Authentic Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich (Taste of Tennessee)

The best Nashville hot chicken sandwich is served on 2 slices of white bread and topped with a pickle, without any type of sauce. That’s the authentic way to eat this Tennessee staple.

With a delicious homemade pan seared crust full of smoked paprika, cayenne and bread crumbs your taste buds will be overwhelmed with flavor! Also the dredging stage, normally consisting of egg wash, includes a little southern secret: a tablespoon of hot sauce for extra flavor.

sandwich on a piece of parchment
Source: Plum Branch Home

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If you’re new to Nashville hot chicken, it’s a spicy delight with incredible flavor. Unlike some overly hot dishes, these sandwiches balance heat and taste. Perfect for summer BBQs or quick weeknight dinners!

Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich Recipe Inspiration

After moving down to Tennessee, near Nashville, I fell in love with hot chicken. On the Forth of July my husband and I celebrated the holiday by attending our local Nashville Hot Chicken Festival. As the festival’s announcer yelled into the microphone, “as Nashvillians we’re also celebrating the freedom to eat hot chicken.” If this doesn’t sum up the life of a middle Tennessean I don’t know what does haha!

Because of my hot chicken admiration, I began ordering it at different restaurants during date night. As I tried and tasted each version, along with a little research, I created a wholesome, healthier, most authentic version which is the recipe I’m sharing today. It’s beloved in our home for simple weeknight suppers served with a side of homemade mac and cheese.

Why You’ll Love This Homemade Recipe

  • It’s a simple straight forward recipe with easy steps
  • The flavors are phenomenal without burning your face off
  • It’s a healthier recipe due to a small amount of wholesome oil and pan seared instead of fried
  • There’s no lard, food coloring, or sugar in this recipe
breaded chicken in a frying pan
Source: Plum Branch Home

Components of Authentic Nashville Hot Chicken

  • Served on/with 2 lightly toasted slices of white bread
  • No sauce, just a spice coated breading
  • Served with a dill pickle on top
  • Flavor is both delicious and spicy
  • Nothing more, nothing less

Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich Ingredients

  • 2 small chicken breasts (boneless and skinless)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil/avocado oil/butter (choose one
  • 4 slices of white bread (sourdough is my favorite)
  • optional: 4-6 dill pickle round slices

Egg Wash Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk (diary or dairy-free)
  • 1 Tbsp hot sauce (any brand, not buffalo)

Breading Ingredients

  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp ground smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

Make Your Own Bread Crumbs at Home

For a frugal way to use up old bread and save tons on store bought bread crumbs, whip up my favorite bread crumb recipe here on Plum Branch Home. You can use any bread in your kitchen, homemade or store-bought, to make these.

How to Make a Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich

  1. Trim excess fat from chicken breasts, then butterfly each by cutting horizontally almost in half and opening it up like a book to make a thin breast.
  2. Mix breading ingredients (salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, garlic, onion, bread crumbs) in a bowl and set aside.
  3. In another bowl, whisk egg, milk, and hot sauce for the egg wash.
  4. Dredge chicken: Dip in egg wash, let excess drip off, coat with breading mixture, and place on a plate. Repeat for each piece.
  5. Heat oil or butter in a pan over medium-high heat. Cook chicken for 5-6 mins on one side, flip, and cook 3-5 mins on the other side until fully cooked. Remove from heat.
  6. Lightly toast bread slices in the same pan or use oven/toaster oven.
  7. Assemble sandwich: Place chicken between toasted bread slices, add pickles on top, and enjoy!

What I love most? The recipe’s simplicity. It makes cooking easy and budget-friendly. If you’re looking for a frugal way to purchase ingredients or groceries in general, Check out Ibotta, a free cashback app where you can earn real cash back by snapping a photo of your receipts. Plus, if you sign up using my referral link, you’ll get a $5 credit to start saving even more on your shopping!

Recipe Tips From a Local Tennessean

  • Use two slices of white bread like sourdough. It mellows the heat and enhances flavors.
  • Keep the spice level as is for authenticity
  • Add a pickle atop your chicken to enhance the spice flavors and add a bit of moisture.
  • Complete your meal with a refreshing sweet tea to complement the flavors and soothe the heat!

Tips for Storing Leftover

These leftovers are just as good, if not better than your initial meal. Store leftover Nashville hot chicken sandwich breasts in an air-tight glass container in the fridge for 2-3 days or in the freezer for 2-3 months. I prefer freezing our leftover chicken, it preserves the flavors!

What to Serve with a Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich

There are so many delicious sides you can serve with a Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich. For a full Southern meal, pair it with cornbread, coleslaw, mac and cheese, or potato salad. French fries, mashed potatoes, or a garden salad also are great choices.

Recipe FAQ

  • Is this a healthier version of regular Nashville Hot Chicken? Yes it is! With simple spices, no lard, and very minimal oil/butter it’s a much healthier version.
  • Can I bake the chicken instead of pan searing it? Yes! I’d bake it for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees.
  • How do I make this with a mild heat level? For a milk flavor, reduce the cayenne measurement by half.
  • Can I make this with vegan chicken and diary-free milk? I haven’t personally tried it with vegan chicken but dairy-free milk works wonderful. I’m sure the vegan chicken would also turn out great.
  • Can I make this recipe in bulk and freeze the pre-made chicken for fast meals? Of course! That is a great idea, just be sure to freeze the chicken in a single layer before storing them in a baggie or container. This will prevent them from sticking.
  • Can I cook this in my air fryer? Definitely, you may need to adjust the cooking time as needed.

Kitchen Tools You May Need

More Chicken Recipes To Try

nashville hot chicken sandwich

Best Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich (From a Tennessean)

Molly LaFontaine of Plum Branch Home
Indulge in the irresistible heat and flavor of Nashville hot chicken sandwich. Savor a spicy twist on a classic favorite. Bite into bold deliciousness.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Dinner, Supper
Cuisine American
Servings 2 sandwiches

Equipment

  • Frying Pan
  • cutting board
  • Kitchen Scissors
  • spatula
  • Stainless Steel Tongs
  • 2 Medium Sized Bowls

Ingredients
  

  • 2 small chicken breasts (boneless and skinless)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil/avocado oil/butter (choose one)
  • 4 slices white bread (sourdough is my favorite)
  • 4-6 dill pickle round slices (optional)

Egg Wash

  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk (diary or dairy-free)
  • 1 Tbsp hot sauce (any brand, not buffalo)

Breading

  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp ground smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

Instructions
 

  • Trim excess fat from chicken breasts, then butterfly each by cutting horizontally almost in half and opening it up to make a thin breast.
  • Mix breading ingredients (salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, garlic, onion, bread crumbs) in a bowl and set aside.
  • In another bowl, whisk egg, milk, and hot sauce for the egg wash.
  • Dredge chicken: Dip in egg wash, let excess drip off, coat with breading mixture, and place on a plate. Repeat for each piece.
  • Heat oil or butter in a pan over medium-high heat. Cook chicken for 5-6 mins on one side, flip, and cook 3-5 mins on the other side until fully cooked. Remove from heat.
  • Lightly toast bread slices in the same pan or use oven/toaster oven.
  • Assemble sandwich: Place chicken between toasted bread slices, add pickles on top, and enjoy!

Notes

*If chicken begins to burn turn the heat down on your burner
*If you’re having trouble coating the chicken when dredging, add a lid to the breading bowl and toss the chicken breasts one at a time. 
Keyword nashville hot chicken sandwich, nashville hot chicken sandwich plum branch home

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