Recipe April 30, 2021

Sweet Tea Brined and Grilled BBQ Chicken

This is a little different take on regular BBQ chicken and has become a summer staple in the Raga household. Since the thighs are brined, they stay moist and juicy! Be careful with the cayenne pepper – this rub can get spicy. I always double the Sweet Carolina BBQ Sauce and serve it with the chicken for those who like lots of sauce on their BBQ. Plus, the kids and Tom put it on lots of leftovers.

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6 servings


Sweet Tea Brined and Grilled Chicken

1 iced black tea bag (family-size bag)
4 c. boiling water
1 c. packed brown sugar
½ c. kosher salt
8 c. ice cubes
Juice of 2 limes (reserve lime halves)
¼ c. mint
8 chicken thighs (with skin – about 4–6 lbs)
2 T. chili powder
1 T. black pepper
1 t. ground cinnamon
2 t. dried thyme
¼ –½ t. cayenne pepper (add more to taste)

Sweet Carolina BBQ Sauce
½ c. of honey
½ c. of cider vinegar
½ c. prepared yellow mustard
1 t. kosher salt
Red pepper flakes to taste


Sweet Tea Brined and Grilled Chicken

Steep tea bag in water in a large bowl filled with boiling water and cover for 5 minutes. Discard tea bag. Whisk in brown sugar and salt. 

Stir in ice, lime juice, lime halves, and mint. Place chicken in mixture, cover, and refrigerate for 2 hours. If you brine the chicken for more than 2 hours you will not get a stronger flavor – but you can brine overnight.

Combine chili powder, black pepper, cinnamon, thyme and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. 

Remove chicken from the brine, pat dry and massage both sides of chicken with the rub. Refrigerate chicken until ready to grill (up to 2 hours).

Prepare grill for indirect grilling with one area set for high and the other for low. Grill chicken indirectly, skin side up, covered, rotating periodically for even grilling. Check temperature of the chicken by sticking a thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. It will take about 30 minutes to reach 165-170 degrees F. Glaze chicken with the Sweet Carolina BBQ Sauce (see below).

Let chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving with the remaining sauce for those who like “saucier” BBQ chicken.

Sweet Carolina BBQ Sauce

Simmer honey, vinegar, mustard and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Remove sauce from the heat and season sauce with red pepper flakes. Makes approximately 1½ c.