Here's How KFC Keeps Its Signature Spice Blend So Secret

According to How Stuff Works, fast food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (better known as KFC) is known for being super secretive about its signature spice blend. The original recipe is still in use today and contains an infamous (and tag-line inspiring) 11 herbs and spices. 

The spice blend was even created by the real Colonel Harland Sanders himself. The white-suited founder initially kept the recipe only in his head as he visited potential franchise locations, but eventually, he did write it down. KFC keeps the recipe under lock and key, sharing the handwritten copy with only a few employees who are bound to secrecy by a strict confidentiality agreement. 

To stop manufacturers from leaking the classified combination, KFC even has two different companies mix a portion of the blend each. How Stuff Works also explains there is a rumor that employees let in on the trade secret are not allowed to travel together by car or plane, on the off chance there is an accident. The original handwritten recipe has only moved locations once, and was driven in an armored car and guarded by a high-security motorcade.

KFC's secret signature spice blend recipe might have been leaked

There was, however, a possible leak in the tight security and secrecy surrounding KFC's signature spice blend. In a 2016 interview with the Chicago Tribune, reporter Jay James says Joe Ledington, the nephew of Colonel Sanders, revealed the secret recipe. The Independent reports that while showing James a family scrapbook, Ledington included a copy of his aunt Claudia's will, who was Colonel Sanders' second wife. On the reverse side of the paper her will was written on was the recipe for a fried chicken spice blend containing 11 herbs and spices. 

Ledington allegedly informed the reporter that that was the supposedly secret KFC spice blend recipe. When asked in a follow-up interview if this was true, Ledington was less forthcoming with the outlet, claiming he could not be sure the recipe he showed to James is the same recipe used in KFC kitchens today. 

The Kitchn tried to replicate KFC's classified fried chicken recipe based on the photos from the Chicago Tribune interview and proclaimed it genuine. They assert that the flavor they recreated is a perfect match for the fast food joint's crispy chicken skin, although, as is almost always the case when attempting to duplicate favorite meals from restaurants, the at-home version was not an exact copy.