nashville hot chicken tenders

Don’t mistake hot chicken for ordinary fried chicken. It might have the same golden skin fried to crispy perfection, the same succulent meat cloaked inside, and the requisite grease left behind on your fingers after indulging, but to Nashville—where it was invented—hot chicken is so much more.

Legend has it that Thornton Prince of the iconic hot chicken restaurant Prince’s Hot Chicken is responsible for this legendary Music City staple. The story goes that during the Great Depression, Thornton, who loved the ladies almost as much as he loved fried chicken, spurred jealousy in his partner after returning home late after another evening on the town.

Her revenge was to prepare him his favorite fried chicken recipe spiked with fiery hidden spices that she hoped would set his mouth ablaze. Instead, much to her dismay, he loved her recipe and a Nashville mainstay was born. There are countless reasons to love hot chicken as much as Thornton did. Here are eight of them.

Nashville Hot Fried Chicken

nashville hot chicken

Carlsbad Cravings

This is a classic hot chicken recipe, complete with a buttermilk bath for juiciness and a side of hot sauce for extra heat. There’s so much to love about this dish including the way the spice rub can be added to other recipes for a little extra heat. Get the recipe.

Loveless Cafe Hot Chicken

nashville hot chicken

The Loveless Cafe

No hot chicken story would be complete without including the recipe from the storied restaurant The Loveless Cafe, located a short drive from Nashville. Devotees flock here for the warm biscuits dripping in honey butter and the hot chicken that doesn’t skimp in the lard department, complete with a side of dill pickles. This is an indulgent hot chicken recipe sure to convert even the most stubborn fried chicken devotees. Get the recipe.

Nashville Hot Chicken Wings Recipe

nashville hot chicken wings

Cooking With Janica

The full bird should have its due when it comes to hot chicken but sometimes, you’re just craving the wings. Brown sugar tempers the blazing hot sauce and spicy hot chicken coating and white bread is served alongside to mop up every last indulgent fried crumb. It’s a game day winner and would be made even better with a side of creamy ranch or blue cheese dressing. Get the recipe.

Baked Hot Chicken

baked nashville hot chicken

A Cozy Kitchen

Don’t get us wrong, we’re all for basking in the indulgent glow of greasy fried hot chicken, but sometimes you’re craving the heat without the food coma that could potentially follow. This is that recipe. Baking hot chicken decreases the grease factor while still delivering the adrenaline heat rush of the original. Get the recipe.

Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders

nashville hot chicken tenders

The Candid Appetite

Sometimes you’re craving the heat wallop that hot chicken delivers without all the bones. This hot chicken tender recipe is just the thing to satisfy that desire. Even better for the health conscious, the tenders are baked, not fried, so you only have to fend off a minor amount of hot chicken guilt. We love how they’re stacked atop the white bread slices and topped with dill pickles to form a Nashvillian take on a classic Scandinavian open-faced sandwich. Get the recipe.

Miss Robbie’s Honey Hot Chicken

Sweetie Pie's honey hot chicken

Kristiahna Clark

Miss Robbie Montgomery (aka Sweetie Pie) runs her beloved restaurants in St. Louis, Missouri where her dishes and hospitality are legend. Her honey hot chicken is a mainstay that her devoted customers would never let her remove from the menu. It keeps them happy and will do the same for you with a honey hot chicken glaze that necessitates finger licking to catch every last drop of spicy-sweet goodness. Get the recipe.

Spicy Hot Chicken Salad

spicy hot chicken salad

The Meaning Of Pie

This is a crowd (and picky eater) pleaser since it’s pretty much impossible to resist hot chicken, and blue cheese crumbles atop a pile of fresh greens that are guaranteed to delight nearly everyone at the table. This fun recipe skips the chicken breading and frying but delivers all of the spicy flavor of classic hot chicken. The bacon is an added bonus. Get the recipe.

Nashville Hot Chicken Style Hen of the Woods Mushrooms

vegan nashville hot chicken style hen of the woods mushrooms

Chubby Vegetarian

We admit, this recipe is not for hot chicken purists, but it is sure to wow the vegetarians at your table with its meaty mushrooms battered and fried in the same spirit of hot chicken abandon. It’s an imaginative twist on a legendary recipe that might just convert the naysayers in the crowd. Get the recipe.

Jody Eddy is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan. She has cooked at Jean Georges, The Fat Duck, and Tabla and is the former editor of Art Culinaire Magazine. Her most recent cookbook was "Cuba! Recipes and Stories From a Cuban Kitchen", published by Ten Speed Press. Her cookbook "North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland" was published by Ten Speed Press in 2014 and won the 2015 IACP Judge's Choice Award. She is the author of the James Beard nominated cookbook "Come In, We're Closed: An Invitation to Staff Meals at the World's Best Restaurants" and her upcoming book for Ten Speed, "The Hygge Life", will be published in November, 2017. She is writing a cookbook for W.W. Norton profiling the cuisine and food traditions of monasteries, temples, mosques and synagogues around the world which will be published in 2019 and a cookbook with the Food Network chef Maneet Chauhan profiling the cuisine of India via an epic train journey throughout the country. She writes for Travel+Leisure, Saveur, Food & Wine, The Wall Street Journal, Plate, and VICE, among others. She is the author of JodyEddy.com, leads culinary trend tours for food and beverage corporations in Iceland, Peru, Mexico, Ireland and Cuba and is the Vice President of Marketing, Partnerships and Events at Hop Springs, an 85 acre agritourism destination opening in Nashville in May, 2018.
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