Here's What's Really In The Secret Ingredients Of KFC Chicken

For its first 76 years, the KFC Original Recipe, the mix of spices originally conceived by Colonel Harland Sanders, remained even more secret than the Krabby Patty Secret Formula. As described by The Seattle Times, the company keeps the secret combination of 11 herbs and spices that was penned by Sanders himself in a digital safe that itself is guarded by two feet of concrete and subjected to video surveillance 24/7.

Lest a skeptical person was to consider this simple corporate posturing, like Zaxby's entering the Chicken Sandwich Wars, the Associated Press covered the extents to which the company kept the ingredients unknown in a 2008 article titled "Colonel's Secret Recipe Gets Bodyguards." The piece reports that for the first time in decades, KFC was going to move the original handwritten recipe from KFC's headquarters to revise the security protecting the recipe, which was already so heavily guarded that access was limited to only two KFC execs in any given moment. Discovering the identity of the secret ingredients that coat the chicken would take a miracle.

A miracle!

A miracle seemed to strike on August 19, 2016, not three months after KFC spent paragraphs outlining how they ensured the original recipe would remain a secret. Jay Jones went to visit Corbin, Kentucky to research the Harland Sanders Cafe and Museum for the Chicago Tribune. There, he managed to contact Joe Ledington, a local teacher and Col. Sanders's nephew. Ledington showed him a scrapbook from Sanders's second wife which included a handwritten list of 11 spices. They were as follows: salt, thyme, basil, oregano, celery salt, black pepper, dry mustard, paprika, garlic salt, ground ginger, and white pepper.

When Jones asked KFC about the recipe's accuracy, they responded with expected guardedness: "Lots of people through the years have claimed to discover or figure out the secret recipe, but no one's ever been right." However, with a new recipe outed, various outlets decided to experiment with it. The Kitchn found the resulting chicken tasted of KFC, though the texture was off. The Chicago Tribune had the same results but managed to replicate the texture as well by adding some MSG. Then, the blog The Decorated Cookie gave it a few goes and came to a close tasting replica. Obviously, KFC's other cooking tricks aren't included, but it seems the base spices have been divulged.