Baked Nashville Hot Chicken

Nashville Hot Chicken, Oven-Style.

Fire up the oven (and your taste buds) for a crunchy, baked version of Nashville’s famous hot chicken. By now, you’ve seen Nashville-style hot chicken pop up just about everywhere, adorning menus at both fancy restaurants and fast food joints alike. And to be honest, it’s a good thing it’s finally getting some recognition. This spicy chicken-style’s claim to fame is the cayenne paste that coats the – traditionally – crunchy deep-fried skin of bone-in chicken. While the other ingredients that make a Nashville Hot paste or sauce are hotly debated (or even kept a secret) – cayenne and some sort of fat or oil are the two primary players here. To get the true taste of a Nashville style, I’d recommend doing what I did, which is going down to the Music City itself and trying it at a place like Prince’s or Hattie B’s.

This version of Nashville hot starts at the low end of spicy – and really allows you to tweak it to your taste. Just up the cayenne to meet your heat needs a tablespoon at a time. Unlike some styles, it’s a drier paste, with some hints of sweetness, containing a bit of both honey and brown sugar, along with chile powder, smoked paprika, and some other savory seasonings.

Perhaps the biggest deviation is that these drumsticks and thighs aren’t fried – but instead baked with a light crust for a little healthier chicken with easier cleanup. It’s not your authentic Nashville Hot Chicken, but more an ode to such a delicious culinary creation.

Time You Need

  • ~4 hours marinating
  • ~20 minutes prep
  • ~45-50 minutes cooking
  • Serves: 4-6 people

What You Need

  • 4-5 chicken drumsticks
  • 4-5 chicken thighs
  • 1 ½ cups of buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup of pickle brine
  • 2 tbsp of vinegar-based hot sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 egg
  • For the breading:
  • 2 cups of panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup of corn starch
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup of ap flour
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp dried basil.
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • For the hot chicken glaze:
  • 1  tbsp cayenne pepper (this is for minimal heat, I’d recommend upping it a few tablespoons for a nice extra kick).
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp chile powder
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 5 tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup of water

What You Do

  • In a large bowl, add buttermilk, pickle brine, hot sauce, garlic paste, and egg. Mix together well. Then add in chicken, and mix around to thoroughly coat chicken. Cover with plastic wrap and set in the fridge. Let the chicken sit for about 4 hours, or overnight.
  • Next, in a large bowl, add breadcrumbs, corn starch, flour, baking powder, garlic powder, and basil. Toss in a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Mix evenly. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Once the chicken is done absorbing all that buttermilk mixed goodness, remove from the brine and pat the pieces dry with a paper towel.
  • Working one at a time, toss the chicken in the flour/breadcrumb mixture to get a nice even breading on all sides. Set the finished piece on a greased wire oven rack over a baking sheet. Repeat for the rest of the chicken. Let the chicken sit out on the rack for about 10-15 minutes to help dry it out and let the breading set.
  • Roast the chicken at 400 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until thoroughly cooked.
  • While chicken roasts, it’s time to start the hot stuff.
  • In a small saucepan, melt butter. Then add in olive oil. Whisk in brown sugar, water, honey, and the rest of your seasonings. Whisk until it forms a smooth paste. Remove from heat and set to the side.
  • Once the chicken is done, remove it from the oven. Brush each piece with the hot chicken glaze.
  • Let cool and serve with some sides of coleslaw and pickles.
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