A 770-pound safe wrapped in 24 inches of concrete houses the recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). The 11 secret ingredients that make up the flavoring of KFC’s chicken are further guarded by motion detectors and video cameras. All that security may be for naught, however, now that a nephew of the chicken chain’s founder may have spilled the beans to the Chicago Tribune.
Joe Leddington, a nephew of Colonel Harland Sanders, sat down with the Tribune in the company’s birthplace of Corbin, Kentucky. Ledington showed the reporter a scrapbook that included the Colonel’s Last Will and Testament, which was stuffed in the back of the book by his second wife, Claudia Ledington. The will included a list of 11 spices that Ledington said form the core of the chicken recipe. Ledington said he was in a position to know, having been responsible for mixing the herbs and spices in a bathtub stored on the roof of the family’s garage.
Ledington told the Tribune that white pepper was the most secret ingredient, and the most elusive one to pin down. He explained that few people knew how to use the pepper back in the 1950s. Yum! Brands, which is KFC’s parent company, quickly attacked the claim, arguing that like other supposed leaks of the recipe, this one had the list of ingredients wrong.
The recipe, which you can try for yourself, was stated as follows:
11 spices — mix with 2 cups white flour
2/3 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon thyme
1/2 tablespoon basil
1/3 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon celery salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon dried mustard
4 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons garlic salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons white pepper
Ledington insisted that the information he provided weas accurate. “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,” he said to the Lousiville Courier-Journal.
However, a few days later, Ledington was unavailable for further comment, after stating he never really said the recipe he leaked was indeed one of the biggest restaurant trade secrets in the business. KFC has repeatedly sued people accused of leaking the recipe. It previously filed a lawsuit against a Kentucky couple, Tommy and Cherry Settle, who found a recipe in the basement of a home that had been owned by Colonel Sanders. The company later dropped the suit after claiming it was not the recipe, which it termed more of a recipe for stuffing.
According to the KFC website,
The secret blend of KFC’s 11 herbs and spices is so secret that not even the company that produces the blend knows the exact formulation. The spice blend is shipped from different locations in the United States before the final blending. We’ve got to keep it a secret from those imitators creating KFC copycat recipes that just don’t come close to the real deal.
Bloggers, chefs and news organizations are quickly testing the recipe, with mixed results.