Secret Recipe Challenge: What’s in KFC Coleslaw?

The recipes we love at our favorite fast food restaurants are perhaps what make them our favorite places to eat in the first place, and KFC’s coleslaw is indeed a reason to return. Today we’re going to try to get an answer to the age-old question about KFC: what’s in KFC coleslaw?

Oh yeah, it’s not just the coleslaw, people are always trying to figure out the secret recipe for their dough, but it’s top secret…or is it?

Coleslaw helps balance out a hearty meal. This is why Italians almost always follow a heavy pasta dish with a salad before the main course. After all that fried chicken, a bit of fresh coleslaw is definitely the heavy breaded chicken yang ying.

As I said before, I worked in many restaurants when I was trying to launch my writing career. I ended up working in a few Italian restaurants yes, and did my share of the aforementioned heavy pasta dishes, believe me, but I also had a stint in local rotisserie restaurants here in Montreal.

There are as many of them as Tim Horton’s here in Montreal, basically one on every street corner. Anyway, I managed to get hired by one and I was truly knee-deep in coleslaw from day one. In this particular rotisserie, they made the coleslaw from scratch. Some have it delivered in pre-made containers, and all they have to do is distribute it in paper or Styrofoam cups.

They used what we called Shredder, like in the villain of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Rusty, huge, and really, it looked sinister, just like the fictional character that came to life right there, in the back of the restaurant’s kitchen. When you turned it on, I made the sound of an old Ford truck engine trying to climb a hill.

The chef liked to tell us stories about Richard Manquemain…a name that sounds French and is, although we soon realized it meant “missing hand” in French, and the story he told us that old Richard lost his hand one day because he wasn’t careful while shredding cabbage and carrots for the daily coleslaw, was as fictional as the name we gave the machine.

It had to be made fresh (at least every other day), because of the added dressing…over 48 hours in the fridge and it would spoil, the coleslaw losing its freshness, which is pretty much its biggest attribute , as indicated.

KFC Coleslaw has that in its favor yes, but it’s also more than just fresh. The taste is quite good overall. It’s not overly vinegary, and at the same time not over the top in the creaminess department either. “That’s right,” Goldilocks might have said.

KFC will of course know how to make great coleslaw. Their chicken is definitely banger and perfect. After all, how do you think they survived 70+ years? And they are still going strong.

Coincidently they also have the fastest drive-thru as recently reported, so you don’t have to wait so long to try their epic fried chicken, or their fresh and absolutely tasty coleslaw, which in the end is simply splendid.

And what about nutritional information? Good, USDA states that in a serving of KFC Coleslaw there is a nice serving of vitamin C…24% to be exact – a definite help in the fight against viruses, dear readers, so stock up on KFC Coleslaw for sure. It turns out it’s also pretty decent in the fiber department, which is also good for your health, and it’s only about 144 calories to boot.

But what makes it so great besides all that? What exactly is in it? Turns out a few YouTubers got in on the action trying to figure it all out, and they got close if you ask me.

Cooking with Shotgun Red on YouTube came up with a recipe that is really easy to make and believe it or not it really comes close to the original KFC recipe.

Ultimately, figuring out exactly what’s going on in a fast food chain as big as KFC’s recipe is the job reserved for the entire Mission: Impossible cast and the one we can’t undertake…or can- we ?

In the end, the common denominators are there… cabbage, carrots. The onion is there too. You can just taste it, but according to—a recipe by Todd Wilberthe minced onion is key…so you get the taste, but it basically disappears in the coleslaw and isn’t overwhelming.

*And what about that top secret batter for KFC Fried Chicken…?

A combination of white vinegar and citrus: Many go with lemon juice, but I think lime juice is more tart and gets you there too. And of course the best mayonnaise ever: Hellman’s. Sure, you’ve got salt and pepper, but according to Wilbur, the secret ingredient in KFC’s salad is none other than buttermilk!

And you dear readers? Have you ever tried to replicate KFC’s coleslaw? How was it?