Introduction: Mastering the 2016 Published Original KFC Recipe Copycat

Picture of Mastering the 2016 Published Original KFC Recipe Copycat

In August of 2016 an article was written by Jay Jones from the Chicago Tribune, about Colonel Sanders and his Kentucky Fried Chicken. The article is a very interesting read. Mr. Jones interviewed a family member about the Colonel and as they were looking through the family pictures and papers, Mr. Jones noticed a hand written recipe listing eleven ingredients. He asked Mr. Ledington if that was the secret recipe. Mr. Ledington said: "yep this is it". Mr. Ledington worked for his uncle C. Sander's, mixing the herbs when he was younger. The Tribune put the recipe to test in its on site kitchen, comparing it to KFC's chicken and the results were spot on according to the Tribune.

This instructable will share my experience in making the published recipe and the tasting test, comparing the recipe with KFC restaurant version.

Follow through and let's get started.

Step 1: Sunshiines Notes

Picture of Sunshiines Notes

I made this recipe 4 times comparing the recipe with the restaurant's brand. I compared, taste, texture, and appearance. In the first batch, I learned that temperature played a huge part in the appearance of the chicken and because it was too hot, it through off the flavor of the chicken. I made it a second time and lowered the heat. The chicken's appearance was much better but the flavor was not spot on. Too much salt, too much black pepper and white pepper and too much paprika! I made it the third time around and it was almost spot on, but the recipe still needed a little more adjusting and the appearance was not quite there. Can you identify the restaurants chicken in the third picture? I could, so I made the recipe one more time. Follow through and I will share more about how I changed the recipe to achieve the results I wanted.

Step 2: First Attempt

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The first attempt:

I used the exact recipe and techniques that the test kitchen used EXCEPT, I did not purchase the msg and I did not have a candy thermometer. I had to guess the temperature, which was a big mistake. This batch was too brown, which through off the flavor, making it impossible to tell if the seasonings and herbs were correct.

Step 3: Round Two

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Second try:

The second time around, I used the same recipe as the Tribune but I purchased the msg and it added to the flavor profile of the chicken, when sprinkled over the fried chicken. Unfortunately there were too much salt, black pepper, white pepper, and paprika. The chicken was still too dark, with larger flecks of seasonings than the KFC brand. I watched the oil very closely by frequently testing the batch, by placing a wooden spoon in the hot oil, until small bubbles formed. This method helped the appearance of the chicken but it was still on the dark side.

Step 4: Round 3

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Third try:

This time, I reduced the recipe by half and reduced the salt, black pepper, white pepper, and paprika. When the bubbles began to form, I reduced the heat and waited for about 30 seconds before adding the chicken. This time I felt like I was almost spot on. But there was still some more adjustments to make when adding the chicken to the hot oil. I added one piece and tested the color before adding more chicken. This helped a lot.

The chicken must be cooked long enough to reach the inside temperature to 165 degrees and if the oil is too hot the chicken turns brown rapidly and the color is not a light golden color. The recipe was still a little too salty and peppery so adjustments are still needed to make that perfect batch. For the next batch I will be using skinned chicken breast ( I ran out of regular chicken) and grind the herbs so the appearance is closer to the KFC brand and make a few adjustments to the spices to get that spot on flavor as well as add the msg to the seasoning mixture.

I reduced the time to allow the flour to penetrate the recipe by 5 minutes.

Please also notice the color of the oil in the pictures. I am not sure if the oil can be saved for future use.

When you have the perfect recipe, you can make a larger batch of pre-made KFC seasoning mix but you need to measure the total amounts of the mixed ingredients of a single recipe first. Then increase the measurements to you liking.

Label the jar with the measurements for one batch, along with the cooking instructions.

Step 5: More Things to Consider When Making This Recipe

Picture of More Things to Consider When Making This Recipe

When I try a new recipe, I usually reduce it to a single serving size if I can, but I made the mistake of trusting a test kitchen this time. After the third time around, I did a search on other cook's experiences making this recipe. I also read many comments from their readers about their experiences. I learned that most of the people who commented, said it had too much salt, black pepper, white pepper, and paprika as well as the chicken browned too fast. Some loved the recipe. Taste buds vary with everyone. I happen to love extra spicy foods but, IMO the recipe shared by the test kitchen was way too spicy and salty for me.

This last recipe is spot on. If you follow my recipe, I am confident you will be satisfied. However, if your taste buds are sensitive to salt, pepper, or paprika, I recommend that you do this:

Reduce the amounts of the spices and seasonings that concern you, by half, following the rest of the recipe's instructions. Fry one piece of chicken in the seasoning mixture and taste it. Make necessary adjustments as needed. If by chance you make a batch that the flavor is too strong, add a little bit of flour to the mixture, fry one piece and make the necessary adjustments as needed.

In my opinion the seasonings are just right. If you tend to like stronger flavors, taste the KFC mixture and add more seasonings in increments and test one piece at a time until you like the flavor profile. The spices were altered many times before I got the desired results.

Let's make KFC!

Step 6: Ingredients and Tools

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Note: The oil temperature can easily be too hot for the chicken and it would be better for the oil to be cooler than 350 degrees F before adding the chicken because the batter can get too brown long before the chicken is safely cooked to 165 degrees F inside temperature, even when using a candy thermometer. This recipe makes 4 servings. If you have a chicken that the skin is very loose and want to leave it on the chicken, you might try running hot water over the chicken to tighten the skin. They use this method for goose.

Measure ingredients and set up work station:


Canola oil or peanut oil works

1 cup white flour

salt if desired I did not add regular salt to this recipe.

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon oregano

2 teaspoons celery salt ( Substitute for Celery salt Per teaspoon of celery salt substitute 1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground celery seeds and 1/2 teaspoon salt)

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons yellow mustard powder

1 1/2 teaspoons paprika

1/4 teaspoon powdered garlic

2 teaspoons powdered ginger

1 teaspoon white pepper

1/4 teaspoon msg

1/2 cup to 1 cup buttermilk

1 beaten egg


candy and meat thermometer

paper towels (optional)

cookie sheet and rack


large dutch oven like a Lodge if you have one

measuring cups and spoons

sharp Shun knife and a cutting board if you have one

mixing bowls and spoons

wooden spoon if you don't have a candy thermometer

Step 7: Wash and Carve Bird

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Wash and carve the bird.

Beat the egg and add it to the buttermilk, if you haven't already done so. If you plan to add salt to the chicken you might consider adding it to the milk mixture, it helps the flour mixture bond to the chicken during the cooking process. You can always add salt at the table later on if desired.

Place the chicken into the buttermilk marinade and let it stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Step 8: Set Up the Cooking Station

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Set up the cooking station if you haven't already done so.

I started heating the oil on a very low temperature while the chicken was marinading.

And raised the heat abut 5 minutes before the marinade was ready.

Step 9: Bread the Bird

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Shake off the excess milk from the chicken and dredge the chicken pieces through the flour mixture and set the breaded pieces on the lined cookie sheet, and let rest 15 minutes.

Step 10: Fry the Chicken

Picture of Fry the Chicken

Heat the oil to 350 degrees F and reduce the heat. Allow about 30 seconds to one minute for the oil to cool down before adding a test piece of chicken. Cook until light brown and until the inside temperature reaches at least 165 degrees F using a meat thermometer to be safe.

Place the cooked pieces of chicken on the cooling rack to drain.

Step 11: Sunshiines Final Thoughts

Picture of Sunshiines Final Thoughts

I am totally happy with the results of my last batch of KFC copycat recipe. Grinding the herbs achieved the appearance I wanted, the seasoning mixture was spot on, the texture of the chicken was accomplished,and it was definitely finger licking good~

Well, that was a lot of work, but at least I mastered the test kitchens KFC recipe, so hopefully it will reduce the disappointments from the cooks who want a recipe that won't fail their taste buds or at least a recipe that can be modified before the whole batch is ruined.

Thanks so much for stopping by and enjoy your KFC recipe if you make it~

sunshiine ~


Yima made it! (author)2017-09-25

Thank you! The result is very tasty. You did a great job to get the real KFC.
I used sunflower oil. Because in Yekaterinburg (Russia) it is difficult to buy Canola oil or peanut oil.
A million thanks!

WannaDuino (author)2017-02-23

AMAZING jummmmmjummmmmm

i seen the picture, i had to look at this,

what i good piece of chicken on the picture were you can see the inside.

i just wanna bite it.

David Lorell (author)WannaDuino2017-02-23


My sentiments exactly.

WannaDuino (author)David Lorell2017-03-02


sunshiine (author)David Lorell2017-02-24

Thanks for sharing David and have a great weekend~


christa627 (author)WannaDuino2017-02-24

Yeah, me too. I always come look at the entries for the various culinary contests, even though I never accomplish anything besides making myself hungry! XD

sunshiine (author)christa6272017-02-24

Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! Have a great weekend~


sunshiine (author)WannaDuino2017-02-24

Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting~ Have a great weekend~


Pavlovafowl (author)2017-03-02

Really well done, you won a prize! I am so pleased! All the very best from sunny Normandie, Sue

llgregg (author)2017-03-01

You are a really patient woman, Sunshine! You went through a lot to prove the recipe against the original KFC, and I really appreciate your efforts!

sunshiine (author)llgregg2017-03-01

Hello llgregg, Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting~ I have tried recipes that I did not like so I prefer making smaller amounts and if I like it I can double or maybe triple the recipe. I was surprised the original recipe from the Tribune passed the taste test. It was very very salty and spicy!

I hope your day shines~


Darthorso (author)2017-03-01

Sunshiine, it's been a long time! :)

How are you? Congratulations and all the best for the contest!

sunshiine (author)Darthorso2017-03-01

It has been a very long time~ Great to see you active again~ Thanks for dropping in and commenting~ Have a splendorous week ~


Darthorso (author)sunshiine2017-03-01

Yeah, unfortunately the time is not on my side... ;) Stay great!

offseid (author)2017-02-26

Very well done! I especially appreciate your multiple attempts to ensure a consistent result.

sunshiine (author)offseid2017-03-01

Thanks so much offseid for stopping by and commenting~ Have a splendorous week~


John L (author)2017-02-26

About the cooking techniques, its interesting to note that the procedure has changed since the Colonel set up his first store in Corbin, Ky. I'm wondering if the chicken was pressure cooked in oil, or water? Then when tender, marinated and deep fried in oil? It seems to me that the use of all that oil would be dangerous for the employees to handle. Does anyone know the Colonel's original procedure with the pressure cooker?

ohoilett (author)2017-02-25

I love the detail in your 'ible and the chicken looks great.

kathynv (author)2017-02-24

Thank you. Your chicken looks nothing like the greasy, overcooked and "left in a steam tray" chicken available at the K-whatever restaurant near me. I think I know what to make for dinner tomorrow, minus the msg,as several of us are very sensitive to it. Again, thank you for all your effort in perfecting this recipe and sharing the instructable with us!

AaronE58 (author)2017-02-21

Used to work at kfc... 25 lbs of flour, milk and egg mix dried, 1 lb of salt, and bag of seasoning. 340 degrees, pressure cook 16 minutes. Put chicken into vat of water first, then coat, then shaker basket, then onto your racks.

mach1950 (author)AaronE582017-02-22

Well, one thing is for certain, the secret spices may still be the same, but the cooking method has sure changed and at least a couple of times by the look of it! :-DD

sunshiine (author)mach19502017-02-22

Thanks for sharing! Have a grand day~


sunshiine (author)AaronE582017-02-21

Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing~ Have a great week~


HomerJ2 (author)2017-02-21

Please, I'm not familiar with ingredients. What does msg means?

weeeeee (author)HomerJ22017-02-21

monosodium glutamate = Accent

HomerJ2 (author)weeeeee2017-02-22


sunshiine (author)HomerJ22017-02-22

Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! Have a great day~


artdollist (author)2017-02-22

This looks like a great recipe. I've always used a pressure cooker and have also always been convinced that KFC pressure fried their chicken. You can almost eat the bones which tells me that's the case. That would speed up the cooking time a great deal as using a pressure cooker reduces the cooking time greatly. I'm curious to try this out although I have never "pressure fried" anything. I'll let you know if I try it but thanks for all your work on the recipe.

sunshiine (author)artdollist2017-02-22

Thanks for stopping by and commenting artdollist! I would love to hear about your experience pressure cooking the chicken! Best wishes for your success!


mach1950 (author)2017-02-21

Originally KFC was cooked for ten minutes in a pressure cooker, with the oil at 400F to "seal" it so it didn't become "greasy". The cookers we used held two birds, 18 pieces. I think too many people got burnt and the method was changed.

afyuen (author)mach19502017-02-21

You mentioned "the cookers we used" - does it imply that you used to work at KFC? Do they not use that method anymore nowadays, opting for that original way that I mentioned?

mach1950 (author)afyuen2017-02-21

I worked in the first store in Western Australia in 1969 and we used 16 individual gas rings with 16 individual large pressure cookers. At the end of the cooking time these pots had to be carried to a "dumping table" and emptied. The oil would drain back into a collection tank and be filtered ready for re-use. The chicken, now on a wire rack and crispy on the outside, would be taken to warming drawers or the packing table.

The problem was in the dumping, some oil could spill on the floor, and eventually someone slipped and up-ended a pot of very hot oil all over himself.

The solution, arrived at after I left and therefore only hearsay, was large mass cookers, presumably not pressurised and with scoops or mechanically lifted draining baskets of some sort. This would have made it safer, but it was the high-temp skin-seal and pressure-cook that made the original KFC crisp on the outside and moist but non-oily on the inside. It was (originally) a vastly superior product, tastier and healthier in my opinion, and I haven't eaten the modern product since I first tried it many years ago.

Minor thoughts include that we never washed the chicken, and I don't remember using any milk with the beaten eggs, but I'm probably mistaken, and we never had time to marinade anything in those early days. Straight out of the fridge into the egg and breading, and into the pots. (We cooked 500 birds one Mother's Day when KFC was still a new idea to Australians.) And we were never told the spice mix; it came pre-packed from Nestle to be added to the flour.

Other than that, you've pretty much nailed it. :-D I bet your's tastes as good as it looks!

sunshiine (author)mach19502017-02-21

Thanks so much for sharing and for the compliment~ Have a splendorous Wednesday!


sunshiine (author)mach19502017-02-21

Thanks for sharing this information with the readers~ Have a super Wednesday~


skylane (author)2017-02-21

This sounds pretty good!

KFC uses "Pressure Fryers" They operate at higher temps than regular pressure cookers and at lower pressure.

Pressure fryers are common in "chicken places" "Broasted Chicken" is chicken that's been cooked in a "Broaster" brand pressure fryer.

sunshiine (author)skylane2017-02-21

Thanks for stopping by and commenting~ I hope your day shines~


soumitraseth (author)2017-02-21


sunshiine (author)soumitraseth2017-02-21

Thanks for taking a peek and have a great day~


afyuen (author)2017-02-21

Thanks for fine tuning the recipe. I saw a comment on a youtube video that in the 1950's someone's mom worked for KFC and they used to precook the chicken pieces in a pressure cooker for around 6 minutes, let it cool, then do the usual coating and frying for that crisp tender texture. Not sure if they still do that or if they actually fry the raw chicken directly in a pressure cooker. The original way ensures that the chicken is cooked all the way through so that you can fry it with the usual coating until it is visually just right without worrying about the internal temperature. I think I might try that technique with your recipe ingredients. Thanks!

sunshiine (author)afyuen2017-02-21

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you give this recipe a try. Have a splendorous week~


elianasweet (author)2017-02-21

Wow this looks very yummy

sunshiine (author)elianasweet2017-02-21

Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting~ Have a super week~


MrsMullery (author)2017-02-21

I have two questions: How much oil is in the Dutch oven and to what temperature do you cool the 350 degree oil down to before you put in the chicken? I'm looking forward to making this as soon as I hear back from you.

sunshiine (author)MrsMullery2017-02-21

As far as the temperature cool down, I don't know the temperature cool down. You want the oil to just sizzle around the edges with tiny bubbles, not boiling, if that makes sense. I hope this helps.

sunshiine (author)MrsMullery2017-02-21

MrsMullery, thank you for your question! The test kitchen used 3 inches of oil from the rim of the pan, that was a lot of oil~ When I made the chicken the last time, I used just enough oil to cover the edges of the chicken but not the top of it. I used less oil to have more control over the heat and to reduce the waste because the spices flavored and colored the oil so much it had to be thrown away. Thanks for stopping by and do have a great week~


AdrianCherry (author)2017-02-21

Never wash chicken.

sunshiine (author)AdrianCherry2017-02-21

I know there is a controversy about that. I have not come to my own conclusion yet. My son and I have been discussing this subject. He washes his and I do and don't at times. Thanks for sharing your opinion and do have a great week~


614WMP (author)2017-02-21

I think that you did not state how much oil to use for a large dutch overn? In the picture, it looks like it does not entirely cover the chicken. Would appreciate an update. thanks.

sunshiine (author)614WMP2017-02-21

You are correct. The test kitchen used 3 inches of oil from the rim of the pan. I used much less to conserve the oil and to have more control over the heat. I used just enough to cover the edges of the chicken but not the top of it. I hope this helps. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting and do have a splendorous week~ I will make these changes to the instructable after the closed of the contest.

sunshiine ~

RobinCanCook (author)2017-02-21

Thanks for figuring out the seasoning.

About This Instructable




Bio: I am married with two children. Spring, summer, and fall are my very favorite times of the year. I love the sunshine thus the reason ... More »
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