KFC Original Recipe Chicken decoded by a food reporter and republished with all 11 herbs and spices to make picture perfect KFC chicken at home!
KFC Original Recipe Chicken has been a huge part of my childhood. As a kid my aunt would walk me home from school and we would stop at the KFC that was a half a block from my school. We’d share chicken and a strawberry parfait they used to sell. Unlike the Pioneer Chicken that my mom used to buy, this food memory is one I can still enjoy anytime I wanted.
So why make a copycat recipe of it if you have one a mile down the road? Well, A: Copycat recipes are a ton of fun and B: Way, way, way, way higher quality. Have you been to a KFC in the last decade? I’ve only been a few times but was disappointed each time because the chicken pieces have shrunken… a lot. Also, and hey to each his own (I’m definitely guilty of my fair share of food sins), but KFC uses MSG in the recipe for its KFC Original Recipe Chicken. Oh, and last thing, as far as fast food goes, it tends to be pretty pricy.
So here we are all trying to decode the famous 11 herbs and spices. Everyone has theories, and according to KFC no one has EVER been right. So I have sort of watched the copycat rounds develop from a distance. Then something pretty awesome happened.
A food reporter for the Chicago Tribune visited the nephew of good old Colonel Sanders himself. He has memories of this recipe that he used to make by the bucket. And lo and behold he has a copy of the recipe in an old scrapbook. So of course the reporter snaps a picture and proceeds to bring it back to Chicago for some serious taste testing.
Now, as a huge KFC Original Recipe Chicken fan, I’m interested. They recipe test and with the single addition of MSG find that they’ve recreated that distinct amazing flavor.
So here it is, in all its glory. I did make a couple of adjustments in my side by side comparison during recipe testing.
- I ditched the MSG, if you want to add it back in, Accent Seasoning will do the trick and you can add 1/2 teaspoon for every pound of chicken used. It definitely seems to be the X factor here for that final kick of nostalgic flavor, so again if you want the 100% real deal, grab a canister and add away.
- I reduced the paprika by 1 tablespoon. The flavor seemed off to me, and in a comparison of color I found 3 tablespoons to be a better representation of the original. Want to stick to the recipe the Chicago Tribune uncovered? Use the full 4 tablespoons.
- Last change, but a really big one. If you were to buy some KFC Original Recipe Chicken and really inspect the breading of the chicken you will find dark specks. Yes, those specks are your herbs and spices, but guess what else they are? Uniform. Maybe to hide the recipe since shapes may give away ingredients. Maybe to prevent the overpowering flavor of biting into an entire piece of dried thyme. Either way, I pulverized the thyme, basil and oregano in my small food processor. Bingo, tiny specks. 😉
- I added more oil (truth: I used my deep fryer, but if you just add more oil, you’ll have a full deep fry in a larger stockpot) instead of the cast iron skillet fry that was done in the recipe as printed.
Thanks so much to the awesome folks at the Chicago Tribune for this KFC Original Recipe Chicken “copycat.”
Or perhaps you want more copycat recipes!
- KFC Potato Wedges (Copycat)
- KFC Coleslaw (Copycat)
- Tony Roma’s BBQ Chicken
- Panda Express Orange Chicken (Copycat)
- Chick-fil-A Nuggets (Copycat)
Tools Used In This Recipe:
Deep Fryer: Easy for keeping temperature on point and kind of fun to use!
Accent Seasoning: The x factor, this is MSG, so use at your discretion.
Pigtail Flipper: I LOVE this tool for frying. I am able to drop and pick up pieces without removing any breading at all thanks to this awesome tool.
KFC Original Recipe Chicken
- Yield: 4 servings
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
- Course: Main
- Cuisine: American
- Author: Dinner, then Dessert
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2/3 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
- 1/2 tablespoon dried basil leaves
- 1/3 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
- 1 tablespoon celery salt
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried mustard
- 3 tablespoons paprika (original recipe calls for 4 tablespoons)
- 2 tablespoons garlic salt
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 3 tablespoons ground white pepper
- 2 teaspoons Accent Seasoning , optional (I left this out)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 1 chicken , cut into 10 pieces (2 wings, 2 legs, 2 thighs and 2 breasts each cut in half to make 4 breast pieces)
- vegetable oil for frying
Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.
- Add the spices to a small food processor until they're all uniform in size and the thyme, basil and oregano aren't larger in size anymore.
- Add the flour in a bowl with all the herbs and spices and mix with a whisk.
- In a second larger bowl add the buttermilk and egg together and whisk until combined.
Add the chicken to the buttermilk mixture for 20-30 minutes.
- Remove chicken from the buttermilk soak and let any excess buttermilk drip off.
- Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour mixture on all sides, then shake off the excess coating.
Let it rest on a cookie sheet for 20-30 minutes.
- Add oil to a deep fryer or a large pot that is at least 5 inches high so that the chicken can be fully submerged.
Heat the oil to 350 degrees and fry in small batches for 15-18 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the oil and add to a drying rack on top of a clean cookie sheet.
- If you add it to a paper towel or newspaper the bottom of the chicken will steam from the heat and become soft.
So here it is, in all its glory. I did make a couple of adjustments in my side by side comparison during recipe testing. More details of how/why available in the post above this recipe card.
I ditched the MSG.
I reduced the paprika by 1 tablespoon.
I pulverized the thyme, basil and oregano in my small food processor.
I added more oil
Thanks so much to the awesome folks at the Chicago Tribune for this KFC Original Recipe Chicken "copycat."
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Yield: 4 servings, Amount per serving: 729 calories, Calories: 729g, Carbohydrates: 59g, Protein: 46g, Fat: 33g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 190mg, Sodium: 6613mg, Potassium: 692mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 60.2g, Vitamin C: 5g, Calcium: 14.9g, Iron: 41.7g
All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.