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 ½ 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.
- 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
- 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.
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."
Delicious! I’m lame at cooking and I could follow this. Great job on the instructions.
Thank you so much for this recipe, my family and I love it. We live in Sitka, Alaska and can’t get KFC so this is the next best thing.
Love this recipe! My family loves this recipe! Did exactly what you have said, and turns out like KFC every time. Even better! Thank you! Love the coleslaw recipe as well!
Colonel sanders pressure cooked the chicken then fried it
Everyone knows that
I just wanted to know how long he pressure cooked it
Other than that omission, I can’t wait to try this recipe. I’m strarving
I tried this recipe and I honestly have to say it’s nothing like KFC can’t understand why they would put it in a copycat category of KFC absolutely no resemblance to the original not even close. Wasn’t bad but nothing like KFC hate to say this but I think the kernal took this recipe to the grave. Lol
What sort of paprika do you use .hot ,mild or sweet .thankyou
recipe as is when using the MSG is way too salty, I leave out the salt use a third of the celery salt and use garlic powder rather than garlic salt and this makes a wonderful coating for everything from chicken to pork chops.
My thoughts exactly, just from reading it! Thank you!
The only kfc recipe i will ever keep doing, 5 stars without any doubt! Better than the kfc of elsewhere and way more savory! whoever ate it, testified to that, so thank you Sabrina, for giving us this recipe!
The only kfc recipe i will ever keep doing, 5 stars without any doubt! Better than the kfc of elsewhere and way more savory! whoever ate it, testified to that, so thank you Sabrina, for giving us this recipe ?
I’ve noticed a distinct onion smell on my fingers after eating KFC. I wondered if they either soaked the chicken in a buttermilk\onion mixture or if one of the ingredients in the dredge was onion powder.
Can you use any chicken (like boneless)?
My wife is gluten free. I useda Krusteaz gf flour. My wife loved it. She has not have fried chicken like this in over 20 years. I use thighs only. I tweek the reciepe
a little used cajun spice to pick it up a notch. The first batch is a little light in color but
I’m putting it in the oven to keep the process going. I also use lard, like my grandma would have. I added apple cider vinegar to the milk an egg.
You should use the MSG. It got a bad rap. We analyzed the original study at University. Turns out when they fed MSG to the rats, no amount that went through the digestive system caused any harm. Finally, they injected it straight into a vein. Yep, they mainlined rats. Do this with any of the other herbs and spices and they will cause harm as well. MSG causes no harm and makes the recipe. Look it up! Thanks for the recipe
I’m going to try this recipe and maybe reduce the white pepper so it’s not so hot. I might like it by my wife won’t. Then I’m going to try to fix it in the Ninja Foodi, first using the pressure cook first and then the air crisp. I’ll probably do some experimenting to get it right.
Isn’t there a mistake on salt amounts? Tablespoons should be teaspoons, right?
Nope, amounts are correct.
The original notes look sketchy, at best, with all capital T’s, usually meaning ‘Tablespoons’, which he confirmed in the interview (yes, I looked them up).
It also mentioned ‘pressure cooking’ as a major KEY to KFC OR. BUT… I don’t want to buy, nor do I trust pressure cookers.
But… I’ll trust your research & experimentation, when I try it.
I’ve LOVED ‘KFC Original Recipe’, since I was a kid!!!
Thanks for your help in tracking it down!
kfc has no egg nor bttermilk batter in it just the flour ingridients
Thank you Sabrina for this awesome recipe, it is almost perfect, I think that is as close as a mere human can get to KFC flavours. It is the best approximation that I have tried. I have just started looking at your other recipes and all that I can say is thank you for sharing your expertise with the world.
My name is Mike and in the late 1960’s, I worked in a KFC restaurant in Southern Saskatchewan in Canada. Kurt, the owner trained me to cook. He used fresh chickens purchased from the local Hutterite Colony. We prepped the chickens by cutting them into 9 pieces, soaked in buttermilk, coated in a way similar to your description, marked the time in pencil on each lid of the 6 pressure cookers, and when 14 minutes expired, would remove the weight, release the steam and remove the crispy chicken with a screen ladle, placed on a rack & tray and placed in a warming oven to be served on demand. One chicken per pot. The crisps that remained were strained and used to make gravy.
Hope this helps.
Best to you in Sunny California,
Mike in C-c-c-cold C-c-c-canada
I see where the problem is with the recipe. The linked Chicago Tribune recipe of the 11 herbs and spices are listed in teaspoons (Ts) and Sabrina listed the ingredients as tablespoons. This explains why some folks feel it is too much paprika when the recipe calls for teaspoons NOT tablespoons.
You are mistaken. If you read the entire Chicago Tribune article you would know that this question was raised by the testers, recipes were tested (ie with herbs/spices measured by teaspoons, and then by tablespoons), and the issue put to bed. The “T”s stand for tablespoons.
THIS IS AMAZING!!! Spot on! Whole family loved it, even my picky kids! Best KFC recipe I’ve tried. Thank you!!
Waaaaay too much paprika! I’m thinking maybe only one spoon of paprika or less. Will try again.
I think KFC used a pressure cooker instead of the fryer to precook the chicken then freeze and ship it to its franchises. Franchisees then bring chicken to room temperature before putting chicken in fryer.
I think so too, their fryers are intense.
Better than KFC! My family loves it and I find myself making it once a week!
Bets R. Harrisville, W.V.
I like how you dont “cook” talk. over my head..lol.
I can understand all, you make it seen so simple. Usually with so many seasonings. I skip the recipe all together. I’d like to know how to get you cook books, some read novels, I read cook books. And your good, Thank you
I followed the recipe exactly as it was written. Exact measurements, exact oil temp etc. And sorry to say, I wasn’t happy. The breading was so bland and did not crisp up at all. It was nothing close to KFC style chicken. Not gonna use it again. Chicken needs soaked with some seasoning, not in just plain buttermilk. Breading needs more salt and less flour.
Hello Sarah, Im so sorry this recipe didn’t work for you. Thank you for the tips for this recipe as well. Hopefully a different recipe of mine will work better for you 🙂
I agree with you Sarah. Was blend for me too.
The recipe is for “ORIGINAL RECIPE”!
It’s not SUPPOSED to ‘crisp up at all’!
If you eat the chicken straight out of the fryer, the meat with taste bland. An important step is the warming oven as the chicken rests. You can replicate this by loosley covering the chicken in foil and letting rest in a warm oven 280F for 15min then outside the oven for 10min. As the meat rests it will suck in the flavour from the skin and coating. Also recommend a dash of vanilla in the buttermilk for that cake like flavour that kfc has
I am going to oven bake in a pan with butter. Won’t be a perfect KFC but will be less greasy. No need to fear MSG. It got a bad reputation but research says not to worry about it.
I tried this recipe and didn’t taste anything close to KFC chicken.
Hi Rea, what felt off to you? would love to trouble shoot.
Hello Sabrina, this is actually not the KFC original recipe. I’ve been researching it for a long time and the 11 herbs and spices are coriander, savory, garlic, sage, cloves, ginger, white pepper, allspice, thyme, cayenne pepper, tellicherry black pepper. These are what people found in the original chicken sample when they performed laboratory experiments. What I don’t know is the measurement for each. I would be appreciated if you could try to clone with these ingredients and post it on this website. I’m not a chef so I don’t know what measurements to come up with.
I used your ingredients as much as I could, missing coriander, savory, for which I substituted Montreal Steak seasoning. ITS VERY CLOSE! THE KIDS LIKED IT EVEN MY 9 YO DAUGHTER!!!!!
2 c flour
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp black, red pepper
1 tbsp yellow mustard
2 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp garlic
1 tsp sage
1 tbsp cloves
2 tbsp Montreal steak seasoning
I think it could be the spicy just by adding chili powder (big in Thailand) or red/cayenne pepper. I didn’t use any of the Italian spices.
Anyway, no leftovers! Everyone happy. The coriander and savory would zip it up a little, although I think the Montreal replaced the savory well. It’ll be fun to add some coriander and taste the difference.
Certainly the Cloves and mustard made a difference, a nice one.
Anyhow thanks. Let me know how yours turn out.
It wasn’t as thick as KFC, maybe if I added an egg to the mix?
I learned to boil the chicken in water first – 15 to 20 minutes until the pieces are nicely cooked inside.
Place the pieces on a rack over a baking sheet and let cool for 20 minutes. I like to shake some spices on just as I let them cool, the skin soaks in the seasoning as the skin tightens.
After the chicken has cooled (20min), Place into your buttermilk/egg wash. (Some people will use just hot sauce, so make what you like)
Dredge into the flour/spice mixture, shake off excess and let it rest a few minutes on the baking sheet.
Heat your oil in the pot – 350 degrees
After about 15 minutes, start adding in the chicken, don’t crowd the pot. You need only Cook for 5 minutes or so until the breading is a pleasing color.
This method’s design is 2 fold; the chicken is completely cooked, and the breading isn’t dark, burned, or displeasing in color. The overall taste is dependant on your seasonings
Made it exactly as recipe says.
Cooks up and tastes nothing like NZ kfc.
It’s ‘alright’ but I wouldn’t go to the trouble again
could you do a video of this for perfection purposes
Nothing like Kentucky fried. Way too much pepper. Should have read the reviews first.
We did this for the first time. Although good, it was very salty. I would be cutting the salt in half next time.
Have you ever tried to make the KFC or ChickFil A nuggets in the oven instead of trying in oil?
I haven’t tried it in the oven. I’m sorry.
Sorry, but this tasted nothing close to KFC. Recipe followed exactly and quickly followed by wasted time and disappointed. I much preferred the copycat Pioneer Chicken recipe.
Sorry it wasn’t a recipe you enjoyed. I’m glad you enjoyed the pioneer chicken one, that’s my favorite for nostalgic reasons!
Not bad! The family loved it but we adults found it close but not quite kfc! Delicious none the less
I thought 3tbs of white pepper sounded a lot so i halved it, but i was still tasting white pepper all night.
Great recipes, thanks for sharing copycat
What confuses me is that KFC claims to use only water, not buttermilk and egg: are they incorrect?
This recipe was posted in the Chicago Tribune as a copycat so that’s what I followed.
Some of these comments are lying. They clearly have no idea, the chicken is not cooked first and there is no egg dip. The basket contains completely everything, flour, spice, powdered milk and powdered egg. There is one orginal recipe box and a zinger box. The chicken gets dipped into water then breaded. The zinger side (used for wings, crispy strips and zinger fillets) is double dipped with the basket water. Zingers usually deep fried in open pressure cooker and original is pressure cooked.
No matter what I did, the pieces came out with a very dark coating..looked burnt. Tasted good but looked bad.
not going to rate because I’ve yet to try the seasonings. right off, though, this recipe is wrong.
my aunt worked at a local Kentucky Friend Chicken for years post divorce, and the big secret other than those spices, they pressure cook the chicken pieces FIRST. Then it coat up and FRY for that wonderful skin and flavor.
Ever notice how the chicken just nearly falls apart? this is the pressure cooking. my understanding is that the chicken is purely cooked in pressure cooker, also, not partially then finished up in deep fryer.
Secret to the bar-b-que’d chicken – if you recall that they previously had such a type of chicken, it’s the day old chicken pieces or whole part that are then slathered in the Kentucky Friend Chicken house sauce that was thick, bright translucently red and sweet w/ a touch of savory.
You are mistaken. KFC uses large professional pressure fryers. The pressure cooking/frying happens all at once. There is no need to transfer the chicken to different cooking appliances.
Could you do a video on this? I followed all the instructions above but it came out horrible. I really want to see how you did it.
Oh no! I’ll add it to my list to film.
KFC Doesn’t Let The Chicken Sit Around On A Tray , It’s Fixed And Then Straight Into A Broaster/Pressure Fryer !!!
Recipe way too hot. Could have not been tested
I never leave reviews on recipes but this horrible. I wasted food. It was so hot my kids couldn’t eat it. I find it hard to believe that it was a tested recipe. Skip this one for sure!
I’m sorry this didn’t work out for you, Michelle.
Sabrina , Tell Them To Cut Back On The White Pepper , That’s Where The Heat Is Coming From !!!
I have worked for KFC for a couple years. The key missing step from all the recipes for this is that Col. Sanders, and KFC Restaurants, presser cook the chicken in a Original is pressure cooker. The extra crispy is deep fried, but the original is pressure cooked. Also, the chicken is prepped in a basket that sets in the prep machine until it reaches 70. Then it is breaded, dipped in an ‘egg dip and breaded again. The extra crispy is breaded twice and put into a deep fryer until it’ done. The breading comes premixed and in a 50 pound bag. When the chicken is done right….
I didn’t see your comment before saying the same thing about the pressure cooking of the chicken.
I do recall that it sat breaded up (?) in a basket waiting for frying? I believe that was what they basket was used for – dumping the extra flour as I recall it being explained by my aunt.
Just adding my two cents…I’m with Linda B., I worked for KFC as a teen and I remember the pressure frying and double breading too. I agree the pieces are much smaller than they used to be, and remember the center breast? Best piece of chicken evah! 🙂
where do you find the powered buttermilk, and other powered ingredients?
thanks so much for the KFC recipe.
I get it off of Amazon. In the recipe card, the word buttermilk is in green and if you click on it, it’ll take you to the product. Hope this helps!
You can find powdered buttermilk in almost any grocery store, on the baking isle. Walmart carries it.
I grew up 30 miles as the crow flies, in Eastern Kentucky. I met Colonel Sanders several times. He was a sharp business man known for his love of young ladies.
I remember him hitting on a date when I was in college in 79′ at Boone’s tavern in Berea.
The only ingredients that really mattered were MSG and white pepper. Both very unique in those days. Every house wife in Kentucky knew it.
That was not his secret. He used fresh farm raised chickens, A different experience from our modern ones, and a pressure cooler to fry them in. High quality consistent food.
I remember the original chicken. It was nothing like today. The original was better than Popeye’s or Churches.
John Y Brown had to pay him an extra million dollars to get him to stop going into the restaurants in Lexington and Louisville and screaming about the quality of the food.
Literally no one one tasted original KFC after 1964
Hi Greg, are saying you make 1963 KFC at home ? Do tell , and please use a very clear step by step . I remember the 70″ s KFC being crazy good, so if you can top that , I need to know how ! Or just the version you believe can make it taste very KFC like, that would make me happy, I mean not today’s KFC , that’s just grocery store fried chicken . looking forward to it and thanks in advance !
I tried this recipe and was very careful to follow the recipe. The chicken looked great. However, it was very “hot”. There seems to be far too much pepper and maybe paprika. The result tasted more like a very hot version of Chester’s Chicken and in no way resembled the taste of KFC. I was very disappointed.
The Reason Is In The Amount Of White Pepper In This !!! White Pepper Is A Lot Hotter Than Black Pepper , And A Little Goes A LONG Way !!!
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