Nashville Hot Chicken Strips Recipe
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Nashville Hot Chicken Strips

Betsy and I used to visit Nashville at least once a year but since Betsy’s mom moved to Denver we haven’t been back. I love Nashville and when we used to go there for trips, I’d sometimes sneak off by myself during the day to snag some legit Nashville Hot Chicken. Eventually, I realized I should probably learn to make it at home and so these Nashville Hot Chicken Strips (Tenders) were born!

Nashville hot chicken is all the rage these days, but here’s my honest opinion: It’s gotten a bit too big for its britches. The last time I got some from a popular place in Nashville (admittedly a few years ago), I waited over an hour. Sure, it was good, but at the end of the day it’s just fried chicken tossed with an absurd amount of spices.

Luckily, you don’t have buy a plane ticket to get your hands on the spicy stuff. You can make your own Nashville hot chicken faster than it would take you to go order some. All it takes is a typo-worthy amount of cayenne pepper along with a few other simple spices and you can turn any fried chicken into hot chicken!

For this version, I went with hot chicken strips, but you can use the chili oil on anything! Get ready to sweat!

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Nashville Hot Chicken Strips Recipe

Nashville Hot Chicken Strips

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Yield
Serves 4.
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Homemade fried chicken strips tossed in a dare-worthy spicy chili oil. These are addictively spicy, but get ready to sweat!

Ingredients

2 pounds chicken breasts, sliced thin
3 eggs, whisked
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 quart neutral oil, for frying

Hot Chili Oil:

1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
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Directions

1) For hot chili oil, combine ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat. Heat until warm and sugar is dissolved. Watch carefully or it will burn. Once mixed thoroughly remove from heat. Stir well before using.

2) For chicken, cut chicken into long strips. Whisk eggs and stir together flour, salt, and pepper.

3) Dip chicken strips in flour, then eggs, then again in flour. Set coated strips on a plate or wire rack and finish all the strips. Let the strips rest for a few minutes so the crust can form on them.

4) Preheat oil in a large cast iron skillet or large pot until it reaches 350 degrees F.

5) Fry chicken strips for 6-7 minutes until they are cooked through and golden brown. If you’re using a shallow skillet, you may have to flip them halfway through. That’s fine.

6) Let fried chicken strips drain for a minute on a paper towel and then move them all to a large bowl.

7) Stir chili oil well and drizzle it over the chicken. Start with a small amount as it is very spicy. Adjust to your liking.

Serve chicken immediately with pickles and any dipping sauces you like!

Chili oil recipe adapted from Hatty B's recipe.

The History of Nashville Hot Chicken

As with so many recipes, there’s a lot of myth involved with the creation of the original hot chicken recipe. The story goes that the original recipe was created mostly by accident and possibly with a little vengeance! One of the Prince family members (Prince’s is the original hot chicken joint in Nashville and definitely worth a stop if you are in the area) was supposedly a bit of a lady’s man and after a long night out he came home to find his dinner doused in hot sauce.

Instead of being mad though, he liked it so much that they added it to the menu and the rest is history!

How to Make Hot Chicken Seasoning

This the business, people. I’m talking 🔥 🔥 🔥.

While the original recipe uses lard, I like a mix of butter and neutral oil to make my hot chicken seasoning. You could use the same amount of lard though if you want.

Other than that, just combine the ingredients in a small pot over LOW heat. And yes, that says TWO TABLESPOONS of cayenne pepper. Rather than try to change the spicy levels of the oil, just make it hot and then use less of it if you want it not as spicy.

Hot chili oil for Nashville Hot Chicken

Dark brew.

Heat this all over low heat or the spices and sugar will burn. Stir it until it’s warm and the sugar is dissolved. The spices won’t all dissolve, but it’ll smell ummm… fragrant! Once it’s warm and combined, remove it from the heat just to keep it from burning.

Most importantly, before you use this, give the mixture a good stir. There are so many spices in the oil that they will settle on the bottom of the pan so be sure to stir them before drizzling later!

Chili oil for Nashville hot chicken tenders

Careful…

Making the Chicken Strips

You could use any fried chicken for this. I decided to make some easy chicken strips/tenders for my version. A few of these are a great meal or you can serve them up as a spicy appetizer.

Nashville Hot Chicken Strips

The Basics.

Cut the chicken into long strips and then dip in the flour mixture, then eggs, then again in the flour to give them a nice crust. If you’re a buttermilk fan, you could soak the chicken in buttermilk first for an extra flavor boost.

Once the chicken is coated, let it rest for a few minutes so the crust can form on the chicken.

Breaded chicken tenders for hot chicken

Quick dredge

You can fry these chicken strips in any way you want. You could use a deep fryer, air fryer, or just a large pot filled with oil (use a deep fry thermometer). I just added a few cups of oil to my large cast iron skillet and used that!

If you do that method, you have to kind of flip the chicken strips so they cook evenly but it works great.

Frying chicken tenders for Nashville hot chicken

SIZZLE.

After frying for 6-7 minutes, test a strip to make sure they are cooked through. Then let them drain on a few paper towels.

Chicken strips out of the fryer

Good start!

Making the Hot Chicken Tenders

While the chicken strips are still very hot, place them in a bowl and drizzle in the chili oil! I would start with a small amount. You can always add more!

Adding sauce to Nashville Hot Chicken Strips

The wing treatment.

I went big because I’m a spice fiend.

These are seriously dangerous.

Sauced Nashville Hot Chicken Strips

Smells dangerous.

So yea… Nashville hot chicken is really good. Hot chicken strips are also really good. No long wait or plain ticket needed!

Nashville Hot Chicken Strips

Need more Spicy Recipes?

8 comments on “Nashville Hot Chicken Strips

  1. Nick, here’s another great example of why I keep your posts in my feed. I’ve been vegetarian for more than 25 years, and yet I still clicked on this one to read, figuring the sauce might be interesting. And lo! Now I totally want to try the hot chili oil on tempeh.

    1. Oh it would be SO good. You could also do little fried tofu strips or maybe toss a tiny bit of it with popcorn? Lots of uses!

  2. I live in Nashville & we’ve had to make a commitment to only get hot chicken once a month. It’s sooo good & totally addictive!

  3. Sorry but naaaah…big buildup over “hot” and a big letdown on results. Guess I’ll stick with my Caribbeñen sauce and Aji Chombo…I for one really do like “hot”

  4. These were insanely good! I actually added red pepper flakes to Up the heat even more because my girlfriend and I love heat! She told me these are a hit and I see us having them more than once. Thank you for posting!

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