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McDonald’s Sweet Tea Recipe

This copycat McDonald’s sweet tea recipe is as refreshing as it is easy to make. All you need is 10 minutes and a few simple ingredients, and you’ll have a super tasty iced tea. It’s so light and delicious that you want to make this every day!

McDonald's iced tea

The best McDonald’s sweet tea recipe

If you love McDonald’s drinks, you probably love their sweet tea. With its perfectly balanced flavor, I think it’s one of the best you can order from a fast-food restaurant.

But if you want to skip the drive-thru, my homemade McDonald’s sweet tea comes in handy. Seriously, once you try this copycat recipe, you want to make it all the time.

Serve this sweet tea at your next party or cookout and watch happy faces all around. It tastes super refreshing and smooth, with just the perfect amount of sweetness.

Nothing is better than a cold, refreshing drink! Not only are beverages simple to make at home, but they also come cheaper than store-bought ones. Try out peach iced tea, creamy lemonade, or this delicious angel food smoothie next!

♥ Reasons to love McDonald’s sweet tea recipe

  • Refreshing: My McDonald’s sweet tea recipe tastes super refreshing, mildly sweet, and has a malty aroma from the black tea.
  • Homemade: Along with the strawberry banana smoothie, sweet tea is one of the best drinks to order from McDonald’s, and with this recipe, you can make it at home.
  • Quick + Easy: The recipe is quick and easy, with just 5 ingredients and 10 minutes prep time.
  • Make-ahead: Sweet tea is perfect to make ahead of time and store in the fridge to enjoy later.
McDonald's sweet tea ingredients

Ingredients

There are only 5 ingredients in this McDonald’s sweet tea recipe (two are water and ice!) and 2 optional ones. It’s so easy that you will never need to buy one of these again. Please refer to the recipe card at the bottom of the post for exact measurements.

  • Fresh water to brew the tea.
  • Black tea: McDonald’s uses a proprietary blend of orange pekoe and pekoe cut black tea. You can use any brand of tea you like, but I love Luzianne. Both family-size and single-serve tea bags will work. The orange pekoe tea from Twinings, Tetley, Red Rose, and Lipton black tea are also good choices.
  • Granulated sugar provides the perfect amount of sweetness.
  • Baking soda: A pinch of baking soda neutralizes the bitterness in black tea, creating a smoother taste. I know it sounds weird, but trust it makes a difference.
  • Ice: MacDonald’s sweet tea is nice and cold, thanks to lots of ice. Crushed ice, pellets, and cubes are all fine.
  • Lemon (optional): I like to serve my sweet tea with fresh lemon slices and often add a squirt of lemon juice for a little citrusy brightness.
  • Mint (optional): Use fresh mint leaves to garnish your sweet tea. Avoid any leaves that are limp or have discoloration.

Can I use another type of sweetener?

Yes! If you are watching your sugar intake, swap out the granulated sugar for a low-carb sweetener.

Allulose sweeteners are a great option because they fully dissolve (unlike granulated erythritol). You can also try a liquid sweetener, like this keto simple syrup or liquid stevia.

The strength of low-carb sweeteners varies. You will have to experiment to adjust the sweetness to your preferences.

McDonald's sweet tea recipe

How to make McDonald’s sweet tea

This delightful McDonald’s tea recipe takes less than 10 minutes to put together. It has the perfect balance of sweetness and earthy black tea aroma. You’ll want to sip it all summer long!

  1. Dissolve sugar. Warm 2 cups water, the sugar, and baking soda in a medium saucepan over medium-heat heat. Bring to a boil, occasionally stirring, until the sugar fully dissolves. Once boiling, remove from the heat. Let sit for about 5 minutes.
  2. Steep tea. Add the tea bags and let them steep for 10 to 20 minutes. Remove the tea bags from the tea, but don’t squeeze and discard them. Set the tea aside to cool.
  3. Combine tea and cold water. Pour the cooled tea into a large 1/2 gallon-sized pitcher and add 6 cups cold water. Stir well to combine.
  4. Serve. Serve the sweet tea over ice, garnished with a lemon slice/wedge and a sprig of mint if desired.
McDonald's sweet tea recipe

Recipe tips

  • Don’t use boiling water: The water should be hot but not boiling. Boiling water burns the tea, resulting in a bitter, unpleasant taste. Instead, bring your water to a boil, then let it cool for 5 minutes.
  • Watch the steep time: For a well-balanced aroma, steep the tea for 10 to 20 minutes. Let the tea bags steep for 45 minutes and up to 3 hours for a stronger flavor.
  • Stir the sugar into the hot tea so it fully dissolves: I like to dissolve the sugar and baking soda in boiling water first and then add the tea bags. Doing so will ensure you won’t encounter any undissolved sugar.
  • Don’t squeeze the tea bags: Squeezing the tea bag will release the tannins trapped in the tea bag making the tea more bitter.
  • Add baking soda for a smooth taste: Baking soda helps to neutralize any bitterness, which you often find in black tea due to the tannins. A pinch is all you need.
  • Chill your sweet tea thoroughly: The flavor develops the longer the tea sits and chills. You can pour it over ice if you want to cool it down quickly, but I find allowing your tea to cool gradually gives the best taste.
McDonald's tea

Variations

You can make a few simple variations and substitutions to change up this McDonald’s sweet tea recipe and make it your own. Here are some ideas to try:

  • Swap the tea flavor: The black tea can be substituted with green tea, a fruit infusion (like strawberry or raspberry tea), or peach-flavored tea.
  • Decaf: For a McDonald’s sweet tea without caffeine, reach for a decaffeinated black tea, such as Lipton Decaf.
  • Sweetener substitutes: Instead of granulated white sugar, try brown sugar, coconut sugar, honey, or maple syrup.
  • Sugar-free: Prepare the recipe with your favorite low-carb sweetener. I like monk fruit sweeteners, but liquid stevia and Splenda will also work.
  • Try a different juice: Add a squeeze of lime or orange juice instead of lemon juice.
  • Make it a lemonade: For sweet tea lemonade, only fill your glass 2/3 with sweet tea and top it with your favorite lemonade. And for an Arnold Palmer (aka swamp water), combine equal parts sweet tea and lemonade.
  • Make it grown up: For an adults-only spiked sweet tea, add a shot of bourbon, whiskey, or your other favorite liquor.
McDonald's tea recipe

Serving suggestions

McDonald’s iced tea is a refreshing accompaniment to any meal. You can enjoy it with lunch, dinner, barbecue, and dessert, or simply have a glass to freshen up throughout the day.

I love serving a big pitcher full of sweet tea for summer parties, game days, and gatherings. Since I always add ice to keep it cold, I like to brew the tea stronger so the flavor doesn’t dilute.

Make ahead & storage

Make Mc Donald’s sweet tea recipe ahead

Your family and guest will all want to try this sweet tea! Prepare it ahead of time so you have it ready to go whenever you need it.

  • Make head: Prepare the sweet tea as indicated. Then store the drink in a pitcher in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, stir well and pour the sweet tea over ice.
  • Tip: The recipe yields 8 servings. Multiply the ingredient amounts if you would like to have more servings.

How to store McDonald’s sweet tea recipe

  • Store: Keep your sweet tea in a covered pitcher in the refrigerator. It will last for 3 to 5 days.
  • Freeze: Pour the cooled sweet tea into an ice cube tray. Once solid, transfer the sweet tea ice cubes into a Ziploc bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
McDonald's iced tea recipe

FAQ

What is sweet tea?

Sweet tea isn’t simply iced tea with sweetener. Instead, it’s black tea steeped in large batches with sugar added while it’s still hot and then stored chilled in the refrigerator.

What are the ingredients in McDonald’s sweet tea?

According to their site, McDonald’s makes their sweet tea with a blend of orange pekoe and pekoe cut black tea, along with water and inverted sugar.

What does McDonald’s sweet tea taste like?

MacDonald’s sweet tea reminds me a lot of classic Southern sweet tea. It has a lovely black tea aroma with a touch of sweetness, hints of citrus, and a subtle floral note.

Does McDonald’s sweet tea have caffeine in it?

Yes. An 8-oz serving will contain between 20 to 50 mg of caffeine. The caffeine content depends on how strongly you brew the tea.

The more tea bags you use and/or the longer you let them steep, the higher the caffeine content will be. But the ice will dilute the strength a bit.

How can I keep sweet tea from being bitter?

My McDonald’s sweet tea recipe uses a couple of tricks to prevent the tea from becoming overly bitter.

Let the water sit: First, let the boiling water sit for a few minutes before adding the tea bags. This allows the water to cool a bit, and it won’t be so hot that it burns the tea.

Baking soda: Baking soda is the secret ingredient that elevates the bitterness in black tea.

More delicious drinks to try

I’m always on the lookout for new and delicious drink recipes. Anything fruity and refreshing will pique my interest, and we have so many tasty drinks for you to try next!

Did you enjoy this recipe? Give it a 5-star rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and leave a comment! Appreciate it so much, thank you!

If you had any issues, I’d appreciate the chance to help you troubleshoot before you rate.

McDonald's sweet tea recipe

McDonald's Sweet Tea Recipe

Yield: 8 servings (1/2 gallon)
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes

This copycat McDonald's sweet tea recipe is as refreshing as it is easy to make. All you need is 10 minutes and a few simple ingredients, and you'll have a super tasty iced tea. It's so light and delicious that you want to make this every day!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups / 450 ml / 16 fl oz water
  • 3/4 cup / 150 g / 5.3 oz granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 7 single-serve tea bags (or 4 family-size tea bags)
  • 6 cup / 1.4 l / 48 fl oz cold water
  • ice (for serving, optional)
  • lemon slices (for serving, optional)
  • fresh mint leaves (optional)

Instructions

  1. Dissolve sugar. Warm 2 cups water, the sugar, and baking soda in a medium saucepan over medium-heat heat. Bring to a boil, occasionally stirring, until the sugar fully dissolves. Once boiling, remove from the heat. Let sit for about 5 minutes.
  2. Steep tea. Add the tea bags and let them steep for 10 to 20 minutes. Remove the tea bags from the tea, but don't squeeze and discard them. Set the tea aside to cool, about 3 hours.
  3. Combine tea and cold water. Pour the cooled tea into a large 1/2 gallon-sized pitcher and add 6 cups cold water. Stir well to combine.
  4. Serve. Serve the sweet tea over ice, garnished with a lemon slice/wedge and a sprig of mint if desired.
  5. Store. Cover the pitcher and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Notes

Servings

The recipe makes 1/2 gallon, which translates into eight 8-oz glasses. You can double the recipe if you need a larger batch.

Baking soda

Baking soda counteracts any possible bitterness from the black tea and gives the tea a super smooth taste. You can omit it if you want, just note that your tea might taste slightly bitter.

Sweetness level

Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to sweetness. So please go ahead and add more or less sugar if you'd like.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 74Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 29mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 0gSugar: 19gProtein: 0g

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