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Easy Air Fryer Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwiches

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This super simple air fryer Nashville hot chicken sandwich recipe delivers all the bold, spicy flavor you’ve come to know and love in under 20 minutes. To keep them really easy for weeknight dinners, I start with frozen breaded chicken breast fillets, then mix up the spicy sauce while they cook.

Don’t have an air fryer? No worries! I’ll cover that, too!

Two air fried Nashville hot chicken sandwiches with pickles surrounded by fries.

Have you tried Nashville hot chicken yet? It seems like it’s been everywhere lately, and for good reason. The sweet and spicy mix of cayenne pepper and brown sugar is absolutely delicious!

I’ve loved fast food spicy chicken sandwiches ever since I was a kid, but Nashville hot chicken sauce really takes them to the next level.

You’re really going to love this recipe because it’s super simple, yet so incredibly tasty. There are just six ingredients in the sandwich itself, plus a little bit of oil, salt, and pepper.

That’s it! Six ingredients to make the perfect sandwich, every time.

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Ingredients
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Overhead view of the ingredients needed to make spicy Nashville hot chicken sandwiches in the air fryer with frozen chicken fillets.

Ingredients needed to make Nashville hot chicken sauce

This spicy sauce is traditionally made by adding spices to the oil used to fry chicken. Since we’re using an air fryer (or oven) for this recipe, you won’t have dry oil. That’s ok though! I’ve found that olive oil works just as well. I mix it with a little water to improve the texture and keep the calories down.

In addition to oil and water, you’ll need:

  • Cayenne Pepper. Cayene contributes both heat and flavor to this tasty sauce! You can adjust the amount up or down to duit yoru personal preferences. We like things firey hot, so I use 1 1/2 teaspoon when I’m making this recipe for us. 1 teaspoon is a good starting place for most people. If you only like a whisper of heat, you could start with just 1/2 teaspoon.
  • Brown Sugar. Brown sugar helps balance out all of that heat and adds rich, molasses notes to the sauce. You can use dark or light brown sugar for this recipe, it’s pretty forgiving. Grab whatever you have!
  • Paprika. This add color as well as a subtle smoky flavor.
  • Garlic Powder. A little garlic powder rounds things out and makes the flavors more complex, without tasting super garlicky. I’ve left this out before and the recipe still works, but it’s definitely better with it.
Mixing up your own homemade Nashville hot chicken sauce is easy with spices, brown sugar, and oil.

Yup, we’re using frozen chicken for these sandwiches

In an ideal world, I’d have the time and energy to bread my own chicken breasts for these sandwiches, but I don’t live in that world. If using frozen chicken is the difference between me cooking dinner and ordering take-out, so be it!

These Tyson chicken breast fillets are really good, and made with whole chicken breasts–no chicken patties here! I’ve also heard that the Aldi chicken in the red bag is really good, but I haven’t tried it myself.

To air fry or to bake?

Don’t worry if the chicken you buy doesn’t say it can be made in an air fryer. It still can!

I love using my air fryer for these sandwiches because:

1) The chicken comes out super crispy

2) It cooks in about half the time it would take in the oven

3) There’s no preheat time, which means I save at least 15 minutes.

If you don’t have an air fryer, it’s ok. Bake them at 425F for 20-25 minutes, flipping them halfway through the cooking time.

You can also bread your own fresh chicken breasts if you prefer to go that route. But using frozen chicken fillets is definitely the quickest and easiest method.

Two air fryer chicken breasts coats with Nashville hot sauce.

What can I serve with my spicy chicken sandwiches?

These air fryer Nashville hot chicken sandwiches are pretty spicy. You might want to serve them with some coleslaw or potato salad as a cool and creamy counterpoint.

  • Coleslaw or potato salad (store-bought or homemade);
  • French fries or sweet potato fries (cook these in the air fryer as well or in the oven);
  • Pasta salad;
  • A leafy green salad;
  • Air fryer onion rings;

If you’re making fries or onion rings in your air fryer to accompany these chicken sandwiches, it’s best to make them first and then set them aside while cooking the chicken sandwiches. You can easily pop the fries back into the air fryer basket for 3-4 minutes to heat them up a bit for serving.  You can also keep them warm in a 200F oven.

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Overhead view of Nashville chicken sandwiches without the top buns, topped with pickle spices. Fries are scattered around.

Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwiches

This super simple air fryer Nashville hot chicken sandwich recipe delivers all the bold, spicy flavor you’ve come to know and love in under 20 minutes. To keep them really easy for weeknight dinners, I start with frozen breaded chicken breast fillets, then mix up the spicy sauce while they cook.Don’t have an air fryer? No worries! I’ll cover that, too!
5
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings
Calories 369 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 4 frozen breaded chicken breasts
  • 1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 Tablespoons water
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • Dill pickle slices

Instructions
 

  • Heat your air fryer to 350°F. Spray the basket with oil, then add the frozen chicken breasts. Cook for 12-15 minutes, until crispy and warmed through. (If you don't have an air fryer, bake the chicken at 425°F for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through the cooking time.)
  • Meanwhile, in a shallow dish mix together the cayenne, brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper, olive oil, and water to form a thin paste.
  • Remove the chicken from the air fryer and dip both sides into the spice mixture (add more water if necessary to thin the sauce).
  • Serve the spicy chicken breasts on the buns and top with pickles.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 369kcalCarbohydrates: 38gProtein: 33gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 65mgSodium: 431mgPotassium: 404mgFiber: 1gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 228IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 77mgIron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Leave a Star Rating!
This super simple air fryer Nashville hot chicken sandwich recipe delivers all the bold, spicy flavor you’ve come to know and love. To keep them really easy for weeknight dinners, I start with frozen breaded chicken breast fillets, then mix up the spicy sauce while they cook.

Don’t have an air fryer? No worries! I’ll cover that, too!
By on October 10th, 2021

About Lauren

Hi, I’m Lauren! I love to cook -- but even more importantly, I really like to eat! I have a demanding day job that keeps me busy, so time is precious. For me, it's all about finding ways to make delicious, restaurant-quality meals at home on a tight schedule.

I also write Healthy-Delicious.com and have authored 4 cookbooks (and counting!) all about making meals at home easier.

More posts by this author.

4 thoughts on “Easy Air Fryer Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwiches”

  1. 5 stars
    I’m rating this recipe BEFORE I even try it bc I KNOW it will be great. I just added all ingredients to my shopping list and heading to store to pick up now!

    Reply
  2. 5 stars
    What a fabulous, quick and easy recipe. My 16 year old son is going to totally love this. Printing recipe now!

    Reply

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