Recently made famous by KFC Nashville Hot Chicken, Nashville Hot Sauce is the sauce used on the regional dish that has been around way longer than KFC has been selling it.
The hot sauce is more of a paste or spicy oil than a sauce, thick and grainy, it is full of flavor.
What is Nashville Hot Sauce?
Nashville Hot Sauce is a regional hot sauce made from cayenne pepper, other spices and brown sugar. Served on fried chicken to make Nashville Hot Chicken.
Have you ever been to Nashville? Hubby and I love it! We stay down on lower Broadway and hop from bar to bar listening to the stellar live music all day long.
Add a few good ole southern iced teas, moonshine, BBQ and Nashville Hot Chicken and you have yourself a nice little weekend.
In fact, it has been nearly a year since we have been which means we are due for a trip. But since we have two little running around, I’ll have to settle on making myself a Nashville reminiscent meal.
What is Nashville Hot Sauce Made With?
Nashville Hot Sauce can be made with vegetable oil, butter base or straight up lard.
Although a vegetable oil base won’t harden as easy and lard is much more stable, I personally like a butter base. You can use a smidge of honey or agave nectar to stabilize the sauce. It just requires the sauce to be warmed up slightly before using, because butter solidifies when chilled.
Use clarified butter, butter without milk solids, works best. If you don’t have time to whip up your own batch of clarified butter, grab a jar of ghee at the grocery store.
Ghee is pantry stable clarified butter that doesn’t require refrigeration. You can find it in the International aisle near Indian foods. This also means you won’t have to store it in the fridge and you won’t need to let it come to room temperature every time you use it.
Nashville Hot Sauce Ingredients
The main ingredients of this hottest food trend can more than likely be found in your pantry or spice cabinet. If not, you can easily find them at a local grocery store.
- Butter – If you can, clarified butter is preferred. But definitely make sure to use unsalted butter. That way you can control the amount of salt that goes into the sauce.
- Cayenne pepper- This is the key ingredient to this hot sauce recipe. The amount of cayenne pepper is really up to you- use the suggested amount the first time you make it, then do a taste test to check the heat level. You can always add more if you want more of a spicy kick.
- Brown sugar – To balance out the heat, we need a little bit of sugar. Brown sugar not only adds a touch of sweetness, but also a bold flavor too.
- Salt and pepper – I like to use coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. You can add them to taste, whatever satisfies your taste buds.
- Garlic powder – Rather than fresh garlic that makes this hot sauce chunky, we just use garlic powder. If you don’t mind the texture, you can use minced garlic.
- Smoked paprika – I love the smoky flavor that smoked paprika adds to this sauce, but you can use regular paprika if you’d like.
- Honey – For another dose of sweetness, we add a bit of honey. If you’re not a fan, you can omit the honey or substitute it with agave nectar.
What Type Of Butter Is Best?
All butter sold in the United States must contain a minimum of 80% milkfat, the white, frothy stuff that comes up when it is heated.
Grades, ranging from the best grade AA to grade B, are based on flavor, body, color and salt and water content. European butter will have more fat content and also more flavor with a darker yellow hue. Cultured butter has active cultures and will give it more of a tang, like buttermilk or yogurt.
How to Serve Nashville Hot Sauce
Traditional Nashville Fried Chicken is served on white bread with pickles. However, I wanted something a little more hearty and sweet to compliment my Nashville Hot Sauce, so I opted for buttermilk biscuits.
Who doesn’t love biscuits?
Hattie B’s Hot Chicken is probably the most popular, but nearly everywhere has their own version. If you have a favorite, I’d love to hear it in the comments!
Jeff says: “So good thank you. I added a tablespoon of honey as well to get more of a glaze and it helped with stabilizing the spices in the butter. I served home fried chicken smothered in nashville hot sauce on ciabatta rolls.
Reminds me of a American version of hot chilli oil for Chinese dumplings. My new favorite way to eat chicken. Might try it on dumplings too.”
But according to Nashville historians, Nashville Hot Chicken didn’t originate there. Although it had been around for decades, it was Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack that brought it to popularity.
And, of course, KFC has now brought it to the masses. I would be hard pressed to find a true hot chicken eater to say it even comes close to comparing to the read deal though.
Also served with dill pickles, I used my honey habanero pickles. You can use it as a dip for french fries, pour it over grilled chicken pieces, coat fried chicken wings in it, use it on sweet potatoes, add it to potato salad or any other way you can think of to make the perfect meal.
Anything that uses hot sauce can be swapped with this spicy sauce.
Storage & Freezing
Storage: If fresh with butter, store in the fridge for up to 1 month. If using ghee or clarified butter, it is shelf stable without refrigeration.
SHAKE WELL BETWEEN EACH USE. The ingredients will settle and need to be redistributed.
Freezing: You can also freeze your Nashville Hot Sauce! Simply put it in an airtight container or plastic bag with as little air as possible. Freeze it for 3-4 months. Make a double batch!
Frequently Asked Questions
Each recipe might be slightly different, but this one calls for unsalted butter, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, coarse kosher salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika and honey. A lot of recipes also call for chili powder.
Both Nashville and regular hot sauce have a base of butter with heat from cayenne pepper. However, Nashville hot sauce is a bit on the sweeter side with the addition of honey.
The great thing about homemade hot sauces is that you can make them as spicy or mild as you’d like to. If you’d like yours to be more mild, simply add less cayenne pepper.
More Spicy Food
- Chile Relleno Bites
- Jalapeno Popper Chicken
- Homemade Buffalo Sauce
- Fiery Hawaiian Calzones
- Spicy Thai Noodles
- Spicy Chipotle Mayo
- Peri Peri Sauce
More Favorites from Savory Experiments
Nashville Hot Sauce Recipe
- Combine the butter, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika and honey in a heavy bottom saucepan. Stir over low heat until combined. Mixture will not be smooth.
- Make sure to come back and let us know how you liked this recipe. We love comments and ratings!