Start to Finish: 45 minutes, plus marination time
Kentucky Fried Chicken, colloquially called KFC for short, is a Southern-style fried chicken chain known for its crispy, salty, seasoned fried chicken. The chain advertises the fact that it uses a special blend of 11 different herbs and spices. The recipe is a closely guarded trade secret, and this version of fried chicken is adapted from one by The Guardian and Ron Douglas, the author of “America’s Most Wanted Recipes."
Chicken and Marinade
- 4 chicken drumsticks
- 4 chicken thighs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 1 tablespoon ground oregano
- 1 tablespoon cayenne powder
- 1 tablespoon ground sage
- 1 tablespoon marjoram, dried
- 1 tablespoon basil, dried
- 1/2 tablespoon celery salt
- 1/2 tablespoon onion salt
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon ground white pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons MSG
- 1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
- 2 1/2 cups white flour
- 1/2 cup corn starch
- 2 eggs
In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken parts with the buttermilk, salt, mustard powder and pepper. Coat the pieces evenly, then cover with plastic wrap. Store overnight for 8 to 12 hours.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the spice mix. Add 1 3/4 cups of white flour and the 1/2 cup of corn starch. Stir with a fork to mix the ingredients.
In a shallow bowl, beat the 2 eggs with a 1/4 cup of the marinade for the chicken. Pour the remaining 3/4 cup of flour into a separate shallow bowl.
Fill a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pan, like a cast iron skillet, with at least 2 inches of vegetable oil. Heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit on medium-high heat, testing the temperature with a quick-read thermometer.
Take one piece of chicken and shake off any excess marinade. Dip in the plain flour, coating evenly, then the buttermilk and egg mix. Let the excess buttermilk mix drip off, then dip in the seasoned flour.
Place the chicken piece into the hot oil, using metal tongs, if necessary. Repeat for two to four more pieces of chicken, depending on the size of your pan.
Turn the pieces of chicken when one side has turned a deep, golden brown color and is crispy. Continue dipping and frying the chicken until all of the pieces are cooked. It will take roughly 10 minutes for the thighs and 7 minutes for the drumsticks to fully cook.
Drain the cooked chicken on a paper towel-lined plate. Serve the chicken while still warm.
Chicken is fully cooked when the internal temperature reads 165 degrees F. The meat will be opaque and white, and the juices from the chicken will run clear.
Store the cooked chicken on a baking tray in an oven warmed to 200 degrees F. This will keep the chicken hot while the other pieces cook.
Start by frying the thighs first. As larger pieces, they take longer to cook, and will be less likely to become overcooked when kept in the warm oven.
To cook all of the chicken at once, use two cast iron skillets or pans to fry your chicken, allowing four pieces per pan. Cook the thighs in one pan and the drumsticks in the other.
The MSG is optional, but to get the classic KFC taste, it is necessary.
This recipe produces chicken with a craggier crust than KFC. To keep the crust from being as crunchy and hefty, marinate the chicken in salt and spices only, no buttermilk.
For a thinner coating, dip the chicken only in the seasoned flour, not in the flour, egg wash and seasoned flour.
For a version of KFC’s spicy chicken, double the amount of cayenne and black pepper used in the recipe.
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Cynthia Au has studied at the Cordon Bleu in Paris and currently works as a chef instructor specializing in food styling. She has worked as a writer and editor with a focus on food and food science since 2007 and regularly teaches both adults and young children about the joys of home cooking.