Nashville-Style Hot & Crispy Chicken Sandwich

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A perfect blend of spicy and sweet, this Nashville-Style Hot Chicken Sandwich features juicy and tender chicken with a beautifully crisp crust made with hot sauce and smothered in brown sugar, butter, and spicy cayenne pepper sauce. Whose mouth is already watering? Mine sure is!

Nashville-Style Hot Chicken Sandwich on white sandwich bread with sweet pickles on a white plate on a table with a bowl of potato chips.

The heat is just right— Not too hot to cover up the incredible seasonings, but hot enough to wake up your taste buds for sure!

And there’s no need to add tomatoes or onions like in other sandwiches. This simple recipe is delicious, just the way it is, even with ordinary white bread!

So, save the brioche bun and avocado slices for another time and enjoy this Nashville classic as it is! Trust me — you won’t regret it.

Saying this chicken sandwich recipe is a crowd-pleaser is almost an understatement! This recipe will have your dinner guests and family begging for more! That is if everyone is a fan of fried chicken with a kick of heat. 

Set out a plate of these Nashville hot chicken sandwiches and watch the magic — they will disappear before your eyes! They are perfect for upcoming game days and spring break fun!

ingredients for making Nashville style hot chicken sandwiches on a table.

Key ingredients & substitutions for Hot Chicken Sandwiches

  • Chicken tenders | All kinds of cuts of chicken work for this crispy fried chicken. But chicken tenders work the best. Chicken breasts or boneless chicken thighs are also tasty for this recipe.
  • Salt and pepper | Season the raw chicken tenders with freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt, creating a flavorful base for the crisp crust.
  • Flour | You will use all-purpose flour to bread the chicken tenders.
  • Brown sugar | Light brown sugar brings sweet and rich notes to the sauce that coats these delicious hot chicken tenders.
  • Cayenne pepper and paprika | Cayenne pepper and paprika give the chicken tender sauce its spicy flavor. Chili powder also works if you don’t have cayenne on hand.
  • Garlic powder | Create a savory taste by also adding garlic powder to the sauce. If you’re in a pinch, onion powder is a decent substitute. 
  • Butter | Use unsalted butter for creamy notes in the spicy sauce.
  • Eggs | Dip the chicken in a couple of whisked eggs to adhere to the flour and make a crunchy crust.
  • Milk | Include milk with the whisked eggs for extra crispy chicken. 
  • Hot sauce | And the secret ingredient for the hot fried chicken? Louisiana-style hot sauce. Add it to the eggs and milk to fully incorporate it into the crust. Of course, any hot sauce will do the trick. But this specific kind really brings the flavors together. Because the hot sauce is made with vinegar, the milk, egg, and hot sauce creates a buttermilk mixture!
  • Bread | Nashville hot chicken sandwiches are traditionally made with ordinary white bread. That’s all this recipe needs because the fried chicken is the true star of the show.
  • Sweet pickle slices | Top the Nashville chicken with sweet pick slices or pickle chips for serving.

How to make the Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich Recipe

Like many spicy food recipes, each step of making Nashville hot chicken involves so many delicious spices and ingredients. Remember to enjoy the process just as much as you will enjoy biting into the fried chicken sandwich!

Hot sauce for Nashville-style hot chicken sandwiches in a saucepan on a trivet on a table.

STEP 1 | Mix the spicy sauce

First, place a small saucepan over medium heat and add the butter and brown sugar. Once melted, whisk in the cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. Then, remove the sauce from the heat and set it aside for later.

dredging chicken tenders in egg mixture and flour for frying.

STEP 2 | Prepare to bread the spicy chicken

Next, throw together a dredging station using two shallow dishes and a plate or baking sheet. Place the flour in one dish. Then, whisk together two eggs, milk, and hot sauce in the other dish.

STEP 3 | Season the chicken tenders

With paper towels, pat the chicken tenders dry, then season them with salt and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.

STEP 4 | Bread the chicken

Now, dredge each chicken tender in the flour and gently shake off the excess. Then, dip each in the egg mixture and let the excess drip off. Again, dip each tender in the flour, then lay it on the plate.

Repeat these steps until all the chicken pieces are completely covered and ready to fry!

tips

  • Make these chicken sandwiches into two-bite sliders! Just cut the tenders in half before deep frying them and adding them to Hawaiian rolls or slider buns. These are perfect for a game-day appetizer!
  • Easily adjust the heat level to your liking. Just lessen the amount of cayenne pepper, hot sauce, or paprika for less heat, or add a little more for tongue-torching chicken!
chicken tenders frying in oil in a skillet; brushing fried tenders with hot sauce.

STEP 5 | Fry the chicken

In a deep and large skillet, pour the canola oil to a depth of about a quarter inch. Next, heat the oil over medium heat. Working in small batches, fry the breaded chicken until golden brown.

Be sure they are cooked through, taking about 3 to 4 minutes on each side of each tender.

STEP 6 | Baste the fried chicken tenders

Grab a slotted spoon to easily transfer the chicken tenders to a plate. Immediately baste them with the butter mixture you prepared at the beginning of this chicken recipe.

Once all the chicken is cooked, pour any remaining sauce over the tenders for an extra boost of delicious spicy-sweet flavor!

tips

  • The most accurate way to check if your chicken is cooked correctly, use a thermometer to check the internal temperature. It should read 165 degrees or higher.
  • Swap the plate for a wire rack to allow some excess grease to drip off the tenders before smothering them in the spicy sauce.

STEP 7 | Assemble the sandwiches and serve!

Divide the white sandwich bread among four plates. For each sandwich, place 2 or 3 tenders on the bread and top with the sweet dill pickles — YUM! Then, you’re ready to serve up your Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwiches.

spicy chicken tenders piled on white sandwich bread and topped with sweet pickles on a plate on a table.

Check out these other favorite sandwich recipes, like the classic Cuban Sandwich, Saucy Sloppy Joe, or this Flank Steak Mediterranean Sandwich with red onion, juicy tomatoes, and feta cheese.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best way to fry chicken at home?

If you aren’t very experienced with frying, it may be a little intimidating. With the following tips, you’ll fry these chicken tenders with confidence! First, use a deep cast iron skillet to retain heat but keep the oil splashes further away from you. Believe it or not, a large Dutch oven is another excellent tool for frying.

Then, let the flour and egg sit on the chicken for a few minutes before tossing it in the pan so it better adheres to the surface. Remember to gently slide the tenders into the oil rather than dropping them in and causing a splatter of dangerously hot oil.

A cooking thermometer helps to ensure the oil is hot enough to properly fry the chicken. When it reads 350 degrees, it’s good to go! And finally, work in small batches to avoid crowding the skillet. These tenders need plenty of space to fry to perfection.

What is the best oil for frying chicken?

Use a high-heat oil with a mild taste to fry chicken tenders. Some great options are vegetable oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, or peanut oil.

What’s the difference between buffalo and Nashville hot chicken?

Nashville hot chicken is made with several seasonings, the crust is flavored with hot sauce and then drenched in spicy sauce. In contrast, buffalo chicken is coated with a wet sauce, like buffalo sauce or hot sauce, making the chicken less crispy. 

Serving suggestions

The most popular sides for a Nashville hot chicken sandwich are creamy coleslaw, salty potato chips, or French fries. So, try serving this recipe with Grilled French Fries with Spicy Ketchup, these crisp Air Fryer Sweet Potato Chips, Fresh Herb Potato Salad, or cheesy Smoked Mac and Cheese!

Oh, and we can’t forget about the tasty recipe from my favorite Nashville hot chicken restaurant, Hattie B’s Black Eyed Pea Salad — it’s so, so good!

Nashville-Style Hot Chicken Sandwich on a plate with hot sauce drizzled on top.

Behind the recipe: Nashville Hot Chicken

Most people credit Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack as the creator of the original Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich. Prince’s has been in Nashville for almost a century, and there is a fascinating story of the invention of this famous sandwich. Prince’s girlfriend wasn’t pleased with his constant partying, so she made him pay by fooling him.

She cooked up his favorite dish with a twist! What looked like an ordinary fried chicken was coated with spices and hot sauce.

Unfortunately, her revenge didn’t go as planned. Prince loved the spicy fried chicken and eventually added it to the menu!

Now, there are several popular restaurants in Nashville and beyond that feature the delicious hot chicken dish. Hattie B’s is perhaps the most well-known of them all.

Nashville Style Hot Chicken Sandwich on a wooden board on a table.
Nashville-Style Hot Chicken Sandwich on white sandwich bread with sweet pickles on a white plate on a table with a bowl of potato chips.

Nashville-Style Hot Chicken Sandwich

A perfect blend of spicy and sweet, Nashville Hot Chicken features juicy and tender chicken with a beautifully crisp crust made with hot sauce and smothered in a brown sugar, butter, and spicy cayenne pepper sauce.
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Sandwiches
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings
Calories 695 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon Louisiana-style hot sauce
  • 1 ½ pounds chicken tenders (8 – 12 tenders)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • canola oil for frying
  • 8 slices white sandwich bread
  • sweet pickle slices for serving

Instructions
 

  • In a small saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Whisk in the cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper, paprika, and garlic powder and remove from the heat.
  • Set up a dredging station with 2 shallow dishes and a plate. Place the flour in one dish and in another dish whisk together the eggs, milk, and hot sauce.
  • Pat the chicken tenders dry with paper towels and season them with the salt and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper.
  • Dredge each chicken tender in the flour, shaking off the excess, then dip each in the egg mixture and let the excess drip off. Dip each tender again in the flour and lay on the plate.
  • In a deep skillet, pour the oil to come up to a depth of 1/4 inch. Heat the oil over medium heat. Working in batches, fry the tenders until golden brown and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
  • With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken tenders to a plate and immediately baste with the butter mixture. Once all the chicken is cooked, pour any remaining sauce over the tenders.
  • Divide the bread among 4 plates. For each sandwich, place 2 or 3 tenders on the bread and top with the sweet pickle slices.

Notes

  • Make these chicken sandwiches into two-bite sliders! Just cut the tenders in half before deep frying them and adding them to Hawaiian rolls or slider buns. These are perfect for a game-day appetizer!
  • Easily adjust the heat level to your liking. Just lessen the amount of cayenne pepper, hot sauce, or paprika for less heat, or add a little more for tongue-torching chicken!
  • The most accurate way to check if your chicken is cooked correctly, use a thermometer to check the internal temperature. It should read 165 degrees or higher.
  • Swap the plate for a wire rack to allow some excess grease to drip off the tenders before smothering them in the spicy sauce.
  •  

Nutrition

Calories: 695kcalCarbohydrates: 75gProtein: 49gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 233mgSodium: 772mgPotassium: 821mgFiber: 3gSugar: 17gVitamin A: 716IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 162mgIron: 5mg

Life Love and Good Food does not claim to be a registered dietician or nutritionist. Nutritional information shared on this site is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.

Keyword cayenne pepper, deep fried, fried chicken, hattie b’s, hot chicken, hot sauce
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was.
Sheila Thigpen, blogger

About Sheila Thigpen

Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer

Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.

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5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Incredible! I cannot believe we can make Nashville-quality hot chicken at home. Thanks for this amazing recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    Fried chicken is my drug of choice and this sandwich was so good that I was looking for crumbs long after I’d devoured the last bite. I’ll be making this one regularly!

  3. 5 stars
    I thought I would have to go back to Nashville to get a hot chicken sandwich this good! Now I make them at home!

  4. 5 stars
    This is everything a hot chicken sandwich should be, and straight from my kitchen!! Thanks for this winner winner chicken dinner. ❤️

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