Spicy Smittys Chicken to Warm the Soul

When it gets cold out my mom and dad make this dish called Smittys. They make it during the winter because the dish is so spicy it warms you up from the inside out, even on the coldest day.  And because it is a snow day today, I figured I’d share this dish with all of you.


Growing up I had a hard time enjoying the dish as it was far too spicy for my taste buds but my parents always encouraged my sister and I to eat it.  With each passing year I would challenge myself to try a little more, a little more and now (with spice tolerance building) I am totally addicted.  It was a mystery of where this dish originated, but it turns out that there are a lot of variations of Smittys if you look it up on the internet. My dad was first introduced to Smittys as an undergraduate student in upstate New York.

When my dad was in college there was a joint that sold a specialty dish known as Smittys, a chicken dish smothered in a fiery hot sauce that sent everyone sweating from the first few bites but so tasty my 22-year-old dad just had to get the recipe.  He literally begged the restaurant for the Smitty sauce recipe before leaving school and Smittys is now my family tradition.  There is nothing that you are not going to love about Smittys–baked “fried” chicken smothered and dripping in a tangy, ultra spicy sauce served atop slices of Classic White Wonder Bread to soak up any extra sauce served with a side of creamy mac salad which serves to cool the mouth of the fiery, intoxicating Smitty sauce.

The sauce takes something ordinary and transforms it into something complex and extraordinary.  I’ve never found anything else that tasted quite like it.  Try it and let me know if you agree. Below is the index card my dad scanned and sent to me of the original recipe.

smittys recipe

The sauce consists of a lot of household staples most people have on hand. Now I know what some of you are thinking–“ewwww I’m not throwing Franks hot sauce, ketchup and mustard together.”  Please just trust me.  Throw all the sauce ingredients together and let time work its magic.  Soon the whole house will be purfumed with the smell of sweet oranges breaking down into a tangy, complex sauce.

You’ll see that as you cook down the sauce, the color will become a beautiful deep orange.  After just over an hour the sauce will be just about done, just stir occasionally and make sure the orange wedges break down completely–i often use the back of a wooden spoon to press the orange wedges against the sauce pan to help it break down.  Like most hot sauces, it gets spicier with time. If you freeze any of the leftover sauce, which I always do, be prepared for the heat level to increase slightly.


For those of you who are thinking, “hey, I can handle heat, I’m going to doctor this recipe up and make it hotter,” please do yourself a favor and try it first, then add more hot pepper flakes an hour after cooking if you need to.


What I do to make the sauce more approachable is use 1/2-3/4 the amount of pepper flakes that the recipe calls for. I also use less sugar than the recipe calls for because I don’t like my sauce too sweet.

IMG_2444 The way I made it for myself this last time was the “skinny girl” version–left out the Wonder Bread and used boneless, skinless chicken breast. IMG_2449 IMG_2451

If you want to do it right, here’s how you prepare it:



  • 1-2 pineapple oranges
  • 1.5 ounces Franks Louisiana Hot Sauce
  • 6 ounces yellow mustard
  • 2 cups water
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 6 ounces of honey
  • 1 ounce red pepper flakes
  • 6 ounces ketchup
  • 4 ounces of white vinegar to taste

Other ingredients:

  • one whole chicken broken down, skin-on and bone-in
  • macaroni salad, mayonaise sauce base.  recipe not provided


  1. In a large saucepan, prepare Smitty sauce (ingredients listed above).  Sauce can be prepared days ahead or needs approximately two hours to cook.
  2. Peel oranges and with fingers rip wedges in half or thirds. Combine with all other ingredients and only 0.5-.75 ounces hot pepper flakes and 3/4 cup of sugar.  Note: recipe calls for pineapple oranges but most varieties will work fine.
  3. For chicken, preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Rinse, pat dry with paper towels, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. bread chicken (I use Shake and Bake, make it easy on yourself).
  6. Place breaded chicken on greased wire rack over a baking sheet.  Cook for twenty minutes and flip.
  7. Bake approximately 40 minutes total or until the crust is golden brown and the chicken is cooked all the way through.
  8. Remove chicken from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
  9. Prepare plates with at least one piece of Wonder Bread and a generous helping of macaroni salad (store-bought or homemade are great).
  10. With tongs grab a piece of chicken and fully submerge in the Smitty sauce, then place on the Wonder Bread.  Drizzle extra sauce over top.
  11. Eat. Enjoy.
  12. Serves 4.



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