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Improved Nashville Fried Chicken Recipe

Nashville hot chicken in serving basket
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4.44 from 83 votes
If you like fried chicken and the tang of Buffalo chicken wings, this recipe is for you. Popularized in Nashville, this recipe puts some extra zip in your fried chicken. Variations include crispy fried chicken that is dipped, brushed, or showered with some kind of hot pepper mixture. Some even put hot pepper in the fry oil. Most places guard their recipe as carefully as KFC guards theirs, but here's my unguarded, improved version.

Serve with: pale ale or pilsner.

Main Course


Servings: 10 pieces of chicken


Prep Time: 15 minutes


About the oil. You can use just about any oil you want. Many restaurants use the oil they fried with. I have done it with a blend of butter and bacon. Duck fat anyone?
About the chiles. I use chipotle powder and cayenne. Chipotle is not bright red as you might want. To get the bright red color use really fresh bright red pepper flakes.
About the salt. Remember, Morton coarse kosher salt is half the concentration of table salt so if you use table salt, use half as much. Click here to read more about salt and how it works.
Metric conversion:

These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page


  • Prep. Begin by making the hot oil. Pour the vegetable oil in a small pot or pan over medium heat. Add the chile flakes, brown sugar, paprika, mustard powder, pepper, garlic powder, and salt. Turn the heat to its lowest setting, and let the mixture sit for 30 minutes or so to fully extract the flavors. Set it aside. You can refrigerate for a day or two. To make a lighter more subtle burn, pour through a fine mess strainer and push down on the pulp with a large spoon to extract as much oil as possible. The chicken will not be dark red, but the heat will be there (shown in picture).
  • Cook. Use this recipe and technique for fried chicken on the grill. Please note that the chicken is fried in fresh oil, not the hot oil from step 1.
  • After frying the chicken, paint the hot oil on the chicken with a basting brush.
  • Serve. Tradition says to serve with pickle slices on white bread.