Kentucky Fried Chicken always makes me think of childhood and diving into the bucket to claim the crispiest, tastiest piece. The perfectly seasoned chicken with those 11 secret herbs and spices is now an easy recipe anyone can replicate at home. This copycat recipe for crispy fried chicken is the ultimate comfort food and incredibly satisfying on cold winter nights!
I love recreating the nostalgic taste of Kentucky Fried Chicken anytime in my kitchen, especially to go with my crockpot mashed potatoes. Lucky for us, the Chicago Tribune leaked the original family recipe in 2016 and revealed the list of secret herbs and spices that make it taste so good.
It might seem intimidating to deep fry your chicken if you have never done it before, but it’s easier than you think. You can’t go wrong with this simple fried chicken recipe if you have a thermometer and a timer.
Why You’ll Love this KFC Recipe:
- Crispy Chicken: Like authentic Kentucky Fried Chicken, the chicken is coated with flour and fried to crispy golden perfection!
- Family Favorite: While KFC can make it faster, homemade with love always tastes better!
- Satisfying: The taste of fried chicken, like the Colonel used to make in Kentucky, is always “finger-lickin’ good.”
Trademark Note: In the spirit of transparency, I want to note that this is a copycat recipe for an existing product. Kentucky Fried Chicken is a proprietary brand to which I want to acknowledge and give credit.
How to Make Kentucky Fried Chicken
You can jump to the recipe card for full ingredients & instructions!
- Marinate the chicken in buttermilk.
- Combine flour with seasonings in a shallow dish.
- Heat the oil in a pot.
- Remove the chicken from the buttermilk.
- Firmly coat the chicken with the seasoned flour.
- Gently drop the chicken in the hot oil to fry until cooked and golden brown.
- Transfer chicken to a serving plate and enjoy!
According to the Chicago Tribune, the original recipe consists of 11 herbs and spices, including: salt, thyme, basil, oregano, celery salt, black pepper, dried mustard, paprika, garlic salt, ground ginger, and white pepper.
With the chicken breast side up, pull each leg away from the body, then slice through the skin between the breast and drumstick. Turn the chicken onto its side and bend each leg back until the thighbone pops out of its socket. Cut through the joint and skin to detach the leg completely, then pull each wing away from the body and cut through the joint. Lift up the chicken and cut down through the ribcage and then shoulder joints to separate the breast from the back. Place the breast skin side down. Split the center bone using a chopping motion, then slice through the meat and skin to separate it into 2 pieces. To divide the legs, turn each skin side down and cut through the joints along the white fat line to separate the thigh from the drumstick.
I recommend marinating the chicken overnight if you have time, but 1 hour is sufficient if you’re in a hurry.
If your heat is set too high, you’ll end up with chicken that has a burnt exterior but is still raw and uncooked inside. Be sure to use a thermometer to check your oil temperature often, and use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat.
If your heat is set too low, it can take too long for the chicken to fry, and it will become dense, oily, and soggy. Be sure to use a thermometer to check your oil temperature often, and don’t overload the Dutch oven with too many pieces of chicken at once.
Yes! Preheat your air fryer to 390°F and lay parchment along the bottom so that the chicken doesn’t stick. Place the chicken in the air fryer in a single layer with no pieces touching one another (you may have to fry in batches) and air fry for about 25 minutes, flipping once halfway, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
You wouldn’t bring home a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken without all the sides to go with it, so don’t forget these favorites at home!
- Mashed Potatoes
- French Fries
- Mac and Cheese
- Creamed Corn
- Buttermilk Biscuits
- Dipping sauces: honey mustard, BBQ, ranch, or hot sauce!
Make Ahead Instructions
Marinate the chicken pieces in buttermilk overnight in the refrigerator the day before you plan to fry the chicken for the most tender chicken!
Store leftover Kentucky fried chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, place the chicken pieces on a wire rack set in a baking sheet in a 400°F oven for 15-20 minutes, or until 165°F internally.
Freeze Kentucky fried chicken tightly wrapped in aluminum foil and set in a Ziplock bag for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- I like to use a whole chicken, but you can also use your favorite parts!
- For gluten-free Kentucky fried chicken, swap the all-purpose flour for gluten-free 1:1 flour.
- You can use any neutral oil with a high smoke point, such as vegetable, peanut, or avocado.
Tips for the Best Kentucky Fried Chicken
- After marinating your chicken, pat it dry before breading it. This will help the flour stick better.
- Coat the chicken thoroughly with flour.
- Be sure not to overcrowd the pot. Overcrowding will reduce the oil temperature, leading to oily, soggy chicken.
- Always let the oil come back up to temperature before adding more chicken.
- Resist the urge to turn the chicken over until you see a golden brown line all the way around the sides of the chicken. This line tells you that the breading is evenly crispy.
- Place the chicken pieces in a warm oven to keep them crisp while you continue frying the rest of the chicken.
More Fried Chicken Recipes We Love
I hope this copycat Kentucky Fried Chicken recipe brings back the old memories and helps you create some new ones with your friends and family. If so, let me know in the comments!
More Kid-Friendly Dinner Recipes to Try:
If you make this recipe be sure to upload a photo in the comment section below or leave a rating. Enjoy! You can also jump to recipe.
Would it work to also air fry this chicken as a healthier option?
Hi Sara, try this recipe (click here)!
Becky: An easier way to make your own buttermilk is to use a 2 cup measure, add 1-3/4 T vinegar, then fill cup to 1-3/4, rather than having to remove the milk to add vinegar. Saves a step.
Thanks for sharing, Patricia!
I worked at KFC in my early 20’s.. they didn’t dip it in buttermilk and there’s another ingredient they’re not telling you…
Thanks for sharing your experience, Shannon!
Can you share the other ingredient?
I would assume its probably MSG..