Cracking the Colonel's Secret Recipe for KFC Fried Chicken

It's one of the big mysteries of the food world, up there with the secret formula for Coca-Cola. What, exactly, are Colonel Sanders' 11 herbs and spices?

Former JP Morgan finance director-turned-recipe sleuth Ron Douglas says he's cracked the Colonel's secret recipe, and is publishing it in "America's Most Wanted Recipes," in which he deciphers the way home cooks can make chain-restaurant meals such as Taco Bell Mexican Pizza, Arby's Apple Turnovers, and Macaroni Grill Foccacia. (You'll see a whole bunch of blogs taking part in The Great American Taste Test, a national tryout of Douglas' recipes, by the way.)

So I've tried out Douglas' attempt to duplicate the Kentucky Fried Chicken original recipe, and I'm publishing it here, after the jump.

Ron Douglas' Clone of KFC Original Recipe Fried Chicken
1 egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1 3-lb. chicken, cut into 6 pcs.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground oregano
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried marjoram
1 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbl. paprika
1 Tbl. onion salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 Tbl. Accent
1 can lard (or 1 3-lb. can Crisco)

1. Combine egg and buttermilk in bowl, Soak chicken in mixture.

2. Add flour to separate bowl and fold in spices and herbs.

3. Roll chicken in seasoned flour until completely covered. Double coat for extra-crispy chicken.

4. Add lard to pressure cooker and heat to 365 degrees F.

5. Lower four pieces chicken into fryer and lock lid.

6. Fry for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown.

7. Remove chicken and drain on paper towels or rack.

8. Repeat with remaining chicken.

And that's it. So, essentially, the secret ingredient to KFC is, according to Douglas, Accent, aka monosodium glutamate (MSG).

I tried the recipe myself, but because I couldn't track down a pressure cooker, I had to jimmy up an alternate cooking method by emptying two cans of Crisco into a Dutch oven and deep-frying it that way. I ended up having to cook it a bit longer that way, and thus the breading was a little past golden brown. (I took pictures of the entire process, of course, and can put those up later if you all would like.)

The friend I made try it and I agreed that it didn't taste much like original recipe KFC, but also agreed that the method of cooking probably had a lot to do with that. We both liked the way it tasted, though.

So, has anyone else tried to crack the Colonel's recipe? What did you decide his 11 herbs and spices were? Anyone else care to run their own taste test?

See previously: Taste Test: KFC's Kentucky Grilled Chicken


Photo from KFC.com.

by Michael Y. Park

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