Aussie recreates KFC's 11 herbs and spices secret recipe at home (2024)

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If you've ever wanted to make KFC at home, today is your lucky day. Aussie home cook Jessica Nguyen has spent months perfecting her very authentic recipe and has just shared it so we can all enjoy that deep-fried goodness at home.

She thoroughly researched the subject, speaking to current and former KFC employees, deep-diving into the famous 11 herbs and spices, and converting the fast-food chain’s commercial processes into an easy to follow at home recipe.

The result “tastes like Colonel Sanders’ wildest dreams,” according to Jessica, who tells Yahoo Lifestyle her recipe is "The way a hot, fried bird should taste: Slightly spicy and peppery, a crispy and craggily coating and tender flesh that’s sweet, hot and juicy."

Aussie recreates KFC's 11 herbs and spices secret recipe at home (1)

“I think the texture and flavour is very similar [to KFC's]” she adds, “Also, when you make something yourself, I think the sense of accomplishment makes it taste better!”

What are KFC’s 11 secret herbs and spices?

It all starts with those coveted herbs and spices, and there are a few different lists floating around on Twitter. However, Jessica found that the most accurate tasting one is the hand-written recipe shared by a nephew of Colonel Sanders with the Chicago Tribune five years ago.

It’s unclear whether the recipe calls for teaspoons or tablespoons as the writer jotted the measurements down as ‘ts’, however considering the recipe calls for two cups of flour, Jessica interprets it as tablespoons which is a more sensible flavour ratio.

She also adds a twelfth ingredient, one tablespoon of MSG, which is used in a number of KFC products but isn’t included as part of the 11 herbs and spices.

Jessica recommends blitzing the herbs and spices in a food processor so that they’re very finely ground down and almost disappear into the flour like they do at the fast-food chain.

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Another important thing to consider when seasoning your chicken is the amount of salt used. To get that perfect KFC taste, you need to add generous amounts of salt at multiple stages of the preparation process, not just with the 11 herbs and spices.

KFC's 11 secret herbs and spices:

½ tbsp Basil

½ tbsp Oregano

1 tbsp Ground black pepper

4 tbsp Smoked and sweet paprika

1 tbsp Mustard powder

1 tbsp Salt

½ tbsp Thyme

1 tbsp Celery salt

3 tbsp White ground pepper

2 tbsp Garlic powder

1 tbsp Ginger powder

How to make authentic KFC at home

One of the problems Jessica kept coming up against is the fact that KFC’s processes and equipment have been streamlined to make it simple to create tons of chicken in a very short amount of time.

For example, they use milk and egg powder instead of fresh milk and eggs, which would be messier and have higher margins of waste as the liquid drips off the chicken into the herb and spice mix.

They also have commercial pressure fryers that tenderise the chicken as it cooks, thus eliminating the need to brine the chicken in advance. Jessica says you can still achieve the same effect at home by sitting the chicken in a bowl of buttermilk for between four and 24 hours before cooking it, and by using a home deep frier like the $169 Breville Smart Deep Fryer she uses.

“The way KFC cooks it in their restaurants is impossible to replicate at home because of the commercial techniques and equipment they use but this would be how the Colonel would have cooked it at home,” Jessica explains, “Except he probably would have use a deep set skillet back in 1930 before he developed his pressure fryer.”

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“The colour of my coating is a little darker than what KFC does because I fried it for a bit longer to ensure the chicken was fully cooked through but you can cook it for less.”

The other essential bits of equipment you need are baking racks and a digital meat thermometer to ensure that your deep fried chicken is properly cooked.

Jessica Nguyen’s KFC at home recipe

This recipe is the result of months of investigation and Jessica says she’s relieved and thrilled to have created such authentic-tasting fried chicken at home.

“I heavily ingested many batches of fried chicken to get to this point and I’m very glad the recipe is now up and has been well received by so many,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Now, everyone can make perfect fried chicken at home!”

Head over to her Instagram to watch her demonstrate the whole process in her highlights reel, and see below for her recipe.


2 cups plain flour

600ml buttermilk

1 cup milk

3L canola oil (or another neutral tasting oil)

½ cup salt

1 whole chicken cut into 8 pieces

2 eggs

The above list of 11 herbs and spices plus 1 tbsp MSG

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Generously salt chicken pieces on both sides and allow to stand for 30 minutes

Place chicken in a lidded container and fully cover in buttermilk. Cover the container and allow to marinate in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours, but ideally overnight

A few hours before cooking, place the chicken pieces in a colander to drain off the buttermilk and allow the meat to come to room temperature

In a large bowl, mix the 11 herbs and spices plus MSG into the sifted flour, then separate into two bowls.

In a third bowl, whisk the eggs and milk until combined

Place a piece of chicken into the first bowl of the flour and spices mix, coat and shake off any excess. Then fully submerge into the egg and milk wash, and roll it in the second bowl of flour mixture ensuring it’s fully coated. Place on a baking rack and repeat for all your pieces of chicken

Fill your deep frier with oil and heat to 180°C. Once hot, place three evenly sized pieces of chicken into the basket being careful not to overcrowd it as this can significantly lower the oil temperature

Cover the deep frier with the lid and cook for 8-9 minutes. When done, remove the chicken from the oil and insert a digital meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature of the chicken is above 85°C. Repeat until all the chicken pieces have been cooked

Sprinkle with salt while hot and serve

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Jessica’s top tips for perfect fried chicken at home:

1. Salt your chicken at every step of the process. At the start before brining, in the breading mixture and at the very end just before serving.

2. Marinate/brine the chicken in buttermilk for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours before frying. If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own using 2 cups of regular milk, and 2 tbsp of either lemon juice or white vinegar.

3. Finely blitz the herbs and spices to get uniformity and even cooking.

4. Always allow your chicken to come back up to room temperature before dredging and frying.

5. If you want the chicken to be extra crispy, double dredge the chicken before frying.

6. Make sure you check the temperature of your oil and chicken to make sure your oil temperature is consistent and the chicken has cooked through in-side. A digital deep fryer like the Breville Smart Fryer from Amazon Australia has an in-built thermometer otherwise you can also get yourself a thermometer off. Head to my Amazon Australia wishlist to pick up everything you need.

7. Fry using only neutral oil as they are odourless and have high smoke points. KFC fries with canola, but peanut, grapeseed or vegetable will work. Stay away from olive oil which has a low smoke point.

8. Don’t overcrowd your deep fryer as it will drop the temperature too low. Fry in batches of 3-4 pieces at a time and fry the same pieces together i.e drumsticks with drumsticks, wings with wings etc

9. Don’t drain your fried chicken on a plate lined with paper towel, as the oil absorbed onto the towel will make the bottom of your chicken soggy. Instead, use a raised wire rack. I got mine here.

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Aussie recreates KFC's 11 herbs and spices secret recipe at home (2024)


Which man marketed his grandma recipe with 11 herbs and spices for chicken and created KFC? ›

The original KFC recipe, also known as "Original Recipe," was created by Colonel Harland Sanders in the 1940s. The recipe was a closely guarded secret, known only to a select few people within KFC. However, the company claims that the original recipe included a blend of 11 herbs and spices.

Does KFC have a secret ingredient? ›

History. Sanders' Original Recipe of "11 herbs and spices" is one of the most famous trade secrets in the catering industry.

Do KFC employees know the secret recipe? ›

“It's kept in a vault in Kentucky,” she told UK documentary Secrets of the Fast Food Giants. “Across KFC, only two or three people actually know the exact recipe.” The fast food chain has two different factories to make part of its recipe so no one company would ever know the entire formula.

Why does KFC only follow 11? ›

Their recipe uses 11 herbs and spices, so that's exactly who they follow on Twitter. Don't believe us? Well, the 11 people KFC follows on Twitter are: the five former members of the pop group The Spice Girls, and six men named Herb.

Is KFC 11 herbs and spices a trade secret? ›

There are two separate spice mixing companies that each produce half of the "secret recipe" spice mix. These two products are then combined together at the store to bread the chicken. Each of these companies' contracts are managed by separate KFC employees, so at most, anyone could only come up with half of the recipe.

What is the unhealthiest item on the KFC menu? ›

Worst: Extra Crispy

Here's where "crispy" is a code word for "steer clear." The extra crispy recipe is by far the least healthful of KFC's chicken options. A single breast will set you back 530 calories, 35 grams of fat, and 6 grams of saturated fat.

What is the KFC secret recipe slogan? ›

The secret recipe is regularly identified with the phrase "eleven herbs and spices," the amount and identification of which remain a trade secret.

What does KFC secret menu hacks mean? ›

The secret menu includes items such as the Double Down, which is a sandwich with two pieces of fried chicken instead of bread, the Zinger, which is a spicy chicken sandwich, and the KFC Gravy Burger, which is a hamburger topped with gravy.

Are KFC employees happy? ›

How satisfied are employees working at KFC? 57% of KFC employees would recommend working there to a friend based on Glassdoor reviews. Employees also rated KFC 3.1 out of 5 for work life balance, 3.3 for culture and values and 3.2 for career opportunities. What are the pros and cons of working at KFC?

What does KFC call their employees? ›

KFC Team Member (Customer Service or Cook)

When you join the KFC Brand, you join our Family!

Why is Kentucky Fried Chicken not as good as it used to be? ›

Why did Kentucky Fried Chicken get so bad? They used to fry their chicken in lard using the Colonel's 11 herbs and spices. Now they fry it in vegetable oil with a microscopic amount of the 11 herbs and spices, enough to still make a valid claim that it contains the herbs and spices, but not enough to affect the taste.

Why is KFC not popular in the US? ›

Kentucky Fried Chicken has been around for decades and will probably still be around for many years to come. The reason that it isn't as popular is first and foremost… Price. The price of a meal for more than one person is outrageous.

What did KFC stop selling? ›

Yahoo Finance reports, the soon-to-be discontinued items include Kentucky Fried Chicken Wings, Popcorn Chicken Combo, Nashville Hot Sauce, Strawberry Lemonade, and Chocolate Chip Cookies.

What is the name of the man who invented KFC? ›

KFC was founded by Colonel Harland Sanders and he opened the first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1952, with the first franchisee Pete Harman.

Who was the guy that made KFC? ›

Colonel Harland David Sanders (September 9, 1890 – December 16, 1980) was an American businessman and founder of fast food chicken restaurant chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (also known as KFC). He later acted as the company's brand ambassador and symbol. His name and image are still symbols of the company.

Who is the old man in the KFC commercials? ›

Darrell Hammond became a legend on Saturday Night Live for his talent as an impressionist, so he was the perfect choice as the person to bring Colonel Sanders back to television. Hammond believed he would be playing the role long term, and did extensive research to do the part justice.

Who invented KFC spicy chicken? ›

Harland Sanders Cafe, as it was then known, quickly became popular thanks to its exemplary fried chicken, which was cooked in a pressure cooker according to the colonel's instructions, using his now legendary 11 secret herbs and spices recipe.

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