The Mysterious Ingredients For KFC's Signature Gravy Are No Longer A Secret

Gravy is the holy grail of sauces. So, it's no surprise that many have wondered how KFC makes the legendary gravy that fans find so "finger-lickin' good." Well, it starts with the chicken itself.

Traditionally, gravy is made with a reduction of the leftover juices and bits of cooked chicken, incorporating stock and a thickening agent. KFC's recipe contains a little something extra but still follows this basic formula. Unfortunately, the way that the chicken factors into it might not be very appetizing to some. In a British Channel 4 documentary, "KFC At Christmas," Anne Walker, a manager at a KFC in the U.K., revealed that the special sauce is made using leftover juices and chicken scraps from the deep fryers. Some might call them yucky fried garbage, others may call them delicious nuggets of flavor. KFC calls the stuff "crackling."

Next, the crackling is whisked with hot water and a mystery powder from an unlabeled package. Those who have made gravy before might hypothesize this is some mixture of bouillon or stock flavoring and flour, used to thicken and flavor the mixture. This was confirmed by KFC's Senior brand manager in the U.K. and Ireland, who said the mix contains typical ingredients like black pepper, chicken extract, salt, and flour (via Vice).

But what of the iconic chicken the gravy uses as its base? The flavoring of KFC's signature sauce starts before the chicken even hits the fryer basket.

Good chicken, good gravy

You'd be correct to assume that the magic blend of "11 herbs and spices" KFC uses to season its fried chicken factors into this somehow. Although the recipe has been one of the most fervently guarded secrets in the fast food world, there have been a few theories and leaks. One credible tip came in the form of a note containing a list of 11 herbs and spices, released in 2016 by none other than Colonel Sanders' own nephew.

While some of the secret ingredients in KFC chicken weren't too shocking — paprika, garlic salt, black pepper — others were more surprising. White pepper was considered the star. Even so, KFC refused to confirm this was the secret formula that people have tried to get their hands on for decades. Whether this is the definitive recipe or not, the flavors of KFC's special chicken seasoning may influence its rich gravy.

KFC is an American franchise, but we should trust the Brits when it comes to gravy, as they have been known to top their Christmas dinners with KFC's version. Also, TikTok evidence continues to show that "crackling" is very much a part of KFC's formula. Don't worry if you don't have a KFC fryer full of fried chicken remnants at home, there are plenty of copycat KFC gravy recipes out there which don't use the substance. It's all gravy.