UK KFC worker lifts the lid on fast-food chain's notoriously mysterious trade secrets

We all know someone who loves to brag about their 'top-secret recipe', when really it's just adding a knob of butter to scrambled eggs. But some recipes really are shrouded in absolute secrecy, which to be honest, is a little disconcerting.

One such recipe that remains a mystery to most of the world is that of KFC's fried chicken coating - a concoction of herbs, species and breadcrumbs that gives the fast-food giant's 'Secret Recipe chicken' its world-famous flavour.

But now, the British documentary series Secrets of the Fast Food Giants is endeavouring to lift a lid on the secret to KFC's successful coating. 

As reported by The Sun, a British KFC staffer - identified only as Jo - appeared on the show to reveal some of the secrets behind the fast-food chain's cloak-and-dagger operation.

Speaking to host Alexis Conran, Jo revealed only a handful of people in the world know the full recipe for the iconic flavouring, which is kept safe in a vault in Kentucky. 

"Across KFC only two or three people actually know the exact recipe," Jo divulged.

"We have two different spice blenders, so one factory does half of the blend, and then another does the second half and then packs it. So actually, not one factory knows the complete recipe."

Jo also disclosed that in the UK, KFC's fan-favourite buckets of fried chicken actually compromise a whole bird, cut into exactly nine pieces. 

"That allows us to have the perfect ratio of our breading to chicken," she explained.

Meanwhile, the chain's popular Popcorn Chicken - bite-sized pieces of fried chicken - is made with chicken breast that is coated in a light seasoning.

"This chicken is from UK farms and has red tractor accreditation," Jo said, as reported by The Sun. "This is the same chicken that you would find in all UK supermarkets, so there is nothing different about the chicken we serve to what you would eat at home."

Later on in the episode, Conran got his hands dirty behind the counter and was taught just how the famous chicken burgers are prepared behind-the-scenes.

The pieces of chicken are first poured into a large container of flour before staffers "scoop and fold" and "scoop and lift" the chicken exactly 10 times, a process that ensures "every piece of chicken has exactly the same amount of breading on it". 

Conran then was instructed to press the chicken seven times into the flour, before adding it to a tray. The chicken is then placed in a vat of hot oil to fry for 15 minutes.

Next, Conran was surprised to discover that KFC's signature gravy does not come out of a packet - in the UK, anyway.

"This is an original recipe that has come from the fryers - we drain it overnight and then it goes into making our gravy," Jo said. "It's literally as you'd make proper gravy at home with those meat juices."

In 2020, a British man took Twitter by storm after sharing photos of his homemade recreation of KFC's Secret Recipe chicken, claiming it took him 18 months to replicate it perfectly.

"You have to have a deep fryer and you need the right mix of the herbs and spices. Oil needs to be 160-165C, no more and no less," he advised.

"[The] chicken needs to be room temperature and you use egg white and milk as the wash (no yolk). Made it about 30 times."