Nashville Hot Seasoning

Nashville hot seasoning in a bowl before being mixed

A Nashville hot chicken sandwich is somewhere in my top 3 favorite sandwiches. It rests comfortably at the top along with the Rueben and Banh Mi. There’s just something about the crispy chicken basted in hot seasoned oil that makes it fairly unique in the sandwich world. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

The base the seasoning mix starts with cayenne pepper. It’s the heart and soul of it. The great thing about making your own it that you can control the heat level. There’s nothing worse than making a dish that is far to hot for your taste buds. We’ll talk about this more in depth later.

Completely mixed up Nashville hot seasoning in a bowl.

Where did Nashville Hot Seasoning come from anyways?

As the name suggests this dish originated in Nashville, Tennessee. However, the origins come from a scorned lover. A well known womanizer named Thornton Prince was served up a plate of fiery hot chicken which was meant to be revenge. It turned out that he liked the hot fried chicken so much that he went onto open a chicken shack called “BBQ Chicken Shack” after he perfected the recipe. You can read more about the origin story here.

Nashville hot seasoning neatly piled up in a bowl.

Where’s the salt?

Please note that there is no salt in the seasoning. You will need to salt the piece of meat (3/4-ish teaspoons per pound of meat) prior to adding the salt.

Without repeating myself I firmly believe food tastes better when properly salted first and then the dry rub applied. You can read more about salt on my most popular post.

How Hot is Nashville Hot Seasoning

The great thing when making your own seasoning is that you control the heat level. Not all cayenne pepper is created equal. The same thing can be said about taste buds.

Use this as a general guide but use your own discretion.

  • 1/4 cup cayenne – A decent blend of heat and taste
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne – less heat
  • 6 tablespoons cayenne – now you are asking for it
  • 1/2 cup cayenne – pain!

Now excuse me because I’m hungry. I have to go make something with this seasoning.

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Nashville hot seasoning in a bowl before being mixed
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Nashville Hot Seasoning

Some like it hot. Some like it Nashville hot.
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Course: Rub
Cuisine: American
Keyword: nashville hot, nashville hot seasoning
Cost: $5


  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cayenne pepper see notes
  • 1 ½ tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper


  • Combine all ingredients and mix to combine. Store airtight for up to a month.
  • Please note there is no salt in this rub. You will need to apply your own salt appropriately


Not all cayenne pepper or taste buds are made the same.  Some is hot.  Some is HOTTER! Adjust the amount of cayenne pepper using some discretion.  You can always add more cayenne pepper at the end but you can’t take it out.