KFC Recipe A Fake? Kentucky Fried Chicken Officials Claim Nephew’s Big Reveal Is Not The Real Deal

KFC officials are insisting the Kentucky Fried Chicken “secret recipe” shared by a nephew of Colonel Sanders, it not the real thing. Joe Ledington, the nephew, found the hand-written recipe in a scrapbook which belonged to Harland Sanders’ second wife, Claudia.

Kentucky Fried Chicken officials staunchly maintain the authentic KFC recipe is still tucked away in a safe far, far, away from prying eyes. Colonel Sanders’ went to extreme lengths to keep his 11 herbs and spices a secret.

The company, based out of Louisville, maintains the real original 11 herbs and spices recipe was jotted down by Sanders in 1940. The handwritten recipe is stored in a digital safe which is encased in two feet of concrete and monitored via video and with a motion detector, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

KFC officials have gotten a glimpse of the recipe found in the scrapbook and will not substantiate claims it is really the mixture Harland Sanders created more than five decades ago.

“Many people have made these claims over the years and no one has been accurate — this one isn’t either,” an official statement from KFC, read.

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Sanders chose not to patent the recipe, because patents expire and then can be purchased by another entity and ultimately, be revealed to the public. Colonel Sanders also decided to have his fried chicken seasoning mixture made at two different facilities. This endeavor ensured no employee would ever know the entire recipe and be able to divulge it to either competitors or the public at large.

Joe Ledington, 67, encountered a reporter from the Chicago Tribune when the journalist was in Corbin, Kentucky working on a travel piece. The rural Kentucky town is the birthplace of KFC. Colonel Sanders opened up a roadside stand selling his chicken during the early 1950s. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Colonel Harland Sanders opened up the first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in Utah in 1952.

Ledington pulled out a family scrapbook to share with the reporter and found a handwritten fried chicken recipe inside. The nephew wound up with the family keepsake after his aunt, Claudia Sanders, passed away in 1997.

Kentucky Fried Chicken, which is now a subsidiary of Yum Brands Incorporated, deems Colonel Sanders’ fried chicken recipe “one of the biggest trade secrets in the world.”

Joe Ledington reportedly told the Chicago journalist the handwritten list of instructions was authentic. He later admitted he really couldn’t know for sure.

“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 said.

Although KFC officials claim the recipe is not the real deal, the list of ingredients does focus upon 11 herbs and spices being mixed with two cups of white flour, the Daily Mail reports.

The handwritten fried chicken recipe Joe Ledington found in Claudia Sanders’ scrapbook quickly went viral after being shared online by the Chicago Tribune.

Try making a batch of knock-off KFC chicken for yourself and tell us how “real” it tastes by sounding off in the comments section below.

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 by Ken Wolter/Shutterstock.com]