KFC’s 11 Herbs and Spices secret recipe? I’ll believe it when I taste it..


Having now tested this recipe I can say in no uncertain terms that this most certainly is  NOT the KFC recipe or even anything close to it. With all due respect to Mr. Douglas I’d say he was so far off the mark it’s almost funny.

An American named Ron Douglas, author of the book “Americas Most Wanted Recipes” has stated that after much trial and error he has come up with the recipe for the world famous fried chicken that Colonel Harland Saunders created and served to his guests in his Corbin, Kentucky hotel and restaurant. We’ll never know if this is even close because the real recipe is one of the most closely guarded secrets in the world and even if it was exactly the same the corporate honchos at KFC would never even comment on it.

Open a printable version

Here are the basic 11 herbs & spices based on Douglas’ book

  • — 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • — 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • — 1 teaspoon ground sage
  • — 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • — 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • — 1 teaspoon pepper
  • — 2 teaspoons salt
  • — 2 tablespoons paprika
  • — 1 teaspoon onion salt
  • — 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • — 2 tablespoons Accent (MSG)
And here is what seems to be the most recognized basic recipe for the chicken itself. Saunders used a pressure cooker to greatly speed up the cooking process but generally people seem to use a plain old frying pan in the vast majority of the recipes I’ve seen. The one ingredient that appears in nearly all copycat versions is the powdered tomato soup mix which is odd because Colonel Saunders always said that the ingredients for his chicken “could be found on everybody’s kitchen shelves at home” and I doubt he used instant tomato soup in 1935. Anyway if you do try this let me know what the outcome is.
  • 1 chicken, cut into required size for frying pieces
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 tbsp of KFC secret spice mix (as per above)
  • 1 Pack of Tomato Soup mix (no amount given try cup o soup)
  • 2 egg whites well beaten
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • Sufficient quantity of vegetable oil or lard to cover the bottom of your frying pan about 1/2 inch deep.


  1. Warm oil in pan over medium heat.
  2. In a bowl, combine egg whites and milk and mix well and set it aside.
  3. Combine flour with secret spice and soup mix and work out a evenly blended mixture.
  4. Dip the chicken pieces in milk-egg white mixture letting excess coating drip off then roll the chicken pieces in the flour-secret spice mixture.
  5. Repeat procedure two times more.
  6. Fry the pieces over medium heat for 25 to 30 minutes, turning often. cover the frying pan to get the best results.
  7. When both sides are fried golden brown remove , Drain the excess oil and serve hot.

10 responses to “KFC’s 11 Herbs and Spices secret recipe? I’ll believe it when I taste it..

  1. Sounds good ..
    Laila … http://lailablogs.com/

  2. I saw a TV program call “Unwrapped” yesterday that went into the whole process of the KFC secret recipe for their yummy fried chicken. While they of course did not devulge the seret blend of 11 herbs and spices, they did say that the blend was mixed with flour, powdered eggs, powdered milk and salt and the chicken was soaked in water and then dredged in the mixture and then pressure fried. No tomato soup was mentioned, unless of course it is one of the 11 things in the herb mix…I doubt it though!

    • Linda, I really don’t know about the tomato soup thing and may have to try this recipe just to see. The word going around several years ago was that the spices were part of a brine that was used, which does fit the “soaked in water” bit you heard.

      Interesting Tidbit:
      Years ago when the Saunders’ Hotel and restaurant were being renovated for historical reasons it’s said that a worker found a handwritten recipe for the spice mix in a small space above the door leading from the pantry to the kitchen. I don’t know about you, but I’d never have told my foreman about this find… 🙂

  3. what is (2 tablespoons Accent (MSG) ) mean?
    thank you

  4. I think the biggest problem facing those who try to duplicate the Colonel’s recipe, is that modern examples of the “Original Recipe”, sold under the “KFC” name, can not serve as a reference point. It is just not the same as what the old gentleman was selling. Over time, the number of herbs and spices may have been reduced from 11 to God knows what, their concentration might also have been reduced making the product more bland. The cooking process has changed, notably the absence of pressure frying. When I was a kid, the heavenly scent surrounded a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet for blocks around. No more.

    Only if someone could find a seasoning packet going back 30 years or more, and subject it to rigorous laboratory analysis (and not seat of the pants guesswork), could we hope to unlock the secret.

    I suggest we all write to the current owners of KFC, who I believe DO know what the original recipe WAS, and ask them to stop trying to fool everybody. We should ask them to go back to the original recipe, bring back the pressure fryers and restore authenticity to the brand name.

    • Hi Leslie, thanks for the comment. I tend to agree with you on the recipe having not remained the same. It’s difficult to say if they have changed it but given that I cannot think of a popular food or snack that is likely to still be the same ingredients and quantities that it was when first introduced. Whether it’s Twinkies, Coke or the Big Mac the chances they are the same as when I was a kid are slim to none and the same can surely be said for the recipe Harlan Saunders originally sold to the corporate leaches that still use his image.

      If by some chance this recipe or another does have the same basic taste as the KFC we all know than great, who cares if it’s the same or not. I’d love to be able to make it at home the once a month or so that would not cause too many health issues and while having the actual recipe used by the colonel would be cool it’s never going to happen.

      As for the people who run the company today… they are no more or less slimy than most others large companies and we just need to know that they all care about money more than any other thing on earth and will do just about anything to make it (just pray they don’t start buying ingredients from China) 🙂

  5. Lilly Bay Herbs&Spices
    knows the Secret Recipe of Colonel Harland Sanders
    you can buy the Seasoned Flour at their website and make it yourself at home

    “Lilly Bay’s” Kentucky Fried Chicken
    Kentucky Fried Chicken Herbs&Spices

    • Lilly Bay Seasonings are Great

      the smell of their KFC was out of this world, you could smell it across the street, the oil got so strong after a few batches it was pure KFC essence!!!! AMAZING

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