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This oven-fried Nashville hot chicken recipe is a quicker, easier, and healthier take on the classic deep-fried dish. Enjoy a homemade baked version of the original crispy, juicy, and spicy supper made famous in the Music City!

Side shot of a baked nashville hot chicken recipe served on a white plate with white bread and sliced pickles.
Table of Contents
  1. What makes Nashville hot chicken hot?
  2. Ingredients
  3. How to Make this Easy Nashville Hot Chicken Recipe
  4. Serving Suggestions
  5. Preparation and Storage
  6. Recipe Variations
  7. Tips for the Best Baked Nashville Hot Chicken Recipe
  8. Oven-Fried Nashville Hot Chicken Recipe

Nashville hot chicken may have originated at the humble Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack in a strip mall beside a nail shop, but Andre Prince Jeffries has watched the popularity of this dish skyrocket — popping up on menus all across Music City, throughout the south, and even in other big markets from New York to Napa. After just one bite of the spicy fried chicken, you’ll understand why!

What makes Nashville hot chicken hot?

Nashville-style hot chicken is fried in a large iron skillet, and then caked in a cayenne paste — which gives it that super-spicy flavor! It’s a vibrant orange and rusty-red color, and arrives crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, perched atop a bed of white bread and finished with plenty of sliced dill pickle rounds.

Authentic hot chicken involves a brine (with some hot sauce in it), as well as a hot coating made with oil, cayenne pepper, and other seasoning. The spicy paste is applied after the chicken parts have been fried, which prevents the cayenne from scorching and allows the cook to customize the degree of heat per piece of chicken.

Pounding chicken breasts to make cutlets.

This Baked Nashville Hot Chicken is Easy to Prepare at Home

While this oven-fried chicken breast might not be authentic, it’s a fun, tasty twist inspired by Nashville’s original hot chicken. Baking the breaded chicken breast cutlets in the oven (rather than deep-frying whole chicken parts), cuts down on the prep time as well as the cooking time, involves less mess, and is a whole lot healthier! Think of this as your go-to “weeknight hot chicken” — the version that you can throw together with ease — no cowboy boots or airfare necessary!

Coating chicken cutlets with cornstarch.

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for our favorite baked Nashville hot chicken recipe. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Chicken breast: use boneless skinless chicken breasts that you cut in half length-wise and pound flat into ½-inch thick cutlets; or take a shortcut from the grocery store and purchase thinly-sliced chicken breasts. They’re lean and tender, and they cook quickly!
  • Salt: to season the chicken.
  • Cornstarch: absorbs moisture, creating an extra-crispy crust. No soggy chicken allowed!
  • Breadcrumbs: just plain dry breadcrumbs. The fine breadcrumbs coat the meat nicely.
  • Corn Flake crumbs: add great crunch and texture to the meat, while also giving the dish extra flavor. These are a key ingredient for crispy oven fried chicken breast — don’t omit them!
  • Brown sugar: just a hint of sweetness in the breading is a nice balance for the savory ingredients.
  • Cayenne pepper: puts the “hot” in Nashville hot chicken! Add extra if you like your chicken really spicy.
  • Paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin: for even more flavor.
  • Oil: use a neutral oil with a high smoke point (such as canola oil or vegetable oil) to mix into the breading, so that the outside of the chicken becomes crispy and golden brown in the oven.
  • Egg, buttermilk, and hot sauce: form the “quick brine” that helps the breading adhere to the meat.
  • White bread and sliced dill pickles: for serving!
Prepare corn flake breading mixture in a glass dish.

The Best Chicken for Breading

Chicken cutlets are really just thin pieces of boneless chicken that have been cut from a thick breast or pounded flat. I typically purchase thinly-sliced chicken breasts or “chicken cutlets” at the grocery store to save some time on the prep work, but you can also do this step on your own at home.

While any size and type of chicken will work for breading, I find that the cutlets cook through in just the right amount of time. The breading has a chance to turn crisp and golden brown, but it doesn’t burn before the chicken is done. Chicken cutlets are a quick-cooking protein, making them incredibly convenient for easy weeknight meals.

If you prefer to use boneless skinless chicken thighs, you’ll just need to increase the total baking time (tent the chicken loosely with foil if the breading starts to get too brown before the meat is cooked through). Looking for a recipe using bone in chicken pieces (like chicken drumsticks)? This is one of our favorites!

Process shot showing how to make the best nashville hot chicken recipe.

How to Make this Easy Nashville Hot Chicken Recipe

You only need about 10-15 minutes to prepare the breaded chicken breast and about 15 minutes to bake it in the oven — so much easier than the classic deep-fried version! I’ve included the detailed instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of the post, but here’s the quick look:

  1. Pat the chicken dry and season with salt to taste.
  2. Rub the cornstarch on both sides of the chicken. The cornstarch helps the breading adhere to the meat and absorbs moisture to create an extra-crispy crust.
  3. Dredge the chicken cutlets in the egg mixture in a shallow dish, and press them into the breading mixture in a shallow bowl.
  4. Bake
  5. Serve over sliced white bread with plenty of pickles.
Drizzling hot sauce on oven fried chicken cutlets.

Serving Suggestions

Nashville hot chicken is traditionally served on top of sliced white bread with pickles for garnish. If you prefer, you can use the the bread to make a sandwich with the chicken, or grab a sandwich roll instead. Spread a little Duke’s mayo on the bun for a cooling sauce, and your Nashville hot chicken sandwich will be delicious!

If you’re looking for other sides to round out the meal, here are some good options that pair well with the spicy oven-fried chicken:

Side shot of a Nashville hot chicken sandwich on a table.

Preparation and Storage

  • Prepare the breading mixture in advance, but do not bread the chicken until just before baking.
  • Leftover oven fried chicken breast will keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-4 days, or in the freezer for 2-3 months.
  • To reheat the chicken: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place breaded cutlets on a baking sheet and warm just until heated through, about 10 minutes. Be aware that reheating the cooked chicken may dry out the meat, so it’s best when served fresh.
Square side shot of oven fried nashville hot chicken on a plate

Recipe Variations

  • This hot chicken has a bit of kick, but it’s still family-friendly and kid-approved. If you like it even more spicy, adjust the amount of cayenne pepper in the breading, and serve with extra hot sauce (such as Frank’s RedHot sauce, Crystal, or Tabasco) for drizzling.
  • I love the combination of the bread crumbs and Corn Flake crumbs, because the Corn Flakes add extra crunch and flavor that you can’t get from the breadcrumbs alone. I prefer the finer texture of regular breadcrumbs here, but you can substitute with Panko breadcrumbs if that’s all that you have.
  • Instead of the breadcrumbs, add extra flavor to the breading mixture by using finely crushed Ritz crackers or Saltines with the Corn Flakes.
  • For a special touch, add a couple of tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese to the breading mixture.
  • Cooking just for two? Cut all of the ingredients in half and just bake two chicken cutlets. The rest of the cooking instructions remain the same.
  • Have extra time? Use a pickle brine to flavor the chicken before breading.
  • Drizzle hot honey over the cooked chicken for a nice sweet-and-spicy flavor boost!
Oven fried nashville hot chicken on white bread with a side of cornbread and salad in the back

Tips for the Best Baked Nashville Hot Chicken Recipe

  • Use a large rimmed baking sheet rather than a baking dish. The baking sheet allows heat to circulate around the meat a bit more, yielding crispy (not soggy) chicken.
  • The oil in the breading helps the chicken turn crispy and golden brown in the oven — no frying necessary! Don’t skip the oil, or the end result won’t be nearly as good.
  • Boneless skinless chicken breast cutlets work best with this recipe, because they cook in just the right amount of time. The breading gets crispy and golden brown, but doesn’t burn before the meat is cooked through.
  • The total cooking time will vary depending on the size and thickness of your chicken. Use an instant-read thermometer to know exactly when your meat is perfectly cooked. You’re looking for an internal temperature of 165°F.
Close up front shot of baked nashville hot chicken recipe on a plate with bread and pickles.

More Fried Chicken Recipes to Try

Square side shot of oven fried nashville hot chicken on a plate

Oven-Fried Nashville Hot Chicken

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 392 kcal
A quicker, easier, and healthier version of the Nashville classic!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or thinly-sliced chicken cutlets)
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • ½ cup dry breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup Corn Flake crumbs (about 1 ½ cups of whole cereal measured before crushing)
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (increase to 1 ½ – 2 teaspoons if you like the chicken really spicy)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus extra for seasoning the meat
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk (or regular milk)
  • 1 tablespoon hot cayenne pepper sauce (such as Frank’s RedHot, Tabasco, or Crystal)
  • For serving: additional hot sauce; sliced dill pickle rounds; 8 slices plain white sandwich bread

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper for easy cleanup, if desired.
  • Lightly pound the chicken breasts to uniform thickness (about ½-inch). You can skip this step if you’re starting with chicken cutlets (thinly-sliced chicken breast).
    Pounding chicken breasts to make cutlets.
  • Pat the chicken dry; season liberally with salt on both sides. Sprinkle the cornstarch over both sides of the chicken and pat to coat evenly.
    Coating chicken cutlets with cornstarch.
  • In a large, shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs, Corn Flake crumbs, brown sugar, cayenne, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, and salt. Drizzle with oil and mash with a fork until the oil is thoroughly incorporated.
    Prepare corn flake breading mixture in a glass dish.
  • In another shallow dish, lightly beat the egg, buttermilk, and hot sauce with a fork until combined.
    Whisking egg mixture with a fork.
  • Dip the chicken into the egg mixture, then press into the breading mixture until evenly coated on both sides. (Discard leftover mixture.)
    Process shot showing how to make the best nashville hot chicken recipe.
  • Place the chicken on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the chicken is golden brown and the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, about 15 minutes. You do not need to flip the chicken halfway through.
  • Place two slices of white bread on each individual plate. Top with chicken, dust with additional cayenne or paprika if desired, and serve with plenty of pickles. Garnish with additional hot sauce to taste.
    Side shot of a baked nashville hot chicken recipe served on a white plate with white bread and sliced pickles.

Notes

  • Use a large rimmed baking sheet rather than a baking dish. The baking sheet allows heat to circulate around the meat a bit more, yielding crispy (not soggy) chicken.
  • The oil in the breading helps the chicken turn crispy and golden brown in the oven — no frying necessary! Don’t skip the oil, or the end result won’t be nearly as good.
  • Boneless skinless chicken breast cutlets work best with this recipe, because they cook in just the right amount of time. The breading gets crispy and golden brown, but doesn’t burn before the meat is cooked through.
  • The total cooking time will vary depending on the size and thickness of your chicken. Use an instant-read thermometer to know exactly when your meat is perfectly cooked. You’re looking for an internal temperature of 165°F.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/4 of the recipeCalories: 392kcalCarbohydrates: 39gProtein: 42gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.03gCholesterol: 151mgSodium: 1119mgPotassium: 770mgFiber: 2gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 1107IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 56mgIron: 10mg
Keyword: baked nashville hot chicken, nashville hot chicken recipe, Oven Fried Chicken
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. Aeil says:

    5 stars
    This is really awesome nice crunchy crust
    It is easy recipe to make
    Thank goodness for your recipes
    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Thanks for sharing

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      Thank you so much, Aeil! We’re glad you enjoyed it.

  2. Vickie Jenkins says:

    5 stars
    Amazing flavor! Is definitely on my menu rotation!!

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      I’m so happy to hear that! Thanks, Vickie!