This KFC Secret Recipe Has Changed My Chicken Frying Days Forever

by Alex Lee

 Image via  Allen/Flickr

Image via Allen/Flickr

We have Wikileaks and Google and Urban Dictionary. Today's world is not a place for secrets. Especially secret recipes of 11 herbs and spices. But how trustworthy can one unverified, handwritten list of ingredients be?

Before we get into the dark meat of this story, there is something that you should know about me. I love Kentucky Fried Chicken. I'm not saying it is the best fried chicken in the world, because I have had my cousin's fried chicken and I am sad for you because you have not. But KFC has a special place in my oversized, partially-clogged, eternally happy, heart. I've dressed up as a Fried Chicken Samurai warrior for Halloween. I've eaten KFC in a foreign country. I've had that signature bucket in my bed on occasion. That KFC uniform shirt that they wore behind the counter for a limited time? I have that. With every bite of Original Recipe or Extra Crispy, I give thanks to the genius that was Colonel Harlan Sanders.

 Image via Alex Lee

Image via Alex Lee

Read more: I Made Ketchup Cupcakes So You Don't Have To

So when I was asked to write this article, I had all the motivation in the world.  Make KFC in my own kitchen. This would be my Mount Everest, my Hajj Pilgrimage to Mecca, my climb up Tai Shan mountain, my Ark of the Covenant. This would be my stampede through the Vatican. 

It was a greasy offer I could not refuse.

I reviewed the post from the Chicago Tribune, which claims to have THE original recipe.

"At the time, the recipe was written above the door so anyone could have read it. But today, we go to great lengths to protect such a sacred blend of herbs and spices."  Did you shout "AMEN!" after reading "sacred blend"? Because I did.

"...In fact, the recipe ranks among America's most valuable trade secrets."  I was about to devalue a nation in my own kitchen.  How gangsta is that?

So here it is. This extensive list of chicken mix components now for everyone to consume:

  • 2/3 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon thyme
  • 1/2 tablespoon basil
  • 1/3 tablespoon oregano 
  • 1 tablespoon celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried mustard 
  • 4 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 3 tablespoons white pepper
  IMAGE VIA ALEX LEE /  Do not shame me for my lack of ramekins.

IMAGE VIA ALEX LEE / Do not shame me for my lack of ramekins.

I'm going to be honest for a second. There's a lot of craft in this flour mixture. Right when I was about to dredge my first brined tenderloin through this, I thought, "It seems a shame to just use this on chicken meat." I wanted to incorporate this miracle stuff everywhere. I wanted a personal fragrance based on this. I wanted my car air freshener to smell like this. I wanted this to cure disease.

  IMAGE VIA ALEX LEE /  Keep out.


After all the chicken was coated, I did what any sane person would do and sealed the excess in an airtight, appropriately-labelled bag.

In the immortal words of REO Speedwagon, it was time for me to fry.

You know that vent fan that everyone has above their stove to ventilate the kitchen? I did not want to turn mine on. My kitchen smelled just like a KFC store. I could not believe it.

 Image via Alex Lee / Six pc. tenders.  Plate by Pier 1 Imports

Image via Alex Lee / Six pc. tenders.  Plate by Pier 1 Imports

And here's the finished product! The coloring was spot on. The coating even had the tiny black flecks of spice. And how did it taste?  After all the construction and effort?

The chicken tasted fantastic! Because mine were fresh out of the fryer, it tasted, dare I say, *better* than the restaurant. For my uncultured palate, it definitely could have passed as the real meal deal.

I will say that I probably could have omitted some of the 11 components — I really couldn't discern the mustard powder over all of the other flavorings, but maybe that just shows the higher genius that Harlan was. Maybe he could taste the difference and that's why it's included.

In any case, I hope I did the Colonel proud.