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5 Key Differences Between KFC Original And Extra Crispy

KFC’s Original Recipe has been the world’s favorite herb-and-spice blend since the 1950s, creating some of the tastiest fried chicken in the world. Even saying the words, ‘KFC Original Recipe chicken’ out loud will make your mouth water.

In the 1970s, KFC released another fan favorite food: the Extra Crispy chicken. While other menu items have come and gone over the years, this is one item that remains to this very day.

In this article, we will discuss the 5 key differences between KFC’s Original Recipe, and their Extra Crispy chicken. 

5 Key Differences Between KFC Original And Extra Crispy

So, let’s get into it.

What Is KFC Original Chicken?

When most people think about KFC and their vast menu filled with delicious, crispy, fried chicken, the first item that often comes to mind is the Original Chicken. KFC Original is the name of the original spice blend that is used for its chicken. 

It was originally perfected in the 1930s by Colonel Harland David Saunders, or as he is better known, Colonel Saunders. 

2 decades later, Saunders and his business partner, Pete Harman, began marketing this style of chicken under the brand name, Kentucky Fried Chicken.

The spice blend that Saunders created 20 years previously, consisting of 11 ‘secret’ herbs and spices, became known as KFC Original Recipe.

Sanders’ Original Recipe of ’11 Herbs and Spices’ is one of the most well-known trade secrets in the food service industry. 

While many over the years have claimed to have cracked the code, it has never been officially released to the public. The herbs and spices, according to Saunders, ‘stand on everyone’s [shelves].’

How KFC Original Chicken Is Made

Saunders’ original recipe consists of 11 secret herbs and spices, and instead of deep-frying his chicken, he used a pressure fryer, ensuring that the chicken remained juicy and tasty after it has been cooked.

Originally, vegetable oil was used to fry Original Recipe chicken, but by 1993, many KFC locations had switched to a blend of palm and soybean oil for budget justifications.

In Japan, the oil used is primarily the more complex and costly cottonseed and corn oil, which KFC Japan believes provides superior flavor quality.

In 2016, Sanders’ nephew by marriage, Joe Ledington, revealed that he actually knew the Original Recipe, as he discovered a handwritten copy of the recipe inside one of Saunders’ scrapbooks. 

According to Ledington, the 11 secret herbs and spices are:

  • Salt
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Black pepper
  • White pepper
  • Oregano
  • Dry mustard
  • Celery salt
  • Garlic salt
  • Paprika
  • Ginger

Note: While it has not been confirmed that this recipe is correct, when used to coat chicken, it has been reported that it tastes almost identical to the KFC Original Recipe.

Since its debut back in the 1930s, this recipe has not been changed, and it is still strictly followed to make fried chicken all over the world, at every KFC store.

What Is KFC Extra Crispy Chicken?

Over the years, several items have come and gone from the KFC menu. There have been many types of chicken, along with several types of side dishes and desserts.

One food item has remained on the KFC menu since the 1970s, however, and that is KFC’s Extra Crispy chicken.

This recipe put KFC back on the map, after serving the same Original Recipe for many years. In fact, the Extra Crispy recipe divided many customers into two: the ones who favored the Original Recipe, and those who favored the Extra Crispy recipe.

Just like the Original Recipe, not many people in the world are 100% certain what ingredients go into the Extra Crispy chicken coating. This recipe is also kept secret, but one thing is for certain: this recipe differs from the Original.

How KFC Extra Crispy Chicken Is Made

Unlike the Original Recipe, KFC’s Extra Crispy chicken is made in an open fryer, instead of a pressure fryer. Perhaps this is what gives the chicken its extra-crunchy exterior when compared to the Original chicken.

It has been said that, while Extra Crispy chicken takes somewhat similar to the Original Recipe, there appears to be more of a hint of garlicky flavors in the Extra Crispy coating. 

However, as we mentioned previously, we cannot confirm nor deny whether this is true or not. We do not know what herbs and spices are used to create KFC’s Extra Crispy chicken, and no one has seemed to have made a correct, or even close, guess just yet.

Extra Crispy chicken also has a crunchy outer layer that distinguishes it from the competition, which is achieved by hand coating it twice with its own special blend of herbs and spices.

The Differences Between KFC Original And Extra Crispy Chicken

The Differences Between KFC Original And Extra Crispy Chicken

After reading the previous sections, you now know what KFC’s Original Recipe is, along with what KFC’s Extra Crispy chicken is.

However, while you are now aware of what each is, and how they are made, you may still find it difficult to tell them apart in person.

So, what are the true differences between KFC’s Original Recipe and KFC’s Extra Crispy Chicken? How can you tell them apart? Are they really that different?

Below, we have listed 5 key differences that set these types of fried chicken apart.

The Crispness

This, of course, may be pretty obvious. The biggest difference, and the easiest distinguishable feature between the two types of fried chicken, is the fact that the Extra Crispy chicken is a lot crispier.

The reason the texture is so different between the two foods is because they are fried using different methods. The Original Recipe chicken is fried in a pressure fryer, while Extra Crispy chicken is fried in an open fryer.

Both types of chicken still end up being deliciously crispy on the outside, and juicy on the inside, but the Extra Crispy chicken is a lot crispier than the Original Recipe. 

The clue is in the name, folks… Extra Crispy chicken is, indeed, extra crispy.

The Flavor

As we briefly mentioned, there is a somewhat subtle difference in flavor between the Original Recipe and the Extra Crispy chicken. 

As a rule, most customers at KFC will say that the Original Recipe is a lot more flavorful, containing a tastier experience when compared to the Extra Crispy chicken, which has been described to taste a lot blander.

While we may potentially know what herbs and spices go into the Original Recipe, if we choose to believe Joe Ledington, we are still unsure which herbs and spices go into the Extra Crispy coating. Only one thing is for certain: both recipes are different.

Or, perhaps the recipes are the same – or closely similar – but it is the different frying methods used that alter the flavor. When pressure fried, the chicken becomes a lot juicier and moister than it would if it was open fried. 

Therefore, the condition of the chicken inside may also affect the flavor, as the Extra Crispy chicken would dry out a lot more than the Original Recipe.

The Preparation

We mentioned earlier that the Extra Crispy chicken gains its appearance and texture due to the fact that it is coated with not just one, but two layers of its spicy, herby coating. It is then placed in an open fryer.

Original Recipe chicken, however, only has one layer of coating, and then it is placed into a pressure fryer.

So, while the chicken used is exactly the same for both variations, the preparation is vastly different. This, as an end result, produces two very different (and delicious) forms of fried chicken! 

The Way It Looks

Next, we will be looking at the appearances of both types of chicken. Both have the typical KFC appearance that we all know and love: a tender piece of chicken coated in a stunning, deep golden brown, fried finish. 

However, there are distinct differences that can be identified while looking at both a piece of Original Recipe chicken, and an Extra Crispy piece of chicken.

For starters, the chicken with the Original Recipe coating will, typically, appear a lot lighter. The coating is a light golden brown, and is not particularly thick. The coating is quite thin, smooth, but still crispy and delicious.

Since the Extra Crispy chicken will have been double-coated before frying, it will display a slightly darker color once it has been cooked. The coating will also be a lot thicker and bumpier, due to the double-coating. 

Overall, if you were to place both pieces together, and you were asked to identify which was which, you probably wouldn’t have much of an issue making the right decision.

When placed next to each other, it is blatantly obvious that they look very different from each other.

The Herbs And Spices Used

Lastly, although we may have already touched on this aspect, we will now be looking at it in deeper detail. The herbs and spices used in each piece of chicken vary… at least, as far as we know.

As we mentioned earlier, not many people in the world know for definite what herbs and spices go into the Original Recipe, or into the coating of the Extra Crispy chicken.

We do have a better understanding of what herbs/spices make up the Original Recipe, but overall, not many people actually know for certain.

What is certain, however, is that the herbs and spices used in the Original Recipe are different from the herbs and spices used in the Extra Crispy chicken’s coating.

The biggest, noticeable difference between the two pieces of chicken is that the Original Recipe is a lot tastier, making the Extra Crispy chicken seem bland in comparison.

Also, you may notice a distinct garlic-like flavor while eating the Extra Crispy chicken, which you would not find with the Original Recipe.

We may be completely wrong, and the difference in flavors stems from the way that the pieces of chicken are cooked, or prepared beforehand.

However, we are very, very confident that different herbs and spices are used to create the two pieces of chicken. 

Well, maybe 98% certain.

Final Thoughts

Overall, there are several differences between KFC’s Original Recipe and their Extra Crispy chicken. They look different, feel different, and even taste different. 

Everybody’s preferences will vary, but as a rule, most people can contest for the fact that the Original Recipe is a lot tastier than the Extra Crispy chicken.

Some people may disagree with this statement, and that’s fine! It is all down to your own personal preference.

So, those were the key 5 differences between KFC’s Original Recipe and Extra Crispy chicken. We hope you found this article helpful.

Jess Smith