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.

Recipe

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KFC Original Recipe Chicken

4.47 from 28 votes
  • 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
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!

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

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."

This post contains affiliate links.

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)
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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!

About the Author

Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

See more posts by Sabrina

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.

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Comments

  1. Thank you I’ll try this. also don’t forget KFC uses a pressure cooker to cook the chicken they cook it at 12 pounds for 10 mins. Have fun.

    The last fried chicken I made had 1-2 tsp of chili powder in it and I thought that was really tasty so try that sometime. I also used 1/3 pulverized crackers 1/3 flour and 1/3 bread crumbs. Not kfc but I was happy with it. I also discovered if you dredge the chicken in the flour and then squeeze it to push the breading in more you get the kfc like crunchy ridges!

  2. I used the recipe, it’s perfect. However, I always liked the extra crispy so I added 1 tbsp. Of cornstarch and 11/2 tsp. Of baking powder to the dredge, voila, extra crispy. It’s awesome. Thanks for the recipe.

  3. I made this chicken recipe. I followed the instructions exactly, including the MSG and the paprika. My family loved the chicken they thought it was delicious but none of them thought it taste like KFC original recipe. The funny thing is I thought that it tasted a lot like the KFC original and it was very good. I will definitely make it again but maybe I will use a little bit extra of each of the spices to give it more of a KFC Flavour

  4. Omg, was this ever pretty close to KFC!! The best KFC copycat recipe I’ve tried yet!!!! I’d give 10 stars if I could!!!

  5. A little disappointed that animal cruelty wasn’t on your list of reasons of why to make KFC chicken at home. It’s the reason I searched for a copycat recipe in the first place, and I would imagine why many search. There are chickens that aren’t factory farmed that live happy healthy lives right up until being killed for food, and as a conscientious animal-eater (I don’t believe the terms are necessarily mutually exclusive), I’m happy to spend a little more at the grocery store to ensure that my diet isn’t causing excessive suffering. In addition, MSG has a bad rap, but it’s largely undeserved, whereas animal cruelty goes widely ignored. It’s better to be educated as to real facts than to parrot “talking points” that you feel the mainstream will grab onto. Just something to chew on. 😉

  6. This was delicious! I would probably halve the amount of white pepper, as it was a bit too prominent. I pressure fried in my Wearever Chicken Bucket fryer, and left to drain on a rack over a tray on low heat in the oven. Damn close to KFC!!! I also used msg, as I don’t believe it causes any harm whatsoever. Thanks for the awesome recipe!!!

  7. Instead of using pieces I cut up some breasts and did tenders (I’ve always wondered why KFC tenders aren’t coated in the 11 herbs and spices). My kids and I thought our dinner was great.

  8. I worked for KFC and ran the kitchen solo. We used lard, not oil, and the original recipe was cooked in a pressure cooker called a Henny Penny. This was back in the 80’s. When I took a part time job for Christmas in 2006 I quit after the second day. Nothing is from scratch now… everything is in kits. I remembered making the biscuits from scratch and loving it.

    1. Barbara, KFC Biscuits are delicious. Since you worked back in the 80’s and made those biscuits from scratch…how about sharing that recipe. 🙂

  9. This recipe was delicious and I was wondering is there anyway to make this recipe in the extra crispy kfc chicken instead of just regular?

    1. I haven’t tested it that way yet but I’ll add it to my list. Thanks for the suggestion. I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

  10. I want to thank you and also correct you on this recipe. The spice mix in my opinion is right on the mark but the cooking process is way off. I worked for a local KFC for a while back and they do not use buttermilk or any other type of marinade/pre-breading technique. All that is done is that the seasoning comes in big bags already mixed and we were to mix it with flour at a 4 to 1 ratio. Then all that is done before frying is that the cut chicken is dunked in water to get rid of the blood and then held up above the water in the basket for a count of 10 and then just dumped into the seasoned flour mix. Then it was evenly coated with the excess shaken off and then trayed up to be put in the broasters. For the extra crispy the chicken after being breaded was then tossed back into the basket and then dunked back into the water and then dumped back into the flour for a second coat of breading. Also the extra crispy was then cooked in an open deep fryer and not the broasters like the original recipe was.

  11. I made it last night for the first time. Actually my 1st time ever deep frying chicken and it turned out pretty good. I made it without omitting anything to see if it would really taste KFC-ish. It was hard to tell because for the deep frying time specified, was too long so the crust was too crispy and dark. Plus, she didn’t specify whether to close the lid or leave it open. I closed it at first but it seemed to be getting too hot so I opened it. I was so anxious about which way to do it, I went back & forth and watched but it’s hard to see it when it’s submerged in boiling oil. Other than that it was fine. I’ll try it again with my own adjustments and let you know the differences. Thank you for sharing this coveted recipe.

  12. I made this last night as baked chicken instead of fried – used just the spices to coat boneless thigh pieces and drizzled avocado oil on top. It was delicious and a big hit with the kids! They commented on how great it smelled and how they didn’t miss the batter. I omitted MSG, went easy on paprika, black and white pepper and could have done with less salt, but still loved the flavor and aroma. It was a bit like my favorite Japanese fried chicken powder. Thank you for the recipe!

  13. I used this recipe last night and I had to fry a lot of chicken! I doubled the amts of all the ingredients and as one guest told me “This chicken is Off the chain!” I will use this recipe every time I fry chicken.

  14. Just created this recipe, followed your every instruction but substituted vegan goujons as an alternative to the chicken and it was absolutely delicious! Thanks so much for sharing.

  15. Made once but didn’t have all the spices, it was still really good! Making it again with the spices as written and my kitchen smells just like KFC!!!

  16. the pepper used in KFC is thellicherry pepper – kerala not paprika and oil they use in KFC store soybean oil

  17. This recipe is nice but the problem is you can’t deep fry chicken for 15 minutes and expect a golden brown piece of chicken reduces the temp to 275 it takes longer but your chicken is cooked not burnt you can use the oven also 325 till golden brown and cooked

    1. Thank you! I wish I would’ve read this before I made it but that’s what I get for forgetting to read these 1st. I will use this info the next time I make it. BTY, is the deep fryer lid supposed to be opened or closed? Thanks again.

  18. Hi Sabrina, I was pleased to find this recipe, and all the background you provided was very interesting. Do you think this recipe could be made in an air fryer oven following the cook time for regular fried chicken?

    1. I’ve not tested it so I’m not sure but if you decide to try, I’d love to know how it turns out. Thanks!

  19. I have researched a lot of KFC duplicate recipes, and this is, by far, the best one. Honest and detailed. Thank you Sabrina. I love your candor.

  20. I have read some recipes for fried chicken that call for peanut oil. Is there a big difference from vegetable oil? I am going to make this recipe tonight for the first time

  21. I followed the recipe to the letter and it was incredibly salty. ( I put 2 Tablespoons of salt plus the other celery & garlic salt’s as per the recipe). 5 to 6 Tablespoons of various salt types is way too much. Perhaps it should say Teaspoons? If I attempt to make this fried chicken again I would dramatically reduce the amount of the salt so that I can taste the other herbs and spices.

  22. Hello, I am writing from Brazil.
    The temperature of the oil to fry the chicken pieces is in degrees Fahrenheit?

  23. I tried this recipe, and it’s not even close to tasting like KFC chicken. It’s good, don’t get me wrong; but the same as what you get from KFC? No way. I give it three stars only because it does make decent fried chicken.

  24. I made this recently and I would agree to take it a bit easier on the paprika! Mine had a tinge of firey spice right to the back of the throat while eating. I thought the recipe was pretty close. I used an air fryer also and did not marinade the chicken. I will definitely marinate next time to see if it helps. I had too much breading stick to the chicken so even though the chicken was cooked I had sections of floured spice still powdery. I didn’t add the msg either so maybe I didn’t give it the full go. Excellent recipe though!

    1. White pepper is hotter than black but is less complex with fewer flavor notes. You can usually find it at Target, Walmart or even Amazon. Hope this helps!

  25. Though this makes adequate fried chicken it’s nowhere near being a copy-cat recipe. It doesn’t even come close to tasting the same. I will have to keep looking.

  26. HOLY WHITE PEPPER BATMAN!!I just made this tonight and ALL we could taste was white pepper. The other Ingredients were spot on. My recommendation would be to take the white pepper down to 1 tablespoon. 3 was WAY too much!

    1. Agreed! I just posted the same, perhaps teaspoons would have been better. Now reading through comments to see other responses for the same.

      1. same here. the spice mix smelled great, but now I’m looking at a batch of fried chicken so spicy I have to pull off the breading just so I can eat it!

        Way too much white pepper!

  27. This is my go to fried chicken recipe we love it. Your site is fab. Gonna try your chili recipe today. Thanks so much. ?

  28. The original KFC recipe called for cooking in a pressure cooker using lard. The oil was changed after every 5th or 6th batch.

  29. Made this tonite instead of buying kfc. WOW! Tastes just like it. Sorry, that statement is incorrect. Tastes nothing like it, this is MILES better.. Made a big batch, whole family agreed this is better than kfc. Will defo make this again, is a total hit in our house. Magnificent recipe. For those about to eat this, i salute you x

  30. This recipe was SO delicious! I had to substitute turmeric for the dry mustard (because I didn’t have any) and believe it or not, I actually substituted coconut-almond milk for the buttermilk, and it still turned out wonderful! I’m definitely bookmarking this one, AND sharing it with my mom! Thanks for posting it! ?