Who Made the Original KFC Recipe?

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Colonel Harland Sanders is widely recognized as the creator of the original KFC recipe. However, the journey of how this iconic recipe came to be and its impact on the global success of the KFC brand is a story worth telling.


The original KFC recipe was created by Colonel Harland Sanders in the late 1930s. It was born out of his desire to serve delicious fried chicken to travelers stopping by his gas station in Corbin, Kentucky. The recipe, characterized by a secret blend of 11 herbs and spices, played a crucial role in the global success of the KFC brand.

The Birth of the Original KFC Recipe

The original KFC recipe was birthed out of necessity and innovation during the Great Depression. Colonel Sanders, who ran a gas station in Corbin, Kentucky, started cooking for travelers who stopped by. His aim was to serve delicious fried chicken, and this led him to experiment with different ingredients. By the late 1930s, Sanders had perfected his fried chicken recipe, which was characterized by a secret blend of 11 herbs and spices. This unique blend was what set Sanders’ fried chicken apart from others and initiated the birth of the KFC Original Recipe.

Recipe Ingredients

While the exact recipe remains a closely guarded secret, a list of 11 herbs and spices believed to be part of the original KFC recipe was revealed by Joe Ledington, Colonel Sanders’ nephew. The ingredients are as follows:

  1. 2/3 teaspoon salt
  2. 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  3. 1/2 teaspoon basil
  4. 1/3 teaspoon oregano
  5. 1 teaspoon celery salt
  6. 1 teaspoon black pepper
  7. 1 teaspoon dried mustard
  8. 4 teaspoons paprika
  9. 2 teaspoons garlic salt
  10. 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  11. 3 teaspoons white pepper

These ingredients are mixed with flour to create the iconic KFC breading. The exact proportions and preparation methods are part of the secret recipe, which is stored in a vault at KFC’s Louisville headquarters, along with 11 vials each containing one of the ingredients.

The Recipe’s Contribution to KFC’s Success

The original KFC recipe played a crucial role in the global success of the brand. Its unique taste, strong brand identity, adaptability to local markets, and consistent quality have been key factors in maintaining customer loyalty and attracting new customers. Furthermore, the mystique surrounding the recipe has served as a powerful marketing tool, driving the brand’s expansion and growth. Today, KFC operates in over 150 countries, with a new restaurant opening somewhere in the world every six hours.

Recipe Variations and Trivia

Though the core of the Original Recipe has remained consistent, there may have been minor changes or variations made over time to adapt to different circumstances. For example, KFC might have adjusted the recipe slightly to comply with local food regulations or to cater to the preferences of customers in different countries.

The secrecy surrounding the recipe has generated significant interest and intrigue. From its storage in a 770-pound safe encased in concrete to the use of two separate companies to create the blend, the recipe’s secrecy has been a significant part of KFC’s brand identity. There have been numerous claims of discovering or replicating the original recipe, but KFC has consistently denied the accuracy of these claims.

In conclusion, the original KFC recipe, created by Colonel Harland Sanders, has become an iconic part of global culinary history. Its unique blend of 11 herbs and spices has not only resulted in a distinctive and beloved flavor but has also driven the success and growth of one of the world’s most popular fast-food chains.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who was Colonel Harland Sanders?

Colonel Harland Sanders was an American businessman, best known for founding the fast-food chicken restaurant chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and later acting as the company’s brand ambassador and symbol. His image is prominently used in KFC advertising to this day.

When was KFC founded?

KFC was founded by Colonel Harland Sanders in 1952, although the original recipe was developed much earlier, in the late 1930s.

Are there any vegetarian options at KFC?

Yes, KFC offers a variety of vegetarian options, although these may vary depending on the country. Some popular vegetarian items include the Veggie Rice Bowl, Corn on the Cob, Green Beans, and Coleslaw. In some locations, KFC has also introduced a “Vegetarian Fried Chicken” using plant-based protein.

Is the original KFC recipe still used today?

Yes, the original KFC recipe is still used today. However, minor adjustments might have been made to adapt to local tastes, preferences, and food regulations.

How many KFC restaurants are there worldwide?

As of 2020, there are more than 24,000 KFC outlets in over 150 countries and territories around the world.

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