Oven-fried Copycat KFC Chicken? Is it authentic spices? This is the alleged original KFC™ spice blend found in a family album by Colonel Sander's nephew—you judge.
This copycat recipe has the great KFC®️ like flavor that many feel is the real spicing—it is finger-lickin'®️ good and has the promised "eleven herbs and spices," fits the era of development, and tastes just right. If not the authentic formula, then it is very close.
This recipe uses the "higher" spiced version of the leaked recipe. It is an excellent oven-fried chicken recipe that the whole family will love.
I added the spice mix to our favorite Oven Fried Chicken Recipe—we loved the results. Serve with Crispy Baked French Fries and a fresh salad like Fresh Spinach Salad.
But don't miss out on other baked chicken recipes, like Parmesan Mayonnaise Baked Chicken Breast, Pan Seared Oven Baked Chicken Breast, Convection Bake Chicken Breasts, Baked Chicken Legs, and Baked Chicken Thighs.
- Chicken—skinless boneless chicken breasts
- Buttermilk or regular milk
- Flour—all-purpose flour
- The 11 spices—salt, thyme, basil, oregano, celery salt, black pepper, dried mustard, paprika, garlic salt, ground ginger, white pepper
👨🍳How to Make Oven Fried KFC®️ Chicken
- Trimming skinless boneless chicken breasts and, if thick, flatten to ¾ inch thick with a meat mallet or heavy pan.
- Mix buttermilk or milk with the egg. Add the chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes.
- Mix the 11 spices with the flour.
- Remove chicken from the marinade and with the spice/flour mix. Set on a rack or plate for 20-30 minutes to help the coating attach.
- Prepare an oven-safe pan with butter. Place in the oven to heat the pan and melt the butter.
- Move the chicken to the pan and give them a light spray of PAM cooking spray if there are dry flour areas.
- Bake for 20 minutes, flip the chicken carefully and then bake until an internal temp of 165°, about 35-40 minutes total baking time.
- If you want gravy, follow the detailed instructions in the recipe card.
- Try to use breasts of almost the same size if possible. If they are thick, flatten the thickest part to about ¾ inches thick with a meat mallet or the bottom of a heavy pan.
- If you skip the marinade, dry the chicken well with paper towels. Dip in the spice/flour mixture, then an egg coating of a whipped egg with a bit of water. Shake off and coat again with the flour/spice mixture.
- Gravy is optional but highly recommended. I'm using a "slurry" method. See How To Make Gravy at Home for detailed instructions.
- The cooking of the chicken at the restaurant involves a pressurized fryer and other things. We are not trying to duplicate that. We are going for a healthier, tender chicken breast with the same or similar spicing.
- Make up a batch of the KFC™ spice mix and keep it around for other chicken recipes like chicken tenders.
- It is easier and probably cheaper to go to the restaurant. But this is interesting. And if you like it, mix up a batch of spices for the pantry.
📰The Story of the Leaked Original KFC®️ Recipe
The original secret recipe is a closely guarded secret in a vault at the company's headquarters. Handwritten by the Colonel himself, it is said.
This story is about the nephew of Colonel Sanders, Joe "H.D." Lexington, and a family album he inherited. In the album is his aunt's will, and on the back of the will is a handwritten note titled "11 spices". He believes it is real, and he mixed tons of this at his uncle's restaurant as a child. I tend to believe, especially after my trial cooking.
Check out the original article, the Tribune. A fascinating read and has a picture of the note. But also check out their test cooking of the recipe.
📋What is on the note?
The 11 spices Mix with 2 cups white fl
- ⅔ Ts salt
- ½ Ts thyme
- ½ Ts basil
- ⅓ Ts oregano
- 1 Ts celery salt
- 1 Ts black pepper
- 1 Ts dried mustard
- 4 Ts paprika
- 2 Ts garlic salt
- 1 Ts ground ginger
- 3 Ts white pepper
I'm sure you see a problem right away. What the heck is "Ts"? Is it tablespoons or teaspoons? The Tribune tried both and concluded tablespoons. I tried both, also. I believe in tablespoons, but my wife preferred the lighter spiced teaspoon version.
This recipe is very high in sodium, typical for the 1940s. In addition to the salt, it is hidden in garlic salt and celery salt. You can make substitutions that will retain the taste but eliminate the sodium.
You can use ½ the volume of the celery salt as the celery seed powder. And ¼ of the volume of garlic salt as garlic powder. That cuts the sodium way down to about 600.
The nephew who leaked the recipe felt the primary "secret ingredient" was the white pepper. I think he is right.
Some others speculate it is MSG (monosodium glutamate). It is in the chicken at the restaurant, other chicken restaurants, and other foods. If you want to try MSG along with the 11 spices, sprinkle a little on at serving.
This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Start with trimming two skinless boneless chicken breasts. Try to use breasts of about the same size. If thick, flatten to ¾ inch thick with a meat mallet or heavy pan.
Mix 2 cups buttermilk or milk and the egg. Add the chicken and allow it to marinate in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375° convection or 400° conventional. Mix the 11 spices with the flour.
Prepare an oven-safe pan with 2 tablespoons of butter. Remove chicken breast from the milk one at a time, allowing the excess marinade to drain off. Dip in the spice/flour mix, cover completely, shake to remove excess, and on a rack.
Allow to sit for 20-30 minutes. This will help the coating stick. While the chicken is resting, place the baking sheet or pan with the butter into the oven for about 5 minutes to melt the butter. Remove and coat the pan with the melted butter. Give any of the coating on the breasts that looks dry a light spray of PAM and move into the pan with melted butter.
After baking for 20 minutes, carefully flip the chicken with a fork near the edge of the chicken. Bake until internal temp of 165°, about 35-40 minutes total. Cooking time will vary due to oven variations, the pan, and the size and thickness of the chicken.
If you want gravy, remove the chicken from the pan. Mix 1 cup of chicken broth with 4 tablespoons flour either by whisking or in a shaker. Over medium-high heat, add 1 more cup of chicken broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Slowly add the flour mixture while whisking continuously until thickened and then a few more minutes. If some of the breading comes off the chicken, leave it in the gravy for extra flavor.
Copycat KFC Chicken—Oven Fried
- 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts
- 2 cups buttermilk or milk
- 1 egg - optional
- 1 cups AP flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon thyme
- ¾ teaspoon basil
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- 1 ½ teaspoon celery salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 ½ teaspoon dried mustard
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon garlic salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 4 ½ teaspoons white pepper
In Pan for Oven
- 2 tablespoons butter
Gravy - optional
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 4 tablespoons flour
- Start with trimming two skinless boneless chicken breasts. Try to use breasts of about the same size. If thick, flatten to ¾ inch thick with a meat mallet or heavy pan.
- Mix 2 cups buttermilk or milk and the egg. Add the chicken and allow it to marinate in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375° convection or 400° conventional. Mix the 11 spices with the flour.
- Prepare an oven-safe pan with 2 tablespoons of butter. Remove chicken breast from the milk one at a time, allowing the excess marinade to drain off. Dip in the spice/flour mix, cover completely, shake to remove excess, and on a rack.
- Allow to sit for 20-30 minutes. This will help the coating stick. While the chicken is resting, place the baking sheet or pan with the butter into the oven for about 5 minutes to melt the butter. Remove and coat the pan with the melted butter. Give any of the coating on the breasts that looks dry a light spray of PAM and move into the pan with melted butter.
- After baking for 20 minutes, carefully flip the chicken with a fork near the edge of the chicken. Bake until internal temp of 165°, about 35-40 minutes total. Cooking time will vary due to oven variations, the pan, and the size and thickness of the chicken.
- If you want gravy, remove the chicken from the pan. Mix 1 cup of chicken broth with 4 tablespoons flour either by whisking or in a shaker. Over medium-high heat, add 1 more cup of chicken broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Slowly add the flour mixture while whisking continuously until thickened and then a few more minutes. If some of the breading comes off the chicken, leave it in the gravy for extra flavor.
Your Own Private Notes
- Use the chicken you want, but I suggest skinless boneless chicken breasts.
- Try to use chicken breasts of about the same size, and if thick, flatten to about ¾ inches thick with a meat mallet or heavy pan.
- The most important spice is white pepper. You can adjust spices if you want, but you are fighting with the Colonel.
- I suggest making more spice mix for future use to save time. Remember that 3 teaspoons are 1 tablespoon.
- Letting the coating set on the chicken before baking is a must to keep the coating sticking well.
- The gravy is optional but recommended.
- Sodium note - You can use ½ the volume of the celery salt as the celery seed powder. And ¼ of the volume of garlic salt as garlic powder. That cuts the sodium way down to about 600.
- This is the "heavy" spice version. You can cut the spices in half and have great results, also. Discussed in the post above.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Editor's Note: Originally Published . Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.
Hi. I'm confused by the instruction to put oil in the pan, place the dredged chicken in the pan, then wait 20 to 30 minutes. So one side is sitting in oil all that time? And the other side gets PAM? Am I missing something?
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
Welcome to the blog and sorry for the delayed reply but I had surgery and typing that makes sense on narcotics does not work well.
I have updated the recipe slightly to reply to you question and clarify to how I currurtly recommend doing this. I coat the chicken and let it sit on a rack or plate for 15 minutes or a bit more to help the coating stick. Then I move it into the pan with melted butter and a light touch of PAM if there are spots of the coating that look dry.
Hope that helps.
Thank you. Dan!
Jojo from Baltimore
Hi Dr. Dan!
Is it 2 cups of flour or 1 cup? Ingredient list says 1 cup but when your reading from the top it says 2 cups. Marinating the breasts now so I’m hoping it’s 2 cups flour since that’s what I used.
Also, what temp and time estimate on using an air fryer instead?
Made your ham bean soup last week and it kept me full during my shift. My nurse friends said it smelled soo good! Appreciate you and your recipes!!!
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
Welcome to the blog.
In the post, it says 2 cups but it also has double the spices compared to the recipe card.
The spice measurements look a bit odd if you compare the two but with the assumption of Ts being tablespoons (Discussed in the post). The flour and spices were in half for a smaller amount (the "cooking for two" thing.) So both are correct just the card is half the size.
An air fryer is like a mini-convection oven so would probably be about the same. Just be sure to cook to 165° internal temperature. I never cook thing like this in an air fryer—just not my habit.
Do you use the leftover seasoned flour from the dredging to do your gravy, or plain flour?
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
Welcome to the blog.
I usually do if there is a fair amount left but since there is an unpredictable amount left, I didn't include that in the discussion.
This recipe is a hit for my guests. It is a bit spicy so I reduced the black and white pepper by about half and also the paprika to taste. I use tea spoons for oven bake, but in my deep fryer I use table spoon measure. For some reason the hot oil reduces the flavour.
Trying this for the first time. Is there supposed to be oil in the marinade? I just looked at the marinade ingredients & mixed them up before reading the recipe. Haven’t tried dredging & baking the chicken yet ... a little concerned here about results.
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
The oil is for the oven pan. It was confusing in the ingredient list. Now fixed. There is no oil in the marinade.
I would not redo it if you started. There is fat in the buttermilk, also after all. But be sure to let the coating rest before baking. The only potential issue would be the coating not sticking as well and that will help.
PS I didn't bother with egg. Doesn't need it. Milk soak is sufficient.
This recipe is fantastic. I've made a big batch (still only half what's above) and stored in an airtight container. Sufficient for probably 3 to 4 servings for 3 of us. The only change I made was to make it half flour and half panko breadcrumbs for added crunch. And half cayenne/half paprika as we like our food hot. I've 5ried several and this is the winner with my boys. It is incredibly tender and moist with a smashing flavour. Thank you - bookmarked for the future.
I just have a question about the "white pepper ". Is there a difference in taste with "black pepper"? Or is it just for color? I know, i could go buy it and try it myself, but what fun would that be?
I am going to try this with the egg yolk. Also didn't know MSG was in KFC!. Interesting.
Yep, definitely a different taste and according to the nephew, it is "the secret ingredient". A small bottle at the local supermarket is fairly expensive. It is much cheaper (and better) at Penzey Spices. All spices are better there. Worth the drive if you are close to one.
White pepper is entirely different. Add both as per the recipe. Spot on!
Use only the yolk not the white part of the egg. The whites of the egg cause the breading to not stick. I use to make my own fried chicken in my restaurant years ago, trial and error is how I learned that. At home I can fry the chicken for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes to make a crispy brown skin then finish cooking in oven. Not falling off the bone moist like KFC but very good technique for any recipe.
T is tablespoon and t is teaspoon learned that in my mother's kitchen as a child, I thought everyone knew that. Hope this helps all you chicken lovers. Nice article Dan, I've seen this recipe before and haven't tried it. I may give this recipe a try just for the fun of it.
I will try the yolk thing soon. I get fairly good sticking with just milk and a few minutes of wait but if that works, it would fix one of my issues.
I always used T for tablespoons and t for teaspoon. I used that the first few years of this blog but it confused everybody. I have re-edited most of those recipes and still have it my FAQs.
It is the "Ts" instead of T in the handwritten recipe combined with a large amount of spice vs flour that makes people question it. I believe tablespoons is correct.
My main concession to this recipe is that I frequent use white pepper with my oven fried chicken recipe. Getting that many spices out for a dinner just seems too much. But you have got to try it.
Thanks for the note.
I just made this tonight and it was delicious! I broke down a chicken into 10 pieces and after cooking they had quite a KFC flavour but were much healthier. I used half/half mixture of yogurt and milk, and swapped the flour for rice flour as I read somewhere it helps with the crispiness. The pieces were crispy in parts but not in others and the coating stayed on pretty well. I'll definitely make this again - thanks!
I never heard that about rice flour. I may try that sometime. The variable cooking is probably more of a function of the oven. Try rotating the tray halfway through.
Thanks for the note.
I did several cookings including allowing it to set up for 20 minutes. No effect. I think the buttermilk works well when deep-frying but in the oven, it doesn't denature fast enough to hold on well. I really wanted to keep the buttermilk, but the plain milk bath in my other recipe works very nicely, so I'm not going to keep trying. Plain milk and KFC seasoning for me. BTW, the gravy is great.
Yep T was always tablespoons (my mother taught home-ec in the 50's and 60's), but the "s" is the confusion. But after taste-testing, it is definitely tablespoons in this case.,
I think I will just mix the spices and store them, so I don't have to get out "eleven spices" every time.
Thanks for the note. Let me know if you have any requests... I'm running out of ideas
Have you tried letting the first dipping and breading set up for half an hour or so and then do it again so you can have the breading like KFC? 'Further, when I took home-ec in the 60's, a capitol T meant Tablespoon while a little t meant a teaspoon. I follow that ruling though I am now in my 70's. Keep those recipes coming as I live alone and use them a lot.
As noted by a previous commenter, I am pretty sure a capitalized T means tablespoon. I have no idea if this would actually be relevant or not, but all my Gramm's recipes...a capital T symbolized a tablespoon, and a lowercase t symbolized a teaspoon. She was born around the same time as the original Colonel, so it jives with me they would learn similar shorthand for recipes.
I loved this recipe, (4 stars) wanted to try the original but I have horrible frying skills, liked your oven method. However my topping did not stay on as pictured, followed your recipe exactly and used a cast iron skillet, any suggestions or tips ? Thank you, Leslie
I think it is the buttermilk. My rating is more on the flavor. I'm using plain milk in the future and no egg.
Thanks for trying this KFC recipe and reporting on it. We saw it in the news and were wondering about it. We are excited to try your oven fried version!
I just could not resist trying it. My white pepper was old, so I had to buy at the local store... very expensive for a small amount. I'm stopping at Penzeys next week for a big bag. I think I will mix the spices then seal for later. Just too many ingredients to keep mixing them.
The gravy was just great with all that spice.
Thanks for the note
A capital "T" always means tablespoon! As for buttermilk, biscuits, pancakes salad dressings, so many uses. You can also freeze it. And even pour it over the moss in the yard, to keep it healthy!
When I started the blog I used T for tablespoons and was shocked that nobody know that. The confusion here is the Ts. Even black pepper has 1Ts which is plural if it is tablespoons... just adds some confusion the mix.
I never seem to use it up but there is a dried buttermilk I like to keep on hand for small cookings.
Thanks the note
I don't know if it is true or not, but I was always told that the yolk part of the egg and buttermilk are used to tenderize chicken. I will be trying this recipe soon! Thanks for sharing it.
Buttermilk definitely does tenderize. No sure about the egg yoke. I thought the egg might be there to help the coating stick. Here the coating did come off some. Much more than my original recipe with plain milk.
Thanks for the note