Featuring this smoky Nashville Hot seasoning recipe.

Nashville Hot Seasoning

This Nashville Hot Seasoning recipe brings the heat to your plate with spicy cayenne, smoky chipotle, and an herbal twist of celery salt. Whether you’re making the classic Nashville hot chicken, roasted veggies, or even potato salad, this fiery seasoning is the key to kicking your tastebuds into action.

Try our homemade Nashville hot seasoning recipe.

If you have experienced the pleasant burn of biting into Nashville hot chicken, then you know what this is all about: Fiery, almost unbearable heat with every bite that builds. Just enough heat to get you excited about biting into it again without completely taking away your breath.

Unless you order the extra hot!

Thankfully, you can easily re-create this experience at home, customizing the level of heat to bring to the party.

Customize the heat level by adjusting the amount of cayenne and chipotle.

Authentic Nashville Hot Chicken

During my visits to Nashville, I’ve been studying the different flavors and methods of the competitive famous restaurants, as well as the underdogs.

We’ve all seen the brick red fried chicken, coated in spices and an oily glaze of more fiery heat. There are also dry rub versions too, and just as potent. I was actually quite surprised at the diversity of flavors.

I’m surprised I didn’t see more uses for the spices themselves, outside of the fried chicken. Tasting the irresistible flavors was inspirational, prompting me to think of new ideas outside of just chicken. Never forget the Nashville hot chicken though, because it’s freaking delicious.

This recipe for the blend of Nashville Hot Seasoning is based on my experiences in the city, but the recipe does have some twists that make it unique.

Take a close look at the spices and seasonings in this spicy rub recipe.

Ingredients for Nashville Hot Seasoning

You’re probably wonderings, what spices are in Nashville hot seasoning?

It’s not as complicated as you might think. Each restaurant has its own secret blend, but there are obviously a few common spices that are used in all of the recipes.

  • Cayenne pepper – The key ingredient for heat in this recipe. It’s mostly spicy, and a little fruity, but this is added in specifically for the fiery effect.
  • Brown Sugar – Sweetness helps to counter the heat. White sugar could be used, but brown sugar not only has more flavor but tends to taste better when used over a fire.
  • Paprika – Mild and sweet, this is mostly added for color. You could use smoked paprika, which will add a nice smoky flavor to the recipe.
  • Kosher salt – The preferred choice for seasoning blends, specifically when used with grilling and barbecue.
  • Celery salt – A new addition to the authentic Nashville hot chicken seasoning. Mixing half with kosher salt is just enough to bring in the herbal, tangy flavors of celery seed without taking over. Trust me, the flavor comes through in every bite and it’s very delicious. Especially with chicken!
  • Chipotle powder – This is the classic touch of Chiles and Smoke, bringing both the heat and smoky flavor into the mix. Chipotle adds a different type of heat, which builds instead of burns. Combining this with cayenne works very well for layering spice.
  • Granulated garlic – Skip the garlic powder and stick with this. The larger granules work well for this blend and don’t overwhelm the flavor.
  • Black pepper – Just enough to bring the bite at the end. We use medium-coarse, but finely ground will work well too.
Determine how hot you want your Nashville hot chicken to be with this seasoning.

What Spice Level is Nashville Hot?

You will have full control over the heat level. This base recipe for Nashville hot seasoning makes about 1 1/2 cups total, which will increase as you add more cayenne or chipotle to make it spicier.

Here’s my guide below:

The cayenne is the key to increase, with just a little more chipotle. Note that the more chile powder you add, the ratio of salt will be diluted. Taste and adjust as needed, if your mouth isn’t already burning.

This spicy potato salad is flavored with the Nashville hot seasoning mix.

Recipe Ideas for Nashville Hot Seasoning

Obviously, fried chicken is the biggest draw. However, don’t limit yourself there. We’re always full of creative suggestions, such as:

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Featuring this smoky Nashville Hot seasoning recipe.

Nashville Hot Seasoning

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This Nashville Hot Seasoning recipe brings the heat to your plate with spicy cayenne, smoky chipotle, and an herbal twist of celery salt.

  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: About 1 1/2 cups 1x


  • 48 tablespoons cayenne pepper powder, depending on heat (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon celery salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chipotle powder
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper


  1. Mix the ingredients together. Make sure to remove any clumps in the brown sugar, if any.
  2. Store in an airtight container. This dry rub recipe will stay the freshest for about a month.


You can change the level of heat based on the recommendations below:

  • MILD – 4 tablespoons cayenne, 1 1/2 tablespoons chipotle
  • MEDIUM – 5 tablespoons cayenne, 1 1/2 tablespoons chipotle
  • HOT – 6 tablespoons cayenne, 2 tablespoons chipotle
  • EXTRA HOT – 8 tablespoons cayenne, 2 tablespoons chipotle
  • Author: Brad Prose
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Rubs & Seasonings
  • Method: Mixing
  • Cuisine: Seasoning
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