Here’s the secret that makes KFC’s fried chicken so crispy

Nothing says comfort food quite like a bucket of fried chicken. Here are some fried chicken recipes that you’ll really be able to sink your teeth into. But few places do it better than the aptly-named Kentucky Fried Chicken, especially when paired with creamy mashed potatoes and a buttery biscuit.

What sets Kentucky Fried Chicken apart from the rest? It’s not just their affordable prices and convenience, it’s also how crispy they’re able to make their chicken (there’s a reason it’s called extra crispy!). Now, you can recreate KFC’s secret recipe at home by following the steps below. We bet you won’t even be able to taste a difference.

11 Secret Spices

To really nail the traditional flavor of Kentucky Fried Chicken, it’s all about their 11-spice seasoning blend. Combine KFC’s secret recipe for its breading with two cups of flour to thoroughly coat your chicken pieces after dipping in an egg and milk wash.

  • 2/3 tablespoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon basil
  • 1 tablespoon celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried mustard
  • 2 tablespoons garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/3 tablespoon oregano
  • 4 tablespoons paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon thyme

RELATED: Best fried chicken in US 

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Michael Solomonov's Federal Donuts; Philadelphia

Federal Donuts’s simple, wickedly great business model—superb fried chicken and doughnuts—has proven so popular that five outposts now dot the city. The 24-hour-cured chicken is double-fried for extra crispness and come spiced or glazed, depending on the location, in flavors like chili garlic and buttermilk ranch.

Watershed on Peachtree; Atlanta

The Atlanta institution has undergone a number of changes, but new chef Joe Truex knew not to mess with Scott Peacock’s legendary fried chicken. Brined in buttermilk and fried in ham hock-flavored fry fat, the crisp, golden, utterly addictive chicken is now served both at lunch and dinner on Wednesdays—and sold out usually by 7:30pm.

Little Goat Diner; Chicago

Fried chicken makes all sorts of cameos here (including accompanying onion brioche French toast). But traditionalists should order the fried chicken plate, a half-chicken that’s been brined in buttermilk and hot sauce for 12 hours before being steamed and tossed in the fryer.

Yardbird Southern Table and Bar; Miami

Founded in 1950 by "Fried Chicken King" Harold Pierce, the chain thrives on a simple model: White or dark meat plunged in oil to order, and served with hot sauce.

Beasley's Chicken + Honey; Raleigh, NC

With extra-craggy triple-fried chicken paired with a thick, custardy Belgian waffle, Ashley Christensen’s take on chicken and waffles is “all about the textures,” she says.

Wayfare Tavern; San Francisco

The secret to TV food star Tyler Florence’s fantastically crispy and perfectly moist chicken: baking it at 200 degrees for 2 1/2 hours before coating with seasoned flour and frying in garlic-and-herb-infused oil.

Pies-N-Thighs; Brooklyn, NY

"I'm on the record as a fried-chicken freak," says editor in chief Dana Cowin, who wasn't disappointed by this cult Williamsburg spot known for fried chicken seasoned with paprika, black pepper and cayenne. "I adored its homey mood and comfort food." piesnthighs.com

Two Sisters Kitchen; Jackson, MS

Two Sisters' Kitchen, in a two-story house, opens only for lunch (every day but Saturday) and serves a buffet of soul food made with recipes culled from all the women in Diann I. Alford's family. "It's like Sunday lunch at your grandmother's," she says. Piled on Sisters' all-you-can-eat buffet: light angel biscuits; grits and Southern sides that might include turnip greens; and corn bread salad (Alford's mother got her to eat vegetables by adding chunks of corn bread). The one constant: "If the front door's open, we have fried chicken," assures Alford.

Momofuku Noodle Bar; New York, NY

Ordering the fried chicken at David Chang's East Village spot requires planning—you'll need a group of four to eight people, and you'll have to reserve the order online. It's worth the hassle. He serves two styles in one sitting: Southern with Old Bay seasoning, and a spicy Korean version. Diners can wrap hot pieces of meat in moo shu pancakes with a variety of sweet and salty sauces. momofuku.com

Harold's Chicken Shack; Chicago, IL

Founded in 1950 by "Fried Chicken King" Harold Pierce, the chain thrives on a simple model: White or dark meat plunged in oil to order, and served with hot sauce.

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Fry immediately

Some insist that you should let the coated chicken sit before frying. Not at KFC—their rule is “from flour to fryer.” If the chicken is left to sit, the breading will soften for a less-than-crispy result and the skin will fall off the chicken too easily.

All about the fryer

KFC swears by high temperature, industrial-strength pressure fryers for their extra-crispy skin. While you won’t be able at deep fry with your at home pressure cooker, you can still recreate the KFC crunch with a deep fryer, a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot. Simply heat your oil to 350 or 360 degrees and leave each piece in for exactly 12 minutes.

Never fried chicken before? Here’s a handy guide that’ll break it down, step by step.

The real secret ingredient

According to Ron Douglas, author of America’s Most Wanted Recipes, the real key to the perfect crispy texture is one thing: Accent, which is monosodium glutamate (MSG) flavor enhancer. You can add this into your seasoning mix before breading or sprinkle it on the chicken after frying. Regardless, it’s a must.

Can’t find Accent at the grocery store? No problem! Purchase here.

Take a rest

Biting into a piece of chicken right out of the fryer isn’t the smartest idea. At Kentucky Fried Chicken, they “hold” the chicken in an oven set to 175 degrees for about 20 minutes according to a former employee. This allows the chicken to finish cooking while keeping it warm and the skin crunchy. Do the same by holding your fried chicken in a warm oven for a few minutes.

Even if you follow the above step by step, cracking the crispy skin code may be difficult to do at home. That’s because the texture we all love and crave is largely due to their method of cooking—and if you don’t have a restaurant-grade pressure fryer, it can be tough to recreate.

However, using KFC’s secret recipe along with a deep fryer can still have delicious results. If you’re still a little nervous about frying chicken, check out this quick guide that’ll have you feeling like a pro. Flawless fried chicken is in your future! Next, find out the 33 secrets your fast food worker isn’t telling you.

RELATED: Fast food secrets revealed 

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After we cook something, we put it in a holding cabinet and set a timer.

When the timer goes off, we’re supposed to throw it out. But often, we just reheat the food. So for the freshest meal, come between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. or between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. More people are in the restaurant then, so we’re cooking and serving new food constantly. (These are the worst meals you could order at a restaurant, by the way.)

That plain chicken breast may have been a healthy choice out of the package...

But sometimes we have to slather it with butter just to make sure it doesn’t stick to the grill. On the other hand, these healthy fast foods can satisfy unhealthy cravings.

There’s usually a way to get expensive menu items for less

If you’re craving a Big Mac, for example, order a $1 McDouble with no mustard or ketchup and then add shredded lettuce and Mac sauce for a small charge. It’s basically a mini Big Mac, and you can get two for less than the cost of one Big Mac. Check out more trivia facts you probably didn't know about McDonald's.

Most fast-food joints clean everything with super-concentrated chemicals at the end of the day

That includes the grills and the drink machine nozzles. If you’re one of the first customers in the morning, you may be getting some of that chemical residue on the food or in the drink you order—or, worse. You won't believe what was found on the ice in some fast food restaurants. 

Those grill marks on your burger?

Not real. They were put there by the factory. If you want REAL grill marks, it's probably best to make your own at home with one of these burger recipes.

Most of us will cook something fresh for you if you ask

But if you want to make sure your french fries come right out of the fryer, order them without salt; that forces us to cook you a new batch. Then you can add your own salt, and they'll still taste the same. That's because of the secret ingredient that makes McDonald's fries so addictive.

Avoid asking for “extra” of something, like cheese or sauce

As soon as you say “extra,” we have to enter it at the register and charge you for it. Instead, just tell us you want us to “put a good amount on there” or “not to be skimpy with it,” and we’ll load you up.

Yes, our chili is made from what you think:

Meat from old burgers.

It makes me laugh when someone comes in and says she’s trying to be healthy—and then orders a salad with crispy chicken

At McDonald’s, some of those salads have about as many calories as a Big Mac. In fact, a small order of french fries contains four fewer grams of fat than a packet of our ranch dressing. Also, be wary of these "healthy" fast food choices that definitely aren't.

We’re timed on how fast we get customers through the drive-through...

...so we always prioritize those in line outside over anyone at the front counter. And after you leave the drive-through, use this trick to keep your fries crispy the whole way home.

One of my coworkers once got so mad that he spit in someone’s food

He was suspended for three days. Most of us would never do something like that.

Here’s a good way to know how clean a fast-food establishment really is:

When you get your drink, bend down and look up into the ice chute. If you see mold and other stuff growing in there—which is more common than you might expect—they’re not cleaning the machine as often as they’re supposed to.

Those gorgeous pictures of our food in our advertisements?

They’re airbrushed and touched up with fiberglass and paint. It probably takes two hours to make that picture. Obviously, we’re not going to be able to replicate that.

Please, please, get off your cell phone

I’ve had people pull up to the window, pay, and drive away without their food because they’re talking on the phone and not paying attention. Then they’re mad at me. Here are some more crazy stories from drive-through workers.

At most fast-food restaurants, it’s tough to give away free food

Especially things like burgers, because they’re inventoried. We can sometimes give away French fries, ice cream or drinks because we get those ourselves, but it depends on which manager is on duty.

We hate it when you order an ice cream

Most of the time, we’ve got to make it, and it’s already melting by the time we hand it to you. If you order four or five cones at a time, it’s almost impossible to get them to you before they melt everywhere, and then you want new ones.

Here’s something that surprised me when I started working at McDonald's:

Our clam grills are set at 750 degrees, and they can fully cook a regular beef hamburger in just 38 seconds, a quarter pounder in 70 seconds. The first time I ever saw that, I was like, 'Ewww.'

We’re happy to replace something if we mess up, but...

We can usually tell when you’re making up a story to get free food. There was one guy who found a pebble in our parking lot, put it in his food after he ate most of it, and then asked for a replacement. Another lady took 10 tacos home. The next day, she brought just a few of them back, showing us that their lettuce was brown. She wanted another 10 tacos. But of course, if you leave tacos out for 24 hours, the lettuce will turn. Love tacos? Here are some fun taco recipes to try.

Some fast-food workers definitely follow the 10-second rule

I have seen people drop food and then pick it back up and put it on the grill.

No, most of us do not donate our leftovers

I can’t believe how much food we throw out every day, especially at the end of the night. You, however, can do your part. Here's how you can cut back on food waste at home.

All fast-food restaurants are not created equal

Even restaurants within the same chain can vary widely depending on the owner and manager and what kind of standards they set.

When you take three handfuls of napkins or fill your purse with ketchup packets...

I don’t know what you call it, but I call it stealing. You’re just making things more expensive for everyone.

Please don’t ask what ingredients are in our fried chicken coating or in our special sauce

All of our recipes are proprietary, so they don’t even tell us what’s in them. But we can tell you why McDonald's Coke tastes better than anywhere else.

At some restaurants, managers get a bonus if they hold onto their employees and keep their turnover rate down

That gives us an incentive to keep people who aren’t very good, even if they don’t know the difference between a French fry and a screwdriver. And I’m not exaggerating; I’ve had employees who were that bad.

Most of us, even the managers, aren’t making much more than minimum wage

You wouldn’t believe the stuff we put up with for that kind of money. People constantly talk to me like I’m a two-year-old. I’ve had customers throw drinks at me and cuss at me. I’ve been held up at gunpoint.

At Taco Bell, most of our food does carry over, so we reheat it and serve it the next day

That’s why I never take my lunch break early. Plus, fast food can have some weird effects on your brain.

For the best deal at McDonald's, order off the dollar menu

You can get a lot of food for the same price as a meal and it will fill you up more.

We were supposed to wear gloves when we made food

But a lot of times my co-workers didn’t do it, and that really skeeved me out. Here are more dirty restaurant secrets the kitchen crew won't tell you.

Most of us don’t wash our hands as much as we should

Even though there are signs everywhere reminding us it's the law.

Look around to see how much trash is in the parking lot

And whether the bathrooms are dirty and if the dining room is picked up. When things that are so publicly visible are neglected, you can bet that even more is being neglected in the back and in the kitchen where no one can see them. That's just one of the things restaurant health inspectors wish you knew.

Once your order is in at the drive-through...

We have two minutes to get your food before the screen turns red, and the manager asks what’s going on.

We do laugh at you behind your back

Like when you mispronounce our menu items or when you think we can’t hear you through the drive-through speaker, yelling at your husband or kids.

When it was slow, sometimes we would all take the garbage out...

And smoke marijuana in the back. Really, it's true. Want more crazy food service stories? Here's everything your waiter isn't telling you.

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The post Here’s the Secret That Makes KFC’s Fried Chicken So Crispy appeared first on Reader's Digest.

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