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Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwiches

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You haven’t lived until you’ve tried a Nashville hot chicken sandwich! Typically this sandwich is made of breast meat, but skinless, boneless thighs work just as well.

BGDR’s Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwiches
Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwiches

I like to take my sandwiches to the next level by topping the chicken with Comeback Sauce and Fried Pickles. You can also add our popular Sandwich Slaw.

What is Nashville hot chicken?

This style of chicken was born in Nashville and typically involved the breast, thigh, and wing portions. The chicken is breaded, fried, and then coated in a lip-smacking cayenne pepper sauce. Some folks bread their chicken, while others don’t. Despite these preferences, this Nashville specialty has grown quite popular in Southern states and beyond.

Ingredients for Nashville hot chicken sandwiches:

  • Brine: The chicken will need to spend some time in a simple buttermilk brine. Plan on 6-12 hours. I usually start the process in the morning and give them at least 7-8 hours of brine time.
  • Spice: This chicken sandwich is meant to be spicy, but you can certainly tone down the amount of cayenne used in the recipe. Just add more paprika for that deep red color or smoked paprika for a deeper flavor.
  • Frying oil: I recommend using peanut, soybean, canola, or vegetable oil for this recipe. My number one pick is peanut, but I understand that people have allergies and may need substitutes. You can also use Crisco or some variant thereof.
  • Toppings: Try this recipe topped with southern chow chow (a green tomato relish) or any sandwich topping of your choice.
  • Buns: I highly recommend brioche buns for this recipe. Because of its high butter and egg content, this style of bread is tender and delicious. If you cannot find brioche buns at your local market, try potato buns or standard hamburger buns.
  • Cast-Iron Skillet: You’ll need a 12″ cast-iron skillet or pot for this recipe.
  • Instant-read thermometer

Making Nashville hot chicken sandwiches:

  • If using chicken breasts, place them between two pieces of plastic wrap and flatten them to an even thickness with a kitchen mallet. Aim for 1/2″ thickness.
  • Combine 1 ½ cups of buttermilk with 1 ½ tablespoon of coarse salt. Let the mixture stand for a few minutes until the salt has dissolved.
  • Place chicken into a resealable plastic bag and pour buttermilk mixture over the top. Turn chicken to coat both sides. Seal the bag and place it into the refrigerator for 6-12 hours.
  • Once brined, remove chicken from bag, wipe them off with a paper towel, and place them onto a clean plate. Discard the bag and the marinade.
Nashville hot chicken sandwich

Frying and Assembling:

  • Heat a 12″ skillet and add oil until it is about 3″ high. Heat until it reaches between 375-385 degrees F.
  • While the pan is heating, combine 1 ½- 2 cups buttermilk with egg on a large low-rimmed bowl and set aside. Combine flour with salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, and onion powder. Dredge chicken in the buttermilk-egg mixture, then coat both sides with the flour mixture. Set onto a parchment-lined platter until all 4 breasts have been coated.
  • Once the oil is up to temp, add 2 chicken breasts and fry each side for 5 minutes (depending on size and thickness). Once the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, it is done.
  • When cooked through, remove and place the chicken onto a write rack over a parchment-lined baking sheet to drain. Add the next two breasts to the skillet and repeat the process
  • While the chicken is frying, it’s time to prepare the spicy after sauce. Melt butter in a medium skillet and add sugar and spices to butter. Let mixture sizzle for a minute or two until spices start to bloom and mixture forms into a paste.
  • Promptly remove sauce from heat and brush mixture onto both sides of the fried chicken breasts (or thighs). Serve in toasted brioche buns, topped with pickles (fresh or fried), sandwich slaw, and comeback sauce. Viola! Nashville hot chicken sandwiches!
Nashville Hot Chicken sandwiches with fries on a cutting board.

TIP:

Chicken must be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. for safe consumption. Check the thickest part of the meat with an instant-read thermometer. Flattening the breasts will help them cook faster. See recipe for details.

Want your Nashville hot chicken sandwiches more smoky and less spicy? Try using my Smoked Chicken Breasts.

BGDR’s Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwiches

Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwiches

You haven’t lived till you’ve tried a Nashville hot chicken sandwich! I like to top mine with a little comeback sauce and fried pickles, taking it to the next level. You can also add a little sandwich slaw. Now, you will need to brine these chicken breasts, but it will be worth it.
Photo by: bhofack2/Depositphotos
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: fried chicken sandwich, Nashville hot chicken, Nashville hot chicken sandwich, southern cooking
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 979kcal
Author: Derrick Riches and Sabrina Baksh

Ingredients

  • 4 medium chicken breasts or 4 large thighs boneless and skinless
  • 4 brioche buns toasted and buttered
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
  • comeback sauce
  • sandwich slaw
  • dill pickle slices or deep-fried pickles
  • For frying:
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 1/2-2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 egg beaten
  • Frying oil
  • After sauce:
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika or 1/2 Tbsp regular paprika and 1/2 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Place chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and flatten them to an even thickness with a kitchen mallet. Aim for 1/2″ thickness.
  • Combine 1 ½ cups of buttermilk with 1 ½ tablespoon of coarse salt. Let the mixture stand for a few minutes until the salt has dissolved.
  • Place chicken into a resealable plastic bag and pour buttermilk mixture over the top. Turn chicken to coat both sides. Seal the bag and place it into the refrigerator for 6-12 hours.
  • Once brined, remove chicken from bag, wipe them off with a paper towel, and place them onto a clean plate. Discard the bag and the marinade.
  • Heat a 12″ skillet and add oil until it is about 3″ high. Heat until it reaches between 375-385 degrees F.
  • While the pan is heating, combine 1 ½- 2 cups buttermilk with egg on a large low-rimmed bowl and set aside. Combine flour with salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, and onion powder. Dredge chicken in the buttermilk-egg mixture, then coat both sides with the flour mixture. Set onto a parchment-lined platter until all 4 breasts have been coated.
  • Once the oil is up to temp, add 2 chicken breasts and fry each side for 5 minutes (depending on size and thickness). Once the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, it is done.
  • Once cooked, remove and place them onto a write rack over a parchment-lined baking sheet to drain. Add the next two breasts to the skillet and repeat the process.
  • While the chicken is frying, it’s time to prepare the spicy after sauce. Melt butter in a medium skillet and add sugar and spices to butter. Let mixture sizzle for a minute or two until spices start to bloom and mixture forms into a paste.
  • Promptly remove sauce from heat and brush mixture onto both sides of the fried chicken breasts (or thighs). Serve in toasted brioche buns, topped with pickles (fresh or fried), sandwich slaw, and come back sauce. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 979kcal | Carbohydrates: 90g | Protein: 71g | Fat: 56g | Saturated Fat: 31g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 410mg | Sodium: 4494mg | Potassium: 1255mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 2897IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 311mg | Iron: 5mg

Get the Equipment – Deep Fryer Thermometer

KT Thermo Deep Fry Thermometer

KT Thermo Deep Fry Thermometer

Maintaining the correct oil temperature is vital to great frying. To monitor temperatures doesn’t take a lot of technology, but it does require the right kind of thermometer. Instant read meat thermometers are designed to read at meat cooking temperatures. Since fryer oil is heated to much higher degrees, use a thermometer like this one to do the job right.

Derrick Riches

I began writing about Barbecue & Grilling in 1997 with one mission, to help the backyard chef have the best experience possible.

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