What is Nashville Hot Chicken?

Since summer 2018, Humble Pie has been bringing Berlin a unique Tennessee treat – Nashville Hot Chicken – deep fried chicken that is slathered in a spicy, cayenne based paste and usually served up with white bread and dill pickles. You may have seen Nashville Hot Chicken featured on Ugly Delicious or a chef having a meltdown eating hot chicken on The Mind of a Chef.

While Nashville Hot Chicken is a relatively recent craze in the U.S., and is even popping up on menus from Bangkok to Berlin, Nashville’s African American community has enjoyed spicy fried chicken for generations and the creation of the sometimes painfully hot chicken is attributed to the Prince family.

According to Andre Prince Jeffries, the current owner of Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, the now famous dish was a bit of an accident. The legend goes that Thorton Prince, the “father of Nashville’s hot chicken,” was a known ladies man and one morning after a night of revelry, his girlfriend decided to exact revenge by cooking up one of his favorite dishes, fried chicken – only this time she added an unholy amount of hot pepper. But instead of reducing Prince to tears, Prince loved the dish, and soon created his own hot chicken recipe, eventually opening the first iteration of Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack with his brothers in the mid-1930s. Ever since, the dish has become known far and wide outside of Nashville, but Prince’s remains the benchmark for Nashville Hot Chicken.

When I left Tennessee for New York – then Switzerland, and now Berlin – making the food I grew up with brought me back home. I started Humble Pie to bring all those comforting tastes to Berliners: sweet pie, biscuits, mac and cheese, and of course fried chicken.

Our fried chicken biscuit sandwich debuted in 2016, but it wasn’t until I was approached by Sam, a fellow Tennessean from Nashville with a craving for Hot Chicken, that the Humble Pie version was born. 

Here at Humble Pie, we serve our Nashville Hot Chicken as a sandwich. Buttermilk-brined chicken thighs are dredged in a seasoned flour mixture and deep fried. Before the fried chicken goes in the sandwich, it is coated with one of our two custom dry spice blends created by Sam. Here is where you have to make an important choice. We have a proper, Nashville tear-and-sweat inducing hot, but also one that’s spicy but with a more manageable heat that we’ve dubbed “Berlin Hot.”

The (un)reasonably spicy fried chicken is then tucked inside a fluffy, handmade buttermilk biscuit and served up with different toppings. Honey butter for a heavenly sweet and spicy combination, or with slaw, pickle and “Comeback” sauce, a Southern mayo based remoulade sauce, for a tangy and creamy combination.

To see where you can get your hands on one of our Hot Chicken sandwiches, keep an eye on our website, Facebook page, or on Instagram. And, if you are able to make it to Nashville, pay a visit to Prince’s for the original, definitive Nashville Hot Chicken experience.

Yours in chicken,
Sarah