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Baked Nashville Hot Chicken Recipe

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Nashville hot chicken is a regional favorite that is unlike any spicy chicken you’ve had before. With notes of hot, spicy, and sweet, you’ll want to make this baked Nashville hot chicken recipe for everyone you know.

Baked Nashville Hot Chicken Recipe

There are many variations of Nashville hot chicken available today. Our recipe encompasses all of the traditional flavors with an easy preparation suitable for the home cook. This recipe utilizes the oven for crispy baked chicken with less mess. There is no need to fuss with deep frying in this Nashville chicken recipe!

The dish has its own unique juicy history too. Sometime around the 1930s, the girlfriend of Thornton Prince, seeking revenge after one of his late-night escapades, served him the hottest spiciest fried chicken she could make. Well, her plan of revenge backfired. He loved it. He loved it so much that his family started Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack.

Nashville Hot Chicken became one of our country’s beloved culinary treasures with deep roots in the African American community. If you can’t take a trip to Tennessee, this recipe honors the authenticity of a true Nashville hot chicken.

How To Make Baked Nashville Hot Chicken

Baked Nashville Hot Chicken Recipe

Time needed: 1 hour and 30 minutes

This Nashville hot chicken is baked in the oven instead of fried. The process is straight-forward and the results are delicious.

  1. Prepare your buttermilk marinade

    Combine 1 cup of dill pickle juice along with 3 cups of butter milk and 1/4 cup of your favorite Louisiana style hot sauce in a zip-lock bag, pan, or large bowl. Face your chicken skin-side up and marinate for at least 2 hours (or overnight) in the fridge.Making Nashville hot chicken

  2. Preheat oven and prepare dredge

    Preheat the oven to 400°F and prepare the dredge by whisking together 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup of creole seasoning, and 1 Tbsp. of black pepper in a shallow pan.

  3. Allow chicken to drain

    Remove chicken from brine and place onto a cookie lined with paper towels. Allow the excess to drip off and pat each piece dry.

  4. Dredge the chicken (twice)

    Dip each piece of dried chicken into the dredge. Shake off excess dredge and then dip back into the marinade. Shake off excess, and dip into the dredge one final time, shaking off excess. Allow the dredged chicken to set for 15 minutes.Making Nashville hot chicken

  5. Brush chicken with oil for a crispy skin

    Lightly brush olive oil or use an oil spray over the surface of the chicken and place them into the oven. This ensures a crispy skin.
    Making Nashville hot chicken

  6. Bake the chicken

    Bake chicken for approximately 50 minutes or until each piece reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Remove from the oven and allow chicken to rest while you make the sauce.

  7. Make your sauce

    In a Pyrex measuring glass or microwave safe dish, mix together 3 Tbsp. brown sugar, 4 Tbsp. cayenne pepper, 1 Tbsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp smoked paprika, and 1 tsp kosher salt. Top with 1/2 cup of cubed butter. Heat the butter in the microwave on low power for 30 second intervals, stirring at every interval until the butter and spices have melted together to form a paste.
    Making Nashville hot chicken sauce

  8. Brush the chicken and serve

    Finally, brush your sauce over the chicken and serve on a slice of white bread with a handful of sliced dill pickles.

    Making Nashville hot chicken

What To Serve With Your Nashville Hot Chicken

Typically, Nashville hot chicken is served on a slice of white bread with a few slices of pickles. You can also make a hot chicken sandwich with your choice of toppings. Turn this into a full meal with one of these sides that will pair perfectly with this recipe.

  • Corn bread
  • Green beans
  • Creamed corn
  • Baked beans
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Edd salad

Recipe Tips

  • The hot chicken sauce will likely “break,” and that’s okay. In some culinary circles the sauce is even referred to as a “paste” for its thick texture. Reheat and re-apply the sauce to your liking.
  • Resting times are very important for a few reasons. After the double dredge, the moisture in the chicken needs to reach the flour mixture to ensure it will adhere fully to the chicken and set properly. Otherwise, when you go to pick it up with tongs, the skin may fall right off.
  • The resting time after the chicken has been baked is built into the recipe to sync up with the time to make the sauce. Allowing meat to rest lets the muscle fibers relax and the juices redistribute throughout the meat.
  • Use buttermilk if possible. It contains lactic acid which will help break down the muscle proteins and tenderize the meat. The buttermilk marinade also adds a nice subtle acidic flavor and provides a thick coating that is ideal for frying and air-frying. If you can’t find buttermilk, mix 1 TBSP of vinegar into each cup of normal whole milk as a substitute.
Baked Nashville Hot Chicken Recipe

Storage Directions 

Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container and placed in the refrigerator. They should stay fresh for the next 3-5 days.

To reheat, preheat your oven to 400°F and pull the chicken from the refrigerator, allowing it to return to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Place the chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet, and cover the chicken with a loose tent of foil to retain moisture while cooking. Heat for 20 minutes and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Air Fryer Directions

This recipe can also be made in the air fryer. Working in small batches, spray the dredged chicken well with cooking spray as well as your air fryer basket. Place the chicken in a single layer in the air fryer at 400°F. Cook for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through and cook until the internal temperature reads 165°F.

Nashville Hot Chicken vs. Buffalo Chicken

At first glance, Nashville hot chicken and Buffalo chicken look similar. But, the flavor profile could not be more different. Nashville hot chicken is dominantly hot, savory, and also noticeably sweet.

Buffalo chicken on the other hand, is not noted for being sweet unless you order a specific sauce like teriyaki or honey BBQ. Buffalo chicken typically has a base of hot and sour that comes from the vinegar used in traditional buffalo sauce.

How Spicy Is Nashville Hot Chicken?

This recipe allows for maximum flexibility. As mentioned earlier, you can always adjust the heat level in the sauce by increasing or decreasing the cayenne pepper in the sauce. You can also decide if you want to slather the entire portion with the paste, or use a smaller amount.

Nashville hot chicken baked in the oven
Baked Nashville Hot Chicken Recipe

Baked Nashville Hot Chicken

Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Keyword: Nashville hot chicken
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Marinating time: 2 hours
Servings: 8 chicken thighs

Equipment

  • Large baking sheet with wire rack
  • Basting brush
  • Shallow baking dish

Ingredients

  • 5-5.5 lbs bone-in chicken thighs

Marinade ingredients

  • 3 cups buttermilk see notes for substitutions
  • 1 cup dill pickle juice plus drained pickles for serving (from a 16-ounce jar dill pickle chips)
  • ¼ cup hot sauce Louisiana style

Dredge ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup creole seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp. black pepper cracked coarse if possible

Sauce ingredients

  • ½ cup butter cubed
  • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Instructions

Prepare the marinade

  • Combine all marinade ingredients in a zip-lock bag, a shallow pan, or a large bowl. Face your chicken skin side up in the brine, cover, and refrigerate in an airtight container for at least 2 hours or overnight.
    Making Nashville hot chicken
  • When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 400°F. Prepare the dredge by whisking all the dry ingredients together in a shallow pan.
  • Remove chicken from the marinade and place onto a paper towel lined cookie sheet. It's very important to allow the excess liquid to drain off and pat each piece dry. The meat is fully moistened at this point so it is important to get rid of the excess.
  • Assemble your dredging station, keeping in mind this is a double dredge, so you will repeat the process. Dip the marinated/dried chicken into the flour dredge, shake off excess flour, dip back into the marinade, shake off excess, and finally dip back into the dredge, shaking off the excess. Phew!
    Making Nashville hot chicken
  • Allow 15 minutes for the dredged chicken to set. The moisture in the marinade needs to fully work its way into the dredge for the best results.
  • Lightly brush vegetable oil or use a spray over the surface of the dredged chicken and place them into the oven. This ensures a crispy golden brown skin.
    Making Nashville hot chicken
  • Bake chicken for approximately 50 minutes, until each piece reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Pull from the oven and allow chicken to rest while you make the sauce.

Prepare the sauce

  • In a measuring glass or microwave safe dish, add the seasonings, then top with the cubed butter.
    Making Nashville hot chicken sauce with butter
  • Heat the butter in the microwave for 30 second intervals with the power level on low, stirring at each interval until you see the butter and spices have melted together to form a paste.
    Making Nashville hot chicken sauce
  • Finally, use a pastry brush to brush the sauce over the cooked chicken and serve on a slice of white bread with a handful of sliced dill pickles. Enjoy!
    Making Nashville hot chicken

We hope you enjoy this delicious Nashville hot chicken recipe. It’s no secret that we love spicy food, and this recipe is the closest to the real deal we can get! Let us know if you make this homemade Nashville chicken recipe and what you served it with.

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