How To: Colonel Sanders' KFC Recipe Revealed!

Colonel Sanders' KFC Recipe Revealed!

The Holy Grail of chicken has just been found by an unsuspecting reporter of the Chicago Tribune. Yes, that's right: The secret 11 herbs and spices in Colonel Sanders' Original Recipe chicken has finally been revealed, and it looks legit as hell.

While a copy of the Original Recipe chicken is locked down tight in KFC's headquarters, another version has been sitting in the photo album of Sanders' second wife, Claudia Ledington, which is now in the possession of her nephew, Joe Ledington. The hand-scribbled note contains the amounts for each of the 11 herbs and spices, which are listed below, to be included with 2 cups of white flour.

The Real Deal:

  • 2/3 Tbsp. salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp. thyme
  • 1/2 Tbsp. basil
  • 1/3 Tbsp. oregano (spelled origino)
  • 1 Tbsp. celery salt
  • 1 Tbsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. dried mustard
  • 4 Tbsp. paprika
  • 2 Tbsp. garlic salt
  • 1 Tbsp. ground ginger
  • 3 Tbsp. white pepper

To see if this recipe was really the secret KFC one, the Chicago Tribune tried it out on a couple batches of chicken. They found that it was seriously close to the real deal, but something was missing—and that something turned out to be Accent (MSG), which they confirmed to be included in KFC's official chicken. The Accent can be sprinkled on after cooking, or added right into the mix.

Other Recipes for KFC's Chicken:

Before the above recipe came to light, others had claimed to have cracked the secret recipe of Kentucky Fried Chicken. One, Ron Douglas of Long Island, New York, reverse-engineered the top secret 11 herbs and spices and thought the key ingredient was Accent, a commercial MSG-based flavoring. And given the news above, it does play a big part in the recipe. It may not be one of the 11 herbs and spices, but it's definitely added into the mix somewhere.

The Guardian's Tim Hayward put Douglas' recipe to the test:

Cooking from scratch enables us to do two things that the Colonel can't: use great chicken and drain the grease more efficiently. This gave us a real head start, and the results were stunning. A single bite of the homemade KFC is enough. It's like biting into a dew-fresh ripe peach after eating a canned one. It's obviously the same thing but an order of magnitude better. As before, none of the flavours predominated enough to be identifiable but, having made up the mix from scratch, we now know the secret. Herbs and spices be damned, that staggering, mouthfilling, umami facepunch of a flavour is down to the two tablespoonfuls of MSG.

Hayward then upped the challenge. Is it possible to achieve the same amazing taste without the MSG? He altered the recipe to the newly titled "GFC":

GFC, our own mix, was very, very good. Nice flavours, well chosen and matched. It's refined, elegant and I'd proudly serve it at a family picnic. An elegant Southern church lady would gladly remove a cotton glove to pick up an MSG-free GFC drumstick. She would compliment us on our British reserve, our eccentric quirkiness and our general pluck, but as far as stimulating the senses goes, she'd politely opine, 'why, it's like comparing iced tea and crystal meth'.

As you'll see below, many of the ingredients are actually ones that are listed in Ledington's version above, and white pepper even made the cut in the "GFC" version, as well as celery. Use 2 cups of flour for each recipe below, even though the ingredient amounts seem a lot smaller than the real deal.

Reverse-Engineered KFC Mix:

  • 1 tsp. ground oregano
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground sage
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. onion salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp. Accent (MSG)

The GFC Mix:

  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. mustard powder
  • 1 tsp. sage
  • 1 tsp. celery seeds
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. dried onion flakes
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground white pepper

For all of these recipes, you'll need to use a buttermilk-egg bath (KFC actually uses powdered milk and powdered egg), then batter and cook as usual. If you want to be a real KFC pro, try deep-frying your chicken in a pressure cooker.

Rachel Mansur contributed to this post.

More Fast Food Recipes Revealed:

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Cover photo by Marufish/Flickr


Wasn't the gravy the hardest KFC recipe to crack?

Im a sucker for the colonel's chicken. My mouth was watering at the title.
Im definately gonna have to try this.

@eshian.. ur funny

spice buying for me then :) yum

Personally i could never stick KFC, for me it's way to greasy. But i tried this tonight and it actually tasted pretty good, although next time i will adjust the amounts to suit my tastes more, but id definitely recommend trying it!

good to know someone tried it (and that it's good)!

yup yup! its very good! =D

score one for the scientist DAMN YOU

Wait so what Do I do with all the ingredients? Do I just throw it on the Chicken and fry it? I don't get it... I'm confused... Help please

Are you sure this isn't the recipe?

1. 1/2 tsp black pepper
2. 1/2 tsp salt
3. 1 tbsp chopped parsely
4. 1 tsp MSG
5. 2 tsp onion powder
6. 1/2 tsp paprika
7. 1/2 tsp bell seasoning
8. 1/2 tsp garlic powder (unsalted)
9. 1 tsp celery powder
10. 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
11. 1 cup flower

everyone forgot the ginger, which the Colonel himself said was in it

@banksolyt: The ingredients are all mixed into flour, along with egg, milk and salt. I work at KFC, and the egg and milk comes in powdered form in a bag so im not sure how much is used. You then dip the chicken into water, and coat it in the flour. Drumsticks are dipped twice. They can be cooked in a pressure oil cooker for 14 minutes at above 180 degrees celcius, i don't know how else to cook them.

Thanks!! yum! going to try this 4 sure....

I tried the recipe, doesn't taste like KFC. The new one revealing the top secret spices from the nephew and the reporter from the Chicago Tribune. Too much white pepper, that's all you will taste. I did the recipe with boneless chicken breast cut into chicken strips. Tender chicken, but too much white pepper, even through I love pepper. I would skip the white pepper altogether, perhaps the 11th ingredient is 2 tablespoons of accent instead. I did use accent mixed in with the flour, but will try it again without the white pepper.

Also tried the copycat KFC gravy online using this seasoning, not bad but too salty.

@Daniel V thanks Bro!

there is ginger in the recipe. the colonel once said it was

It was a Honor to work with the Granddaughter of Colonel Sanders at the Glenolden PA Walmart in Mary Pierce !!!

Everyone's thrown off a top executive kfc revealed it's a secret spice called tellecherry pepper not black pepper that gives the after taste

Random Fact: "Tellicherry whole black peppercorns are left on the vine longer so they develop a deep, rich flavor. Considered the finest pepper in the world, these extra-large berries come from the Malabar coast of India."

they did a special on pbs a few years ago about kfc chicken... the secret recipe... they cut off the beaks of baby chicks. and grind them into powder. most of these baby chicks die shortly thereafter.

I worked at a place called Geno's that sold KFC in 1977. I was the teen age chicken cook and back then the spices came in what was about a 20 ounce pack mixed with 25lbs of flower. I can't remember how much chicken I could cook with that, I do know I would run 12 pressure cookers for 12 minutes :)

I read Tim Hayward's article.
He says they poached the chicken first before frying it normally.
You can google instructions for this.
He also said in the comments section to add all the spices to 2 cups of all purpose flour.

Before all that, I soak my chicken in buttermilk over night in a ziplock bag. I squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible before zipping it shut. This helps to keep the chicken very moist and tender when frying.

They don't poach the chicken first, it is totally raw when it goes into the dry mixture, I worked at a (K.F.C. "WOW" 38yrs ago), that hurt to have to say that, it's really been that long.. Gonna give this recipe a whirl.. Reason for leaving (K.F.C.), let's face it, I was (17yrs old then), and I couldn't walk past the "BAR-B-QUE" chicken without taking a piece, they warned me a couple of times and then finally fired me, the stuff was so good back then!!

Cinnamon is an ingredient in the original KFC recipe... not a common spice in American chicken dishes but used commonly in other countries like India.

is the g.f.c all herb is t.s.p means teaspoon or have been any flavour at Tablespoon

In the early 1970s, Col. Harland Sanders sued Heublein Corporation, then-owner of Kentucky Fried Chicken Corporation, because he claimed that they had changed the Colonel's recipe And were advertising it as his own. There were counter suits as well. It appears Heublein, who had bought the marketing rights to "the Colonel", successfully defended their recipe changes by saying that "the Colonel's recipe" was referring to the Kentucky Fried Chicken Corporation's recipe and not the personal recipe of Colonel Harland Sanders. A commercial food specialist I knew in 1980 was a part of the test kitchen that formulated the changed recipe. He told me that the primary change was to add about 40% monosodium glutamate to the original recipe mixture. Spices were expensive and this was done to reduce the cost of making the chicken. Therefore if you wanted to make the recipe today, to taste like today's chicken, one would have to add monosodium glutamate.

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