Nashville Hot Chicken

Nashville Hot Chicken is everything the name promises- it’s sticky, juicy, and the perfect amount of spice that lights up your taste buds. This delicious air-fried chicken is smothered in Nashville hot sauce that is spoon-licking good!

I love spicy fried chicken. Well, let’s be honest, I love ALL fried chicken. And chicken recipes in general! You can make so many incredible meals with chicken, which is why I can’t get enough of it. Some of my current favorites are this Easy Chicken Lombardy Recipe, this ready in minutes Tender and Juicy Air Fryer Chicken, and this full of flavor Baked Honey Sesame Chicken!

Nashville hot chicken on parchment on a plate with pickles next to it.

Nashville Hot Chicken

Ok, let’s talk about the name. Nashville hot chicken comes from, you guessed it, Nashville! It gets its name from the Nashville hot sauce that is slathered on top of this delicious and crispy fried chicken. The sauce has a base of cayenne pepper, which is what gives it a great kick. You can make the sauce at home! I’ve linked a recipe in the recipe card. You can also adjust the spice level by adding or taking away cayenne pepper, so that’s a great perk if you like it one way or the other.

I am not a spicey food junky, so I’d call the recipe a medium spice level. But I fell in love with this dish as soon as I took the first bite! I am a huge fan of air fryer chicken, I’ve even cooked a whole chicken in it! From air fryer chicken legs to tossing in some frozen chicken wings, I’ve never tried air fryer chicken I didn’t like. This recipe was especially good! If you don’t have an air fryer, don’t worry. I’ve got some tips for frying up some delicious and crispy chicken in your oven or on the stove below.


You don’t need very many ingredients to make this Nashville hot chicken recipe! It really will become one of your favorite recipes because it is just too good! I honestly can’t wait to make this recipe again. Find the exact measurements listed in the recipe box below.

  • Bone-In Chicken Thighs and Legs: You are making fried chicken, and these are my favorite parts! Of course you could use whatever part of the chicken you like best, but I just feel like thighs and legs have the most flavor. You would need to adjust the cooking time if you were making smaller parts like wings.
  • Buttermilk: Buttermilk is slightly fermented milk. It has a great tangy flavor similar to yogurt and really brings the flavor! If you don’t have it on hand, you can make it at home using whole milk.
  • Eggs: I always use large grade A eggs in my recipes.
  • Flour: This is for the breading on the outside of the chicken.
  • Garlic Powder: You’ll want to use dry garlic because this is mixed in with the flour for your batter.
  • Onion Powder: The dried powder adds great flavor to the breading!
  • Paprika: This adds just a little kick to the breading.
  • Salt: You will use some to season the chicken as well as the breading.
  • Pepper: You will use some to season the chicken as well as the breading.
  • Olive Oil Spray: This is for spraying the chicken in the air fryer.
  • Nashville Hot Chicken Sauce: This is the best hot sauce you will ever have! It’s made from cayenne pepper, other spices and brown sugar, it’s sweet and spicy and perfect on fried chicken!
Process photos showing raw chicken seasoned with salt, then dipped in flour, then dipped in egg, then dipped in flour again.

Nashville Hot Chicken Recipe

Fried chicken is so easy to make in the air fryer! Don’t worry if you don’t have one, below in the tip box I’ve added other methods for frying the chicken. This hot sauce is so incredible, I can’t wait for you to taste it!

  1. Whisk: Salt and pepper chicken thighs and legs. In a medium sized bowl add the buttermilk and eggs and whisk. In another medium sized bowl add the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and pepper.
  2. Dredge: Using tongs, dredge the chicken in the flour, then the buttermilk, and then lastly in the flour. Place in the bottom of the air fryer basket.
  3. Cook: Cook at 360 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Open the basket and spray any flour with the cooking spray. Turn the chicken and cook for another 5-10 minutes until 165 degrees and no longer pink.
  4. Make Sauce: Prepare the Nashville hot chicken sauce according to the instructions in the link while your chicken is cooking.
  5. Baste: Immediately baste the hot chicken with the sauce and enjoy!
Nashville hot sauce in a jar.

Ways to Fry the Chicken

You can absolutely make this recipe if you don’t have an air fryer! Here are a few different methods for frying the chicken that I love and have used before.

  • Deep Fried: The classic and probably the best tasting! Who doesn’t love a good ol’ piece of deep fried chicken? You can use this exact recipe, but instead of putting the chicken in the air fryer, you will heat a large pot of oil (vegetable oil works great) to 350 degrees. Only cook 3-4 pieces at a time, you don’t want the oil temperature to drop too much or the chicken won’t cook well. They should take about 14 minutes to cook, and make sure to turn the pieces about half way through. Cook until the internal temperature is 165 degrees.
  • Oven Fried: Preheat your oven to 390 degrees. Prepare the chicken as instructed up until you place it in the air fryer. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the chicken on the sheet and spray with cooking oil. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
Nashville fried chicken with pickles on a plate.

Storing Leftovers

We all know how leftover fried chicken is, and Nashville hot chicken is no exception! It’s hard to keep crispy, and it is never the same as when it’s fresh. So of course I recommend making it day of, but if you do end up with leftovers here are some tips.

In the Refrigerator: Store your leftover chicken in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge. To reheat, you will want to slowly warm them up in the oven to help the breading crisp up again.