How to Make Healthy Nashville Hot Chicken in the Oven!

Just in time for summer, here’s the best Nashville Hot Chicken! This baked Nashville hot chicken is tender on the inside and crunchy on the outside with spicy sauce drizzled on top!  Best of all, it’s actually healthy, too!

Nashville Hot Chicken | Make a healthier Nashville Hot Chicken in the oven using Signature Farms Chicken Breast from @Albertsons! AD #MySignatureSummer | A Sweet Pea Chef

As a kid,  I loved all things country music.  I would rock Garth  Brooks,  Trisha  Yearwood, Brooks and Dunn,  Reba, and all the rest on my  Walkman.  Yep  –  I even had my own cowgirl hat, silver and gold buckle,  and  I rocked the Boot-Scootin’  Boogie.

Back then, when I heard about Nashville on the radio and TV, I thought it sounded sooo cool.  I pictured all the country music stars walking around downtown with their guitars.

It wasn’t until last year, some 30 years later, that I would have a chance to visit  Nashville.  FINALLY!

While, nowadays, I no longer sport my silver and gold buckle,  I still fangirl about Nashville.  But life is more than about music — it’s also about FOOD.

Naturally,  as we approached our arrival to Nashville, I did my food research.  I knew I had to make it count to check out this iconic city I’d dreamt about since I was a kid.

I knew I had to find some good Nashville Hot Chicken.  ‘Cuz duh.

Of course, Nashville was amazing and I’ve been dreaming about  Nashville  Hot Chicken ever since.  Tender, juicy chicken.  Crunchy coating.  Burning hot sauce.  The pickles!  All of it.  Definitely a highlight.

Overhead view of a mixing bowl filled with almond meal and spices that is being mixed together to use as a coating for the baked Nashville Hot Chicken.

HOW TO MAKE HEALTHY NASHVILLE HOT CHICKEN

Spicy fried chicken is well-loved here in the South. It became popular in Nashville and then the awesomeness of the Nashville chicken recipe spread to neighboring states. Nowadays, pretty much everybody knows about it. And loves it.

Let’s start with some general tips for how to make Nashville hot chicken.

  • first of all, you can use any chicken cut you prefer – I used chicken breast because it’s a lean protein and great for Nashville chicken;
  • to make the coating for the spicy fried chicken, you’ll need 3 bowls – one with flour, one with egg mixture, and one with flour and spices;
  • to  make  sure  flour  coating  sticks  to  the  chicken  and  stays  on it  while  it’s  baking,  you  start  with  dredging  the  chicken breast  in  the  first bowl,  then  coat  with  the  egg  mixture,  and  then  press  the  spicy  seasoned  flour  mixture  to  finish  it;
  • then,  just  place  it in  the  oven  and  let  the  magic  happen  for  about  35-45  minutes,  until  the  chicken  breast  is  cooked  through  and  the  crust  is  golden  brown;
  • while the chicken is cooking, prep the Nashville hot sauce and set aside.
  • when the Nashville hot chicken is ready, drizzle with Nashville hot chicken sauce and serve.

Ingredients for the Nashville Hot Chicken, broken out into different bowls for the coating to make them crispy when baked.

IS FRIED CHICKEN HEALTHY?

As good as it is, Nashville hot chicken is still… fried chicken. You know fried chicken is not healthy. Basically, it’s heavily coated in salt, refined flour, and oil.  While it’s a must while you’re in Nashville, there are definitely some easy changes we can do to make homemade Nashville hot chicken and have it be healthier.  Because this is definitely a recipe we need to #makeithealthy.

The boneless skinless chicken breast for the Nashville Hot Chicken that has been coated and is not on the baking sheet, ready to be placed into the oven and baked.

MY HEALTHY BREADING FOR NASHVILLE HOT CHICKEN

To make clean and healthy fried chicken, we aren’t using a lot of refined flour as we would normally do for the classic spicy fried chicken recipe.  Instead, we use  a  three-layer  coating,  which  consists of  the  following:

  • bowl  1: chickpea flour mixed with sea salt;
  • bowl  2: beaten eggs and hot  sauce;
  • bowl  3: almond meal seasoned with cayenne, paprika, garlic powder, and sea salt.

CHICKPEA FLOUR NUTRITION FACTS

The reason I use chickpea flour for this oven fried chicken is because the chickpea flour nutrition is so much better than all-purpose flour.

Chickpea flour is…

  • a good source of protein;
  • high in fiber;
  • filled with micronutrients – minerals (iron, magnesium, zinc) and B vitamins (niacin and folate);
  • gluten-free.

ALMOND FLOUR VS. FLOUR

If you don’t know the difference between almond meal vs. flour, it’s because there isn’t really any difference. There are pretty much the same thing and the term can be used interchangeably. Almond flour is usually blanched, while almond meal can be blanched or un-blanched.

Side view of the Nashville Hot Chicken that shows it is crispy from being baked in the oven.

HOW TO MAKE HEALTHIER OVEN-FRIED CHICKEN

Believe it or not, you CAN make fried chicken in the oven.  Baking fried chicken makes the food healthier because there’s much less oil and heavy breading needed.

Here are some tips  for how to make Nashville hot chicken healthy:

  • bake the chicken instead of frying;
  • replace the refined flour with chickpea flour and almond meal;
  • reduce the amount of salt (skip the pickle juice brine);
  • use high-quality chicken breast  for  lean  protein;
  • replace canola oil with olive oil for healthier fat;
  • skip the sliced white bread.

View of the saucepan that is making the spicy oil for the Nashville Hot Chicken.

WHAT’S IN NASHVILLE HOT SAUCE?

We cannot have a post about Nashville hot chicken without talking about the delicious Nashville hot sauce that goes so well with the healthy baked fried chicken.

To make the Nashville hot chicken sauce, we’ll be using…

  • cayenne;
  • paprika;
  • ground cumin;
  • garlic powder;
  • sea salt;
  • coconut sugar;
  • olive oil;

The Nashville hot sauce has heat, flavor, and sweetness. You can adjust it to make it spicier or just slightly spicy depending on your heat tolerance. Authentic Nashville hot chicken, such as Hattie B’s hot chicken recipe (which is where I went in Nashville and is ah-mazing!), requires more cayenne than my recipe so if you’re into really spicy food and you love the authentic taste of Nashville chicken, go for it, add more! If not, tone it down a bit.

Nashville Hot Chicken topped with a sliced dill pickle and next to the spicy oil to be drizzled over the top.

TIPS FOR MAKING NASHVILLE HOT CHICKEN EXTRA DELICIOUS

I’m gonna hold you up for 1 more minute to give you 2 extra tips for making the best healthy baked fried chicken.

  • As I already said, you can cut down on spices if you want the Nashville chicken to just slightly spicy, not extra hot and you can do the same thing with the hot sauce used in the egg mixture. Also, you can serve the Nashville hot sauce on the side of the healthy fried chicken, not drizzled over it and dip in only when you need more heat;
  • I love to add a quick coleslaw and sliced pickles to my Nashville Hot Chicken recipe for the whole effect.

Nashville Hot Chicken | Follow these easy steps and you’ll be on your way to the best healthy Nashville Hot Chicken ever. Just in time for summer! | A Sweet Pea Chef

3 MORE HEALTHY CHICKEN RECIPES

While your Nashville hot chicken is cooking in the oven, you can discover 3 more yummy and healthy chicken recipes you can make any time you want.

HOW TO MEAL PREP – HEALTHY CHICKEN PARMESAN (UNDER 350 CALORIES!)

First, you can learn How to Meal Prep – Healthy Chicken Parmesan. You’ll stick to your healthy eating plan while enjoying comfort food if you’re making this chicken parmesan. Woot!

An overhead image of three glass containers lined up on a kitchen counter each with a single serving of Healthy Chicken Parmesan served with zucchini noodles ready to be placed in the refrigerator for meal prep.

And don’t get me started on the amazing taste of this chicken dish served with marinara sauce and zoodles. YUMMY. Get the recipe.

CILANTRO LIME CHICKEN

Quick, easy, and with a ton of flavor – this is how I’d describe this Cilantro Lime Chicken.

Cilantro Lime Chicken | Quick, delicious, 7 ingredients, and Healthy! | asweetpeachef.com

This chicken recipes will give you tender, juicy chicken with amazing flavors every time. Get the recipe.

EASY CHICKEN PICATTA

Another comfort food made healthy – Easy Chicken Picatta. You can make it any day of the week, it’s ready in approximately 25 minutes. Amazeballs!

Easy Chicken Picatta | An easy, delicious comfort food made healthier! | A Sweet Pea Chef #sponsored

The lemon-capers sauce is finger-licking good and perfect over healthy pasta (think chickpea or quinoa pasta).

Get the recipe.

Nashville Hot Chicken | Healthy & Baked!

5 from 3 votes
Nashville Hot Chicken | Follow these easy steps and you’ll be on your way to the best healthy Nashville Hot Chicken ever. Just in time for summer! | A Sweet Pea Chef
Nashville Hot Chicken
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 

Just in time for summer, here’s the best Nashville Hot Chicken! This baked Nashville hot chicken is tender on the inside and crunchy on the outside with spicy sauce drizzled on top!  Best of all, it’s actually healthy, too!

Categories: Chicken, Clean Eating, Dairy-Free, Easy Weeknight Dinner, gluten free, Healthy, Healthy Recipes
Difficulty: Easy
Keyword: hot chicken recipe, nashville hot chicken, nashville hot chicken recipe
Servings: 4
Calories: 274 kcal
Author: Lacey Baier
Ingredients
For the Nashville Hot Chicken:
Bowl 1:
  • 2/3 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
Bowl 2:
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce
Bowl 3:
  • 1 1/3 cups almond meal
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/3 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (approx. 3-4 chicken breasts)
  • 3-6 sliced dill pickle chips, optional
For the Spicy Oil:
  • 1 tbsp cayenne
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp coconut sugar
  • 1 cup olive oil
Instructions
For the Nashville Hot Chicken:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay a wire rack over the parchment paper and brush lightly with olive oil.

  2. Gather 3 medium sized mixing bowls. In Bowl 1, combine chickpea flour and sea salt; set aside.

  3. In Bowl 2, combine eggs and hot sauce; set aside.
  4. In Bowl 3, combine almond meal, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, and sea salt; set aside. Add the olive oil and stir together until the mixture becomes slightly clumpy. Set aside.
  5. Dredge the chicken breast into the garbanzo bean flour, then transfer to egg mixture to coat. Transfer to almond meal mixture and press onto the chicken. Place the breaded chicken breast onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
  6. Transfer the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the crust is golden brown.
  7. Using a toothpick, hold the dill pickle chips on top of the chicken breast and drizzle with the spicy oil (see instructions below).
For the Spicy Oil:
  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the cayenne, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, sea salt and coconut sugar.

  2. Stir the spices and toast until fragrant, about 2-4 minutes.
  3. Add the olive oil and heat through. Use the sauce to drizzle over the chicken when ready to serve.

Recipe Video

Nutrition Facts
Nashville Hot Chicken
Amount Per Serving (5 oz chicken)
Calories 274 Calories from Fat 252
% Daily Value*
Fat 28g43%
Saturated Fat 3g15%
Cholesterol 154mg51%
Sodium 681mg28%
Potassium 695mg20%
Carbohydrates 19g6%
Fiber 7g28%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 30g60%
Vitamin A 1645IU33%
Vitamin C 7.3mg9%
Calcium 108mg11%
Iron 3.8mg21%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

This post is contains affiliate links for products I use often and highly recommend.

Lacey Baier

Hey y’all, I’m Lacey Baier and I’m so glad you’re here! I’m a healthy lifestyle influencer and the creator of this clean-eating blog and YouTube channel, A Sweet Pea Chef. My recipes have been published on Food Network, Good Morning America, FoxNews, Tastemade, Fitness Magazine, and much more. I live in Dallas, Texas with my husband and four kiddos. Let’s get started!

12 thoughts on “How to Make Healthy Nashville Hot Chicken in the Oven!

  1. Hi! I just came across your blog and am loving the recipes. I am wondering – can I substitute almond or coconut flour for chickpea flour? Thank you!

  2. Loved Hot Chicken when I was in Nashville a year ago, and to see a recipe for it is exciting. My one question is which hot sauce would you recommend?

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