Entree, Poultry

Air Fryer Nashville Hot Chicken

Sinfully delicious! All the satisfaction of fried chicken without the oil and mess. Chicken breasts (or thighs) get cooked with a crispy coating and then slathered in a hot honey sauce. An excellent healthier entree or finger food for a crowd.

I’ve quickly learned anything deep-fried in oil can be cooked in the air fryer! And this Air fryer Nashville Hot Chicken will undoubtedly crush your cravings for fried chicken! 

Have you ever had the real deal? In Nashville? I got to experience this famous dish when I was visiting a few years ago. It’s HOT, crunchy, saucy, and nothing like any fried chicken I’ve ever had.

Highly recommend it, and if you go, Hattie B’s is the place for the hot chicken, and of course, music row is a must if you’re a country music fan. Nashville hot chicken is known for simplicity, tho, and is often served with white bread and pickles. The chicken is the star here, so there is no need to get cray-cray on buns and slaws!

The air fryer does an AMAZING job recreating this classic dish…just a little healthier.

While there are a few steps to prep, it comes together fast, and you most likely have all the ingredients on hand. AND OH…Let’s not forget the hot sauce! It does something magical to the chicken. It has a serious kick, but I like to taste what Im eating, lol, and I have toned down the heat for this recipe.

Ingredients, Notes, And Substitutions

Ingredients for hot nashville chicken

Chicken ~ The main ingredient, and you have options! Breasts (cut into strips) tenders or thighs.

Buttermilk ~ A simple marinade that will tenderize the chicken. See below for DIY buttermilk.

Flour, cornstarch, panko, and Rice Krispy’s ~ For the breading. No rice Krispies? Corn flakes work well too. I do recommend one of those for the crispy crunch factor.

Eggs & milk ~ This mixture is for the coating, with will allow the flour mixture to stick.

Olive oil, honey & Spices ~ This is for the hot honey oil. There’s a lot to list, so check out the full recipe below. Feel free to add, subtract or omit to adjust to your spice preference. The heat level I created for this recipe is hot, but it won’t make you start sweating or destroy your taste buds..lol, And you can taste the food!

Basket full of hot Nashville hot chicken

Serving Variations For Air Fryer Nashville Hot Chicken

For an appetizer ~ Use chicken tenders; once cooked and sauce added, place them in a basket or a serving platter with extra sauce for dipping and pickles. OR, mini sliders with a simple slaw and pickle.

As an entree ~ Serve over a chopped salad with ranch dressing or blue cheese dressing. Or with this sweet kale and farro salad. It’s a refreshing balance to the hot and spicy chicken

For sandwiches ~ My choice of bread is brioche buns. They are soft and not super “bread-y.”

Close up of nashville hot chicken

How To Make Air Fryer Nashville Hot Chicken

Rinse and pat dry the chicken. Add the buttermilk to a ziplock bag and marinate for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Prep the flour and egg mixtures. Add the flour, Rice Krispies, cornstarch, salt, and pepper to a shallow baking dish or pie plate. Lightly mix. Add the eggs, milk, and sriracha to another shallow baking dish.

Make the spicy sauce.
Add the butter, olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, chili powder, paprika brown sugar, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until all ingredients are melted and combined. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Bread the chicken.
Time to get messy! Remove the chicken from the buttermilk, and pat dry. Don’t rinse! Dip each chicken piece in the egg mixture, followed by the flour mixture, and place on the prepared air fryer basket, ensuring space between them. Lightly spray the tops of the chicken with cooking oil spray.


Bake at 375 degrees F for 6 to 8 minutes, flip them, and cook for another 6 to 8 minutes.
Transfer chicken to a serving platter and brush or spoon the spicy sauce liberally over each piece of chicken.

Mini slider with nashville hot chicken and slaw
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Air Fryer Nashville Hot Chicken


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  • Author: Teri Wallingford
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

Sinfully delicious! All the satisfaction of fried chicken without the oil and mess. Chicken breasts (or thighs) get cooked with a crispy coating and then slathered in a hot honey sauce—an excellent healthier entree or finger food for a crowd.


Ingredients

Units Scale

Chicken & Marinade

  • 1 pound chicken thin breast filets, tenders, or thighs * See note below
  • 1 cup buttermilk. See notes below for DIY buttermilk

Flour mixture

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups rice krispies, or cornflakes, roughly crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of cornstarch

Egg mixture

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk, or whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha

Hot spicy sauce

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, or 4 tablespoons.
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Adjust more or less for your spice preference
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon EACH garlic powder and onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon season salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar


Instructions

Preheat the air fryer to 375 degrees F. Line the air fryer basket with parchment paper and lightly coat it with cooking spray

  1. Rinse and pat dry the chicken. Add the buttermilk to a ziplock bag and marinate for at least 30 minutes up to a couple of hours in the refrigerator.*See Note below. 
  2. Prep the flour and egg mixtures. Add the flour, rice Krispies, cornstarch, salt, and pepper to a shallow baking dish or pie plate. Lightly mix. (I line a sheet pan with foil for easy cleanup!)
  3. In another shallow baking dish, add the eggs, milk, and sriracha. Whisk thoroughly
  4. Bread the chicken.Time to get messy! Remove the chicken from the buttermilk, and pat dry. Don’t rinse! Dip each chicken piece in the egg mixture, followed by the flour mixture, and place on the prepared air fryer basket, ensuring space between them. Lightly spray the tops of the chicken with cooking oil spray. Bake at 375 degrees F for 6 to 8 minutes, flip them, and cook for another 6 to 8 minutes. While the chicken is cooking, make the spicy sauce.  Once cooked, transfer the chicken to a serving platter and brush or spoon the spicy sauce liberally over each piece of chicken. 
  5. Make the spicy sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and add the olive oil.  Mix together the garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, chili powder, paprika brown sugar, and salt in a small bowl, and add to the butter mixture. Whisk until all ingredients are combined. Spoon over chicken.

Notes

TIPS

* I recommend chicken tenders or thin breast fillets. The breast filet can be sliced into strips before or after cooking. If you have thick breasts, you can pound them out or slice them in half lengthwise. BEFORE breading

Paper plates can be used for the flour and egg mixtures to save clean-up time. 

Depending on the size of your air fryer, you may need to cook the chicken in batches.

DIY BUTTERMILK  

  • milk (whole) about a cup, see instructions below
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar OR lemon juice

To make.  First, add the lemon juice or vinegar to a glass measuring cup. Add the milk to the one-cup marking. Stir. ( You are using a little less than a cup) Let sit for at least 5 minutes. You should see some slight curdling or separation. It’s ready to use!

  • Prep Time: minutes
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Air Fryer
  • Cuisine: American

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