KFC Secret Recipe Found? Colonel Sanders' Nephew Shares 11 Herbs And Spices Found In Family Scrapbook

The KFC secret recipe might just have been found. Colonel Sanders' "Original Recipe" has been an intensely guarded secret since the early 1940s. The 11 herbs and spices used in the recipe are often credited for the chain's success. A nephew of Colonel Harland Sanders claims to have found the recipe tucked inside an old journal.

On Friday, the Chicago Tribune published what the nephew of the KFC founder claims is the secret recipe containing the names of all 11 herbs and spices and directions used to make the "finger lickin' good" chicken, which has been a staple at picnics and family gatherings for decades. Joe Ledington, 67, a nephew by marriage to Colonel Sanders, claims he found the recipe in a scrapbook created by Claudia Sanders, the Kentucky Fried Chicken founder's second wife.

The KFC blend of 11 herbs and spices recipe has reportedly been kept inside a vault at the company's headquarters. Kentucky Fried Chicken executives have not authenticated the recipe, which has now gone viral on the internet. Tens of thousands of Americans might be rushing out to the grocery store today to garner the ingredients so they can try the recipe for themselves.

Yum! Brands, the parent company of Kentucky Fried Chicken, does not appear angry about the supposed secret recipe being published.

"Lots of people through the years have claimed to discover or figure out the secret recipe, but no one's ever been right," company executives said.

Many decades ago, Colonel Sanders came up with an ingenious idea to help keep the KFC recipe secret - even from the folks who make the chicken. Sanders wanted to have two different companies make part of the secret recipe so no one entity would ever have access to the whole list of ingredients and cooking instructions, the Daily Mail reports.

The Claudia Sanders scrapbook, allegedly found by Joe Ledington, had a handwritten version of the recipe saved inside an envelope. Colonel Sanders' second wife passed away in 1997.

Harland Sanders started his fried chicken business from a roadside stand in Corbin, Kentucky, during the Great Depression, according to the KFC website. He soon realized how profitable a franchise business would be and opened his first Kentucky Friend Chicken franchise restaurant in Utah in 1952.

kentucky fried chicken
A commemorative representation of the 11 secret herbs and spices Colonel Harland Sanders made famous in his recipe. [Photo by Brian Bohannon/AP Photo]Joe Ledington told reporters he has been is possession of Claudia Sanders' scrapbook for approximately four years. The keepsake was reportedly passed down from relatives.

When asked if he truly believed he had found Colonel Sanders' secret recipe, he did not hesitate before stating he sure did.

"Yeah, I do. I don't want to get in an argument with Yum! Brands about it but I'm pretty sure that it's pretty close to the original," Ledington added.

Chicago Tribune staffers went shopping for the 11 herbs and spices, and other necessary ingredients, and then cooked up a batch of the fried chicken. While the chicken was frying, they sent some co-workers out to buy a bucket of freshly made KFC Original Recipe chicken from a local restaurant.

It reportedly took a couple of tries to get a batch of secret recipe chicken to turn out, but once they produced an edible version, the taste test began. The newspaper staffers doubling as cooks also added an MSG flavor-enhancer, Accent, to their version of the chicken. In the end, they claim their batch of fried chicken tastes "indistinguishable" from a finger lickin' good meal purchased at KFC.

Want to try making a batch for yourself?

Here's the supposed KFC secret recipe which was shared by Colonel Sanders' nephew with the Chicago Tribune and is now being widely circulated on websites and in newspapers across the country.

Recipe Details

  • Prep: 30 minutes
  • Soak: 20-30 minutes
  • Cook: 15-18 minutes
  • Makes: 4 servings
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried basil leaves
  • 1/3 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1 tablespoon celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried mustard
  • 4 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 3 tablespoons ground white pepper
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 chicken, cut up, the breast pieces cut in half for more even frying
  • Expeller-pressed canola oil
  1. Mix the flour in a bowl with all the herbs and spices; set aside.
  2. Mix the buttermilk and egg together in a separate bowl until combined. Soak the chicken in the buttermilk mixture at room temperature, 20-30 minutes.
  3. Remove chicken from the buttermilk, allowing excess to drip off. Dip the chicken pieces in the herb-spice-flour mixture to coat all sides, shaking off excess. Allow to sit on a rack over a baking sheet, 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat about 3 inches of the oil in a large Dutch oven (or similar heavy pot with high sides) over medium-high heat to 350 degrees. (Use a deep-frying thermometer to check the temperature.) When temperature is reached, lower the heat to medium to maintain it at 350. Fry 3 or 4 pieces at a time, being careful not to crowd the pot. Fry until medium golden brown, turning once, 15-18 minutes. Transfer chicken pieces to a baking sheet covered with paper towels. Allow the oil to return to temperature before adding more chicken. Repeat with remaining chicken.
[Image via Ken Wolter/Shutterstock]