Nashville-Style “Hot” Sweetbreads

Yield Serves 4-6
RECIPE Ingredients


  • ½ cup peanut oil
  • 3 tablespoons ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder


  • 1 package Veal Sweetbreads
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (smoked or sweet)
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • Peanut oil, for frying
Recipe notes
For this recipe, we took the hot chicken trend to the next level by breading and frying creamy veal sweetbreads in this Nashville-inspired dish.
RECIPE Preparation
  1. Rinse sweetbreads under cold water and place in a non-reactive container. Cover with ice water and refrigerate, changing the water a few times, for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain sweetbreads. Prepare a clean ice water bath, set aside. Place sweetbreads in a saucepan and cover with an inch of cold water; add a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce to a simmer; cook until sweetbreads are slightly firm to the touch, about 3 minutes. Remove sweetbreads with a slotted spoon to the ice bath.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, paprika, celery salt, and cayenne. Set aside.
  4. Once the sweetbreads are cooled, remove any visible membrane or stringy bits with your fingers. Carefully pull sweetbreads apart into chunks. When completely cleaned, place sweetbreads in a bowl and add the buttermilk and 2 teaspoons of the spice mixture, turning to coat. Cover and chill for about 2 hours.
  5. Meanwhile, make the chili oil: In a small bowl, whisk together cayenne, brown sugar, smoked paprika, and garlic powder. In a small saucepan, heat ½ cup peanut oil until it reaches 300 degrees F. Remove from heat. Carefully whisk in spice mixture. Set aside.
  6. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, and the remaining spice mixture. Add about 3 tablespoons of the buttermilk into the seasoned flour and mix with a fork, creating little shaggy bits.
  7. Lift each piece of sweetbreads out of the buttermilk allowing excess to drip off then dredge in the shaggy flour, gently squeezing to coat. Place coated sweetbreads on a wire rack and continue until all pieces are coated.
  8. When ready to cook, heat a few inches of peanut oil in a cast iron pan to maintain 350 degrees F. Prepare a paper towel lined plate, set aside.
  9. Fry the sweetbreads in batches as not to overcrowd the pan, until golden, crisp, and cooked through, about 3-5 minutes each. Rest fried sweetbreads on the prepared plate and season lightly with salt. Continue until all sweetbreads are fried. Just before serving, brush the sweetbreads all over with warm chili oil. Serve immediately.