Nashville Hot Fried Chicken: The Spicy Delight of the South

Nashville hot fried chicken is the popular spicy and beloved delicacy of southern cuisine, with origins tracing back to the 1930s in Nashville, Tennessee. This dish is famous for its unique and fiery seasoning, crispy texture, and unforgettable flavor—a must-try for anyone who enjoys spicy food or wants to savor the best southern cuisine.

What’s the story behind Nashville hot chicken?

The story behind Nashville hot chicken is rooted in a legend of romantic revenge. Thornton Prince, the owner of Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, fought with his lover, who retaliated by seasoning his fried chicken with an extreme blend of cayenne pepper and spices. To his surprise, he discovered he loved the spicy chicken and began serving it at his restaurant. The rest is history.

What makes Nashville hot chicken unique?

What sets Nashville hot chicken apart is the unique combination of spices used in its preparation. First, the chicken is marinated in a spicy seasoning blend that typically includes cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and other spices. The chicken is then coated in a flour mixture and deep-fried until it’s crispy and golden brown. Afterward, the chicken is brushed with a spicy oil or sauce ranging from mild to extremely hot, depending on the chef’s preference.

How to make the Famous Nashville hot fried chicken?

Making Nashville hot fried chicken can be time-consuming, but the results are worth it. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make this spicy delicacy.

Ingredients for Nashville hot fried chicken:

  • Chicken (preferably bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs)
  • Flour mixture (flour, salt, pepper, and other seasonings of choice)
  • Spices and seasonings (cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and other spices of choice)
  • Oil for frying (canola, vegetable, or peanut oil)

Preparation of Nashville hot fried chicken:

  1. Brine the chicken: Give your chicken a good soak in a mixture of salt, sugar, and water for at least 2 hours or overnight. This helps to keep it juicy and tender, so don’t skip this step!
  2. Coat the chicken in flour mixture: In a bowl, mix flour, salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you like. Then, give each chicken piece a good coat in the flour mixture and shake off any excess.
  3. Fry that chicken up: Heat your oil in a deep pot or fryer until it reaches 350°F. Carefully place your chicken in the oil and let it fry for 12-15 minutes or until it’s crispy and golden brown.
  4. Get saucy: While your chicken is frying, whip up that spicy sauce by heating oil in a saucepan and adding cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and any other spices that tickle your fancy. Once your chicken is done frying, give it a good brush with that spicy oil and let it soak up all those delicious flavors.

The Spicy Sauce

Nashville hot fried chicken’s spicy sauce is the crowning touch that elevates this beloved southern delicacy to the next level. 

This fiery sauce packs a punch with its potent blend of cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and other spices, all mixed with vegetable oil or melted lard. This is what gives Nashville hot chicken its signature heat and flavor and is a key element in making this dish an unforgettable culinary experience.

Here is how you can recreate the sauce from home:

Ingredients for the spicy sauce:

  • 1/2 cup cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil or melted lard

Making the spicy sauce:

  1. Combine all the dry ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Heat the oil in a saucepan until hot but not smoking.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the hot oil and stir well to combine.

Using the spicy sauce on the chicken:

Once the chicken is fried to a crispy golden brown, let it take a breather on a wire rack to drain any excess oil. Then, using a brush or spoon, slather that spicy sauce all over that chicken, making sure every inch is coated in goodness. 

If you’re not a fan of super-spicy food, you can use less sauce for a milder kick. But if you enjoy sweating while you eat, feel free to add more cayenne pepper or other spices for an even hotter flavor.

Serving Nashville hot fried chicken:

Nashville hot fried chicken is like a party on a plate and it’s even better when you invite some southern sides to join in on the fun. Think coleslaw, potato salad, mac and cheese, and cornbread, all served up alongside that spicy chicken goodness. 

Some people like to spice things up even more by adding pickles, honey, or hot sauce to the mix. Whether you’re going for classic or non-traditional, there’s no wrong way to enjoy Nashville hot fried chicken.

Classic Serving Options

If you’re looking for some tasty serving suggestions for your Nashville hot fried chicken, here are some classic ways to enjoy it:

  • Topped with pickles and served on white bread with a side of coleslaw.
  • Paired with some creamy mac and cheese and collard greens.
  • Accompanied by some tangy potato salad and baked beans.

Non-traditional Serving Options

Feeling adventurous? Here are some non-traditional serving ideas that are sure to spice things up:

  • Placed on top of a fluffy waffle or biscuit and drizzled with honey or maple syrup.
  • Sandwiched between two pieces of bread with lettuce, tomato, and mayo.
  • Used as a topping for a pizza or a burger to create the ultimate spicy meal. 

Sides and accompaniments:

Nashville hot fried chicken is like the cool kid at school, it gets along with everyone! It pairs well with a variety of sides and accompaniments, giving you plenty of options to mix and match. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Coleslaw: A classic side dish that adds a refreshing crunch and balance to the spicy chicken.
  • Potato salad: Creamy and tangy, potato salad is the perfect side dish to complement the hot and crispy chicken.
  • Mac and cheese: A rich and cheesy side dish that will satisfy any comfort food cravings and make your taste buds sing.
  • Cornbread: A staple of southern cuisine, cornbread is a perfect side dish for any fried chicken dish.
  • Baked beans: Sweet and savory baked beans are a great side dish to balance the heat of the spicy chicken.
  • Sweet potato fries: Sweet potato fries are a healthier alternative to regular fries and complement the spicy chicken perfectly. So, go ahead and mix and match until you find the perfect combination that makes your taste buds dance.

Enjoying Nashville Hot Fried Chicken at Home

Nashville hot fried chicken is a popular and delicious dish that has become a staple of southern cuisine. The spicy seasoning, crispy texture, and mouth-watering flavor make it a must-try for anyone who loves fried chicken or spicy food. 

Making Nashville hot fried chicken at home may seem intimidating, but anyone can enjoy this spicy delicacy with the right ingredients and technique. Whether served traditionally or with non-traditional sides, at home, or in restaurants like Main Bird, Nashville hot fried chicken will satisfy any craving and leave a lasting impression.

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