KFC Fried Chicken [Copycat]

Published on October 26, 2022 | Updated on July 17, 2024 | by Allen Bixby

Over the years many have claimed to dial-in KFC’s secret fried chicken recipe – maybe they have, maybe they haven’t. Either way, we’re here to share our DIY Copycat recipe and provide a detailed walkthrough on how you can make KFC style fried chicken at home that tastes just like the real thing. We’ve experimented with endless herbs, ingredients, and methods to bring you all the best tips to imitate the most coveted chicken in the fast food industry.

Those of us who work in the restaurant trade that is not ‘fast food’ have a saying; “good food takes time”. Interestingly, fast food also takes time to get good.

In 1930 Harlan Sanders bought a motel with a café and started serving southern fried chicken.

Seasoning ingredients

It took the better part of 10 years, until 1939, to perfect the recipe as we know it, with the 11 herbs and spices.

The secret recipe.

KFC logos

You have to respect the dedication. And the fact that the secret is still safe. At least the company never comments one way or t’other if anyone comes out with THE recipe. They’re still selling chicken and making money. It would be very difficult to say this is the precise recipe, but it is getting close, and certainly yields a tasty result.

KFC Broasting

Old KFC kitchen

That is the current term for a device that simultaneously fries and cooks under pressure. An extremely fast and effective way to cook, especially chicken. You look at the old pictures of Harlan’s kitchen and they’re definitely using a pressure fryer back in the day.

Cooking Chicken in deep fryer

I used to own a Broaster in a restaurant that I bought. I could not get rid of it soon enough.

I used to own a Broaster in a restaurant that I bought. I could not get rid of it soon enough.

It quickly ruined fry oil, giving it an off odor that filled my kitchen, The resulting chicken was only so, so at best. Always tender, but sometimes stringy and oddly textured. That was not unique to us, I didn’t especially enjoy other places’ broasted chicken either. We switched to a standard deep fryer and became known for our chicken, often getting bulk orders over 100 pieces for summer gatherings.

KFC Quality Brining

KFC bucket with black background

A buttermilk bath is the penultimate southern soak for chicken, and it is unclear (maybe unlikely) that KFC uses this step. Technically not a brine, it does have a tenderizing effect on the meat. It does this with a low acid content so it doesn’t dry out the meat as more acidic marinades have been known to. Since you don’t rinse it all off, just shake off the excess, it helps form a thicker layer of breading because more will adhere to the meat. It also lends a milder flavor to the chicken, or game meats for that matter.

Brining chicken

Buttermilk is kind of spendy, and arguably not necessary for good outcomes. A light salt water brine with brown sugar and a little heat will also yield great results. That is what we have done in this recipe, and similar to our restaurant product.

Brine time should be 8-24 hours.

KFC Breading

Cooked chicken in plate

We took all the chicken thighs straight from the brine, shook off the excess liquid and dredged it in the breading mixture. Half of the thighs we dipped in an egg wash and dredged again, giving us more of an extra crispy product with a heavier breading layer.

breaded chicken in try

All of the pieces were allowed to sit for at least fifteen minutes after breading to let it set. You can go straight to the fryer, and it will likely work out fine, with some pieces of crispy breading perhaps falling off. Giving it time to set helps insure better adherence of the crispy exterior.

Pro tips for great fried chicken

Trimming Chicken

We recommend trimming the extra skin from the thighs, leaving enough to cover the flesh. Kitchen shears work great. Your standard grocery pack will often have some noticeable flaps to trim off. You don’t have to, and we have family members who are freaks for the crispy skin and want it all left on. You get a better looking result without it, and those skin sections will become almost too crunchy by the time the center cooks

Depending on the size of your fryer, you may want to preheat to 375°F then go to 350°F after you put the chicken in. Regardless of starting temperature you will get a 25-40°F drop in temperature from the cooler meat. Starting a bit higher makes the recovery of your temp quicker.

Make sure that you do not overcrowd your fryer so that pieces cook evenly without touching. We used peanut oil, which folks say KFC does not use. Any sturdy vegetable oil is fine. Peanut oil has less flavor, canola will add more flavor, with veg oil somewhere between.

Until you get used to the timing, you want to be sure and do a temperature check of the chicken as you near the end of frying it. Start with 18 minutes or so for thighs (thicker breast pieces may need longer), check the internal temp targeting at least 160°F degrees against the bone. The temperature will continue to increase with carry over cooking after you have removed it from the oil, easily reaching 165°F.

You can sift the breader after use which will get out and drops of juice since they will clump up. Just toss in the sifter, do not push it through. Store the remainder in a tight container for future use.

KFC Copycat Recipe

Allen Bixby
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1 hour
Wait time 8 hours
Total Time 10 hours
Course Dinner, Entrée, Lunch
Cuisine American food, Picnic, Southern style, Summer
Servings 4
Calories 442 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 8-10 Chicken thighs

Brine

  • 2 Cups Water divided
  • 2 Tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Dark brown sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons Hot sauce
  • Breader 11
  • 2 Cups AP flour
  • 2 Tablespoons MSG (Accent)
  • 1 Tablespoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Celery salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Black pepper
  • 4 Tablespoons Paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons Granulated garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon Onion powder
  • 2 Teaspoons Allspice
  • 2 Teaspoons Rubbed sage
  • 2 Teaspoons Thyme
  • 2 Teaspoons Basil
  • 1 Teaspoon Oregano

Egg Wash

  • 1 Egg
  • 2 Tablespoons Water

Instructions
 

  • Trim extra skin if desired
  • Add 1 cup hot water, Kosher salt, brown sugar, hot sauce and mix in large dish
  • Add 1 cup cold water and mix
  • Add chicken, cover and let sit overnight in refrigerator
  • Mix all breader ingredients in a large bowl
    seasoning Ingredientsmixed seasonings
  • Shake off excess moisture and dredge each piece well through the breading mix
  • Whisk egg and water if desired
  • Drop chicken pieces in egg, then dredge again until well coated
  • Preheat deep fryer
  • Let chicken rest for 15 minutes
  • Cook pieces in fryer for 18 minutes or until done at 160 degrees
  • Let drain on a rack for a few minutes
  • Serve and enjoy
  • Try some cold the next day, it’s awesome!

Notes

Difficulty; 3 spatulas

Nutrition

Calories: 442kcal
Keyword copycat recipe, diy, fried chicken, kentucky fried chicken, kfc
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

 

 

 

 

About the Author Allen Bixby

A retired restaurateur, not quite ready to stop playing in the kitchen.

I have had the pleasure of watching amazing high end chefs, and classic American style diner cooking, creating a very diverse background with food. Add both parents teaching English, watching Julia Childs and Graham Kerr as a child, and learning to bake bread from my Finnish great grandma, and you get a decent recipe for a knowledgeable voice to write about food.

From recipe design to equipment testing, there is a broad spectrum of entertaining aspects of food and how we do what we do every day to feed our loved ones!

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