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Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) is one of the most renowned fast-food restaurant chains in the world with over 26,000 locations across 145+ countries. It is particularly famous for its fried chicken which has a unique flavor that places it in a class of its own when compared with other fast food chains. KFC’s chicken recipe has been a closely guarded secret for over 80 years but fans have consistently debated over the question of whether the recipe changed or not.
Some believe that the recipe was changed at some point, claiming that there have been changes in its taste over the years. Others argue that the recipe was never changed and that any observed difference in taste is due to other factors. The purpose of this article is to consider the evidence for and against the claim to answer the question: Has KFC’s chicken recipe changed?
The exact recipe for KFC chicken is a trade secret. But this much we know: It all started with Colonel Harland Sanders, 84 years ago. He created a unique blend of 11 secret herbs and spices scratched out on the back of the door to his kitchen.
KFC’s Original Recipe is a trade secret, but it is known to contain a blend of 11 herbs and spices as stated by KFC. Like with all secret recipes, there have been many attempts to replicate the famous recipe with many copycat recipes that claim to be a close match. These copycat recipes typically use a blend of 11 herbs and spices as well.
There have been several claims that the KFC original chicken recipe has leaked over the years, but none of them have been verified. Even KFC employees are not allowed to write down the recipe, it is only known to a few people within the company. The list of ingredients below is only speculation as the original recipe ingredients are not public information:
- 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg
- Oil for frying
Instructions for the copycat recipe:
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, pepper, garlic salt, onion powder, paprika, thyme, basil, oregano, celery salt, white pepper, and mustard.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg.
- Marinate the chicken pieces in the buttermilk mixture for 20 – 60 minutes
- Place the chicken pieces into the spice-flour blend, flipping them over so that they are completely coated with the flour mixture. Leave to sit for about 5 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a large pot or fryer to about 350ºF (177ºC). The oil should be deep enough to cover the chicken pieces.
- Fry the chicken pieces in batches for 12 – 18 minutes (until it is golden brown and cooked through).
- Drain the chicken on paper towels and serve.
Does KFC Use The Original Recipe?
KFC maintains that it still uses the original recipe created by Colonel Sanders. However, there is no way to verify this as the recipe is a closely guarded secret. Some people still believe that KFC changed the recipe while others still insist that it is the same, attributing the perceived difference in taste to the change in cooking oil, methods, and equipment. There is no concrete evidence to support either of these claims, and KFC has never admitted to changing the recipe. It is possible that KFC has made minor changes to the recipe over time, or that the recipe is still the same. Ultimately, there is no way to know for sure unless KFC decides to release the original recipe to the public.
This question is over 40 years old, possibly originating when Colonel Sanders himself claimed that his recipe was changed by Heublein Inc., the company he sold KFC to. Colonel Sanders is said to have worked with Marion-Kay Spices to develop the spice blend for KFC chicken which he recommended to KFC franchisees over the corporate version. However, in 1982, following Sanders’ passing, KFC sued Marion-Kay for selling its seasoning mix to KFC franchisees. The lawsuit was eventually settled out of court, with Marion-Kay agreeing to stop selling its seasoning mix to KFC franchisees.
The question of whether or not KFC’s spice blend used today is the same as the one that Sanders developed is still a matter of debate. KFC claims that it still uses the original recipe, but some people believe that the recipe has changed and that the chicken no longer tastes as good as it used to.
In 2016, the Chicago Tribune reported that Joe Ledington of Kentucky, a nephew of Colonel Sanders may have found a copy of the original KFC fried chicken recipe. Although declared inaccurate by KFC, the recipe found by Joe Ledington reads as follows:
11 Spices – Mix with 2 cups white flour
- 2⁄3 tablespoon salt
- 1⁄2 tablespoon thyme
- 1⁄2 tablespoon basil
- 1⁄3 tablespoon oregano
- 1 tablespoon celery salt
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon dry mustard
- 4 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons garlic salt
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 3 tablespoons white pepper
The major difference between KFC chicken and “normal” chicken is its signature flavor and texture. KFC chicken is coated in a blend of 11 secret herbs and spices and then fried in such a way that the final result is a crispy crust and juicy meat.
KFC chicken is special because of its signature secret recipe flavor and its rich history and heritage.
KFC chicken is characterized by its:
- Signature savory and slightly sweet flavor from the secret blend of 11 herbs and spices.
- The crispy crust is achieved through a combination of the spice mix and frying method.
- Juicy meat texture is also achieved by the pressure frying or deep frying process.
There are a few possible reasons why KFC might taste different than it used to:
- Changes to the recipe: KFC may have made changes to its original recipe over time due to cost-cutting measures, availability of ingredients, or new research on food safety.
- Changes to the cooking process: KFC may have also changed its cooking process. For example, using a different cooking oil or equipment.
- Changes to the quality of ingredients: The quality of the ingredients used may have also changed due to factors such as changes in the global food supply chain or changes in KFC’s sourcing practices.
The main difference between the Original Recipe and Extra Crispy KFC is the breading. The Original Recipe chicken is breaded once, while the Extra Crispy chicken is breaded twice to give it a thicker, crispier crust.
KFC is a global chicken restaurant brand with a rich, decades-long history and given the secrecy surrounding the KFC chicken recipe, it is difficult to tell whether or not the original recipe has been changed. KFC however maintains that it still uses the original recipe to date.
KFC chicken is soft because it is pressure-fried.
The tastiest thing in KFC is a matter of personal opinion, but popular contenders include the Original Recipe chicken, the Extra Crispy chicken, and the KFC coleslaw.
KFC uses chicken that is sourced from reputable suppliers and meets legal and quality standards.
KFC gravy is made with a blend of chicken broth, milk, and spices. The gravy is also thickened with flour, which gives it a rich and creamy texture.
The combination of pressure frying and the use of the secret herbs and spice blend is responsible for the unique golden brown color of KFC chicken.
KFC chicken is originally fried.
KFC chicken is cooked fresh. The chicken is delivered to restaurants fresh daily and is then cooked to order.
No. The chicken is simply marinated in herbs and spices and then fried in oil.