The Secret to KFC’s Fried Chicken

Not all fried chicken is created equal. Below, KFC's secret recipe to drumstick perfection is revealed.

Nothing says comfort food quite like a bucket of fried chicken. But few places do it better than the aptly-named Kentucky Fried Chicken, especially when paired with creamy mashed potatoes and a buttery biscuit.

What sets Kentucky Fried Chicken apart from the rest? It’s not just their affordable prices and convenience, it’s also how crispy they’re able to make their chicken (there’s a reason it’s called extra crispy!). Now, you can recreate KFC’s secret recipe at home by following the steps below. We bet you won’t even be able to taste a difference.

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KFC’s 11 Secret Herbs and Spices

To really nail the traditional flavor of Kentucky Fried Chicken, it’s all about their 11-spice seasoning blend. Combine KFC’s secret recipe for its breading with 2 cups of flour to thoroughly coat your chicken pieces after dipping in an egg and milk wash.

  • 2/3 tablespoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon basil
  • 1 tablespoon celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried mustard
  • 2 tablespoons garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/3 tablespoon oregano
  • 4 tablespoons paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon thyme

The Real Secret Ingredient

According to Ron Douglas, author of America’s Most Wanted Recipes, the real key to the perfect crispy texture is one thing: monosodium glutamate (MSG). You can add this into your seasoning mix before breading or sprinkle it on the chicken after frying. Regardless, it’s a must. And don’t worry—MSG isn’t harmful to you in any way.

How to Get Perfect KFC-Style Chicken

It helps to know how to cut up a whole chicken to get the right blend of thighs, legs and tenders. Then, coat the chicken as described above. Some insist that you should let the coated chicken sit before frying. Not at KFC. Their rule is “from flour to fryer.”

Bread your chicken by first dipping in an egg-milk wash then dipping in the secret spice blend mixed with two cups of flour. From there, go right into the fryer. If you allow the breading to sit on the chicken for too long, you might get soggy breading or breading that doesn’t stick to the chicken.

When it comes to frying, KFC relies on high temp, industrial-strength pressure friers to get that extra crispy coating. While you won’t be able at deep fry with your at home pressure cooker, you can still recreate the KFC crunch with a deep fryer, a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot. Simply heat your oil 350ºF and leave each piece in for exactly 12 minutes. If you’re worried about the chicken not being done, you can pop it into the oven for a few more minutes to heat it through (and maintain the crispy coating).

This is how to make fried chicken that’s better than KFC.

How to Serve Fried Chicken

Biting into a piece of chicken right out of the fryer isn’t the smartest idea. At Kentucky Fried Chicken, they “hold” the chicken in an oven set to 175 degrees for about 20 minutes according to a former employee. This allows the chicken to finish cooking while keeping it warm and the skin crunchy. Do the same by holding your fried chicken in a warm oven for a few minutes.

Even if you follow the above step by step, cracking the crispy skin code may be difficult to do at home. That’s because the texture we all love and crave is largely due to their method of cooking—and if you don’t have a restaurant-grade pressure fryer, it can be tough to recreate.

However, using KFC’s secret recipe along with a deep fryer can still have delicious results. If you’re still a little nervous about frying chicken, check out this quick guide that’ll have you feeling like a pro. Flawless fried chicken is in your future!

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Amanda Tarlton
As both a freelance lifestyle writer and editor for a national teen magazine, Amanda spends most of her time creating #content. In those (rare) moments when she's not at her desk typing furiously, she's likely teaching a hot yoga class, reading the latest chick-lit or baking a batch of her famous scones.