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Air Fryer Nashville Hot Chicken: Crispy, Spicy, and Easy-to-Make!

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Air Fryer Nashville Hot Chicken

Using an air fryer, you can create the perfect Nashville hot chicken right at home. No need to deep-fry; this method keeps it crispy and juicy while cutting down on oil.

You’ll start with a brine to ensure the chicken is tender. Then, a spicy coating gives it that signature kick. Adjust the heat level by modifying the cayenne pepper according to your taste.

Serve with pickles and bread for a classic finish. This recipe is quick, easy, and healthier than traditional frying methods. Dive in and enjoy a delicious meal without the fuss!

Exact Ingredients (+ Possible Substitutes)

Chicken

  • Chicken Thighs or Breasts: Juicier when using thighs, but breasts can work too.

Marinade

  • Pickle Juice: Adds a tangy flavor.
  • Hot Sauce: Gives that spicy kick.
  • Buttermilk: Makes the chicken tender.
    Substitute: Milk with a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice.

Coating

  • Flour: Creates a crispy outer layer.
  • Salt and Pepper: Basic seasoning.
  • Cornstarch: Adds extra crunch.
    Substitute: More flour.
  • Garlic Powder: For flavor.
  • Onion Powder: Adds depth.
  • Cayenne Pepper: Controls the heat level.

Cooking Spray

  • Oil Spray: Required to crisp up the coating.

Optional

  • Paprika: Adds color and a slight smoky taste.
  • Brown Sugar: Balances the heat.

Sauce

  • Butter: The base for the spicy sauce.
  • Hot Sauce: Adjust to your heat preference.
  • Paprika or Cayenne: Intensifies the flavor.
  • Honey: For a touch of sweetness.
    Substitute: Maple syrup.

Note: Always check the internal temperature of the chicken to ensure it’s fully cooked.

Feel free to adjust the spice levels to suit your taste!

Instructions

Ingredients

  • 1 lb chicken strips or tenders
  • 1 cup pickle juice
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce
  • 1 cup buttermilk (divided)
  • 1 cup flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Panko bread crumbs (optional)
  • Oil spray

Marinade

  1. Mix pickle juice, hot sauce, and ½ cup buttermilk in a bowl.
  2. Add the chicken strips. Turn to coat.
  3. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Bread the Chicken

  1. In a shallow dish, combine flour, salt, and pepper.
  2. Place the remaining ½ cup buttermilk in another bowl.
  3. Dip marinated chicken in the flour mixture.
  4. Then, dip in the buttermilk.
  5. Optionally, coat with panko bread crumbs.

Air Fryer

  1. Preheat your air fryer to 390°F (200°C).
  2. Place the chicken in the air fryer basket in a single layer.
  3. Lightly spray the chicken with oil.
  4. Air fry for 9-10 minutes if using tenders, or 10-12 minutes if using breasts.
  5. Flip the chicken halfway through cooking.

Final Steps

  1. Check that the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
  2. Enjoy your delicious and spicy Nashville Hot Chicken!

Tips, Tricks & Storing

For the best Nashville hot chicken, mix pickle juice and hot sauce for the marinade. This combo gives the chicken its unique tangy and spicy flavor.

When coating the chicken, let it sit in the flour mix for about 10 minutes. This step helps the crust stick better and become crispier in the air fryer.

Preheating the air fryer is essential. Preheat at 400°F for about 3 minutes to get consistent cooking.

Spray both sides of the chicken with oil before cooking. This ensures an even, golden-brown crust without drying out the meat.

Flip the chicken halfway through frying. This helps achieve an even crispiness on all sides.

Check the internal temperature of the chicken. It should reach at least 165°F to ensure it’s fully cooked and safe to eat.

Storing Tips

Store leftover cooked chicken in an airtight container in the fridge. It can last up to 3 days.

To reheat, use the air fryer at 350°F for about 5-7 minutes. This will help the chicken stay crispy.

Avoid using the microwave for reheating, as it can make the chicken soggy.

Freeze any extra chicken by wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap and placing it in a freezer bag. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.

When ready to eat, thaw the chicken in the fridge overnight and reheat in the air fryer.

Recipe Variations & Serving Suggestions

Recipe Variations


  • Spicier Chicken: Add extra hot sauce to the marinade if you like it really hot. You can also sprinkle cayenne pepper into the flour mix.



  • Milder Version: Reduce the amount of hot sauce in the marinade. You can also sub in sweet paprika for some of the cayenne pepper.



  • Gluten-Free: Use a gluten-free flour blend instead of regular flour. Ensure all other ingredients are also gluten-free.



  • Different Cuts of Chicken: Try using chicken thighs or drumsticks for a different texture. Adjust the cooking time as needed.


Serving Suggestions


  • Side Dishes: Serve with coleslaw, pickles, or potato wedges for a classic combo. A side salad can add a fresh touch to your meal.



  • Dips and Sauces: Ranch or blue cheese dressing can cool down the heat. Honey mustard or extra hot sauce are also great options.



  • Sandwiches: Put the hot chicken on a toasted bun with lettuce, tomato, and your favorite sauce. Add some pickles for extra crunch.



  • Wraps & Tacos: Slice the chicken and wrap it in tortillas with fresh veggies and a drizzle of sauce. It’s a fun twist on the traditional serving.



  • On Waffles: Channel your inner southerner by serving the hot chicken on a waffle with a drizzle of maple syrup. Sweet and spicy perfection!


Benjamin Happy Muncher

Hi, I'm Benjamin. I love cooking, long walks, and my girlfriend! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes that you can make in 30 minutes or less.