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Fried chicken is a Southern staple, and today, I’m sharing my recipe for Sweet Tea Fried Chicken, plus my tips and tricks for the crispiest fried chicken ever!
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The south is known for so many foods – foods rich in culture and history that you can’t find anywhere else. For me, this means sweet southern style cornbread, chicken and dumplings, Black-Eyed Pea Soup, pecan pie and lots of creole cookin’ like Smoked Turkey and Sausage Gumbo and crawfish boils.
Since my husband grew up in a different part of the south, many of his southern comfort foods are the same as mine, but some are different and include boiled peanuts and southern style buttermilk biscuits.
But two southern foods we can definitely agree on are southern fried chicken and sweet tea! Fried chicken was and continues to be a special treat. Growing up, my Mom never made it at home, but I remember many a special occasion or once in a blue moon busy Saturday where we would pick up some fried chicken and all the fixin’s from a local fried chicken restaurant. Fried chicken was also a staple at many neighborhood potlucks, family gatherings and holiday celebrations.
And if you have lived in the south for more than a hot minute, then you know fried chicken is also one of those foods you bring to a family who just had a baby to say, “Welcome to the neighborhood” or to comfort someone who is mourning.
Today, fried chicken is still one of those special occasion comfort foods, and while I don’t make it often at home, I decided I needed to finally get a fried chicken recipe up on this blog (that, by the way, is inspired by my southern upbringing) and share some of my fried chicken cooking tips and tricks.
How to make the crispiest fried chicken:
Like, did you know that the secret to the crispiest fried chicken with a perfect crunchy yet airy texture is to add Argo® Corn Starch to the breading mixture? Sure, some fried chicken recipes call for adding a few tablespoons of corn starch to the breading mixture. However, to achieve the crispiest, crunchiest chicken ever, your breading should be equal parts all-purpose flour and equal parts Argo® Corn Starch. Not only does corn starch help make your fried chicken extra crispy, it helps give it that nice golden-brown color.
.Another tip for making perfect fried chicken is frying the chicken first in some Mazola® Corn Oil in a skillet or deep fryer and then finishing the chicken in a high temperature oven. This ensures that the chicken skin gets crispy but doesn’t burn in the oil before the meat is cooked through.
In addition to using Argo® Corn Starch in the breading/batter mixture and the two-part cooking method, you can repeat the batter dipping process for extra crispy double dipped fried chicken.
This Sweet Tea Fried Chicken is definitely one of those weekend recipes that requires a little extra time and love in the kitchen, but it is so worth it. This fried chicken recipe starts with letting the chicken pieces sit in a sweet tea brine for 24 hours. The chicken is then dipped in a flavorful batter and fried/baked to golden perfection! The end result is extra crispy chicken with a little kick from the spices followed by a little sweet tang from the sweet tea brine. Truly the south on a plate!
What comfort foods did you grow up eating? Please share in the comments below!
Helpful Fried Chicken Cooking Tips and Information:
Other uses for Corn Starch:
This Sweet Tea Fried Chicken recipe uses Argo® Corn Starch to yield the crispiest fried chicken ever, and if you don’t use corn starch often, you may be wondering what else you would use it for. I am here to tell you that Argo® Corn Starch is a must have pantry staple, the leading corn starch brand with over 100 years of quality and trust over multiple generations, because it has SO MANY uses in the kitchen!
Thickening sauces and soups: Corn starch is naturally gluten-free and can be used in place of a flour and butter roux to quickly thicken sauces and soups, like in my Homemade Teriyaki Sauce recipe. Simply mix corn starch into a little water or broth to form a slurry and stir it into your sauce or soup.
For baking and desserts: Corn starch is also a common ingredient in many baked goods and desserts. I use it instead of eggs to thicken this Fresh Mint Stracciatella Gelato recipe, and many custards and puddings use corn starch as a thickener, as well.
Corn starch is also found in many fruit desserts, such as pies and cobblers, to help thicken and bind the fruit filling. And if you love soft and tender cake and cookies, then you can add a few teaspoons of corn starch to your cookie dough or use this Homemade Cake Flour recipe in things like Angel Food Cake.
For stir-fried dishes: Many stir-fry recipes, such as beef and broccoli, General Tso’s chicken, etc. call for tossing the meat and vegetables in a little corn starch before sautéing to achieve a crispy texture.
What to serve with Sweet Tea Fried Chicken:
Make this Southern dinner complete by serving this Sweet Tea Fried Chicken with coleslaw, Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes or potato salad, watermelon or Peach Pie Fruit Salad, and lots of cornbread or buttermilk biscuits!
Why won’t my breading stick to my fried chicken?
It is important to note that this recipe calls for letting the chicken rest for 15 minutes after going through the dredging process to help the buttermilk and flour/corn starch mixture adhere to the chicken. This will prevent the breading from falling off as much in the frying process. Also, resist the urge to flip the chicken too early or too often while frying to help the breading stay adhered to the chicken.
- For the sweet tea Brine:
- 6 cups water
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 8-10 black tea bags
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 10 pieces of assorted bone in, skin on chicken*
- For the breading:
- 1 ¼ cup Argo® Corn Starch
- 1 ¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- ½-1 cup Mazola® Corn Oil
- For serving:
- Lemon wedges
- Hot sauce
For the sweet tea brine:
1. Heat water in a medium sized pot until boiling. Stir in the salt and sugar, stirring until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved.
2. Remove from heat and add tea bags. Let tea steep for 25-30 minutes.
3. Remove tea bags and stir in lemon. Set aside and let tea brine cool to room temperature.
4. Once cooled, place chicken pieces in a large container and pour tea brine over chicken.
5. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
For breading and cooking the chicken:
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Set aside.
2. In a bowl or pie plate, whisk together the corn starch, flour, and spices. Set aside.
3. In a separate bowl or pie plate, whisk together buttermilk and hot sauce. Set aside.
4. Remove one piece of chicken from the brine and dunk it in the buttermilk, turning the chicken to coat it completely. Then place the buttermilk coated chicken in the corn starch mixture, turning the chicken to coat it completely. If desired, dip the chicken back in the buttermilk and then back in the corn starch mixture for double breading. Once chicken is coated in the corn starch breading, transfer the chicken to a plate or baking sheet. Repeat breading process with remaining chicken pieces.
5. Let chicken sit for 10-15 minutes to allow breading to set.
6. Meanwhile, heat corn oil over medium high heat in a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven. When the oil starts to sizzle and reaches a temperature of approximately 350°F. Carefully add 2-3 pieces of chicken to the hot oil. Cook chicken for 2-3 minutes per side, or until a light golden brown and then transfer to the wire rack on the baking sheet. Repeat until all the chicken has been fried. Note: Chicken will finish cooking in the oven.
7. Transfer chicken to the preheated 400°F oven and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, is golden brown and the juices of the chicken run clear when the chicken is cut into.
8. Serve immediately drizzled with honey, fresh lemon juice or hot sauce, if desired.
- I recommend chicken thighs and chicken drumsticks, instead of using chicken breast, since they have similar cook times.
- 3 ½ tablespoons Cajun seasoning can be used instead of the spices and salt called for in the breading mixture. If using Cajun seasoning keep the black pepper called for in the recipe above.