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What are Colonel Sanders KFC 11 secret Herbs and Spices?

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The truth is that no one knows because the recipe was discontinued sometime after the sale of the company back in 1964.


Harland David Sanders, better known as Colonel Sanders (September 9, 1890 - December 16, 1980)was raised by a black mother, basinia cassidy and white father who died at 33. took to the road at age 66 to promote his chicken franchise, taking 25 white suits, a bag of seasonings, and a pressure cooker. Claudia, his second wife and former employee, stayed home and mixed the secret seasonings and sent them out to the franchises.



In 1964 he sold the American operation to a three-man syndicate for a mere $2 million, and kept the Canadian operation. He died in 1980 at the age of 90.


That three-man syndicate, headed by Jack C. Massey, sold the company to the Heublein Corporation for $287 million just seven years later.


According to the book Big Secrets (1983) by William Poundstone, a lab was contracted to analyze the batter and determine the secret recipe. Based on interviews, lab results, and Sanders' patented cooking process, they determined:


"Chickens weighing between 2 1/4 and 2 1/2 pounds are preferred. They are cut into eight to ten pieces. What makes the Kentucky Fried Chicken recipe different from most others is the quantity of chicken must be geared to the amount and temperature of the oil. If you try cooking just one piece of chicken in the usual amount of oil at the usual temperature, you get a cinder. This is why Sanders' method has not been duplicated widely at home."

"For the typical five pound batch cited in the patent, about eight quarts of oil at 400 degrees F is needed. Sanders reasons in the patent as follows: Chicken cooked by ordinary means tends to lose its natural moisture before the meat is fully done. Chickens tend to be undercooked or dried out. The obvious remedy is to cook the chicken in a watery liquid. Then the chicken looks and tastes "boiled." Furthermore, if a browned coating is desired, it often requires higher temperatures or longer cooking times than is appropriate for the chicken proper."

"Sanders' solution is to start the cooking process at about 400 degrees F-- a high temperature that quickly browns the coating. A pressure cooker supplied with an air hose and pump is used. Continued cooking at 400 degrees would incinerate the chicken, but the cold chicken and the generation of steam from the moisture in the coating lower the temperature of the cooking fat to about 250 degrees F in a minute or two. The heating elements are then turned down to maintain a 250 degrees F temperature throughout the remainder of the cooking cycle."

"Meanwhile, the moisture boiling out of the chicken builds up the pressure in the closed vessel. If the various quantities have been measured correctly, a pressure of about fifteen pounds per square inch (above atmospheric pressure) is created. This raises the boiling point of water, and thus the actual cooking temperature of the moist chicken meat, to about 250 degrees F. Under these conditions, chicken cooks two to ten times faster than in conventional cooking. The steam pressure prevents any further loss of moisture. If for some reason the steam pressure is not quite 15 pounds per square inch, the air pump attached to the cooker makes up the difference. The total cooking time, including the browning phase, is about ten minutes. Then the pressure is released and the chicken is drained and stored in a warming oven (at about 160 degrees F) until purchase."

"There is no batter as such. The chicken pieces are "immersed in a dip made of skimmed or reconstituted skimmed milk and whole eggs (approximately eight per gallon of milk)" ... "The dipped pieces are then rolled in flour to which has been added salt and other seasoning ingredients" and fried.

The lab test showed that by the 80s the flavoring added to the chicken contained no herbs, and the only spices were salt, pepper, and MSG. However, it stands to reason that the original recipe of Sanders' chicken did contain more herbs and spices.

He also had a secret recipe for gravy, which he boasted was "so good you can throw the chicken away and eat the gravy," but the new owners decided the recipe was too much trouble for a fast food chain, and changed it to a recipe that Sanders' would later describe as "wallpaper paste."

In 1975, Heublein Inc. unsuccessfully sued Sanders for libel after he publicly referred to their gravy as "sludge" with a "wallpaper taste".

Among people who allegedly knew the recipe for Sanders' original recipe of eleven secret herbs and spices:

Harland Sanders
Claudia Sanders
Margaret Sanders
Milfred Ruggles
Jack C. Massey
John Y. Brown, Jr.
Phyllis George
Art Pelster
Leon W. Harman

In my honest opinion, the modern food science version of Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants now produces the most revolting, barely edible concoctions, from the chicken to the side items, and is surely a very poor reflection of the wonderful food originally offered by Harland Sanders so many years ago, and which his widow surely offered for many years after at the Claudia Sanders' Dinner House in Shelbyville, Kentucky.

His image remains iconic in KFC promotions, and a foundation he established ...
died when Harland was six years old, and, since his mother worked, he was ...
He was buried in his characteristic white suit and black western string tie in Cave ...

Ron Douglas, a former JP Morgan employee who now tries to reverse engineer recipes from chain restaurants, thinks he can create a KFC replica so good that no one will be able to tell the difference. Ron's recipe is:

  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons Accent (an MSG-based seasoning)
Thanks for the feedback!

Was Colonel Sanders a real colonel?

No. He was awarded the title "Kentucky Colonel" in 1935 because of the chicken he cooked. He then decided to call himself Colonel Sanders.

Who was Colonel Sanders?

Colonel Harland David Sanders was the man who created the fast foodstore Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and became its advertisementsymbol.

What spices does Colonel Sanders use in Kentucky Fried Chicken?

ORIGINAL KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN FLAVOR FROM THE EARLY 70'S THIS IS IT, IN IT'S SIMPLEST FORM. 1 tsp - Herbes de Provence (thyme, marjoram, savoury, rosemary, hyssop, bay lea

What are KFCs 11 herbs and spices?

KFCs "11 herbs and spices" are a trade secret, and thus nobody  outside of the KFC corporation conclusively knows what they are.  Some guesses include oregano, chili powder,

What are the 11 original KFC spices?

Food critic and historian Josh Ozersky believes the Colonel commissioned Marion Kay to come up with a spice blend. Believe it or not, this blend, called 99-X, is available f

When did Colonel Sanders become the face of KFC?

The Kentucky Fried Chicken company is famous across the world and wouldn't be the same without the face of Colonel Sanders at the front of their marketing campaign. He started