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Homemade Authentic KFC


An article in the Chicago Tribune reported on claims to have found a handwritten list of ingredients, something from the family of Harlan David Sanders: I tried it, and it sure tasted like the real thing. Now we use an oven-fry method.

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Homemade Authentic KFC 1 Picture


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon celery salt
  • 1 Tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon dried mustard
  • 4 Tablespoons paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons garlic salt
  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger
  • 3 Tablespoons ground white pepper
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 chicken, cut up, the breast pieces cut in half for more even frying
  • Expeller-pressed canola oil
  • Accent (msg) - optional


Servings 4
Cooking time 95mins
Adapted from


Step 1

Prep: 30 minutes

Soak: 20-30 minutes

Cook: 15-18 minutes (alternative method: 35-40 minutes)

Makes: 4 servings

Mix the flour in a bowl with all the herbs and spices; set aside.

Mix the buttermilk and egg together in a separate bowl until combined. Soak the chicken in the buttermilk mixture at room temperature, 20-30 minutes.

Remove chicken from the buttermilk, allowing excess to drip off. Dip the chicken pieces in the herb-spice-flour mixture to coat all sides, shaking off excess. Allow to sit on a rack over a baking sheet, 20 minutes. (If using oven-fry method, be sure to spray the pan and rack with cooking spray first.)

Meanwhile, heat about 3 inches of the oil in a large Dutch oven (or similar heavy pot with high sides) over medium-high heat to 350 degrees. (Use a deep-frying thermometer to check the temperature.) When temperature is reached, lower the heat to medium to maintain it at 350. Fry 3 or 4 pieces at a time, being careful not to crowd the pot. Fry until medium golden brown, turning once, 15-18 minutes. Transfer chicken pieces to a baking sheet covered with paper towels. Allow the oil to return to temperature before adding more chicken. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Heat oven to 425°F. Lightly spray top of chicken with cooking spray.

3 Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until juice of chicken is clear when thickest piece is cut to bone (170°F for breasts; 180°F for thighs and drumsticks).

A note on MSG: A number of readers have asked how much MSG to use in the recipe above. Although KFC has confirmed that its present-day recipe uses MSG, that ingredient was not part of the list of herbs and spices we received from the Colonel's nephew, so we didn't include MSG in the published recipe. But we did taste the fried chicken with a sprinkle of MSG. If you want to try the chicken with MSG, we suggest doing as we did: Sprinkle a little on the finished chicken pieces right before eating.

From the article:
"The original KFC chicken, I think, was better, because it had more breading to it," Ledington says. "It was individually hand-breaded and dropped in those pressure cookers. You cooked it until it started turning brown. And then you put the lid on the pressure cooker and brought it to 12 pounds of pressure for 10 minutes. And then you started letting the pressure off, and when you uncapped it and the pressure was off, it was perfect: golden brown and fall-off-the-bone."

They also did a taste test, comparing this recipe to chicken from KFC:
For the next couple batches, Schumacher tried double dipping into the spice and flour mixture. Too much coating, tasters decided.

With the oil temperature just right at 350 degrees, the chicken soaked in buttermilk and coated just once in the breading mixture, we had our final tasting.

How was it? Well, really good. In fact, tasters agreed the test kitchen fried chicken was even better than the Colonel's.

But more important, did it taste like the Colonel’s secret blend of herbs and spices? It came very close, yet something was still missing. That’s when a reporter grabbed a small container of the MSG flavor-enhancer Accent (how did that get in the test kitchen?) and sprinkled it on a piece of the fried chicken. That did the trick. Our chicken was virtually indistinguishable from the batch bought at KFC. (Does KFC add MSG? A KFC spokesperson confirms that it does use it in the Original Recipe chicken.)

Bottom line, could this be the Colonel’s secret blend of 11 herbs and spices? We sure think so. The only folks who can say definitively are the keepers of the recipe at KFC’s parent company, Yum! Brands. We asked, but the company would only say, “Lots of people through the years have claimed to discover or figure out the secret recipe, but no one’s ever been right.”

All we know is the recipe we tested certainly tastes like KFC. And whatever it is, it's finger lickin' good.

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