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Nashville hot chicken is a fried chicken filet covered in a hot, tangy sauce… and there sure seems to be some sort of a hot chicken sandwich on a bunch of restaurant menus we’ve been to. The original hot chicken sandwich was made by Thorton Prince, the founder of Prince’s Hot Chicken, and after 100 years it is still considered one of the best places to get authentic Nashville hot chicken. Our recipe is an homage to those classics you can find in East Nashville.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
Some pantry staples, buttermilk, chicken thighs, and slider buns are all that you need to make your own Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwiches.
The complete ingredient list and measurements are listed in the printable recipe below.
- Chicken thighs are our preference since they are juicer and more flavorful than chicken breast. If you substitute chicken breast be sure cut them in half and pound them down slightly.
- Buttermilk is a classic marinade for fried chicken since it will tenderize without making it tough. You can use a combo of regular milk and lemon juice as a substitute if you don’t have buttermilk. Use 1 cup milk for everyone 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
- Hot sauce gives the buttermilk marinade a little heat, adding another level of spice to the chicken sliders.
- Smoked paprika, white pepper, and cayenne pepper are the main source of heat and flavor in the flour dredge as well as the hot honey sauce.
- Honey and brown sugar are both used for some sweetness to balance the spicy fried chicken.
- Slider Rolls are what make this a sandwich. We used King Hawaiian Slider Buns for both their texture and hint of sweetness but you can substitute your favorite slider bun.
How to Make Nashville Hot Honey Chicken Sliders
Here are the quick step-by-step instructions with visuals; you can find the full instructions with the exact ingredients in the recipe card below.
Pro-tip: Allow the dredged chicken thighs to rest for a few minutes to prevent the coating from falling off during frying.
1. Brining the Chicken: Pat dry the chicken thighs and then cut them in half so that they are approximately equal in size and weight. In a large bowl combine the buttermilk, smoked paprika, hot sauce, salt, and pepper then add the chicken. Refrigerate the chicken for at least two hours but preferably overnight.
2. Dredge the Chicken: Make the hot seasoned flour by combining flour, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt, and white pepper in a large bowl. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and allow excess buttermilk brine to drip off the chicken then thoroughly coat each piece in the hot seasoned flour mixture. Transfer the breaded chicken to a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet and repeat until all chicken thighs have been coated. Allow the dredged chicken to rest while the oil is heating up.
4. Fry the Chicken: Heat a large cast iron skillet or heavy bottom pan filled with about 1 ½ inches of oil. Heat over medium-high until the oil reaches about 350°F. Once the oil has come to temperature carefully add 4-6 thighs to the pan. Fry the chicken thighs turning them every 2 to 3 minutes until a golden brown color with an internal temperature of 160 F. Transfer the cooked chicken to a clean wire rack and repeat with the remaining chicken.
3. Hot Honey Sauce: Combine cayenne, honey, brown sugar, smoked paprika, and garlic powder in a medium bowl. Once all the chicken has been fried, carefully add a couple of spoonfuls of the hot cooking oil to the hot honey sauce and mix thoroughly.
4. Assemble the Hot Honey Chicken Sliders: Brush both sides of the cooked chicken thighs with the hot honey sauce then place one chicken thigh on the bottom slider bun. Add a spoonful of creamy southern coleslaw, a couple of pickle slices, and top chicken slider with top bun.
Recipe Tips and Notes
- Fry in hot oil. The oil needs to be heated to 350°F before adding the chicken thighs. The oil temperature will drop to about 325°F when you add the chicken which is the perfect temperature for frying. Frying in oil not hot enough will leave the food greasy.
- Use a neutral oil. Do not deep fry in olive oil or extra virgin olive oil. Besides having a lower smoke point, it will also add flavor to the chicken you might not want. We love olive oil but not for frying chicken. Instead use a neutral oil such as canola, grapeseed, peanut, corn, or vegetable oil.
- Drain the fried chicken. To keep the chicken crispy, and to get rid of unwanted grease, place the chicken on a wire rack over a baking sheet for easier clean-up.
- Dip don’t brush for spicier chicken. If you want a spicier chicken sandwich, dunk the fried chicken thighs in the hot honey sauce instead of just brushing on the sauce.
- Make it cheesy. Instead of a spoonful of coleslaw on your hot chicken sliders, spread some jalapeño pimento cheese on the buns.
Frequently Asked Questions
Any leftover fried hot chicken should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days for an easy lunch or weekend snack.
Yes! Once the chicken has completely cooled place them in a single layer in a freezer-safe container or bag. You can also freeze them on a sheet tray and then transfer them to a freezer-safe container or bag.
To reheat hot chicken allow it to come to room temperature (about 20-30 minutes before reheating). For maximum crispiness use a wire rack on a sheet pan and bake for approximately 15-20 minutes at 400°F. For frozen hot chicken allow it to defrost in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
Let’s Connect! If you make our Nashville Hot Honey Chicken Slider Sandwiches or any other recipe on Casual Epicure, please don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It helps others who are considering making our recipes and we love hearing about your cooking experiences. And if you snapped some shots, share them on Instagram, and be sure to tag @casual.epicure so we can feature them in our stories.
Other Recipes to Try
If you enjoy this recipe, we recommend checking out some of these:
Nashville Hot Honey Chicken Slider Sandwiches
- 4 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 3 tablespoons hot sauce
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
Hot Seasoned Flour
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 ½ tablespoons garlic powder
- ½ tablespoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- canola oil for frying, other other neutral oil
Hot Honey Sauce
- 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ½ tablespoon smoked paprika
- ½ tablespoon garlic powder
- ½ cup hot oil, from frying the chicken
- slider rolls
- creamy southern coleslaw
- pickle slices
- Cut the chicken thighs in half so that they are approximately equal in size and weight.
- In a large bowl combine the brine ingredients. Add the chicken and put it in the refrigerator for at least two hours but preferably overnight.
- In a large bowl combine the ingredients for the hot seasoned flour and set aside.
- Remove chicken from the refrigerator and allow excess buttermilk brine to drip off the chicken before thoroughly coating each piece in the hot seasoned flour mixture. Transfer to a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet and repeat until all chicken thighs have been coated. Allow dredged chicken to rest while the oil is heating.
- Heat a large cast iron or heavy bottom pan filled with about 1 ½ inches of oil. Heat over medium-high until the oil reaches about 350°F.
- Once the oil has reached 350°F carefully add 4-6 thighs to the pan. Fry chicken thighs turning every 2 to 3 minutes until the chicken is a golden brown color and has reached an internal temperature of 160 F. Transfer cooked chicken to a clean wire rack and repeat with remaining chicken.
Hot Honey Sauce
- In a medium bowl combine the cayenne, honey, brown sugar, smoked paprika, and garlic powder. Add the hot oil that was used to fry the chicken and mix thoroughly.
- Brush both sides of the chicken thighs with hot honey sauce.
- Place one chicken thigh on the bottom of a slider bun then add a spoonful of creamy southern coleslaw and a couple of pickle slices. Place the remaining bun on top and serve immediately.