roasted Nashville hot chicken

roasted Nashville hot chicken

This roasted Nashville hot chicken is a healthy take on Music City’s famous fowl!

It was Christmas of 2018 when my husband and I first visited Nashville. We arrived the evening of December 25th and made our way to the uncharacteristically vacant lower Broadway. The honky tonks were fairly empty, given our holiday arrival. However, we found one restaurant that was open and thriving. Kenny and I enjoyed our Christmas burgers while bobbing our heads to live country music. Families occupied the tables around us and folks seemed content and helpful. This was our first taste of Nashville and we fell in love immediately.

roasted Nashville hot chicken

In the days to come and as the streets filled up with post holiday revelers, we ate our way through a long list of regional food. Recommendations for Nashville hot chicken showed up again and again.

As legend goes, Nashville hot chicken was invented when a promiscuous man returned home to his girlfriend late one night. The fuming girlfriend took revenge on her man by dousing his fried chicken with extra spicy cayenne pepper. Hoping to inflict pain on her mate, the girlfriend watched as the philanderer took his half drunken bite of hot chicken. To the girl’s dismay, her boyfriend loved the chicken, perfected the recipe over the years, and launched Prince’s hot chicken! One hundred years later and Hot Chicken is as synonymous with Nashville as country music or cowboy boots.

Kenny and I happily ate our body weight in hot chicken while exploring the South but we definitely needed to clean up our diets when we returned to California. Still hankering for a taste of the spicy poultry, I recently made this roasted Nashville hot chicken and it was a hit! Inspired by a recipe in one of my new favorite cookbooks, Nashville Eats, this recipe lets you enjoy that spicy flavor with fewer calories.

Traditional hot chicken is deep fried then smothered in a cayenne pepper oil. My recipe lets you marinade skinless chicken, keeping the meat moist sans skin. Then you simply roast the bird and finish with a slathering of spice infused olive oil. A final stint under the broiler caramelizes the spiced oil and leaves you with a delicious, low guilt meal!

Whether you’ve tasted Nashville Hot Chicken or not, you’ll love this recipe! Leave me a comment below and let me know what you think!

Still hungry for a healthier taste of the American South? Try these recipes:

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roasted Nashville hot chicken

roasted Nashville hot chicken


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  • Author: Sepideh Esmaili Campos

Description

This roasted Nashville hot chicken is a healthier, un-fried, version of the classic. Traditionally served with a slice of white bread and two pickle slices, I swapped the bread for coleslaw for a healthier dish. 


Ingredients

Scale

Marinade:

  • 2 cups lowfat buttermilk 
  • ½ cup cayenne pepper sauce (like franks or crystal)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder 
  • 3 pounds chicken thighs, boneless skinless 
  • Olive oil spray (or other cooking spray)

Spiced oil:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons ground cayenne pepper (or up to 3 Tablespoons if you like it really spicy)
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon wasabi powder (or mustard powder)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder 
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Coleslaw for serving 

Instructions

  1. In a large [non-reactive] bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, cayenne pepper sauce, kosher salt, and onion powder. 
  2. Add the chicken thighs to the marinade, making sure the chicken is submerged. 
  3. Cover the bowl with food wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. 
  4. When you’re ready to roast the chicken, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 
  5. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack inside the baking sheet. 
  6. Spray the wire rack with olive oil spray. 
  7. Use tongs to remove the chicken thighs from the marinade, letting excess marinade drip back into the bowl. 
  8. Place the marinated thighs on top of the wire rack, skinned side up, in a single layer. 
  9. Bake the chicken until it’s almost fully cooked, about 25 minutes. 
  10. While the chicken is baking, prepare the spiced oil. 
  11. In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, wasabi powder, paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, and kosher salt. 
  12. Remove the chicken thighs from the oven, preheat the broiler. Be sure to keep the chicken out of the oven while the broiler is preheating so as not to dry out the meat. 
  13. Use a pastry brush to cover the top sides of the chicken thighs with the spiced oil. 
  14. When the broiler is ready, place the spice oil rubbed chicken back in the oven and cook until the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant read thermometer and the spice glaze is darker and browned in spots. 
  15. If the glaze is starting to burn before the chicken is cooked, transfer the chicken to a lower rack so it’s farther away from the broiler element. 
  16. Remove the chicken from the oven and serve with a hefty serving of coleslaw to cool things down. 
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