Nashville Hot Chicken Guide

Updated 09.20.17 | Advertising Disclosure | Our Sponsors may be mentioned in this article.

In Nashville, there’s an annual hot chicken festival, a hot chicken coalition and even a hot chicken anthem—clearly, fiery fowl is here to stay. With that in mind, these are the best places to grab it and what your taste buds can expect at each.


Bolton’s Spicy Chicken & Fish

What this old-school, authentic dive lacks in frills, it makes up for in menu options: chicken (breast, tenders, legs), fish (catfish, grouper, tilapia), pork (pulled, ribs, chops) and all kinds of veggies. Word on the street is to order one heat level lower than what you think you can handle at Bolton’s.

Heat index: No Spice, Light Mild, Mild, Medium, Hot, Extra Spicy

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Hattie B’s

In just five years, Hattie B’s has earned acclaim on par with hot chicken legends like Prince’s and Bolton’s. At its locations in midtown and West Nashville (plus an upcoming outpost on Eighth Avenue South), the family-run eatery offers a wide variety of spicy plates and platters. Hot tip: To avoid the inevitably long line, order your meal online and pick it up to-go.

Heat index: Southern, Mild, Medium, Hot!, Damn Hot!, Shut the Cluck Up!!!

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Helen’s Hot Chicken

What began as a modest hot chicken trailer on the side of the road in Germantown is now a growing franchise spanning Tennessee and Texas. Helen’s Hot Chicken serves up both poultry and fish as well as traditional sides, all with explosive flavor. Expect a wait—and a fiery meal that’s totally worth it.

Heat index: Plain, Mild, Hot, Hella Hot

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Party Fowl

The trendiest of Nashville’s options, Party Fowl lets its menu run wild—hot chicken here comes in the form of po’ boys, nachos, poutine, Cuban sandwiches, Cobb salads, French toast and more. Party Fowl also has table service and lots of seating options, which most of its counterparts lack. The vibe is as fun as the fowl is fiery, making it a fantastic place to (you guessed it) party.

Heat index: Southern Fried, Mild, Medium, Hot, Poultrygeist

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Pepperfire

For his version of hot chicken, Pepperfire owner Isaac Beard developed six individual spices rather than one master spice that gets watered down. All dinners, which range from whole chickens to wings to waffles, come with two tasty sides. On a recent visit, the Food Network staff was brought to tears by the restaurant’s signature dish: deep-fried grilled cheese topped with juicy tenders and nearly unbearable heat.

Heat index: Southernfied, Light Mild, Mild, Medium, Hot, X Hot!, XX Hot! 

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Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack

As Nashville’s original hot chicken purveyor, this is where the nationwide craze began. Prince’s keeps things simple with its straightforward menu and tight quarters, even as the local food scene and surrounding neighborhood grow. The famous recipe was born when founder Thornton Prince’s scorned lover devised a creative way to get revenge for his philandering ways—but he actually loved the absurd amount of spices she secretly added to his chicken, and the rest is history.

Heat index: Plain, Mild, Medium, Hot, X Hot, XXX Hot

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400 Degrees

A frequent customer of Prince’s when she was growing up, Nashville native Aqui Hines now runs her own popular hot chicken spot, 400 Degrees. Her offerings, which include chicken and pork chops, come with a thick, spicy crust. To wash it all down, you can—and maybe should—order tea by the gallon.

Heat index: 0°, 100°, 200°, 400°

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Did we leave off your favorite Nashville hot chicken restaurant or event? Let us know in the comments!