Sweet Tea Oven-Fried Chicken

You won’t believe how juicy and flavorful this oven-baked chicken is.

Sweet Tea Oven-Fried Chicken
  • 1 gallon water
  • 4 bags black tea
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup plus ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2 cups ice cubes
  • 2 (3-to 4-pound) whole chickens, each cut into 10 pieces (breasts halved)
  • 2 cups whole buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white rice flour
  • 2 cups medium-grind yellow cornmeal
  • 2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs), blended in food processor for 45 seconds
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  1. In a large stockpot, bring 1 gallon water to a boil. Remove from heat, and add tea bags. Let steep for 20 minutes; discard tea bags. Add sugar and ½ cup salt, and stir to dissolve. Add ice. Pour brine into a large nonreactive container. Refrigerate until an instant-read thermometer registers 41°.
  2. Add chicken to brine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  3. Drain chicken, and pat dry. In a large bowl, combine buttermilk and hot sauce. Add chicken, and refrigerate for 45 minutes.
  4. In a shallow dish, whisk together flours, cornmeal, bread crumbs, garlic powder, paprika, pepper, thyme, oregano, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Dredge chicken in flour mixture; refrigerate chicken in flour mixture for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove chicken from flour, shaking off excess.
  5. Preheat oven to 450°.
  6. Divide softened butter among 3 (13×9-inch) baking dishes; place in oven to preheat for 10 minutes. Carefully place chicken, skin side down, in even layers in preheated pans.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes. Brush chicken with melted butter. Turn, and bake until skin is golden brown and crispy and an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 165°, about 20 minutes more.