If you’re from the South, you probably won’t need too much convincing to try this recipe. The post title says it all, “sweet tea” and “fried chicken.” SOLD!
I’m excited to bring you my most recent copycat recipe for fried chicken salad. The show-off in this recipe is the sweet tea fried chicken, which we will be using Red Diamond sweet tea to brine the chicken with. This fried chicken recipe is easy and the salad is simple, yet full of flavor!
Sweet Tea Fried Chicken
If you follow me on Instagram, then you know my love for salads is real and when it comes to food, there is a ranking system involved. Find my post here where I revealed my Top 5 Favorite Salads. Some of them rotate in and out depending on my mood and proximity. Over the past two years, there’s a particular salad that has made the list and you’ll never guess where it’s from. Around the corner from our house (with-in walking distance) is an iconic BBQ place called Saw’s Juke Joint. Of course, they are known for their incredible BBQ, fried okra, smoked wings and such, but their sweet tea fried chicken is out of this world!
Due to the fact that we eat there nearly once a week, I needed to find something on the menu that was a little less beige in color and a little more green. Luckily, I’m the type of girl who can justify a piece of fried chicken when served over a big bed of mixed greens. Come, on! They cancel each other out!
Fried Chicken Salad
What do you look for in a good salad? For me, the perfect salad needs to have the right mix of salty, sweet, tangy, and a good CRUNCH. This sweet tea fried chicken salad is simple, and that’s really what I love about it. Over a bed of mixed greens, you’ll find a sweet tea fried chicken breast, topped with parmesan cheese, grape tomatoes, red onion, and drizzled with a 3 ingredient red wine vinaigrette. Sounds easy right? Yes, it really is! Read below to learn how to make this sweet tea fried chicken salad on your own at home.
Quality Ingredients Matter – Red Diamond Tea
When making a simple dish, it’s really the quality of the ingredients that make the difference. First up on your grocery list and most important in preparing this meal is the sweet tea. For us, Red Diamond is what we reach for in the store (it’s so fresh it is only found in the refrigerated section). We love their sweet tea by the gallon because it’s the most authentic Southern sweet tea flavor you can find! I really love that it’s a Birmingham born business, but also the flavor is just perfect for sipping and (in this case) cooking. Plus, their simple natural ingredients–just water, tea leaves and sugar– pair well with the simplicity of this dish.
Most Southerners can probably relate when I say that it’s really hard to beat your grandmother’s sweet tea. Perfect’s not easy, but Red Diamond sweet tea has perfected the Southern grandmother sweet tea recipe!
How to Make Sweet Tea Fried Chicken
If you’ve never tried marinating/brining your chicken in sweet tea, you should 100% try it. The sugars in the tea really help break it down and lock in moisture. I added a little bit of pickle juice to my brine and I have to say, it turned out amazing! You can make the brine up to 3 days ahead of time.
- Add Red Diamond sweet tea to a plastic container and add 3 TBSP of salt to the sweet tea and stir vigorously to make sure it is completely dissolved before submerging the chicken in the brine. Refrigerate overnight (minimum 8 hours) or up to 24 hours.
For the fried chicken:
- 3-4 chicken cutlets
- 1 cups buttermilk
- 1/2 tablespoon hot sauce, optional but recommended
- 1.5 cups (420 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (160 g) cornmeal
- 1 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 3 cups vegetable oil (corn, avocado, or peanut)
- In a bowl, add buttermilk and hot sauce
- On a large plate, add all dry ingredients and stir together with a fork
- Coat the chicken: Remove one piece of chicken from the brine and dunk it in buttermilk, turning the piece to coat it. Then coat the chicken in the flour mix, turning to coat completely. Move to a rimmed baking sheet and repeat with the remaining chicken. Discard the brine when done.
- Heat the oil: Pour the oil into an 11-inch cast iron skillet, straight sided sauté pan, or Dutch oven. Heat the oil to 375°F.
- Fry the chicken: Once the oil is at the right temperature, use tongs to carefully move the chicken legs to the pan, one at a time, making sure part of the chicken is submerged before letting go—this minimizes splashing. (Do not drop the chicken pieces in the oil; it will splatter and possibly burn you.)
Fry the chicken on one side for 2-3 minutes or until the bottom part of the chicken is golden brown. Flip the chicken with tongs and cook the other side for an additional 2-3 minutes (might be longer depending on the thickness of your chicken). 5 minutes total frying time was perfect for my super thin chicken cutlets. When chicken is done frying, move to wire rack to dry.
Simple Salad Dressing
In a bowl, add 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1 clove of minced garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper and slowly whisk in 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
I hope you enjoy this simple and Southern sweet tea fried chicken salad recipe. Find a Red Diamond retailer near you to try their delicious sweet tea.