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

5 from 17 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: 60.2g, Vitamin C: 5g, Calcium: 14.9g, Iron: 41.7g

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. This was the 2nd recipe I made from your website. I made it for my brother-n-law, my husband and my precious daughter. It was a hit! They loved it! It was so wonderful sitting around the table with all of them really enjoying their dinner and having a great time being together. I would recommend this to everyone I see!

  2. I worked at KFC when I was 15 (many years ago) back before the Colonel passed. This is the first recipe I have seen which even comes close to the original. At KFC, the chicken was soaked in their milk batter, sometimes overnight, then placed into the flour/spice mixture, as this recipe indicates . The only difference between the two cooking methods is KFC had fryers that were also pressure cookers. They would begin the frying process to brown the chicken and would then put the cooker’s lid on and pressure cook the meat, I believe for 20 or 25 minutes, in the hot oil. That final step really is what “makes” KFC’s chicken stand out.

  3. One thing that should have been really noticeable from the original KFC is the way you cooked it. You put the oil in a pressure cooker, when it reaches temperature add chicken and fry it, stirring as it browns, for a couple minutes. Then put lid on the cooker and cook under pressure for 15 or 20 minutes. I cooked many, many pots of original and then my husband I went around teaching other managers how to use the big pressure cookers, that cooked up to 180 pcs of chicken at a time, when they were installed in each store. Also the seasoning came in a small package that was added to
    25 pounds of flour. Not the ingredients that are hard to figure out but the amounts.

  4. I made this recipe for dinner. I used 9 chicken thighs & used all the spices, including Accent & the 4 T. of paprika. It was absolutely amazing! Thanks for posting this recipe.

  5. Many cooks confuse or “mix-up” celery salt with celery powder and garlic salt with garlic powder.
    I followed the recipe as printed and I found it too salty.
    I modified the recipe to use celery powder and garlic powder….and it was perfect!

  6. I was really looking forward to making this recipe! Unfortunately it did not taste anything like KFC and the cooking time almost burnt my drum sticks, the temperature left them over cooked on the outside but any less they were raw… was very disappointed

  7. I did the recipe almost to a T but I went for the extra 1/2 TB paprika and I didn’t have white pepper so I just added an extra tb of black pepper. I loved KFC back in the day but this was so salty is was almost unedible. It was super crunchy and could of been the best thing ever but next time I’m only doing 1/2 tb celery Salt and 1/2 tb garlic salt and no regular salt. I can salt it after if needed but I’ll be retaining 5 pounds of water for the next week after eating this.
    I could taste the layers of those 11 herbs and spices but this was way overboard. If anything do a sample first. The wife agreed as well it was over the top salty but so crunchy it was still edible.

  8. So far all the recipes I have found on the net for KFC chicken are way off. Use poultry seasoning instead of basil, oregano, etc. and powdered chicken broth instead of msg.

  9. I added 1 small change & that was 1 cup of potato flour as well. I increased the herbs by 1/2 so that the recipe spice ratio stayed the same, the potato flour makes the chicken so crispy & light. Fabulous recipe that is now everyone’s favourite so thank you so much for sharing it.

  10. Having seen a copy (published on Pintrist) of the original recipe found there is no MSG in any form, no buttermilk , milk or eggs used.
    I’m sure that your version of the chicken is very nice, but it is not a true copy of the original recipe published

  11. This looks amazing! Hubby and I have been trying to crack “the code” for years, but we will try this most definitely! Thank you for sharing this!

  12. There was another man who put out a youtube with this same recipe, and he fried the chicken for 1 1/2 minutes in the oil, then baked it the rest of the way in an oven for 1 hour at 350 degrees…he used 4 eggs with 1/4 cup of half and half for extra crispy and 2 eggs and 1 cup of milk or half and half for original recipe..when chicken came out he foil vented it for 15 min. I havent tried it yet, but I noticed people on here said it burned immediatle

  13. This recipe was really great!
    I like the crunchy KFC, so I floured the chicken with 1/2 the quantity of herbs and spices. I dipped in egg and milk( I did not have buttermilk, but could have made it:just lazy) ,then coated in breadcrumbs and cornflakes ( whizzed in a food processor) with the other 1/2 of the herbs and spices. I rested chicken in the fridge for a couple of hours. I did not add MSG.( gives me the shakes, headaches, thirst etc) . What I liked about it doing it this way is that you get the flavour pretty quick. And if you are looking to replicate a world renowned recipe, you WANT TO to get that flavour pretty quick. The mental capabilities of humans and their memory is pretty exceptional. With food ,colour, texture. Any anomaly will be detected in an early stage.
    Thank you so much. Love this recipe.xx

  14. I followed the recipe (almost) exactly, (I used all chicken legs instead of cutting up one). However, when I fried it, the breading started to burn and and turn dark brown/black before even 10 minutes were up. I had a fryer/candy thermometer reading 350°F the entire time.

    I used a large pot 3/4 filled with canola oil.

    What am I doing wrong?

    1. It sounds like it’s a tempature issue….maybe the pieces were too big or the tempature changed too much once the chicken was in the oil. So sorry that happened.

  15. So should it be Garlic salt or garlic powder? I notice one comment you replied that garlic salt and powder are two different things which are true.. seems like a lot of salt I just wanted to clarify. Is it really all that salt or should it be powder?

  16. It was good but it did not taste like Kentucky Fried Chicken. There are dozens of these recipes out there that claim to be “copycat Kentucky Fried Chicken.” I haven’t found one yet that tastes like Kentucky Fried Chicken.

    1. I totally concur, this tastes nothing like KFC, KFC has a very slight sweetness and none of the above would add that, KFC is such a wonderful taste and i’d so love to even get half close to it, fingers crossed one day……
      Have given three stars as it is still tasty, thanks for sharing.

  17. I made this last night for my family and it was fantastic – absolute perfection, tastes just like kfc. I’m so happy I found this thanks for sharing.

  18. I tried making a keto version of this. I subbed almond flour for the white flour and I baked it. It was really good, but a little peppery for me. Do you think maybe it was the change in flour. I thought of reducing the white pepper and paprika to 2 tablespoons each.

    1. I haven’t tested it so I’m not sure. You could always make those adjustments for next time and see how that works out.

  19. Made the KFC chicken last night. Was a big hit everyone loved it. My neighbor came down and had 2 pieces. Thanks for posting the recipe. You have a new follower!

        1. You can leave out the MSG. If you want the flavor enhance though you can substitute 2 TB fish sauce in 1 gallon water and marinate the chicken in that for at least 4 hours. Makes the chicken just as juicy as pressure frying and does NOT taste like fish from the fish sauce. It’s amazing but it works! I’ve been told my “KFC” chicken tastes spot-on when I use this marinade beforehand.

          I’ve even made it without the flour, just lightly sprinkle on the herb/spice mix and pan fry in it’s own juices, no oil. Really good when you’re tired of battered fried chicken.

  20. i worked at kfc they do not use milk they take chicken from freeze place in bowl of water wash it dip in preseason flour that came in a bag then place in a big covered deep fryer im wondering how milk got in it lol they dont use milk and no way anyone could know what the spices was because it was from a bag already mixed up only person would know the spices would be the old man hisself and the people who maded up the flour seasoning bags that we used people who worked at kfc have no idea what they were sorry but i see a lot of made up stuff people are putting out there based on what they think it is

    1. The bagged mix does have a dried milk product in it so that’s where the milk comes from. I’d love for you to try it and let me know what you think!

    2. As stated… a reporter visited the nephew of Colonel Sanders. The nephew had in his possession the Colonels recipe. The reporter snapped a picture of it and published it. And yes, there is dry milk in the batter that you used.

  21. I can’t rate the recipie yet as I have not made the chicken. My question: Can you use an airfryer? If so, what would be the temperature volume and time required (5.3 qt). Would pre-heating be required?

    1. I know this thread is from last year but wanted to let you know I made this tonight in my airfryer and it was awesome! I did change a couple things. I took out half cup of flour and replaced it with corn starch. And didn’t use much pepper at all. Then cooked it at 380 for twenty five minutes and flipped it then cooked another twenty minutes.

  22. Maybe it’s the garlic salt/celery salt I used (I’m in South Africa) but this was SUPER salty…will reduce that next time. 🙂

    1. I’m not familiar with the difference but reducing should solve your problem. Glad you were able to enjoy it still!

      1. Garlic powder and Garlic salt are two different ingredients.No wonder the chicken tasted salty.You are adding more salt than you need to garlic and onion powder are different from garlic salt an onion salt.

        1. I’m confused. Are you implying garlic powder should be used instead of garlic salt? The above recipe calls for salt, celery salt, and also garlic salt. Not garlic powder.

          That does sound like quite a bit of salt.

  23. I’m going to make this tonight cutting back on the paprika as recommended and including the Accent. I’ve done a bit of research on MSG and I’m OK with it.

    I’ll report back tomorrow!

  24. Hello, this recipe sounds so good, thank you for sharing. My question is, the recipe calls for quite a bit of ginger…can you actually taste the ginger or does it just add to the chickens depth of flavor? Ginger isn’t my favorite spice, though I do use it to cook with as long as it is not too overpowering in any given recipe. Thanks again and I really can’t wait to try it!! -Aimee

    1. There are so many spices in the mix that the ginger doesn’t overpower the flavor. You won’t bite into it thinking you’re tasting something gingery, if that makes sense 🙂 You could alway leave it out or lower the amount of ginger but that will change the flavoring as well.

  25. One of the keys to the colonels chicken was that he pioneered the use of a “pressure” type deep fryer.makes a huge difference

  26. I prepared the recipe exactly as is (with the 3 tbls of paprika & the accent) and it was absolutely amazing. I made it with boneless chicken strips and my family just loved it. This is a keeper for sure and one that we will enjoy for many occasions.
    Thank you.

    1. So glad you enjoyed it! I am pretty obsessed with it too since I have become to disappointed in the size of the chicken pieces they use and now I make them with chicken tenders like you did really often too!

    1. Sorry this comment took so long to get to, it ended up in my spam filter somehow! Aesthetics, less intense than biting into a whole piece of thyme and a more balanced flavor 🙂

  27. I also like to add some Texas Pete red pepper sauce to the buttermilk I marinate my chicken in overnight. The buttermilk both flavors the chicken and helps the crust stay on while frying. I only fry my chicken in a cast iron pan in just a little oil because the brown crust you get from searing in a cast iron pan gives the chicken so much more flavor. I finish the chicken in the oven with a probe thermometer in the meat to make sure it’s cooked all the way through. Try it this way, I do love deep fried chicken –I’m a Bojangles girl–but my favorite chicken will always be the cast iron browned chicken my grandmother and mom always made.

    1. Yes! totally true. They have these crazy pressure fryers that look like vaults on their sides. I am not about to pressure fry though (this just feels like an oil bomb in the kitchen), so I went with a classic deep fry. That is how they keep a certain softness to the chicken.

      1. I am planning to make this asap and once finished, I will put it in an inset pot, cover tightly with foil and put it on a trivet in my electric pressure cooker for about 10 min. I’ve done this with other fried chicken recipes and I am able to eat it without destroying my gums.

  28. Hey, I am grateful for the copycat recipe, and I’m sure you cut out a lot of msg (since they soak +inject the chickens with it and put it in the breadong) but “Accent Seasoning” *is* MSG MonoSodiumGlutimate.
    Just as an FYI 😉

  29. I haven’t had KFC in years, but this chicken looks perfect! My mom used buy Pioneer once a week, so I’m definitely checking that recipe out too!