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Crispy Nashville Hot Chicken Is All About the Spice
2024/04/12

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Move over Kentucky! Tennessee is stealing the fried chicken spotlight with mouthwatering Nashville hot chicken, guaranteed to set tongues ablaze. If a journey down South isn't on your itinerary just yet, this will satisfy all your spicy cravings. What truly sets this apart is its signature hot sauce—a wicked concoction of the chicken's own frying oil infused with a blend of smoky spices. To add a touch of indulgence, there's also a generous pour of rich, melted butter in the sauce. While this recipe can stand alone with a few slices of white bread and tangy pickles, it also makes a perfect, crowd pleasing feast with a batch of

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, , , , and any other meat ‘n’ three favorites!  

Is Nashville hot chicken spicier than buffalo chicken?

Connoisseurs of spicy chicken know that in shops and bars that specialize in Nashville hot and , you can often pick and choose how hot you’d like your bird. This can range from mild, medium, and hot to wild shooting flames or an ominous skull and crossbones. In general, tangy and buttery buffalo sauce does not pack as much of a punch as Nashville hot chicken. For Nashville hot chicken, the pure, dry spices, adhered with oil and butter, mean every bite is accompanied by a hit of cayenne pepper.

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While you can add as much or as little cayenne pepper as you’d like, those with sensitive palates will likely want to avoid this chicken.

Can you make Nashville hot chicken in advance?

Fried chicken is at its absolute best when it is made fresh. To save time on the big day, the chicken can be marinated overnight. The dredge and pepper oil ingredients can also be mixed up in advance. That way, when it comes time to fry up the chicken, all that’s left to be done is dredge, fry, brush, and enjoy!

1 c.

dill pickle juice, plus sliced dill pickles for serving

1/4 c.

packed light brown sugar, divided

2 tbsp.

plus 2 1/2 tsp.

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kosher salt, divided, plus more for sprinkling

1 c.

buttermilk

1/4 c.

hot sauce

1

large egg

3

to 4 lb. bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks

2 tbsp.

cayenne pepper

1 tbsp.

paprika

1 tsp.

garlic powder

1 tsp.

crushed red pepper

3 c.

all-purpose flour

1/2 c.

cornstarch

1/2 tsp.

ground black pepper

Vegetable oil, for frying

1/2 c.

salted butter, melted

White sandwich bread, for serving

Step  1 In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine the pickle juice, 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons of salt. Microwave until the sugar and salt dissolve, 60 to 90 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds. Whisk in the buttermilk, hot sauce, and egg.

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Step  2 Place the chicken in a large zip-top bag and add the pickle juice mixture. Close the bag and turn the chicken to coat. Refrigerate the chicken for 2 hours or up to 12 hours, turning the bag occasionally to distribute the marinade. Step  3 In a medium heat-proof bowl, combine the cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, red pepper, 1 teaspoon of salt, and the remaining 1 tablespoon of light brown sugar. Set aside. Step  4 Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 30 minutes before frying. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place it on a large plate. Pour the marinade into a large bowl or a pie plate.

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Step  5 In a shallow dish or a pie plate, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, black pepper, and the remaining 1 ½ teaspoons of salt. Working with 1 piece of chicken at a time, dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, patting to coat. Shake off the excess flour, and dip the chicken in the reserved marinade, coating evenly. Dredge the chicken once more in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess flour. Transfer the chicken to a large plate or baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Step  6 To a very large Dutch oven, add oil to a depth of 2 inches. Heat over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 325°F.

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Step  7 Preheat the oven to 200°F. Step  8 When the oil reaches the correct temperature, fry the chicken, in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Adjust the heat of the stove as needed so that the oil temperature stays consistent at 325°F. Cook until the chicken is golden brown on both sides, 10 to 13 minutes total, and the internal temperature reads 165°F on an instant read thermometer. Transfer the cooked chicken to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt. Keep warm in the oven until all of the chicken is cooked. Step  9 Carefully spoon ½ cup of the hot fry oil into the reserved cayenne pepper mixture, whisking until well combined. Whisk in the melted butter. Step  10 To serve, brush the spicy oil all over the chicken. Serve with additional spicy oil, white bread, and sliced pickles.

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