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Crisp and spicy with tender meat inside, this Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich recipe serves up delicious fried chicken with coleslaw and pickle chips on toasted brioche buns.

close up side view of nashville hot chicken sandwich

Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack in Nashville is credited as the birthplace of Nashville Hot Chicken.

And this fiery chicken sandwich that hails from Tennessee has a spicy story to go along with it!

As legend has it, in the 1930’s Thornton Prince was quite a looker, and a man-about-town who got along well with the ladies. After stepping out on his steady girl one Saturday night, supposedly she served him up scorching hot chicken on Sunday to teach him a lesson. And he loved it so much, the rest is history! (You can read more about the story on NPR.)

spread of nashville hot chicken meal with fries and coleslaw

The way they make this chicken in Nashville is intense. It’ll have your lips burning, nose running, and face sweating! In this homemade version, we tamed the heat just a little bit so that even people who don’t love mouth-on-fire-heat can enjoy it. However, feel free to bump up the cayenne a bit if you want.

If you’re a fan of spicy fried chicken, get ready for your new favorite sandwich!

hot chicken meal

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Crispy, crunchy, flavor-packed fried chicken basted with a spicy sauce will make your taste buds sing! Served on a toasted bun or white bread topped with creamy coleslaw and pickle chips, it’s the sandwich of your dreams.

side dish of coleslaw

Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwiches Recipe

This recipe isn’t overly difficult to make, but it is a process. Read the full recipe below before starting so you don’t miss a step.

Ingredients

ingredients for nashville hot chicken sandwich recipe

Sandwich Ingredients:

  • Chicken breasts
  • Buttermilk marinade (recipe below)
  • Seasoned flour (recipe below)
  • Oil, for shallow frying
  • Buns + butter to toast them
  • Pickle chips
  • Coleslaw

Nashville Hot Sauce Ingredients:

  • Unsalted butter
  • Hot oil from frying the chicken
  • Hot sauce
  • Light brown sugar
  • Chili powder
  • Sweet paprika
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Black pepper
dredged chicken

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Marinate the Chicken:

The spiced buttermilk marinade not only adds flavor, but also tenderizes the chicken. The end result is tender, juicy meat!

Make sure to marinate the chicken for at least 2 hours, or up to 1 day.

Step 2: Dredge and Fry the Chicken:

Dredge the chicken in our homemade seasoned flour, and then shallow fry it in a heavy-bottomed skillet or Dutch oven.

Step 3: Baste the Chicken with Nashville Hot Sauce:

Generously brush the tops of the fried chicken with our homemade Nashville Hot Sauce.

Step 4: Assemble the Sandwiches:

Serve the fried chicken on toasted buns topped with coleslaw and pickle chips.

Storage

Store leftover fried chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

To reheat fried chicken in the oven, preheat the oven to 400F. Put the chicken on a wire rack on top of a baking tray and bake until warm, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Alternatively, you can reheat leftover fried chicken in an air fryer! To do so, preheat the air fryer to 375F. Air fry the chicken in a single layer for 4 to 5 minutes, flipping once halfway through.

hands picking up nashville hot chicken sandwich

Tips

  • Instead of chicken breasts, you can use 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs if you prefer.
  • For frying this chicken, a heavy-bottomed, deep-sided cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven works well.
  • Our homemade coleslaw has a creamy base with a perfect balance of sweet and tangy flavor. It’s absolutely perfect for cooling down and complementing this sandwich! But if you’re pressed for time, feel free to use store-bought coleslaw instead. Or just slather on some mayo!
nashville hot chicken sandwich graphic

Nashville Hot Chicken FAQs

What is in a Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich?

A Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich features crispy breaded and fried chicken that’s generously brushed with spicy-sweet Nashville Hot Chicken Sauce after frying.

The flavor-packed, fiery hot fried chicken is served on a toasted bun or white bread along with pickle chips and either mayo or creamy coleslaw.

What is Nashville Hot Sauce?

Nashville Hot Sauce is a fiery blend of melted butter, hot frying oil, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, and other spices and seasonings.

In this recipe, the other spices and seasonings we use are chili powder, sweet paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.

chicken sandwich with bite

What Makes Nashville Hot Chicken Hot?

Hot sauce and cayenne pepper make this chicken sandwich so hot!

Hot sauce is in the marinade and in sauce that’s brushed on the chicken after it’s fried. Additionally, cayenne pepper adds a kick to the seasoned flour mixture, as well as the finishing sauce.

What Goes with Nashville Hot Chicken?

You can serve this up with any side dishes you’d find at a barbeque, potluck, or picnic. It’s also a good food for Derby Day!

Coleslaw, potato salad, mac and cheese, baked beans, or cornbread all pair well. Or go with potato chips or French fries.

making nashville hot chicken sandwich

More Recipes for a Southern Style Potluck

chicken sandwiches on wooden board

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Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwiches

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Other Time2 hours
Yields: 4 servings
Crisp and spicy with tender meat inside, this Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich serves up delicious fried chicken with coleslaw and pickle chips on toasted brioche buns.

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Ingredients
 

Chicken Sandwiches:

  • 2 large chicken breasts cut into 4 pieces (see Notes)
  • Oil for shallow frying (such as peanut oil or vegetable oil)
  • 4 brioche buns or Hawaiian rolls
  • 4 tablespoons butter to toast the buns
  • 16 pickle chips bread and butter pickle chips or dill pickle chips

Buttermilk Marinade:

Seasoned Flour:

Nashville Hot Chicken Sauce:

Coleslaw:

  • 3 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
  • 1 cup thinly sliced white onion
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1/2 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper

Instructions
 

To Prep the Chicken:

  • Cut each chicken breast in half. Lay a piece of chicken onto a cutting board, place a piece of plastic wrap on top, and pound it briefly with a meat mallet until it’s an even thickness (we don’t want it super thin for this). Continue with the remaining 3 pieces of chicken.

For the Buttermilk Marinade:

  • Add all ingredients to a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 1 day.

For the Seasoned Flour:

  • After the chicken is marinated, add all ingredients for the seasoned flour to a shallow bowl and whisk to combine.
  • Place 1 piece of chicken in the flour mixture at a time, and dredge it on both sides.

To Fry the Chicken:

  • Add about 1 1/2 inches of oil to the bottom of a Dutch oven or large cast-iron skillet with deep sides. Heat the oil until it reaches 350F. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown on both sides, and the internal temperature reaches 165F on an instant-read thermometer. This takes about 4 minutes on the first side and 3 to 4 minutes on the second side. Adjust the heat up or down as needed to keep the temperature as close to 350F as you can.
  • Once cooked, transfer the chicken to a rack on top of a baking tray in an oven preheated to 200F to keep it warm until serving.

For the Nashville Hot Chicken Sauce:

  • Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. Brush this mixture onto the chicken while it's still hot.

For the Coleslaw:

  • Stir together all ingredients in a large bowl.

To Toast the Buns:

  • Slice the buns in half horizontally and spread 1/2 tablespoon butter on each half. Place the buns (butter side down) onto a griddle or skillet over medium-low heat. Cook until the cut side is light golden brown.

To Assemble the Sandwiches:

  • Spread 1 tablespoon mayo on the inside of the bottom half of each toasted bun. Top each with a piece of chicken, a scoop of the coleslaw, 4 pickles, and then the top half of each toasted bun.
  • Serve immediately.

Video

Notes

  • Chicken Breasts: Instead of chicken breasts, you can use 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs if you prefer.
  • What Pan to Fry In: For frying this chicken, a heavy-bottomed, deep-sided cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven works well.
  • Coleslaw: Once the coleslaw is made, you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. It will soften and get more liquid-y over time.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sandwich | Calories: 1013kcal | Carbohydrates: 82g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 59g | Saturated Fat: 25g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 272mg | Sodium: 2811mg | Potassium: 805mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 2406IU | Vitamin C: 39mg | Calcium: 179mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Main Course, Sandwiches
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Nashville Hot Chicken, Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich, Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich Recipe

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Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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