Sweet Tea Oven-Fried Chicken

Sweet Tea Oven Fried Chicken | dessertfortwo.com

I adore the month of February.  I love to celebrate Valentine’s Day.  The few days in February that remind us of impending Springtime are joyous.  I’m a nut for Mardi Gras.  But most of all, I love February because it’s my wedding anniversary.  That’ll be one year, folks.  Wow.  It’s gone fast.  As a couple who’s moved twice in 2 years, started 4 new jobs, and bought 2 houses, we haven’t had the most ordinary first year of marriage.  We didn’t have a run-of-the-mill honeymoon, either.  We got married in my hometown outside of Dallas, and then we drove all across the South.  We stopped in New Orleans, Birmingham, Savannah, and Charleston.  Even though Birmingham, Alabama was only our second stop, we were positive we ate the best fried chicken we will ever eat in our life.

The name of the joint is Saw’s Soul Kitchen.  It was packed on a Friday afternoon with college professors, students, and locals chowing down on grilled pimento cheese and fried chicken.  To be exact:  sweet tea fried chicken.  My husband took one bite, rolled his eyes back in his head, and declared it to be the best ever.  As people who have had the great pleasure of eating heaps of fried chicken in our lives, this was no small thing.  It had a perfectly crisp crust that oozed sweet juice at each bite.  We took breaks between bites only to moan.  I found the place through a Southern Living recommendation, which incidentally proved to be the only reliable source for restaurant recs on the whole trip.

Sweet Tea Oven Fried Chicken | dessertfortwo.com

This is my attempt to recreate the most perfect fried chicken.  I brined the chicken for a full 2 days.  I recommend putting the bird in the buttermilk and sweet tea mixture on Friday night.  Then, fry it up on Sunday after Church.

I’m no stranger to frying food.  I love to fry.  I love that it ties you to the stove and simultaneously draws everyone else around you.  I believe frying skills to be a gift, one that can be learned but is best when it’s innate—much like athleticism.  That said, this chicken is oven-fried.  That does not mean it’s healthy or baked instead of fried.  It is fried whilst in the oven.  Many soul food joints swear by this technique to develop crispy crusts and moist meat.  Needless to say, they are right.

The technique is simple:  the butter and oil melt in the skillet in a hot oven.  The chicken is battered twice, and then placed in the already hot skillet.  After 20 minutes, flip the bird.  After the first turn, the chicken won’t appear to be dark enough, but it will darken further as the other side fries (check out the photo below).

Sweet-Tea-Oven-Fried-Chicken-4

Sweet-Tea-Oven-Fried-Chicken-3

I used Moonshine sweet tea concentrate for my marinade, but if you can’t find it, just boil down 1.5 cups until you get ½ cup of sweet tea concentrate.

For fried chicken that serves two, we generally use one chicken breast, with the tenderloin attached, that is chopped in half through the bone, plus 2-3 drumsticks.  Use any combination of light and dark meat you like.


4.5 from 2 reviews
Sweet Tea Oven-Fried Chicken
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves two.
:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast, chopped in half through the bone
  • 2-3 skin-on chicken drumsticks
  • 1 cup buttermilk (use the real stuff)
  • ½ cup sweet tea concentrate
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons oil (peanut, canola, or vegetable)
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, add the chicken pieces. In a small glass, whisk together the buttermilk, sweet tea concentrate and 1 tablespoon of salt. Stir well to dissolve the salt. Pour this mixture over the chicken, cover, and marinate 48 hours.
  2. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 425.
  3. When the oven is at 425, place the cast iron skillet on the center rack and let it heat for 10 minutes. Add the butter and oil. It should melt almost immediately and begin to sizzle. Place the pan back in the oven while you do the next step.
  4. Next, bread your chicken. Remove the pieces from the marinade, but reserve the marinade. Add the wet pieces of chicken to the flour mixture and use your hands to toss to coat each with flour. Then, repeat the process: back in the buttermilk-sweet tea marinade again and then flour to coat. You just double-battered your chicken.
  5. Next, carefully arrange the chicken pieces in the pan with the sizzling oil and butter. The chicken should immediately start sizzling and cooking. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Flip the chicken, then bake for another 14-18 minutes. Test the chicken with a thermometer--it should read 165 in the thickest part of the meat and the juices should run clear.
  7. Immediately remove the chicken from the skillet and let cool for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm.

 


Comments

  1. says

    Happy anniversary! I can’t believe how much you’ve packed into one year of marriage. I hope year two is a little bit quieter! This fried chicken sounds totally epic especially with that sweet tea marinade.

  2. says

    Happy Anniversary! This chicken looks like a great way to celebrate!

    Your honeymoon sounds fabulous… We’ve done the same thing since moving to the South, always in search of the “best” barbecue, fried chicken, po’ boys etc. There is soooo much good food to be found tucked away on southern back roads.

  3. says

    You know I love this.. seriously!! Saw’s and their Pork and collard greens over cheese grits is straight up heaven.. Happy Anniversary my dear…

  4. says

    Happy Anniversary!!! I love that you guys did a road trip through the deep south for you honeymoon. That is AWESOME! Taylor would fall in love with me all over again if I cooked up this chicken recipe (he eats meat) I may just have to go for it in the name of love!

  5. says

    All you’ve done is remind me that I haven’t had fried chicken in a very long time and now I’m craving it bad. I know I do love it with honey so imagining that bit of sweetness in the brine can only mean good. YUM!

    And Happy Anniversary; here’s to a boring year (or at least not having to move again!).

  6. consuelohoneyandfigs says

    Happy anniversary!
    This chicken looks out-of-this-world amazing! Gotta love that crispy skin, and the sweet tea addition is brilliant :–)

  7. says

    This literally makes me want to weep. From the beauty of it AND from the fact that we aren’t even closer than we are for on-the-fly fried chicken nights.

    Also – Alex has this weird picky fried chicken thing. I have long held this theory that if anyone could make fried chicken that he would approve of, it would be you. This solidifies said theory.

  8. says

    I am so making this. I’ve never actually fried chicken before (except wings, once, and I didn’t quite get them all done and then I died and swore off fried chicken), so this method sounds perfect! And the sweet tea? So fun! My family loves sweet tea!

  9. Paula says

    Hope you two lovebirds had a wonderful anniversary! My husband took me to Whole Foods and to Fresh Market looking for the Moonshine Sweet Tea Concentrate. We couldn’t find it anywhere!! So, I tried to make my own and we shall see how it goes! I have chicken “brine swimming” in my Fridge right now! It will be on our supper table this evening. Can’t wait – hope it turns out as good as your’s!!

  10. says

    We don’t have any sweet tea concentrate here in Australia and you said to boil down 1-1/2 cups of ?????
    Do you mean honey? Can you please let me know what I could substitute for sweet tea concentrate.

    • says

      The brand of sweet tea concentrate that I used is called Moonshine. Check their site for details on where to buy. People have told me they ordered it on Amazon.
      I leave the sugar in the sweet tea ratio up to the reader. I feel like however you like your sweet tea is how you’ll like your sweet tea fried chicken. If it were me, I would put 3 tablespoons of sugar into 1 1/2 cup of tea before boiling it down. Taste your sweet tea before boiling it down to make sure it’s to your liking. Then boil away. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of sweet tea concentrate, so boil it down until you have 1/2 cup.

  11. Sara says

    Made this tonight and it was INCREDIBLE! We don’t drink really sweet tea so I used an Honest Tea Assam Black Tea and boiled it down. I did add a couple of my favorite spices to the flour mix, but otherwise, followed the recipe to the letter. The chicken was really juicy, too boot. I’ve always been leery of frying chicken before, but never again. Thanks so much!

  12. Karin Young says

    Christina, We made the chicken last night and it was wonderful… moist inside with crispy skin outside… just like you said. What a southern fried chicken recipe!
    We served mashed potatoes with gravy and sweet corn-on-the-cob with it and we were in ‘Texas Heaven’ – LOL!

    Karin

  13. says

    I made the sweet-tea fried chicken and it looks just like the photos on the blog. My husband and I found it a bit sweet for our tastes. And I am a sugar addict! I would probably use only 1/4c. tea concentrate and many dashes of hot sauce to the marinade as a counterpoint to the sweetness. I am a native Dallasite and have eaten my fair share of fried chicken, the best being my grandmothers’s of course. But she put a cut up yellow onion in the oil and it added an undefinable touch that made her fried chicken perfection.

    • says

      P.S. I bought Luzianne Sweet Tea concentrate in a 2 oz. foil packet on the tea/coffee isle at Walmart Supercenter in Plano,TX. for 98 cents. And though it was sweet, we did enjoy the chicken and the ease of oven frying. I also made the blueberry cobbler which was a major hit with my husband. Thank you.

  14. nosh says

    Hi there ! J7stvtried the recipe its amazing ! Thank u. Just one question …my oven roof ..floor everythings full of oily butter drops not coming off..how do u guys clean the oven after making this? Plz i want to make it again hut not gave an oven to scrub hard…anytips?

    • says

      Hi there! My cast iron skillet didn’t over flow, but if yours did, maybe put a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom of the oven before baking? or, place the cast iron skillet on a baking sheet pan? Best of luck! sorry, I know how much of a pain it is to clean an oven :/

  15. Dennis says

    For buttermilk, you say, “use the real thing.” Does this mean you churn your own butter, too or, are you saying to use supermarket buttermilk rather than a mixture of milk and lemon juice? Been a long time since I churned butter. Looking forward to trying this great recipe!

  16. Penny says

    Tried this last night – served it up to my sister and her family. Tasted delicious BUT didn’t look as nice as yours did. And took maybe third – twice longer to cook (so I was panicking a little, and the vegetables were overcooked!). But certainly won’t give up – it even got a compliment from my notoriously hard-to-please b-in-law! And I have two pieces of uncooked in the fridge as my pan wasn’t large enough, so I’m sure Second Attempt will be more pretty! Many thanks for sharing the recipe. (Trying to give it 5 stars but can’t get my smartphone to accept it. But it’s a definite 5 star)

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