Sweet Tea Brined Chicken is a delicious dinner recipe that's easy enough to make as Sunday lunch and fancy enough to serve to guests for a special dinner over the holidays.
This sweet tea brined chicken is a family favorite.
When I first made this recipe years and years ago, my boyfriend (now husband) and dad were waiting at the dinner table salivating like wild dogs while I snapped a couple of photos with my cell phone. OMG. When I put that chicken down, they tore it to pieces, and it was nothing but a plate of bones by the time they were done with it. Ha! Ha!
Now, this recipe may look difficult, but it's I swear it's quite the opposite. Lucky for us, the sweet tea brine does all the work and we just have to sit back and let it work its magic.
Sweet Tea Brined Chicken
So what exactly is a brine?
A brine is a salty solution to soak meat in as a way to flavor the meat and break down the proteins, keeping the meat super tender and moist.
Sweet Tea Brine= Black Tea + Sugar + Salt + Lemon + Garlic + Onion +Herbs
- Make the tea
- Stir in the sugar and salt
- Add in the lemon slices, garlic, quartered onion, and herbs
- Cool down with ice
- Cover & refrigerate.
There are two secrets at play here. One is the brine and the other is time. Once you learn the technique of brining, you will never go back to eating plain ole' dry and flaky roasted chicken ever again.
How long this sweet tea chicken needs to marinate in the brine depends on the type of chicken you choose to use:
Boneless & Skinless breast &/or thighs= 1-2 hours
Bone-in chicken pieces= 2-4 hours
A whole chicken= 8-24 hours
The best way to get sweet tea brined chicken? Whole chicken. 24 hours. Without question.
The Best Roasted Chicken Recipe
This sweet tea chicken will be the best roasted chicken recipe you've ever eaten if you follow this last and SUPER IMPORTANT, I can not stress this point enough, step.
You must let the meat rest before you eat it. In fact, you should let ANY meat rest before you touch it, or you'll end up with a hunk-a hunk-a rock of grossness.
Whether you are making a whole roasted chicken, grilled chicken breasts, roasted pork loin, or steak...letting the meat rest is the single most imperative secret to keeping meat from being dry.
So, from one impatient person to another, pull this beauty out of the oven, snap some photos of it for the gram, and then let it rest a bit before you eat it.
Sweet Tea Brined Chicken
- Zip Top Gallon Sized Freezer Bags
- 1 3-4 lb. whole chicken giblets removed
- 8 cups water
- 4 family style or 6 regular tea bags I use Charleston Tea Plantation's
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- ½ cup Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence or Italian seasoning
- 1 large sweet onion peeled and quartered
- 3 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 fresh lemon sliced into rings
- 2 cups ice
- 3 tablespoon butter melted
- Additional salt & pepper to taste
For the Sweet Tea Chicken Brine:
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, add teabags and remove from heat. Let steep for 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and discard.
- Stir in the sugar, salt, pepper, and Herbs de Provence, stirring until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved. Pour in the remaining water, add ice cubes, garlic, lemon slices, and onion and cool completeley.
- Once cooled, add the chicken to the sweet tea brine and submerge completely. Add more water, if needed. Cover and refrigerate 2-4 hours (bone-in chicken pieces) or 8-24 hours (whole chicken).
To Roast the Sweet Tea Brined Chicken:
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Drain chicken from marinade, pat dry with paper towels, stick lemon into the cavity, and place in a roasting pan breast side up.
- Brush chicken with melted butter, and sprinkle with a touch of salt and pepper. NOTE: If roasting a whole chicken: tie the legs up w/ kitchen twine, and fold the wings under the body to to prevent them from burning.
- Roast uncovered for 15 mins, then lower heat to 350°F and continue to cook until done or an internal temperature reaches 165°F and the juices run clear. About 45 mins to 1 hour 5 mins.
- Remove from the oven and baste the sweet tea brined chicken with its own juices.
- Let rest for 15-20 minutes before cutting.