Copycat KFC? Is the “leaked” recipe the real deal? We put the recipe from the now famous Chicago Tribune article to the test and here’s what we found!
Is this copycat KFC or is it actually much closer to the real thing? A few weeks ago, the Chicago Tribune published an article. They interviewed a nephew of Colonel Harland Sanders, the founder of the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise.
During the interview, the nephew, Joe Lexington, produced a family photo album that belonged to his aunt, Claudia. She just happened to be the second wife of the Colonel himself.
They leaf through he family album and at the end is a copy of her will. Attached to that is a hand written recipe with 11 herbs and spices to be added to 2 cups of flour.
Food websites and bloggers went crazy at the news! Numerous articles from practically every major news outlet and food site asking the question, “Is this the actual secret KFC recipe?”
For me the proof is always in the pudding, or in this case the fried chicken, so I set out to try the recipe for myself.
Testing the Copycat KFC recipe.
The first small batch I tried was a bit lacklustre because, like many, I mistook the abbreviation “Ts” as handwritten in the recipe to be teaspoons. The lack of depth of flavour revealed that the recipe definitely must have meant tablespoons.
One thing I noted from that discovery is that the total volume of herbs and spices is only a tablespoon shy of a whole 8 ounce cup. That’s an incredibly high ratio (2:1) of seasonings to flour in a fried chicken recipe.
Since the ingredients are pretty commonplace, I began to suspect that the high volume of herbs and spices was actually the real “secret” to the recipe.
A couple of days later with a fresh chicken at the ready, I whipped up another batch of the coating and heated up my deep fryer. The result this time was much more like the franchise produced version. The depth of flavour was definitely there but lacking punch.
KFC readily admits that it does add MSG into the mix so for my 3rd attempt, I decided to try a small amount added to the regular recipe.
I decided on 1 tablespoon (15 grams) to add to the mix which is less than a gram per piece of chicken. I found the flour and spice mixture sufficient to coat 2 whole chickens cut into 9 pieces each.
I’ve since had 8 people taste test this final version. They all agreed that it did indeed come very close to tasting like the chicken from a KFC franchise.
Spouse says it tastes more like KFC in the states than in Canada. It’s a distinction she has claimed for years, that the Canadian version is saltier.
I have no idea if they tweak the recipe for geographical taste. I actually doubt it, but Spouse remains steadfast in her belief.
Either way, I don’t think that KFC has anything to worry about. Fast food fried chicken is ultimately convenience food.
Nobody looking for a quick meal is going to forgo the KFC drive-thru to spend an hour or so at home making the alternative homemade version.
Still, if your curiosity persists, either the handwritten recipe from the Chicago Tribune article, or my tweak of adding a little MSG to it, will produce a very, very, tasty fried chicken.
March 28, 2019 UPDATE: We have continued to use this recipe many times since it was first posted to Rock Recipes. It is most often used for fried wings nowadays and the more I taste them the more I feel like this was the original recipe from back in the day.
Try them out the next time you have friends over and compare notes on their opinions.
NOTE: For an oven baked version of this recipe, just use the Instructions From This Recipe.
May 2020 Update: We have turned the herbs and spices for this recipe into a KFC seasoning that you can use on roast chicken too. FIND THE KFC SEASONING MIX RECIPE HERE.
Looking for more chicken recipes?
Be sure to check out this newly updated collection of Our Top Ten Chicken Dinners from more than a decade online. These have been made literally millions of times and get the best reviews from our followers.
First published September 2016. Updated April 2020.
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