Nashville Hot, On The Map

Written By: Jean Heimann

Once upon a time, Thornton Prince, a man with too many girlfriends, went out with one girlfriend on Saturday night only to be served a fried chicken breakfast on Sunday by another girlfriend.  She vengefully doused it in a cayenne pepper laden oil. So much red pepper that it hurt. Really hurt. And he loved it of course! Personally, I think that she should’ve skipped making him any breakfast at all, but if she took my advice, there’d be no hot chicken craze.  There’d be no tourists flocking to Nashville to eat at Prince’s where it’s been serving Hot Chicken to locals for 70 years, or to Hattie B’s, a newer but rightfully popular establishment.

Nashville Hot is good.  It’s a crave-able combo:  Crunchy, rich, and hot. The seasoning is made up of mainly red pepper, some chili pepper and a little sugar and salt.  The seasoning is dropped into hot oil which effectively roasts the red chili and spices. It is fiercely hot.  Unforgettably hot. Branding a place in your eating memory.  Heat levels top off at xxx hot at Prince’s and Shut the Cluck Up at Hattie B’s. The oil adds a richness and creates a heat buffer leading to a delayed burn that builds and builds the more you eat. The chicken is served on a slice of white bread, to catch the grease and dill pickle slices to add a little brightness and cut through the oily heat.

Nashville Hot Chicken has made its way out of Nashville. In 2014 New York times names Nashville as 52 places to go. People have been going, and eating Hot Chicken is high on the list of things to do.  Nashville Hot Chicken is migrating to menus in Chicago, New York, LA and has even gone international to Australia. And of course, KFC came out with their own hot chicken.

If you crave hot, this is the hot to crave.


Nashville Hot Chicken Hack at Home
Make the seasoning blend:

  • 6 tablespoons or more of cayenne pepper (No, this isn’t a typo), 1 Tablespoon Sugar, ½ Tablespoon Salt, 1 teaspoon chili powder.
  • Heat one cup of oil and “bloom” the seasoning in the hot oil. Have a fan on or window open, this much cayenne pepper is going to need good ventilation.
  • Dunk or pour your fried chicken into this sauce, add extra salt with necessary.
  • Then eat – and good luck to you!