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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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~