KFC Original Recipe Chicken (Copycat)

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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 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. 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!

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. 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!

So here it is, in all its glory. I did make a couple of adjustments in my side by side comparison during recipe testing.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 😉
  4. 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.” 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!

Or perhaps you want more copycat recipes!

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

4.47 from 32 votes
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Course: Main
  • Cuisine: American
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder
KFC Original Recipe Chicken uncovered by a food reporter from Colonel Sander's nephew and republished with all 11 herbs and spices to make picture perfect KFC chicken at home!


  • 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.

  1. 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.
  2. Add the flour in a bowl with all the herbs and spices and mix with a whisk.
  3. In a second larger bowl add the buttermilk and egg together and whisk until combined.
  4. Add the chicken to the buttermilk mixture for 20-30 minutes.

  5. Remove chicken from the buttermilk soak and let any excess buttermilk drip off.
  6. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour mixture on all sides, then shake off the excess coating.
  7. Let it rest on a cookie sheet for 20-30 minutes.

  8. 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.
  9. Heat the oil to 350 degrees and fry in small batches for 15-18 minutes.

  10. Remove the chicken from the oil and add to a drying rack on top of a clean cookie sheet.
  11. If you add it to a paper towel or newspaper the bottom of the chicken will steam from the heat and become soft.

Recipe Notes

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."

Nutrition Information

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: 3010g, Vitamin C: 4.1g, Calcium: 149g, Iron: 7.5g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keyword: KFC Original Recipe Chicken (Copycat)
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 decoded by a food reporter and republished with all 11 herbs and spices to make picture perfect KFC chicken at home!

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  1. Way, waaaaay too salty. Triple the amount of flour to everything else and lower the temperature of the oil. Start hot and then lower a bit. 15 minutes at high temperature will fossilise the coating.

  2. I tried this today using soy curls instead of chicken. I do eat a wide variety of spices and cook many ethnic foods, so I’m always up for spice in my food, but this recipe seemed to have a ratio of too much spice to flour. Maybe it was due to the fact that soy curls are a lot smaller than a piece of chicken and would therefore have a much higher ratio of batter to soy curl? Not sure. It tasted ok, but not at all like KFC.

  3. There is waaaaaay too much pepper in this recipe. Maybe American pepper is weak compared to Australian pepper, but for us it was almost inedible because of the overuse of pepper. Didn’t taste like KFC either. Don’t waste your time, just go buy some actual KFC.

  4. There’s also a LOT of salt in this recipe. Not only just salt alone, but also two heavily salty ingredients. Since I’m afraid of oversalting I cut the salt in half and I replaced “X salt” items with “X” only without the salt.

  5. I’m so excited to find this recipe. Our family had to go gluten-free recently. I made this recipe using gluten-free flour and it turned out awesome!

  6. I can’t find any buttermilk anywhere…. is there anything else I can do or use??
    thanks, I love this recipe, my families fav!

    1. You can always make your own by mixing 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar. Let it sit for 10 minutes before using. Good luck!

  7. I only thawed 2 thighs for dinner, so I guesstimated, the amounts for the ingredients. They came out, very good. Thank you.

  8. Sabrina
    Would the result be different if I used a pressure cooker instead of a deep fryer.
    I know KFC used the pressure cooker. (at least they did way back around 1980 or so)
    I do not know if it was to do with flavor or if KFC just used pressure cookers because the chicken cooked faster.
    So I guess my question is:
    Does the pressure cooking change the flavor? Or the texture? Or anything else?
    Mel Heinrichs

    1. You’re right about it cooking faster as it breaks down the collagen faster but it also allows less moisture to be generated. I don’t think it would change the flavor though. If you decide to try, I’d love to know how it works out for you and if you notice any other changes. Thanks!

  9. Although the ingredients seem to be correct, the measurements are wrong. They should all be measured in teaspoons not Tablespoons. There is no buttermilk or eggs for original recipe only extra crispy. Dip in ice cold water before dunking in flour mix. Since you can’t duplicate the actual fry process at home. The best you can do is to deep fry in an open pressure cooker for 2 minutes. Make sure oil is between 350 and 360. Then close pressure cooker for 10 minutes. Then release the pressure and remove chicken. From start to finish cook time is 13 min. If you include the time it takes to release the pressure from the cooker.

  10. I ran 23 kfc stores. …. I used to mix the flour in cement mixers…. your close but some of your procedures are wrong… the chicken never went in any milk or eggs… only was warmed in water then breaded….. shake off the excess flour… deep fry temps at 375 in a pressure cooker and browned for 2-3 minutes then capped sealed and cooked for 12 minutes… Pepsi co played with all the recipes and messed things up!

  11. Hi Sabrina,

    I want to try this recipe tomorrow after work. Do you recommend soaking in the morning then frying in the evening, or should I limit the buttermilk and egg soak to 30 minutes?
    Thank you.

      1. I have been working on flavor and texture and have found if I add my brine and a teaspoon of the herb mixture to a pressure cooker and pressure cook chicken for 6 minutes it takes longer by time you release pressure and get top off and then let chicken cool a few minutes then you can dip into the buttermilk and bread chicken then deep fry for 2 minutes and you are close to the original chicken.i am going to work on spices they seem a little off to me

  12. so a little different but as i’m a vegetarian i tried this with quorn fillets instead of chicken. i must say im very impressed with the flavour of this recipie, i left out the dried mustard just due to not having any and next time would use a little less pepper i think but all in all a very nice recipie. not fussed that it’s not 100% kfc flavour but it is still a very tasty recipie in my opinion

  13. Yes can I get good recipe for me to cook dinners n bake dinners pot lucks on how to make popcorn chicken

  14. I gave this recipe 0 stars, its crap. Does not taste anywhere close to KFC, I wasted my time & spices on this so called “good” recipe. I don’t know & don’t care where the author got this recipe from, but it does not work. I realize no one has the real KFC recipe, except the owner of course, but this recipe is absolute crap, don’t waste your time or spices on this. I’ll stick to my own pan fried chicken from now on. Should have read the reviews first before trying this disappointment of a recipe.

  15. The smaller chicken pieces cooked through well but the larger pieces were raw in the middle,Yep without the msg it still didnt cut the mustard for me,maybe I’ll add msg just to see how far off we are in terms of the taste,cheers.

  16. The original KFC shops would precook the chicken in a pressure cooker first then coat and deep fry quickly to have nice crunchy tasty coating.

    1. Not True. I was a cook at KFC. from freezer to warm water then into flour. Then into pressure cooker. vented at like 12 mins. Hung to rest above grease after a few mins. then on to racks and into warmers. I will say this was in ’83 when I was a cook for a few years.

      1. I agree with Walt. I worked for KFC in 85. In fact, my boss was named Walt (Walt, is that you – was Covina, CA?). The pressure cookers also had a deep fryer component (all one unit) so the chicken was both fried and pressure cooked in one run. Then hung above the grease, then on to the racks and into the Crescor unit. FYI – the gravy was made from scratch using the flour bits from the fryers that would drop down into this catch spot along with some of the grease. Biscuits also scratch made as well as the cole slaw.

    2. I agree with Walt. I cooked for KFC way back in about 1969 or so. Walt’s description of the cooking procedure is pretty much exactly as I remember.

        1. Also agree. Worked in a KFC through high school and college. KC–I remember having to make everything. Coleslaw was a mess to clean up after grinding 🙁

  17. We were so excited to try this recipe. BUT it was NOT any where near the KFC chicken that we buy. We followed the recipe exactly and fried it in a deep fryer. So who ever gave you this recipe I don’t think was not giving you the real recipe. I don’t know what KFC chicken others are eating that makes them think this is the real recipe or even close to it . I would not waste any of the plethora of spices to try this. It was ok, but I am sorry I did not use my grandmothers wonderful southern fried chicken recipe instead. : (

    1. Original recipe chicken needs to be cooked in a pressure fryer at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Heat the pressure fryer to 350. Put the chicken in larger pieces first. Make sure all the pieces are covered in oil. Stir gently after 2 minutes. Cap the lid and pressure fry at 15 psi for an additional 13 minutes (2.5 lb of chicken). Slowly release the pressure (be careful). You can put the fryer in cold water instead. That will automatically lower the pressure. Open the lid. Rack the chicken. Let the chicken drip for 2 minutes. Enjoy!!

      1. Hi RJG
        I remember cooking KFC back in the 80’s and your are absolutely right. We cooked the chicken in a pressure cooker. I have some questions for you though.
        Did you by any chance use an Instant Pot for this? Would this this work in an Instant Pot. Do you know if the oil vapors would clog up the relief valve on the Instant Pot? If so, would one be able to clean the relief valve to an as new condition? I would love to try this recipe in my Instant Pot but I am worried about ruining the pot.

    1. Agree with Roger. I’m not sure how recently people here have tried KFC, but while this has hints of OR, it’s not in the same zip code.

  18. I don’t know if this is an exact replication of KFC’s 11 herbs and spices – mainly because I don’t eat there any more due to the excessive saltiness of their chicken – but boy, this is very close to what I remember! Definitely a keeper recipe.

    AND if you’re trying to cut back on your sodium intake you can adjust it to taste. You can substitute celery seed and garlic powder, just reduce those measurements by about 1/2 to 2/3. But I did use the MSG!

  19. I made this tonight for my family and it was very good. Really close to the original recipe. I followed the recipe but took others suggestions to halve the white pepper and I reduced the paprika to 3 Tbsp. Also I used 1 Tbsp salt and 1 1/2 Tbsp garlic powder. I used bone in skin on chicken thighs. I did not marinate the chicken pieces. Instead I first put them in the flour and coated them very well and got the flour mixture in all the nooks and crannies. Then I dipped them in the butter milk and egg mixture and back to the flour again for another coat. I immediately put them in my deep fryer at about 300 degrees and cooked for 9 minutes. I had to cook them one at a time so after cooking I put them in a 225 degree oven on a cookie sheet to keep warm and also to make sure I got 165F through out the thigh. So here is my verdict. The skin and coating texture and crispiness was spot on like the original. The meat inside was cooked thru and juicy. The taste was great and really close to original recipe. However, the ginger, white pepper and garlic stood out a lot. So my next batch I plan on reducing white pepper to 1 Tbsp, ginger to 1 Tsp, garlic powder to 1 Tbsp and increase black pepper to 1.5 Tbsp. I also used the MSG as suggested in recipe. Overall this is a keeper. Make adjustments to your taste level and enjoy! Thank you for sharing!

  20. For someone who has cooked a couple million pieces of the Original Recipe there are a couple of differences. O.R. has always been cooked under pressure even back when Harland did it. Until technology started catching up, we used freeze dried milk and fresh eggs. Never buttermilk. Buttermilk did not come into the restaurants until the making of biscuits when they replaced the dinner rolls. Also, we just coated the chicken in the milk & egg dip to coat it. We didn’t marinate anything except for the Extra Crispy and that recipe change multiple times.

    1. I worked as a cook at KFC in the ’80s. we never saw milk. I now assume it was powdered and in the flour mix. We thawed in warm water then into flour then into pressure cooker.
      Whats the process now?

    1. Nope. Original Recipe was never brined overnight. Chicken went straight from freezer to flour/water mixture to pressure cooker. Extra-crispy chicken was brined in a tumbler that I believe took around 45 minutes and was a sloppy mess when retrieved out of the tumbler. But it was never brined overnight.

  21. KFC perfected the use of the pressure fryer for making their fried chicken. Is that the same as a pressure cooker. I want to try making it authentically rather than a deep fryer or or regular fry pan.

        1. KFC doesn’t even taste like KFC anymore. Worked there in my teens and today’s chicken taste’s nothing like the original when we cooked in individual pressure cooker pots.

  22. I followed this recipe yesterday and have to say its pretty dam close to KFC, I did change the flour to 1 cup of 12 a cup of corn flour and 12 cup of rice flour to get a little more crispness ( Worked well) , I took advice from reviews and cut Black and White pepper to 12 tablespoon of Black Pepper and only one tablespoon of White pepper, I also cut down on the salt ( Personal Choice) to just a 1 tablespoon ( I use pink salt living here in India)

    This recipe in my experience is great, the taste is as close as I have been able to come to replicating KFC at home . The family loved it.

    1. Totally agree…I live in the Caribbean and it is all about highly seasoned food,tried this recipe and the family loved loved loved it.