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Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders

These Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders are brined in buttermilk and breaded with the best seasoning. From there the chicken strips are baked or fried to get them extra crispy and tender. Drizzle the chicken fingers in a hot and spicy butter sauce for amazing flavor.

Nashville hot chicken tenders on bread with pickles

This post is sponsored by Louisiana Hot Sauce. All opinions are my own.

This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure here.

flour, buttermilk, egg, and spices in separate bowls

Why is it Called Nashville Hot Chicken

It’s a type of fried chicken that is well known in Nashville, Tennessee. It’s typically prepared using a breast, thigh, or wing that has been brined and marinated and then floured, seasoned, and deep-fried. From there, you cover it in a paste or sauce that has been spiced with cayenne pepper.

The originator of hot chicken is the family of Andre Prince Jeffries, owner of Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack. She has operated the restaurant since 1980. Previously, it was owned by her great-uncle, Thornton Prince III.

Jeffries has mentioned the development of hot chicken was by accident. Her great-uncle Thornton was known as a womanizer, and after a late night, out his girlfriend at the time, cooked him fried chicken with extra pepper as revenge. Thornton actually liked the hot chicken. Later, he and his brothers created their own recipe and opened the BBQ Chicken Shack café.

Since the dish is traditionally fried with oil or grease, a portion of that grease is then used to make the spicy paste the chicken is coated in. This recipe is a lightened-up version that you will bake or air fry. Instead of using pan grease (because we won’t have any), we will use butter along with Louisiana Hot Sauce.

raw chicken tenderloins in a glass bowl

What Type of Chicken to Use

I like to use actual chicken tenderloins. Tenderloins are far smaller than a chicken breast, and much thinner too. Tenderloins are half the size of a chicken breast.  The chicken tenderloin is a strip of muscle distinct from but lying alongside the inner breast of the chicken closest to the bone.

Many people like tenderloins as they’re more tender than any other part of the chicken. This is because it’s a muscle that the chicken doesn’t use very often in comparison to its breast muscle.

You can also use chicken breasts and slice them into strips. Breasts are considered a lot healthier than tenderloins as chicken breasts are packed full of vitamins. 

hot sauce, butter, and brown sugar in bowls

How to Make it Spicy/What Sauce to Use

The traditional dish is very spicy and made with a good amount of cayenne pepper. The great thing about making this at home and for yourself is you are in direct control of the heat! My family grew up adding Louisiana Hot Sauce to most of our meals. Fried chicken, catfish, collard greens….you name it! We topped them all with Louisiana Hot Sauce. When you try out the sauce, be sure to tag me and let me know all of the different ways you are using it!

There are a couple of flavors of the hot sauce you can use with this recipe. You can use the Original or the Hotter Than Hot, especially if you are looking for that extra kick!

If you want mild heat on the lower end of the spectrum, I recommend using the Original sauce.

If you want medium-level spice, I recommend using the Original along with 1-2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper.

If you want hot, I recommend using the Hotter than Hot Sauce along with 1-2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper.

Nashville hot chicken sauce in a glass bowl
collage photo of chicken dredged in batter

How to Make Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders

  1. Bread the chicken using flour seasoned with smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper to taste.
  2. Dredge the chicken in a mixture of an egg and buttermilk, and then again in the seasoned flour.
  3. Bake or air fry the tenders.
  4. Combine Louisiana Hot Sauce, melted butter, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, chili powder, and brown sweetener.
  5. Drizzle the tenders in the hot sauce mixture.
  6. Serve.
collage photo of chicken dredged in batter

Double Breading

Dredging or adding breading to foods can be intimidating for some. If you don’t mind getting your hands a little sticky, you will do just fine! This recipe is double breaded, which means you will dredge the chicken tenders in seasoned flour first, then buttermilk, and again in the flour.

This will produce thick breading perfect for drizzling in the Nashville Hot Sauce. And who doesn’t like a thick breading on chicken?

chicken tenders in air fryer
chicken tenders in air fryer

Why Buttermilk is Used

Buttermilk is slightly acidic. It’s great for tenderizing chicken and it won’t toughen up the meat. It will help break down the protein of the chicken which will help produce chicken that is tender and loaded with flavor.

How to Substitute Buttermilk

You can substitute/make your own buttermilk if you wish by combining milk and vinegar (or lemon). Get instructions on How to Make a Buttermilk Substitute here. You can also omit if you wish. The chicken won’t be as tender and the breading won’t turn out as thick.

What to Pair With the Tenders

Traditionally, Nashville Hot Chicken is served with white bread and pickles. I live in Kansas City, so I’m no stranger to that! We pair that with our BBQ. White bread and pickles help assist with the heat of the chicken. You can also pair it with these side dishes.

Air Fryer French Fries
Air Fryer Onion Rings
Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
Roasted Ranch Potatoes
Creamy Ranch Mashed Potatoes
Mashed Sweet Potatoes

chicken brushed with Nashville hot sauce

How to Store/How Long Will it Last in the Fridge

Leftover chicken tenders can be stored tightly covered for 3-4 days.

How to Reheat

I recommend reheating them in the oven or in the air fryer. You can reheat them in both the oven or air fryer at 350 degrees until warm. If you use the microwave if will soften the texture of the chicken.

Freezer Tips

Leftovers can be frozen tightly sealed and covered. Defrost the chicken overnight in the fridge. Follow the steps above for reheating.

More Chicken Recipes

Air Fryer Spatchcock Chicken
Southern Chicken Spaghetti
Southern Smothered Chicken
Crispy Ranch Chicken Wings
How to Grill Chicken Wings
Air Fryer Parmesan Crusted Chicken
Jerk Chicken Thighs
Ninja Foodi Grill Chicken Breasts

Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Breast

Nashville hot chicken tender dipped in sauce
Nashville hot chicken tenders on bread with pickles
Print Pin
4.83 from 17 votes

Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders

These Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders are brined in buttermilk and breaded with the best seasoning. From there the chicken strips are baked or fried to get them extra crispy and tender. Drizzle the chicken fingers in a hot and spicy butter sauce for amazing flavor.
Save this recipe here.
Course dinner, lunch
Cuisine American, Nashville, Southern
Keyword Nashville hot chicken, Nashville hot chicken tenders
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 361kcal

Ingredients

Nashville Hot Sauce Mixture

Instructions

  • Combine the flour, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper to taste in a bowl large enough to dredge the chicken tenders.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg in a bowl large enough to dredge the chicken.
  • Dredge the chicken tenders in the flour mixture, then the buttermilk and egg mixture, and again in the flour mixture. Keep a moist towel nearby. Your hands will get sticky.

Air Fryer Instructions

  • Spray the air fryer basket with cooking oil. Add the breaded tenders to the basket. Spritz the tenders with cooking oil spray.
  • Air fry for 8 minutes at 400 degrees.
  • Open the air fryer and flip the tenders. Be careful so that you do not lose any of the breading. Air fry for an additional 4-8 minutes at 400 degrees or until the chicken is crisp.
  • Ensure the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. 
  • Combine the melted butter, Louisiana Hot Sauce, cayenne pepper, brown sweetener or sugar, smoked paprika, and chili powder in a bowl. Taste the sauce repeatedly and make adjustments as needed. The sauce will provide the flavor for the chicken tenders.
  • Remove the tenders from the air fryer. Drizzle the tenders in the hot sauce mixture.
  • Serve.

Oven Baking Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place an oven-safe baking rack on a baking sheet or a sheet pan. Lightly spray with non-stick spray. (The baking rack will produce crispy tenders and is optional. You can use just the sheet pan with parchment paper if you wish).
  • Place the breaded tenders on the rack or sheet pan. Spritz the tenders with cooking oil spray.
  • Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Flip each chicken tender, be careful so that you do not lose any of the breading. Bake for another 10 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. 
  • Combine the melted butter, Louisiana Hot Sauce, cayenne pepper, brown sweetener or sugar, smoked paprika, and chili powder in a bowl. Taste the sauce repeatedly and make adjustments as needed. The sauce will provide the flavor for the chicken tenders.
  • Remove the tenders from the oven. Drizzle the tenders in the hot sauce mixture.
  • Serve.

Notes

If you want mild heat on the lower end of the spectrum, I recommend using The Original Brand Louisiana Hot Sauce.
If you want medium-level spice, I recommend using The Original Brand Louisiana Hot Sauce with 1-2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper.
If you want hot, I recommend using Louisiana’s Hotter than Hot Sauce along with 1-2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper.
Recipe Tools Used in this RecipeAs an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition (displayed with net carbs)

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 361kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 14g
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Recipe Rating




Jennifer H.

Monday 20th of June 2022

So yummy! I put them on a sandwich! The instructions are clear and easy! My husband said I made this perfectly the first time!

staysnatched

Tuesday 21st of June 2022

I'm glad to hear the instructions were clear.

Kwyonnica

Saturday 11th of June 2022

This recipe was absolutely amazing omg the flavor with the heat! The recipe was very easy to follow they cooked very well in the air fryer. These will be in rotation I look forward to cooking again soon. I love stay snatched and all your recipes been a follower for years and everything keeps getting better.

staysnatched

Saturday 11th of June 2022

Wonderful! I'm glad you enjoyed the recipe!

Marissa

Friday 29th of April 2022

The chicken turned out okay but the flour didn’t really cook in the oven. I don’t know what I did wrong but I ended up having to fry them in oil to cook those bits of flour. I also added seasoning to the buttermilk mixture, made all the difference!

staysnatched

Monday 2nd of May 2022

If you have little bits of flour you should spritz them with oil. I use olive oil or sometimes avocado oil.

Taraleigh

Saturday 19th of March 2022

The breading in this recipe worked great and air fryer cooked then perfectly! All of your recipes are fantastic

staysnatched

Thursday 24th of March 2022

Thank you so much!

Alden G

Monday 28th of February 2022

So good!!! The double breading made a big difference! I used the oven method on a baking rack above the sheet and they turned out great. A big hit all around!

staysnatched

Tuesday 1st of March 2022

I'm glad to hear it was a hit!