How To Make Sweet Tea Fried Chicken
A mix of sweet tea and crispy fried chicken comes together in this amazing recipe which uses sweet tea as a chicken brine, then fried to crispy perfection.
Bring the water to boil in a large stockpot.
When it boils, remove from heat and add the tea bags, cover, and steep for 20 minutes.
Gently squeeze the bags to extract as much flavor as possible and remove them.
Stir in the sugar and salt until dissolved.
Leave uncovered for an hour or until it reaches room temperature.
Place a gallon freezer-style resealable bag in a large bowl and open it up.
Carefully pour the room temperature tea brine into the bag, holding onto the sides to minimize spilling (or just simply place it in a large bowl).
Place the chicken into the bag, and seal it, trying to squeeze out as much air as possible.
Refrigerate overnight (minimum of 8 hours) or up to 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet.
Combine the buttermilk and the hot sauce, if using, in a medium bowl.
Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, cornstarch, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, salt, cayenne pepper, and paprika in a separate large bowl.
Remove 1 piece of chicken from the brine and dunk it in the buttermilk, turning the piece to coat it.
Then coat the chicken in the flour mix, turning to coat completely.
Move to a rimmed baking sheet and repeat with the remaining chicken.
Discard the brine when done.
Pour the oil into an 11-inch cast-iron skillet, straight-sided sauté pan or Dutch oven. Heat the oil to 375 degrees F.
If there’s no thermometer, drop a 1-inch cube of bread into the oil. The bread should brown in about 60 seconds.
If it browns too fast, the oil is too hot. If the bread takes longer than a minute to brown, it isn’t hot enough.
Once the oil is at the right temperature, use tongs to carefully move the chicken legs to the pan, one at a time, making sure part of the chicken is submerged before letting go.
Fry the chicken on 1 side for 4 to 5 minutes or until the bottom part of the chicken is golden brown.
Flip the chicken with the tongs and cook the other side for an additional 4 to 5 minutes.
Move the legs to the baking sheet with the wire rack.
Repeat the process with the chicken thighs, this time frying each side for 5 to 6 minutes.
Move the thighs to the baking sheet along with the legs.
Move the entire sheet with chicken into the oven.
Bake for an additional 15 to 18 minutes, or until the thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thighs reads 165 degrees F.
If there’s no thermometer, pierce the thigh with a sharp knife. The liquid that comes out should run clear and not look red.
Move to a serving platter and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Serve immediately.
- The brine can be made up to 3 days ahead of time. If there’s already pre-made or store-bought sweet tea, use 6 cups of it in place of the brine listed below. Just add the ¼ cup of salt to the sweet tea and stir vigorously to make sure it is completely dissolved before submerging the chicken in the brine.
- When frying the chicken, do not drop the chicken pieces in the oil; it will splatter and possibly burn you.
- Leftover fried chicken can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and is great cold. To reheat it, bring the chicken back to room temperature (about 30 minutes on the counter) while preheating the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the chicken on a wire rack set on a rimmed baking sheet and reheat for about 8 to 12 minutes.
- Calories: 2462.27kcal
- Fat: 186.32g
- Saturated Fat: 27.71g
- Trans Fat: 1.17g
- Monounsaturated Fat: 111.14g
- Polyunsaturated Fat: 34.88g
- Carbohydrates: 110.63g
- Fiber: 3.13g
- Sugar: 37.90g
- Protein: 84.82g
- Cholesterol: 427.48mg
- Sodium: 2351.95mg
- Calcium: 156.44mg
- Potassium: 1172.32mg
- Iron: 7.38mg
- Vitamin A: 139.73µg
- Vitamin C: 3.41mg
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