not too dark.

To store leftover oil: cool completely then strain with a sieve to get rid of the crumbs and debris. Store in a glass jar in a cool, dark place.

Why is the serving portion so large?

The serving portion is meant for a party, 8 servings. Feel free to halve for 4 portions. Or, simply fry 8 chicken pieces and everyone can eat a double chicken sandwich!

Other chicken recipes to love:

Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich on dark plate with jar of pickles and plate of fried chicken in background

Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich

The Subversive Table | Lis Lam
Crispy and crackly with just the right amount of mouth-burning spice. Make a deliciously spicy Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Superbowl Party Food
Cuisine American
Servings 8 sandwiches
Calories

Equipment

  • Dutch oven
  • candy thermometer
  • tongs or spider strainer
  • Cooling rack
  • 2 Sheet Pans

Ingredients
  

Fried Chicken:

  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp Tabasco
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Spicy Oil:

  • 3 Tbsp cayenne
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

To serve:

  • 8 White Buns/ 16 slices white bread
  • 1 jar flat sandwich-style pickles
  • mayonnaise
  • 1/2 small head green cabbage, finely shredded

Instructions
 

  • Prep dredging station: Whisk eggs, buttermilk, and Tabasco in a medium bowl. Set aside. Whisk flour, salt, and pepper in a separate bowl. Set aside.
    chicken thighs in bowl with bowls of buttermilk, flour, and egg shells on the side
  • Dredge chicken: Dredge chicken thighs, starting and ending with flour mixture. First, coat chicken with flour. Then dip chicken into buttermilk mixture. Finally, dip into the flour mixture once again. Set aside finished pieces on a clean plate until all chicken thighs are dredged.
    dredged chicken thighs on white plate
  • Deep fry: Attach a candy thermometer to the side of a large Dutch oven. (You can also use a regular pot. I recommend a stock pot with high sides.) Fill with 2 inches neutral oil (I use grapeseed oil). The goal is for the chicken to float (slightly) in the oil. Once the oil reaches 350F, fry the chicken in batches until golden brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes total. Flip about halfway through to make sure both sides are evenly fried.
    cast iron dutch oven with candy thermometer attached
  • *Make sure not to crowd the pan so that the oil temperature does not fluctuate too much.
  • Transfer cooked chicken to cooling rack fitted over a sheet pan.
    Tray of fried chicken with bowl of spicy oil and brush in the corner

Spicy Oil:

  • In a medium, heat-proof bowl, combine the cayenne, smoked paprika, brown sugar, and garlic powder.
  • Gently add 1/2 cup of hot oil from the dutch oven. The oil should bubble up and foam. Mix gently with heat-proof spoon (not plastic).
  • Brush the spicy oil onto fried chicken while it's still hot. Be generous with the oil. For spicy lovers, brush both sides of the chicken. For less spicy eaters, brush only 1 side of the chicken. If the oil gets too chunky, add more oil.
    Nashville Hot Chicken on cooling rack, brushed with spicy oil

Assemble:

  • Butter and toast brioche buns. Set aside on a sheet pan.
    Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich on dark plate with jar of pickles and plate of fried chicken in background
  • Assemble hot chicken sandwiches in layers: bread, hot chicken, cabbage, mayo, bread.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!

Notes

*Cooling rack is optional.  I find that it keeps the chicken crispier when making big batches. (More than 8 portions).
**This recipes easily doubles and triples.  However, when doubling, the buttermilk/egg mixture does not need doubling.  Just keep the same amount as for the 8 person portion and it should be plenty.  
 
Keyword Nashville Hot Chicken, Sandwich
All Recipes, Chicken, Dinner with Friends, Main, Potluck

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