KFC Inspired Fried Chicken for your Memorial Day Feast

by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on May 29, 2011

 When I was a kid, I just loved KFC.  On occasion, my dad would bring home a huge bucket filled with that famous succulent and juicy chicken with all of the fixings, and without hesitation, we would dive in and polish it off in no time.  In those days, the extra crispy and extra spicy alternatives were not available, but have evolved to satisfy customer demands over the years. Today, the KFC brand has so many other competitors, but it still remains my personal favorite.

Making a delicious version at home is easy — all you need is a dependable technique to achieve your desired level of crunchiness and a great spice blend. Because I love the KFC flavor profile, I have tweaked mine to represent the flavor I remember. It’s one of those perfect summertime meals that is great both hot or cold, and served up with a side of either some  potato salad or oven roasted potatoes, well, as they say fuggedaboutit…. 

There are many copycat KFC blends online that I have come across over the years, but I found that they are really heavy on the salt content. Standard spice blends you find on the grocery store shelves tend to have the same problem. Over the years, I have tweaked mine to include the dried spice versions without the salt — I even discovered that these versions resulted in a better tasting product.

I am also an extra crispy fan, so I double flour my chicken pieces to get the result I enjoy. I’m one of those people that also prefers dark meat to white meat — it may not be politically correct, but I stick to the moist and flavorful thighs and legs when I make it at home. If you are making this for guests, you may want to include a more well rounded mix of chicken parts.
Feel free to use this recipe as a starting point, and then tweak it according to your own personal taste.

KFC Inspired Spice Mix for Fried Chicken (makes about 12 tablespoons of spice)

Spice Blend
4 tablespoons of Italian Blend **(see note below)
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon celery salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dark chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
2 ½-3 tablespoons salt
1 ½ tablespoons garlic powder
4 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon dried parsley

Place all of the spices into a spice blender or small food processor and mix until a fine powder it achieved, then put this in a labeled container.

NOTE: Make sure your pre-packaged Italian Blend has thyme, oregano, sage, marjoram and dried basil in it. If it does not, add 1 tablespoon each of ground thyme, oregano, sage, basil and 1 teaspoon of marjoram into a container and then add 3 tablespoons of this into your mix above.

Preparing the chicken
18 pieces of chicken
3 cups buttermilk
S & P as needed after frying
4 tablespoons of above spice mix

2½ cups all purpose flour (you can use 3 cups of flour instead of adding the bread crumbs if you prefer)
½ cup plain bread crumbs
2 teaspoons baking powder
8 tablespoons of above spice mix
Peanut oil for frying  **best for frying chicken

Pour the buttermilk into a plastic or stainless steel bowl and add 4 tablespoons of the spice mix and whisk in well, then lay the chicken in the liquid and allow it to marinate in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, place the remaining spice mix (about 8 tablespoons), flour and bread crumbs to a medium sized bowl or a Ziploc bag. A few hours before you are ready to fry the chicken, drain the chicken from the buttermilk  and place one or two pieces at a time into the breading mixture and make sure it is well coated. Place the breaded chicken in one one layer on a large platter or sheet pan and place in the refrigerator uncovered. Allow this to sit in the refrigerator for a few hours so that the flour really sticks to the chicken and hardens slightly. If you like your chicken extra crispy, add a double coating of breading — remove the chicken from the refrigerator and coat again with another layer of breading, then place it back in the refrigerator uncovered. When you are ready to fry, heat your oil to 350°F (low to medium heat) and also preheat your oven to 250°F. Prepare a large baking pan with a rack insert. The rack insert is important to drain the extra grease and prevent the chicken from sticking to the pan. Once you have fried the chicken, you will place it in this pan and put it back in the low oven. It will continue to cook the chicken and also keep it warm for serving.

Heat at least 2”of peanut oil in a large stock pot to about 325 – 350°F, this is important because the chicken should be completely immersed in the oil to cook quickly and evenly. Make sure the oil is not too hot, or the chicken will brown too quickly and remain raw inside. If the oil is too cold, the finished product will be too greasy. Dust off the loose flour and gently add the chicken to your hot oil. Depending on the size pot you are using to fry the chicken, don’t add more than 4-5 pieces at a time. The addition of the chicken will lower the temperature of the oil and can also lead to greasy chicken. Smaller pieces will cook in about 8-10 minutes, larger ones need about 12-15 minutes. When they are a light golden brown color, remove the chicken from the oil onto a paper lined platter to quickly drain as much oil as you can . Then place them in a single layer in your baking pan (with rack insert) and place in the oven to stay warm. Repeat until all of the chicken is cooked.

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