Sweet Tea Fried Chicken
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Sweet tea fried chicken is a fun way to serve fried chicken for summer picnics. Chicken is marinated in sweet tea and buttermilk and then fried to perfection.
It’s finally officially summer! The start to our summer has been crazy busy and I’m looking forward to some slower summer days ahead. One thing my family loves to do is take a drive up the mountain near our home to enjoy some hiking and a picnic in the cooler mountain air. But packing sandwiches and chips can get boring. Every once in a while I like to surprise my family with a picnic of fried chicken. It’s perfect to eat chilled and goes well with any kind of summer salad and of course, a big glass of iced sweet tea.
This summer I decided to mix things up by adding sweet tea to the fried chicken marinade. I picked up a box of my favorite tea – Bigelow Tea – at Walmart to make a batch of sweet tea concentrate and make some fried chicken.
The only Bigelow black tea I could find was Earl Grey. I’ve made sweet tea with Earl Grey before and really liked it so I went with it but you can use your favorite Bigelow black tea. I think Bigelow’s Constant Comment would make an excellent iced tea.
Start by making a sweet tea concentrate. You can make big batch of the concentrate and it will last for a few weeks, thanks to the baking soda in it.
I store my concentrate in a mason jar in the fridge. To make iced sweet tea to drink, just mix equal parts of the concentrate and water and some ice. Making sweet tea is quick and easy with a jar of concentrate ready to go.
I would make the fried chicken a day before your picnic. It takes some time to marinate and cook – but it’s worth it! I actually started the chicken marinating in the morning, cooked it around lunch time and then we ate it for dinner so it is possible to do in one day if you are organized. You start by dredging the chicken in the flour and corn starch mix and then submerging it in the buttermilk and sweet tea marinade.
I used all bone in chicken thighs because they cook up quicker than breasts. Legs work great as do chicken tenderloins. The tenderloins cook up even quicker, too. Let the chicken soak in the buttermilk and sweet tea goodness for at least 3 hours, but you can let them sit overnight as well.
When you are ready to fry the chicken, heat up your oil over medium high heat until it’s good and hot. Coat the chicken again in the flour and corn starch mix. Fry for 8-10 minutes on each side (or 16-20 minutes total) or until the chicken is cooked through. The thighs took a good 10 minutes. Watch the temp on your oil and turn it down a little if the chicken starts to burn. Don’t crowd the pan when frying, either. I did a batch of 3 and then of 4 thighs. I like fried chicken cold so I let it get nice and cold and serve it out of the cooler on our picnic.
If you’d like to take some sweet iced tea to drink, just mix up a jar full (half water and half concentrate) and put on a lid. Throw them in the cooler with your chicken, add some cucumber salad and you’re all set to go.
I loved the sweetness and tea flavor that the sweet tea added to our fried chicken. It was a delicious and fun way to enjoy iced tea this summer!
- Sweet Tea Concentrate
- 2 cups water
- ¾ cup sugar
- 6 Bigelow tea bags
- pinch of baking soda
- Fried Chicken
- 1¼ cups flour
- ⅔ cups corn starch
- 3 pounds chicken pieces
- 3 cups buttermilk
- 1 cup sweet tea concentrate
- Oil for frying
- To make the sweet tea concentrate:
- Bring water to a boil. Steep tea bags in the water for 10 minutes. Remove tea bags and stir in sugar and baking soda until sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool completely. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- To make the chicken:
- Whisk together flour, corn starch, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Scoop out 1¼ cups of the mixture and set aside.
- In a large bowl mix together buttermilk and sweet tea concentrate.
- Dredge chicken pieces in the flour mixture and then submerge the chicken in the buttermilk mixture. Repeat with all the chicken pieces. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
- When ready to fry the chicken, heat about 1" of oil over medium high heat in a large frying pan.
- Place reserved flour mixture into a pie pan.
- When oil is hot, remove chicken, one piece at a time and dredge again in the flour mixture. Fry for 8-10 minutes on each side of the chicken or until chicken is cooked through.
- Repeat for remaining chicken pieces making sure not to crowd the pan.
Check out more Bigelow Tea inspiration on the board below!