Nashville Hot Sauce


Do you like your food with a little spice? Nashville hot sauce is about as spicy as it gets. This sauce isn’t anything like ketchup. In terms of heat, it is like rocket fuel. Make sure you’ve got a cold glass of water at the ready. It isn’t anything like boring old traditional sauces. It is quite oily, perfect for coating delicious fried chicken. We are going to show you how to make it in this recipe.

copycat nashville hot sauce

How to Make Nashville Hot Sauce

The best thing about this recipe is that it is really simple to make… It essentially involves frying a few dried spices in lashings of clarified butter.

A spoon, a pan, a stove, and you are pretty much set. No messing around!

The heat comes from the inclusion of cayenne pepper. How much heat? Well, we use around two to three tablespoons of the stuff, so you can be the judge of that.

The sauce is actually a little bit sweet too. To bring this out in the sauce, we use a generous helping of golden brown sugar. This caramelizes, mixes with the butter, and helps fry the spices to perfection.

The south, in particular, Tennessee and Nashville, are famous for the smoky flavors in their BBQ dishes. We have given a nod to this by using smoked paprika in this recipe.

Here’s a word of caution. When you fry spices, they change in composition and can be pretty intense. Make sure you scale your quantities if you are looking to make a smaller portion.

The recipe can be a little tricky if you are trying to clarify butter, but I am going to help you out. If you are near to an Asian or Indian supermarket, you can buy clarified butter ready made. This is called ghee. However, if you can’t find ghee, don’t worry too much. The recipe can be created with the addition of oil in its place.

Have a look through our recipe, and if you are missing one or two ingredients, don’t panic. You’ll still be able to make some delicious Nashville hot sauce. We’ve included a list of alternatives in our tips and tricks below.

Nashville Hot Sauce Recipe

4 from 106 votes
Recipe by Laura Ritterman Course: SauceCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time





I really enjoy making this delicious Nashville hot sauce recipe, as it brings out the flavors in any meal. A real house hold favorite for my family. Bring this copycat recipe into your kitchen.


  • 5 tablespoons 5 clarified butter, ghee, or oil.

  • 6 teaspoons 6 of cayenne pepper (fiery)

  • ½ tablespoon ground black pepper

  • ½ tablespoon salt

  • ½ tablespoon smoky paprika

  • 1 tablespoon 1 garlic powder

  • 4 teaspoons 4 brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon 1 runny honey


  • Take a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Add your clarified butter to the pan and cook until it begins to shimmer and bubble.
  • Add all of the dry spices to the pan and stir until they form a loose paste. Stir regularly and cook until they begin to darken and smell really fragrant.
  • Add the sugar and honey and stir until combined with the rest of the ingredients. Don’t worry if the sauce is loose. It will thicken when it cools.
  • Either serve immediately over crispy fried chicken or pour into a glass container for use whenever you would like.


  • This recipe is completely scalable. To make double the amount, simply double the ingredients. To make a smaller portion, just add half of everything.
  • Calories: 50 per teaspoon of sauce

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Tips and Tricks

  • No garlic powder? No problem. Ok, there are a few ways around this. The first is to use fresh garlic. Crush it until it is in a paste and fry it when you first add the oil or butter to the pan. Another great and tasty solution is to make your own garlic salt. Just dice a couple of cloves and leave them in a tablespoon of salt. This will draw all of those tasty oils out. The best part is that you can use it in other recipes, and it keeps for ages.
  • Nashville hot sauce can be frozen. Due to the high fat content, it stays good for a while anyway. To freeze, just decant into an ice cube tray and freeze. Just heat it up in a pan when you want to use it.
  • If you want all the taste and less of the heat, feel free to reduce the amount of cayenne pepper in this recipe. Three tablespoons are fiery. Two tablespoons are hot, and one tablespoon will give you more of a gentle heat.
  • If you haven’t got cayenne pepper, you can recreate the heat with fresh chili. Around three fresh red chilies finely diced should give around the same amount of heat. Add them towards the middle of the cooking process so that they don’t burn.
  • Along with the brown sugar, we also use honey to make this recipe sticky sweet. If you don’t have honey, then feel free to make it up with brown sugar and vice versa.
  • Cooked sugar gets seriously hot. If you are pouring your Nashville hot sauce into a storage container, be super careful to avoid dripping onto your skin. It will give you a nasty burn (and not just because of the insane amount of cayenne).
  • You can substitute smoked paprika for regular paprika. The smoky flavor won’t be there, but you should still get plenty of pepper flavor running through the dish.


Fiery and smoky, just what we love with fried chicken! Nashville hot sauce won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it is utterly delicious for the heat lovers out there. It also makes a nice dipping sauce, so if you have rustled up some sweet potato fries or just want something to spice up a simple plate of nacho’s it’s ideal. What’s your favorite sauce to serve with fried chicken? Let me know in the comments below!


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