If you’re craving hot chicken, you have to try our air fryer hot chicken recipe! The homemade hot sauce is inspired from traditional Nashville hot chicken flavors. Our quick and easy hack will have your meal finished in about 20 minutes!

Air Fryer Nashville Hot Chicken

What is Nashville Hot Chicken?

Nashville hot chicken is basically a spicy fried chicken that’s a local speciality of Nashville, TN. What makes it Nashville-style is the type of hot sauce that cayenne powder based. It was first made in Nashville, TN and it has a very interesting story. The oil based, super spicy hot sauce is slathered over the chicken and usually served with white bread and pickles. It’s a major flavor bomb and our version of the hot sauce is a little more tamed down than more other recipes.

Air fryer Nashville hot chicken on plate

Video: Air Fryer Nashville Hot Chicken

Tips on How to Make Air Fryer Hot Chicken Recipe Hack

  • What makes our recipe so quick and easy is that we use frozen pre-cooked chicken! That’s half the battle right there and minimizes a ton of clean up.
  • Air frying frozen pre-cooked chicken is quick, easy and delicious. The hot circulating air of the air fryer makes the chicken crispy and perfect.
  • Our homemade Nashville inspired hot sauce starts a lower level of spice than more other sauces out there. If you want it extra spicy, just add additional Tablespoon of cayenne pepper powder.
  • Make sure to whisk the sauce before you spread it over the chicken. The Nashville style hot sauce is separated by oil so to get the full flavor, you must whisk the sauce before brushing.
  • All air fryer hot chicken recipe details are in the recipe box below.
air fryer hot chicken in basket

What Else to Serve with this Chicken?

  • We love serving the hot chicken with mashed potatoes. YUM. The creamy potatoes alongside the fried chicken is a great combination. Also, the mashed potatoes soaks up any extra hot sauce.
  • You can serve it with white or brown rice.
  • Make a hot chicken sandwich out of it! Using burger buns or brioche buns are perfect.
  • Air fry vegetables and eat it alongside the chicken. It’s nice to have something healthy.

What if you don’t like spicy? Other sauce ideas?

Sure you don’t have to serve the air fried chicken with spicy sauces! You can certainly use these yummy options:

  • Teriyaki sauce is great for a teriyaki chicken
  • Ranch is always popular
  • Honey mustard sauce is great. Here’s an awesome homemade honey mustard sauce recipe.
  • Love herb sauces? Try brushing some pesto on the chicken.
  • And you can never go wrong with bbq sauce!
Air Fryer Nashville Hot Chicken

Air Fryer Nashville Hot Chicken Hack

Different brands of frozen breaded chicken breasts cook differently. They all vary in size, thickness, type and heaviness of the breading so you’ll have to adjust timing. For best and even cooking, don't overcrowd the basket and cook the chicken in a single layer.
All air fryers are different and some cook much hotter than others. Once you cook your first batch, you’ll know more of what works for your model of air fryer and size of food. These were tested on basket style air fryers. Read more recipe notes below the recipe.

Ingredients

For the Chicken:

  • About 2-4 frozen pre-cooked breaded chicken breasts

For the Nashville Hot Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup (60 g) butter
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) oil
  • 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) ground cayenne pepper , or 2 Tablespoons for extra hot
  • 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt , or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) black pepper

For Serving

  • 6-8 slices (6-8 slices) white bread
  • Pickles , whatever you prefer – bread & butter, dill, or both

Equipment

Instructions 

  • Make the Sauce: Combine all the sauce ingredients in a bowl or saucepan (butter, oil, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, garlic powder, paprika, Worcestershire or soy sauce, salt and pepper). Microwave or heat until butter is just melted (the hotter it is, the harder it will be to emulsify the spices in the liquids). Whisk thoroughly until smooth.
  • When the sauce is cooler, it doesn’t separate as easily so we like to brush sauce on the chicken when the sauce is slightly cooler or room temperature. If you want your sauce warmer, then keep stirring or whisking the sauce as you brush the chicken so that you have as little separation of sauce/oil as possible. The warmer the sauce is, the more the spices will want to separate from the liquids.
  • Place the frozen breaded chicken breasts in the air fryer basket in a single layer. Make sure they aren’t overlapping. No oil spray is needed.
  • Air Fry at 380°F/193°C for 10 minutes. Flip the chicken over.
  • Continue to Air Fry at 380°F/193°C for another 2 minutes. Check the chicken breasts and if needed, add another 2-3 minutes or until heated through and crispy to your preference.
  • Place chicken on top of white bread. Brush both sides of chicken with the hot sauce. Top with pickles and serve warm. Enjoy!

Notes

Air Frying Tips and Notes:
  1. No Oil Necessary. Cook Frozen – Do not thaw first.
  2. Don’t overcrowd the air fryer basket. Lay in a single layer.
  3. Recipe timing is based on a non-preheated air fryer. If cooking in multiple batches of chicken back to back, the following batches may cook a little quicker. 
  4. Recipes were tested in 3.7 to 6 qt. air fryers. If using a larger air fryer, the chicken might cook quicker so adjust cooking time.
  5. Remember to set a timer to flip/toss as directed in recipe.

If your air fryer is preheated or if you are cooking multiple batches, you may need to reduce timing by a few minutes (unless preheating is called for in the recipe).

Video

Nutrition Information

Calories: 260kcal, Carbohydrates: 19g, Protein: 26g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 55mg, Sodium: 520mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 6g