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The Snack Attack: KFC Says Leaked Secret Recipe Isn’t Authentic, But Should You Really Believe The Colonel? [TASTE TEST]

KFC’s blend of 11 herbs and spices is pretty much known as the most highly guarded secret recipe in the food world.

On August 19, The Chicago Tribune just about blew up the KFC vault when they published an interview with Joe Ledington — the nephew of KFC founder Colonel Harland Sanders — that included a photo of a recipe that was handwritten on the last will and testament of his Aunt Claudia — the Colonel’s second wife.

The photo simply says “11 Spices – Mix With 2 Cups White Fl.” Could it really be the secret recipe?

The original handwritten recipe is reportedly locked away in a concrete-encased safe that is monitored 24/7 — but who’s to say the Colonel’s second lady didn’t keep a hidden copy for herself? By KFC’s own admission, the original 1940’s recipe was written above the door of the Colonel’s first gas station diner. Theoretically, anyone could have copied it down.

Well, it should come as no surprise that KFC has denounced this latest leaked recipe as a fraud. “Many people have made these claims over the years and no one has been accurate — this one isn’t either,” the company said in a statement.

But maybe that’s just what the Colonel wants us to think! Maybe this IS the actual recipe, but KFC is fibbing in an attempt to keep the mystery alive. I had to put this recipe to the test and find out for myself.

The written recipe uses measurements of Ts — but is that tablespoon or teaspoon? I know teaspoon is typically abbreviated “tsp.” or “t.” and tablespoon is “tbsp.” or “T.” — but what is Ts? I mean, it could go either way. But judging by the two cups of flour required, I went with tablespoon measurements. Teaspoons didn’t seem big enough; it would essentially just be flour-covered chicken.

Here’s the “secret recipe” I tasted:

11 Spices – Mix With 2 Cups White Fl.
• 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 Dried Mustard
• 4 tablespoon Paprika
• 2 tablespoon Garlic Salt
• 1 tablespoon Ground Ginger
• 3 tablespoon White Pepper

***Some quick conversion help: one tablespoon is equal to three teaspoons.

Our test version of KFC's leaked "secret recipe" with 11 herbs and spices. (Credit: CBSDetroit.com)

Our test version of KFC’s leaked “secret recipe” with 11 herbs and spices. (Credit: CBSDetroit.com)

OK, so a few things to mention first. This recipe came with no instructions on how to actually prepare the chicken. KFC uses a pressure cooker, but I decided to go with a deep fryer — 1) because I don’t have a pressure cooker, and 2) because I was making other fried deliciousness like French fries and pickles and Twinkies. Also, KFC original recipe is served on bone-in chicken with the skin. I hate eating my meat off the bone and, even though its crispiness is undeniable, I don’t like skin on my chicken. So, I went with boneless, skinless chicken breast.

I used two chicken breasts and cut them up like nuggets. Why? Because secretly I’ve never grown up.

I set the deep fryer on 375 degrees, its highest setting, and split the chicken into two batches. I wasn’t exactly sure how to coat the chicken, so I dipped the nuggets in egg wash before rolling them in the spice mixture — which, by the way, makes a TON of coating. I have enough mixture left over for at least two more dinners, so make sure you have an air-tight container if you want to save it.

The first batch was dropped in the oil for about three minutes. I really wanted that golden brown color but the chicken ended up being a little dry, so I shaved a minute off before dropping the second batch.

If one thing is for certain, this chicken smelled EXACTLY like some KFC. The breading was light and crispy, but it was definitely missing a little something. I’m going to blame that on the lack of skin. The breading has tons of flavor and really does taste like KFC. I almost couldn’t believe my mouth. It’s definitely finger lickin’ good.

As far as I’m concerned, this is the closest to KFC that home-fried chicken has EVER tasted. Was it 100 percent right on the money? Well, no. But that could have been because of the choices I made in preparing and cooking the chicken, not necessarily the recipe itself.

In the end, I’m not buying what the Colonel is throwing down. He wants us to think this isn’t his coveted recipe, but I’m convinced that it is.

The Snack Attack is a feature on CBSDetroit.com that centers around all things food. Know of a new snack we should attack? Send an email and we’ll be sure to add it to the list.

Comments

One Comment

  1. BigGrrr says:

    This may be similar to the original, but KFC hasn’t used a recipe like this for decades. Sanders continually fought with the corporate executives over changes to the recipe. The flavors now mostly come from chemical additives rather than herbs and spices.

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