Follow your fever dreams with Nashville Hot Hot Dogs

Nashville hot chicken meets hot dogs in this deep-fried delicacy.

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Fried Nashville Hot Hot Dogs on bun with pickles and slaw, atop wooden cutting board
Photo: Allison Robicelli, Graphic: Natalie Peeples

I’ve developed a fair number of “crazy” recipes for The Takeout, such as potato skins made from bagel dough, egg rolls stuffed with noodle kugel, pig-shaped cookies made with bacon and ham, Thanksgiving-themed nachos, and a pizza made entirely out of stuffed crust. The idea for Nashville Hot Hot Dogs, though, I cannot take credit for. This unholy marriage of hot dogs and Nashville hot chicken sandwiches comes from the mind of my friend Damian Higgins, aka Dieselboy: drum and bass legend, accredited sandwich auteur, and author of the best late-night text messages.

Left: Photo of Dieselboy (Damian Higgins); Right: text message conversation between Dieselboy and Allison Robicelli about Nashville hot hot dogs
Photo: Dieselboy, Screenshot: Allison Robicelli

The moment I read this text, I knew I had to make Nashville Hot Hot Dogs for myself. It’s not the sort of idea that will fade quietly into the recesses of your mind to be forgotten or ignored; it will scream and flail until you let it loose upon the world. Would a deep-fried hot dog slathered in spicy oil be “too much”? Probably. Still, I knew I had to have it.

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I asked Damian to explain every minute aspect of this hot dog in excruciating detail, which is the closest I have ever come to cheating on my husband. He told me the idea had come to him in a fever dream: spiralize the hot dogs for maximum surface area, prep and fry them like Nashville hot chicken, eat until cayenne pours down your cheeks.

Damian had planned to collaborate with some friends at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken for a hot dog pop-up at NYC’s PDT, but sadly, it hasn’t happened. Fortunately for the rest of the world, he is friends with someone who believes in the power of crazy ideas, and is always down for a fever-dream-inspired recipe.

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Nashville Hot Hot Dogs

Makes 8 hot dogs

  • 8 hot dogs, spiralized
  • 1 (48-oz.) bottle vegetable or canola oil, for frying

For the breading:

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, or homemade buttermilk substitute
  • 1/4 cup pickle brine
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbsp. cayenne hot sauce (use more or less, depending on your tolerance for heat)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. cayenne pepper (same for this)
  • 1 tsp. hot paprika (and this)
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder

For the spicy oil:

  • 3 Tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. honey or dark brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. hot paprika
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • Hot frying oil

To serve:

  • Hot dog buns or white bread
  • Pickle slices
  • Hot sauce
  • Mayonnaise (optional)
  • Shredded iceberg lettuce or slaw (optional)

Pour enough oil into a large saucepan or Dutch oven to measure at least 3" deep; clip on a frying thermometer and set over high heat until it comes to 325 degrees.

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Set up a breading station with a baking sheet and two large, shallow bowls or containers. In the first, whisk together the buttermilk, pickle brine, egg, and hot sauce until smooth. In the other container, mix the cayenne pepper, hot paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt until combined, then add the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder and stir well.

Working one hot dog at a time, gently tug the ends of each spiralized hot dog to open it up a bit and dredge lightly in flour. Dunk the hot dog into the buttermilk mixture, then return to the flour for a second dredge, gently shaking off the excess. Set aside on the baking sheet, then repeat with the remaining hot dogs.

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When the oil reaches 325 degrees, fry two or three hot dogs at a time, being sure not to overcrowd the pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes, rotating every so often with long-handled tongs, until golden brown on all sides. Move to a cooling rack or sheet pan lined with paper towels, and repeat until all the hot dogs have been fried.

Next, make the spicy oil coating: Put the butter, honey/brown sugar, and all the spices into a small bowl. Use a heatproof ladle to take about 1/2 cup of the hot frying oil (no need to be precise—safety first!) and carefully pour it into the bowl. Let everything sit for about 30 seconds so the butter can melt, then gently stir everything together with a fork until combined.

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Brush the fried hot dogs on all sides with the spicy oil, making sure you get into every cranny. Serve on hot dog buns or white bread with pickles and, if you wish, a bit of shredded lettuce, mayo, and hot sauce.