Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders

Look no further – this is the BEST-EVER Nashville Hot Chicken recipe! Crispy golden brown fried chicken tenders coated in a sweet ‘n spicy brown sugar glaze. Melt-in-your-mouth juicy goodness in every bite. Serve this chicken with a green salad, macaroni and cheese, or potato salad for the ultimate Southern comfort meal.

If there’s one thing I miss about living in the South, it’s the undeniably perfect fried chicken! That sizzling golden, crispy coating and melt-in-your-mouth juicy meat is irresistible, especially on a summer day. Throw in a side of white bread and tangy pickles, crack a cold beer, and you’ve described the perfect lazy summer day picnic.

Though sipping sweet tea on a porch swing in Nashville has long been on my bucket list, I am twice as eager to try the local flavors – especially the famous Nashville Hot Fried Chicken! This style of fried chicken is known for its spicy coating of brown sugar, hot sauce and cayenne pepper. To help balance out the heat, this fried chicken is usually served up with soft white bread and pickles – Southern style! Just the way I like it. And, with this recipe, I can promise that you will, too.

Come on in, and let’s cook a batch of super crispy, crunchy Nashville hot chicken tenders!


Ready to make your own Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders?

• In a large bowl, whisk flour, cornstarch, salt, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. In a separate large bowl, whisk buttermilk and hot sauce. Set aside.

• Dip each chicken piece into flour mixture, then into buttermilk, then back into flour. Thoroughly coat each piece. Once finished coating chicken, and let it sit on a baking sheet for 15-20 minutes, until coating has set.

• While coating sets, add 2 inches vegetable oil to a heavy bottom skillet or pot. Set to medium-high heat.

• Flick a bit of flour into the oil. If it begins to shimmer and sizzle, the oil is ready.

• Carefully drop in 4 tenders at a time. Fry about 2-3 minutes on each side. Do not overcrowd the pan.

• Use tongs to remove chicken from oil. Place on paper towels or a wire rack to drain.

• Once chicken is fried, whisk 1 cup of the frying oil you used to fry the chicken, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika until well blended.
Brush the mixture all over the hot chicken tenders.

• To serve, place hot chicken over white bread. Serve with pickles on toothpicks.

Keep reading for full ingredient list + recipe, below

Looking for more irresistibly tender, crunchy chicken recipes? Try these!

Crispy Fried Chicken Tenders

Sweet ‘n Spicy Firecracker Chicken

Crispy Buttermilk Popcorn Chicken

Spicy Southern Fried Chicken

Crispy Baked Chicken Nuggets

Crispy Parmesan Chicken Cutlets with Tomato-Mozzarella Salad

Crispy Baked Honey Garlic Chicken

Crispy Honey-Dijon Baked Chicken Tenders

Ready for some old-school, foolproof fried chicken tips?

Use buttermilk. The acids in buttermilk break down the proteins in the chicken, making it extra tender.

Fry with a neutral-oil. Low smoke point oils like canola oil, vegetable oil or peanut oil are best for maintaining an even temperature. Careful not to overcrowd your pan, or this will decrease your oil temp.

Is your oil hot enough? Flick a bit of flour into the oil. If it begins to sizzle and fry golden brown, the oil is ready.

Double dip your flour coating. This creates a super thick, extra crispy coating on your chicken that will STICK!

Ditch the deep fryer. A cast iron Dutch oven retains heat well, making it the perfect vessel for deep frying.

Keep it warm. Place your cooked chicken on a wire rack inside a baking sheet. Pop it in a 250-degree-F oven to keep warm and crispy, while you fry the remaining pieces.

With these hot chicken tips, you’ll be cooking the most delicious, perfect fried chicken in no time! What could be better than crunching into crispy, homemade chicken tenders in the comfort of your own kitchen?

Let’s get cooking!

5 from 2 votes

Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders

Servings 6 servings
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins

Ingredients

For Preparing the Fried Chicken:

  • 2 lbs. chicken tenders about 8-10
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp. coarse salt
  • 1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp.  garlic powder
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup hot sauce

For Frying the Chicken:

  • 4 cups vegetable, canola or peanut oil for frying

For the Nashville Hot Coating:

  • 1/3 cup cayenne pepper
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika

For Serving:

  • White bread
  • Sliced pickles

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, whisk flour, cornstarch, salt, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.
  • In a separate large bowl, whisk buttermilk and hot sauce. Set aside.
  • Dip each chicken piece into flour mixture, then into buttermilk, then back into flour. Thoroughly coat each piece. Once finished coating chicken, and let it sit on a baking sheet for 15-20 minutes, until coating has set.
  • While coating sets, add 2 inches vegetable oil to a heavy bottom skillet or pot. Set to medium-high heat.
  • Flick a bit of flour into the oil. If it begins to sizzle and fry golden brown, the oil is ready.
  • Carefully drop in 4 tenders at a time. Fry about 2-3 minutes on each side. Do not overcrowd the pan.
  • Use tongs to remove chicken from oil. Place on paper towels or a wire rack to drain.

For the Nashville Hot Coating:

  • Once chicken is fried, whisk 1 cup of the frying oil you used to fry the chicken, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika until well blended.
  • Brush the mixture all over the hot chicken tenders.
  • To serve, place hot chicken over white bread. Serve with pickles on toothpicks.
  • Enjoy!
Course: Main Course

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  1. 5 stars
    These were super delicious!

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