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Welcome. You just found copycat recipes for all your favorite famous foods! Bestselling author and TV host Todd Wilbur shows you how to easily duplicate the taste of iconic dishes and treats at home for less money than eating out. Todd's recipes are easy to follow and fun to make. New recipes are posted each week.

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    Wendy's Maple Bacon Chicken Sandwich

    Wendy’s claims it took three years to develop this hit chicken sandwich that’s built on a croissant roll and slathered with the chain’s secret maple glaze. Now you can re-create Wendy's Maple Bacon Chicken Sandwich at home (four of them, actually), with copycat ingredients, and I’ve got some shortcuts here to help make all of it quick and easy.

    For the chicken, find frozen chicken breasts or large tenderloins with a homestyle breading. Tyson’s Southern Style Breast Tenderloins work great if you pick out the biggest pieces from the bag. The breading on this chicken is similar to what you get at Wendy’s.

    Rather than making croissants from scratch, which is a time-consuming task, we’ll use Pillsbury dough from a tube. Pillsbury’s “Crescents” are not true croissants, even though they look and taste similar to croissants. Real croissant dough rises with yeast and would blow out a Pillsbury paper tube in a day or two, even if chilled. For that reason, Pillsbury uses baking powder in breads that usually call for yeast, such as cinnamon rolls and croissants. Unlike yeast, baking powder is a chemical leavening agent activated by heat, so the dough will remain stable in the refrigerated section of your supermarket, safely inside the paper tubes until you’re ready to bake it.

    Instead of cooking the rolls as directed on the package, we'll roll the dough using the technique below, form it in a 3½-inch ring mold, and then bake it. This will make perfect croissant buns that we can slice and toast for our sandwich. If you don’t have a 3½-inch ring mold you can use a ring from a canning jar or a biscuit cutter. If the diameter of your ring is less than 3½ inches, just form the dough using the smaller ring, then remove it and press down on the dough to spread it out until it is 3½ inches across. 

    Follow the steps I've laid out below for the best homemade Wendy's Maple Bacon Chicken sandwich.

    I've cloned a lot of items from Wendy's. See if I hacked your favorites here

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    Hershey's Gold Peanuts & Pretzels

    Since the candy maker’s first milk chocolate bar debuted in 1900, just three other candy bars have carried the Hershey’s name. Hershey’s Special Dark came out in 1939 and Hershey’s Cookies and Crème was introduced in 1995. The third one—and the first to be made without any chocolate in it—is the new Hershey’s Gold Peanuts & Pretzels, which hit the shelves in late 2017.

    The base of the bar is “caramelized crème” that Hershey’s claims is made by browning the sugar in white crème. I recalled a recipe for caramelizing white chocolate by slowly cooking it in the oven, stirring often, until it becomes golden brown. By mixing in a little creamy peanut butter and salt with the white chocolate before it goes in the oven, I created a perfect golden base to which crushed peanuts and pretzels could be added.

    I poured the golden crème into candy bar molds and let them set in the fridge for 30 minutes. When I removed the candy from the molds it looked like it was made in a real candy bar factory, and it tasted like it too. I wrapped each in gold foil and felt like Willy Wonka.

    If you don’t have candy bar molds for your Hershey's Gold Peanuts & Pretzels candy bars, you can make the candy in a more old-fashioned, homemade style by pouring the cooked candy onto parchment paper or wax paper on a baking sheet and allowing it to cool. When it’s firm, break up the candy and store it in a covered container or a resealable bag.

    Find more cool candy copycat recipes here

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 2)
    Cheesecake Factory Bang-Bang Chicken and Shrimp

    Menu Description: "A spicy Thai dish with the flavors of curry, peanut, chili, and coconut. Sauteed with vegetables and served over rice."

    The Cheesecake Factory Bang Bang Chicken & Shrimp dish ranks very high among the most frequent entrée recipe requests I receive, and anyone who is a fan of Thai dishes falls in love with it. I dig recipes that include scratch sauces that can be used with other dishes. The curry and peanut sauces here are good like that. They can, for example, be used to sauce up grilled skewers of chicken or other meats, or as a flavorful drizzle onto lettuce wraps. 

    But even though I've included the peanut sauce recipe from scratch here, you can take the quick route and save a little prep time by picking up a pre-made sauce found near the other Asian foods in the market. Since the sauce is used sparingly in a drizzle over the top of this dish, it won't make a big difference which way you go. This recipe produces two Cheesecake Factory-size servings—which is another way of saying "huge." If your diners aren't prepared to process the gargantuan gastronomy and you're all out of doggie bags, you can easily split my Cheesecake Factory Bang-Bang Chicken and Shrimp recipe into four more sensible portions.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.70 (votes: 10)
    McDonald's Egg McMuffin

    In March 1988 the first McDonald's in Belgrade,Yugoslavia, set an all-time opening-day record by running 6,000 people under the arches. In early 1990, when a Moscow McDonald's opened, it became the busiest in the world by serving more than 20,000 people in just the first month of operation. The McDonald's Rome franchise racks up annual sales of more than $11 million. And in August of 1992, the world's largest McDonald's opened in China. The Beijing McDonald's seats 700 people in 28,000 square feet. It has over 1,000 employees, and parking for 200 employee bicycles. McDonald's outlets dot the globe in fifty-two countries today, including Turkey, Thailand, Panama, El Salvador, Indonesia, and Poland. About 40 percent of the McDonald's that open today stand on foreign soil—that's more than 3,000 outlets.

    Back in the United States, McDonald's serves one of every four breakfasts eaten out of the home. The Egg McMuffin sandwich was introduced in 1977 and has become a convenient breakfast-in-a-sandwich for millions. The name for the sandwich was not the brainstorm of a corporate think tank as you would expect, but rather a suggestion from ex-McDonald's chairman and CEO Fred Turner. He says his wife Patty came up with it.

    For my McDonald's Egg McMuffin recipe, you will need an empty clean can with the same diameter as an English muffin. A 6 1/2 ounce tuna can works well.

    I've copied a ton of items from McDonald's. Find your favorites here.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.25 (votes: 8)
    Wendy's Hot Chili Seasoning

    The little red packets of viscous hot sauce at the fast food giant have a cult following of rabid fans who will do whatever it takes to get their hands on large quantities. One such fan of the sauce commented online, "Are there any Wendy's employees or managers out there who will mail me an entire case of Hot Chili Seasoning? I swear this is not a joke. I love the stuff. I tip extra cash to Wendy's workers to get big handfuls of the stuff." Well, there's really no need to tip any Wendy's employees, because now you can clone as much of Wendy's Hot Chili Seasoning as you want in your own kitchen with this Top Secret Recipe.

    The ingredients listed on the real Hot Chili Seasoning are water, corn syrup, salt, distilled vinegar, natural flavors, xanthan gum, and extractives of paprika. We'll use many of those same ingredients for our clone, but we'll substitute gelatin for the xanthan gum (a thickener) to get the slightly gooey consistency right. For the natural flavor and color we'll use cayenne pepper, cumin, paprika, and garlic powder, then filter the particles out with a fine wire-mesh strainer after they've contributed what the sauce needs.

    My Wendy's Hot Chili Seasoning recipe makes 5 ounces of sauce— just the right amount to fit nicely into a used hot sauce bottle—and costs just pennies to make. 

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Olive Garden Sicilian Scampi

    Menu Description: "Large shrimp sauteed in extra-virgin olive oil with white wine, garlic and lemon."

    Once you have the onion, garlic and parsley all chopped up, my Olive Garden Sicilian scampi recipe takes only a few minutes to assemble. Cooks at Olive Garden speed up the process by using what they call "scampi butter"—chilled blocks of butter with all the spices, garlic, and onions already in it—so that each serving is prepared quickly and consistently without any tedious measuring.

    When the shrimp is done, each one is placed on the inside end of five toasted Italian bread slices (you can also use a French baguette) and a delicious sauce is poured over the top. I've included diced roma tomato here as an optional garnish, since one Olive Garden used it, but another location on the other side of town did not. As for the shrimp, use medium-size (they're called 31/40) that are already peeled, but with the tails left on. Butterfly the shrimp by slicing almost all the way through the middle. As the shrimp cooks, they will curl and spread open.

    Scampi lovers will also enjoy my clone recipe for Olive Garden Chicken Scampi. You can snag that recipe here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Capital Grille Creme Brulee

    For years now I've been on the lookout for a great chain restaurant crème brulee to clone for one of my books, but I hadn't located a really fantastic formula to hack until I tried this one. The Capital Grille's Classic Crème Brulee is a perfect blend of sweet and creamy with amazing flavor that comes from real vanilla bean. If you want an easy dessert to impress that you can prepare a day or two in advance of the sit-down, this is your recipe. When it comes time to serve the brulee, sprinkle each serving with a little white sugar and caramelize it with a small chef's torch (if you don't already have one, you can find them online or at kitchen stores for around 15 bucks). Add a garnish of fresh seasonal berries plus a sprig of mint, and serve up the goodness. 

    Now, how about an amazing petite filet for dinner

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Step-by-Step by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.00 (votes: 2)
    Taco Bell Nacho Fries

    This limited-time-only new product from the country’s biggest Mexican fast food chain is easy to make with bagged fries found in the freezer section of your food store, and you can make as many or as few as you want at one time since there is enough seasoning and cheese sauce for one 2-pound bag. Get Ore-Ida Golden Fries if you can find them, and if you want the best copy of Taco Bell Nacho Fries, you really should fry them, although baking works too.

    The secret spicy ingredient in the Taco Bell nacho cheese sauce is brine from the bottled jalapeño nacho slices, plus a little cayenne for extra boom.

    Find more Taco Bell copycat recipes here

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  • Score: 4.83 (votes: 311)
    KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) Coleslaw

    If you've ever seen a clone recipe for KFC Coleslaw it probably looks like this. This replica Colonel Sanders coleslaw recipe has become one of the all-time most shared recipes on the intraweb. Here's the original secret formula I created from scratch in 1993 for my first book, Top Secret Recipes, to clone the world's best coleslaw.

    I've cloned a ton of stuff from KFC. See if I hacked your favorites here.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.84 (votes: 225)
    Olive Garden Alfredo Pasta

    Here's my new Olive Garden fettuccine Alfredo recipe improved from my first attempt in Top Secret Restaurant Recipes that includes more grated Parmesan cheese and fresh garlic instead of garlic powder. You'll find my improved Olive Garden pasta sauce recipe thickens easier and has a better taste. Just be sure not to crank the heat up too high when simmering the sauce or it could break, resulting in a not-so-creamy, curdled Alfredo. 

    Also check out my copycat Olive Garden toasted ravioli recipe!

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 14)
    Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sausage

    Before he became America's sausage king, Jimmy Dean was known for crooning the country hit "Big Bad John." That song came out in 1962 and sold more than 8 million copies. His singing success launched a television career on ABC with The Jimmy Dean Show, where Roy Clark, Patsy Cline, and Roger Miller got their big breaks. The TV exposure led to acting roles for Jimmy, as a regular on Daniel Boone, and in feature films, including his debut in the James Bond flick Diamonds are Forever. Realizing that steady income from an acting and singing career can be undependable, Jimmy invested his show-biz money in a hog farm. In 1968 the Jimmy Dean Meat Company developed the special recipe for sausage that has now become a household name. Today the company is part of the Sara Lee Corporation, and Jimmy retired as company spokesman in 2004.

    My Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage recipe re-creates three varieties of the famous roll sausage that you form into patties and cook in a skillet. Use ground pork found at the supermarket—make it lean pork if you like—or grind some up yourself if you have a meat grinder.

    Check out more of my famous breakfast food clone recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.18 (votes: 28)
    Benihana Japanese Fried Rice

    The talented chefs at Benihana cook food on hibachi grills with flair and charisma, treating the preparation like a tiny stage show. They juggle salt and pepper shakers, trim food with lightning speed, and flip the shrimp and mushrooms perfectly onto serving plates or into their tall chef's hat.

    One of the side dishes that everyone seems to love is the fried rice. At Benihana this dish is prepared by chefs with precooked rice on open hibachi grills, and is ordered a la cart to complement any Benihana entrée, including Hibachi Steak and Chicken. I like when the rice is thrown onto the hot hibachi grill and seems to come alive as it sizzles and dances around like a bunch of little jumping beans. Okay, so I'm easily amused.

    My Benihana Japanese fried rice recipe will go well with just about any Japanese entrée, and can be partially prepared ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator until the rest of the meal is close to done.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.82 (votes: 309)
    Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli

    Menu Description: "White and red beans, ground beef, tomatoes and pasta in a savory broth."

    It's amazing how many lousy clone recipes for this delicious chili-like soup are floating around. Cooking message boards, and questionable sites that claim to have "actual restaurant recipes" have for years passed off numerous versions that disappoint home chefs. Other formulas leave out major ingredients that you can clearly see in the real thing, like the carrots, or ground beef, or two kinds of beans. Others don't even get the pasta right—it's clearly ditalini pasta, which are short little tubes. If you want the taste of Olive Garden's famous Pasta e Fagioli at home, this may be the only recipe that will live up to a side-by-side taste test. Beware of imitation imitations!

    Find more of my Olive Garden copycat recipes here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.58 (votes: 66)
    Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

    The first Top Secret Recipes book features a version of this clone recipe for America's most beloved candy creation, and the recipe is posted all over the place. But since 1993, I've learned a few things about Reese's Peanut Butter Cup cloning. Now, when you make my Reese's Peanut Butter Cups recipe, you'll use reduced-fat peanut butter for a texture that's drier and crumblier like the original. Also, use scissors to trim paper muffin cups so that they are shallower—and a better mold for your clone.

    Video: How to clone a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup in 3 minutes.

    Want to make more candy at home? See if I cloned your favorites here

    Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.59 (votes: 51)
    Soup Nazi's Mexican Chicken Chili

    In Zagat's 1995 New York City Restaurant Survey, Le Cirque 2000, one of the city's most upscale restaurants, received a 25 rating out of a possible 30. In the same guide, Al "The Soup Nazi" Yeganeh's Soup Kitchen International scored an impressive 27. That put the Soup Nazi's eatery in 14th place among the city's best restaurants for that year.

    It was common to see lines stretching around the corner and down the block as hungry patrons waited for their cup of one of five daily hot soup selections. Most of the selections changed every day, but of the three days that I was there, the Soup Nazi's Mexican Chicken Chili recipe was always on the menu. The first two days, it was sold out before I got to the front of the line. But on the last day, I got lucky: "One extra-large Mexican Chicken Chili, please." Hand over money, move to the extreme left. 

    Here is my recipe for what has become one of the Soup Nazi's most popular culinary masterpieces. If you like, you can substitute turkey breast for the chicken to make turkey chili, which was the soup George Costanza ordered on the show.

    Update 1/9/17: Replace the 10 cups of water with 8 cups of chicken broth for a shorter simmer time and better flavor. I also like using El Pato tomato sauce (recipe calls for 1/2 cup) for a bit more heat. 

    Find more of my Soup Nazi hacks here.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.83 (votes: 6)
    Bennigan's The Monte Cristo

    Menu Description: "A delicious combination of ham and turkey, plus Swiss and American cheeses on wheat bread. Lightly battered and fried until golden. Dusted with powdered sugar and served with red raspberry preserves for dipping."

    It sounds crazy, but it tastes great: a triple-decker ham, turkey, and cheese sandwich is dipped in a tempura-style batter; fried to a golden brown; then served with a dusting of powdered sugar and a side of raspberry preserves. For over ten years, tons of cloning requests for this one have stacked up at TSR Central, so it was time for a road trip. There are no Bennigan's in Las Vegas, and since the Bennigan's chain made this sandwich famous, I headed out to the nearest Bennigan's in San Diego.

    Back home, with an ice chest full of the original Bennigan's Monte Cristo sandwiches well-preserved and ready to work with, I was able to come up with this simple clone for a delicious sandwich that is crispy on the outside, and hot, but not greasy, on the inside (the batter prevents the shortening from penetrating). My Bennigan's Monte Cristo recipe makes one sandwich, which may be enough for two. If you want to make more, you'll most likely have to make more batter so that any additional sandwiches get a real good dunking.

    Recently, Bennigan's restaurants across the country have been closing, but with this secret formula you can still experience the taste of the chain's signature sandwich. 

    Try more of my copycat recipes for famous sandwiches here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Patti LaBelle Sweet Potato Pie

    When YouTuber James Wright sang and swooned over Patti Labelle's Sweet Potato Pie in an exuberant November 2015 video, it went viral, racking up a quick 5 million views. The sudden popularity of the video led to a mad run on the pies, and stores around the country were sold out for weeks.

    Now, no one who craves the rich goodness of a delicious sweet potato pie will be forced to go Patti-less for long, with my recipe that re-creates everything good about her pie. And the one bad thing about the real Patti LaBelle Sweet Potato Pie—it's too small—that problem is fixed here with a finished pie that is about twice as big as the store version. You won't find this recipe anywhere else, including Patti's cookbook, which makes a sweet potato pie very different from the bestselling pie that was sold out in stores.

    What other incredible, famous desserts can you whip up at home? Check out my other clone recipes here.

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  • Score: 4.83 (votes: 6)
    Long John Silver's Batter-Dipped Fish

    Jerrico, Inc., the parent company for Long John Silver's Seafood Shoppes, got its start in 1929 as a six-stool hamburger stand called the White Tavern Shoppe. Jerrico was started by a man named Jerome Lederer, who watched Long John Silver's thirteen units dwindle in the shadow of World War II to just three units. Then, with determination, he began rebuilding. In 1946 Jerome launched a new restaurant called Jerry's and it was a booming success, with growth across the country. Then he took a chance on what would be his most successful venture in 1969, with the opening of the first Long John Silver's Fish 'n' Chips. The name was inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. In 1991 there were 1,450 Long John Silver Seafood Shoppes in thirty-seven states, Canada, and Singapore, with annual sales of more than $781 million. That means the company holds about 65 percent of the $1.2 billion quick-service seafood business.

    These days, it seems there are less and less Long John Silver restaurants. Good thing you can follow my Long John Silver's Batter-Dipped Fish recipe below and enjoy that same great flavor at home. 

    Make my McDonald's French Fries recipe for the classic fish 'n chips experience.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 4)
    Chili's Crispy Honey-Chipotle Chicken Crispers

    Menu Description: "Tossed in our honey-chipotle sauce."

    After cloning the plain version of these breaded, cripsy chicken fingers in Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2, I received requests to knockoff this more flavorful sweet-and-spicy version. If you like big flavor and some heat, my Chili's Honey-Chipotle Chicken Crispers recipe is for you. The breading technique is the big secret: first use a wet batter and then toss the tenders in a dry breading. When the chicken tenders are fried to a golden brown they are gently tossed in the honey-chipotle sauce and served either as an appetizer, or with corn on the cob and French fries as an entrée.

    Find my recipe for Chili's Chicken Crispers here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.67 (votes: 6)
    Arby's Horsey Sauce

    Even though Arby's has diversified its menu over the years with toasted subs and deli-style sandwiches on sliced whole wheat bread, it's the thinly-sliced roast beef piled high on hamburger buns that originally made this chain famous. Since roast beef and horseradish go so beautifully together, Arby's created this delicious mayo-based horseradish sauce as a spread for the roast beef sandwiches. It also happens to be great on your homemade sandwiches too, but it just isn't cool to hoard handfuls of those blister packs to take home with you. So, with the help of my Arby's Horsey Sauce recipe, you can clone as much sauce as you want. First step: get out the blender. You'll need it to purée the horseradish into the mix so that the sauce is smooth and creamy like the real deal.

    You might also like my Arby's BBQ sauce recipe.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Applebee's Quesadillas

    Menu Description: "Two cheeses, bacon, tomatoes, onion, jalapenos grilled between tortillas with guacamole, sour cream and salsa."

    When Bill and T.J. Palmer opened their first restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1980, they realized their dream of building a full-service, reasonably-priced restaurant in a neighborhood setting. They called their first place T.J. Applebee's Edibles and Elixirs, and soon began franchising the concept. In 1988 some franchisees bought the rights to the name and changed it to Applebee's Neighborhood Grill and Bar. By that time, there were over 650 outlets, making Applebee's one of the fastest-growing restaurant chains in the world.

    According to waiters at the restaurant, the easy-to-make and slightly spicy quesadillas are one of the most popular appetizers on the Applebee's menu. My Applebee's quesadillas recipe calls for 10-inch or "burrito-size" flour tortillas, which can be found in most supermarkets, but any size can be used in a pinch. Look for the jalapeño "nacho slices" in the ethnic or Mexican food section of the supermarket. You'll find these in jars or cans. 

    Find more of your favorite Applebee's copycat recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    T.G.I. Friday's Parmesan-Crusted Sicilian Quesadilla

    Menu Description: "Our flour tortilla is packed with sauteed chicken, sausage, bruschetta marinara, bacon and oozing with Monterey Jack cheese. We coat it with Parmesan, and pan-fry it to a crispy, golden brown, then drizzle it with balsamic glaze."

    Italy meets Mexico in this new hit appetizer that combines a cheese-filled tortilla with ingredients you wouldn't usually find inside a quesadilla, including T.G.I. Friday's bruschetta marinara. Parmesan cheese is crusted on the outside of the tortilla, and the balsamic glaze drizzle is the perfect finishing touch. This is an awesome party dish appetizer, since my T.G.I. Friday's Parmesan-Crusted Sicilian Quesadilla recipe makes 4 quesadillas that can each be sliced into as many as 8 pieces.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.50 (votes: 2)
    Applebee's Tequila Lime (Fiesta Lime) Chicken

    Menu Description: "A tender boneless chicken breast marinated with lime juice and tequila flavors and grilled. Served on a bed of crisp tortilla strips. Topped with a Mexi-ranch and Cheddar-Jack cheese. Served with Southwest rice and pico de gallo."

    Because of the huge success of this dish, Applebee's has recently changed the name to "Fiesta Lime Chicken," and trademarked the name. Many people still know this dish by its original title: Tequila Lime Chicken. Whatever you call it, my recipe very closely duplicates the successful dish from Applebee's.

    When you're making my Applebee's Tequila Lime Chicken recipe, just be sure not to marinate the chicken for much longer than the 2 to 3 hours specified, or the acid in the lime juice may toughen your chicken. The bed of crispy corn tortilla strips can be easily made by crumbling store-bought tortilla chips, or, if you want strips more closely resembling those served at the restaurant, just follow the Tidbits below. 

    Serve this dish with your choice of rice and some pico de gallo on the side.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

    Try my improved version in Top Secret Recipes Step-by-Step.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Applebee's Pizza Sticks

    Menu Description: "Parmesan: Thin crusty strips of pizza dough topped with herbs and melted Italian cheese, served with marinara sauce. Loaded: Add Italian sausage and pepperoni."

    Each Applebee's makes an effort to decorate the inside of the restaurant with pictures and memorabilia from the neighborhood in which it is located. You'll see photographs of local heroes and students, license plates, banners, old souvenirs, trinkets, and antiques-all representing area history. Take a look around the walls of the next Applebee's you visit. Maybe you can find something you lost several years ago.

    Meanwhile, here's a find: pizza sticks that are made from dough that is proofed, fried, and then broiled. The frying adds a unique flavor and texture to the dough that you won't get with traditional pizza. I've designed my Applebee's pizza sticks copycat recipe to use the premade dough that comes in tubes. You know, like the stuff from that dough boy. But you can make this with any dough recipe you like. Just roll the dough into a 10x15-inch rectangle before slicing.

    These appetizers can be made either in the Parmesan version without meat, or "loaded" with sausage and pepperoni. This recipe yields a lot, so it makes good party food.

    Speaking of party food, you can check out more of my copycat appetizers here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    Chick-fil-A Frosted Lemonade

    Chick-fil-A’s popular Frosted Lemonade is a delicious, blended combination of lemonade and the chain’s trademarked Icedream soft serve product. Just like Dairy Queen’s famous soft serve, Icedream looks and tastes like ice cream, but it contains considerably less butterfat since it’s made with milk, rather than cream.

    For my Chick-Fil-A Frosted Lemonade recipe though, cream-less ice cream is not a necessity. Regular ice cream works just fine here, although light ice cream, which is usually made with a milk base (Blue Bell Vanilla Light Ice Cream is one example), also makes a great clone.

    Give yourself a little time for the fresh lemonade to chill in your freezer before adding it to your blender with the other ingredients. In a matter of seconds, when all the ice is crushed, you’ll have two frosty 16-ounce drinks that taste just like the real deal, but at a mere fraction of the cost.

    Try more of my Chick-Fil-A copycat recipes like their famous chicken sandwich here

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  • Not rated yet
    Carrabba's Calamari and Ricardo Sauce

    Searching for a great fried calamari recipe from a large chain to hack, I finally landed on Carrabba’s popular appetizer, with two dipping sauces, including the chain's top secret Ricardo Sauce.

    I like this preparation because it's super simple, with a two-stage breading process that calls for just egg whites to moisten the calamari before it gets dropped into the seasoned flour. The egg whites will give the breading a light texture and prevent your calamari from browning as it would with any milk or egg yolk in the mix. Browning is just fine for other fried calamari dishes, but a hack for Carrabba’s version needs to produce crispy calamari with a tender crunch and light golden color.

    A good Carrabba’s Calamari recipe will also need to include both dipping sauces, so hacks for the chain’s marinara sauce and famous Ricardo Sauce recipes are here. Ricardo Sauce is a creamy lemon butter sauce with added red bell peppers, pepperoncini, and crushed red peppers, and this exclusive TSR formula will give you the absolute best results of any recipe that exists in the known universe.

    I've hacked a ton of dishes from Carrabba's. Check to see if I hacked your favorites here.

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  • Not rated yet
    Panda Express SweetFire Chicken Breast

    It’s not a regular menu item at Panda Express, so if the chain’s great SweetFire Chicken Breast isn’t available at a restaurant near you, you can use my Panda Express SweetFire Chicken Breast recipe below to get your fix. 

    I've worked up a simple hack here for the sweet-and-spicy sauce that gets poured over the crispy chicken chunks, and I’m also including a breading technique for perfect bite-size portions of crispy chicken. Add some onions, red bell pepper, and pineapple chunks, and you’ve just made a spot-on copy of the popular limited dish.

    Find more of my Panda Express copycat recipes here

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  • Not rated yet
    Yard House Nashville Hot Chicken

    This hit entrée at the 80-unit Yard House brings crispy Nashville hot chicken together with house-made sweet potato pancakes and honey hot sauce syrup on one beautiful plate, and now you can re-create that gorgeous entrée at home with these exclusive secrets, right down to the crispy sage leaves on top.

    In my version of Yard House's Nashville Chicken recipe, the crispy chicken is brined to make it moist and juicy on the inside, and just before serving it gets tossed with the Nashville hot sauce for a perfect re-creation of the plate's main attraction. The honey hot sauce is a simple concoction of five ingredients, and the pancakes are simplified by using canned sweet potatoes rather than fresh ones that require an additional cooking step. 

    Bring it all together for four impressive plates, and be sure to serve ‘em up with something tall and cold to drink. 

    Find my famous cocktail recipes here.

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    Cheesecake Factory Thai Coconut-Lime Chicken

    Menu Description: “Tender pieces of chicken. Snow peas, shiitake mushrooms, onions, and garlic in a Thai coconut-curry sauce with cashews and pineapple. Served with white rice.”

    Sautéed white meat chicken comes swimming in the chain’s magical coconut-lime curry sauce, served alongside a bed of rice, with stir-fried vegetables, and topped with pineapple relish, cashews, and toasted coconut. The Cheesecake Factory captures great Thai flavors in this striking entrée from the restaurant chain’s specialty menu selections, and you can re-create the Cheesecake Factory Thai-Coconut Lime Chicken dish at home, with this exclusive recipe that I’ve sleuthed out down to every delicious detail.

    The star of the show is the mouthwatering coconut-lime curry sauce that brings together the traditional Thai combination of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy flavors. The sauce brings in sour from lime and tamarind, sweet from honey, salt from fish sauce, and spicy heat from red pepper flakes. And if the sauce is cooked minimally after the parsley is added, the leafy herb will stay bright green for a beautiful and tasty dish that perfectly mirrors the original Cheesecake Factory Thai Coconut-Lime Chicken.

    Check out more of my copycat Cheesecake Factory recipes here.

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    Outback Steakhouse Twisted Ribs

    Creative chefs at Outback Steakhouse have transformed the chain’s fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs into a fantastic appetizer by adding crispy Bloomin’ Onion breading, sweet barbecue sauce, and a drizzle of Bloomin’ Onion dipping sauce. I reverse-engineered the Outback Twisted Ribs recipe thanks to a kind server who let me take some home with sauces on the side, and now you can copy every twisted bit of it yourself with this exclusive hack.

    Outback’s ribs are smoked, but we’ll duplicate the taste without a smoker using a liquid smoke brine. This marinade will not only add flavor to the ribs, but it will also help keep the meat moist and juicy when cooked twice. Tweaked hacks for my Bloomin’ Onion breading and dipping sauce are here to complete your twisted appetizer, and you'll also get my new easy way to knock off the chain’s tasty house-made spicy pickles that come on the side. Plus, I'm including a batch of step-by-step photos so your dish will come out picture-perfect.

    Brush your ribs with Sweet Baby Ray's Original barbecue sauce since it tastes similar to what Outback uses, or use your favorite barbecue sauce, and you'll have a messy, but insanely delicious and exclusive new finger food favorite for your hungry crew.

    Check out more of my Top Secret Recipes for Outback Steakhouse favorites here.

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    Chickie’s & Pete’s Famous Crabfries

    Waiting for a plane in Philadelphia isn’t so bad if your gate is near the airport location of this 20-unit crab house and sports bar chain where weather delay frustrations melt away over a cold beer, a Philly cheesesteak, and a bucket of Chickie’s & Pete’s Famous Crabfries.

    Crabfries, despite the name, do not have any crab on them. When the first Chickie’s & Pete’s opened its doors in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1977, the restaurant served crab only in the summer. While brainstorming off-season uses for the seafood seasoning, founder Pete Ciarrocchi sprinkled some over crinkle-cut fries, served them with a side of secret cheese dipping sauce, and the most popular dish at his crab house was born.

    The beauty of this Chickie’s & Pete’s Crabfries recipe is its simplicity since you’ll need to prepare only two things, and they’re both easy: the secret crab seasoning and the secret cheese sauce. Since the chain’s cheese sauce is also used on their cheesesteak sandwiches, I surmised that a combination of the two easy-melting cheeses most commonly used on Philly cheesesteaks—white American and Cheez Whiz—would make a sauce with the taste and color of the restaurant version. This smooth sauce goes great with the fries, and it also puts the "Philly" into your next homemade cheesesteak.

    Once your cheese sauce is done and your seasoning is mixed, cook up a bag of crinkle-cut fries following the directions on the package, toss them with the seasoning, and serve immediately with the warm cheese sauce on the side.

    Find more famous french fry recipes from KFC, Taco Bell, and McDonald's here.

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    Necco Candy Butttons

    The majority of paper that I ingested as a kid most likely came from eating these crunchy candy dots of flavored sugar. Peeling the buttons off the strips was never an entirely pure candy experience since there were always several buttons removed with haste that came with a bonus layer of paper stuck to the underside. And perhaps part of the candy’s charm was making a game out of attaining a clean, paper-free button removal.

    Candy Buttons or Candy Dots were created in the 1930s when an engineer at Cumberland Valley Company in New York created a machine to produce tiny dots of flavored sugar onto strips of paper. Necco bought Cumberland Valley in 1980 and became the sole manufacturer of the colorful candy strips until the company declared bankruptcy in 2018, and the famous candies, including Necco Wafers, Sweethearts, and Clark Bar, were sold off to the highest bidders. Candy buttons almost became a dead food, but fortunately, the product was resurrected when it was purchased by Cincinnati-based Doscher’s Candies, and today candy buttons are alive and well.

    A strip of the original pastel-colored candy buttons includes a combination of cherry, lemon, and lime flavors, but you can make your homemade Necco candy buttons any flavor or color you like with this recipe using the same ingredients as the real deal. For flavoring, find the popular LorAnn candy flavoring oils and add one bottle to the pan as the candy is cooling. Get some coated butcher paper and cut it into 11x2-inch strips (or any size you want, really), and use the back end of a skewer to place your dots on the paper. After a couple of days of drying the candy will be crunchy just like the original, and with coated paper, the sugar should make a clean release for a paperless burst of sweet nostalgia.

    The recipe will make at least 1000 candy buttons, but I’m not sure of the exact amount since I only got through about half of the pan of candy syrup to determine yield when my sanity came into question. Don’t feel obligated to use up the whole pan of candy for your buttons. For three different flavors of buttons on each strip like the original, you'll need to make three batches of candy.

    Click here for more of my copycat recipes of famous candy.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Domino's Spicy Jalapeno-Pineapple Specialty Chicken

    My Domino’s new spicy specialty chicken recipe gives you a new way to turn frozen breaded chicken from any supermarket into an impressive appetizer. And this Top Secret Recipe comes with my complete formula for duplicating the chain’s famous sweet mango habanero dipping sauce to give your dish its fiery personality.

    Top your chicken with a blend of Cheddar and mozzarella cheese, jalapeño slices, and pineapple, and bake it on a strip of parchment paper until the cheese is bubbly and browned around the edges.

    Find more of your favorites from Domino's here

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    Carrabba's Traditional Cannoli

    Menu Description: “Two crisp pastry shells stuffed with sweet ricotta and chocolate chip filling, topped with pistachios and powdered sugar.”           

    For great traditional cannoli, one need not look any further than a nearby Carrabba’s Italian Grill. The cannoli there are exactly what you want cannoli to be: a crunchy shell that isn’t soggy or too thick, packed with sweetened ricotta cheese filling that’s smooth and not grainy. And with that classic crunchy/creamy combination comes a hint of cinnamon lingering in the background to complete the traditional taste of a legit cannoli.

    To make Carrabba's cannoli at home, you’ll need 8 cannoli tubes to form the shells. After wrapping circles of dough around these 5-inch long metal tubes, they get deep-fried for a few minutes resulting in shells that are perfectly golden brown.

    As for the filling, it needs to be smooth if you want a good clone, so try to find ricotta cheese that isn’t too grainy. We’ll first strain the cheese overnight so that most of the liquid runs off for a thicker filling, but if your cheese is still grainy run the filling through a food processor until the cheese is smooth before folding in the whipped cream. Now that’s good cannoli.

    Click here for more of your favorite dishes from Carrabba's.

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    Melting Pot Cheddar Cheese Fondue

    This 140-unit chain is America's go-to restaurant for great fondue since 1975. The four-course menu includes a salad, a broth fondue entrée with a variety of meats and vegetables, and a selection of chocolate fondues for dessert.

    But the dining experience starts with a delicious cheese fondue served with various sliced breads, apples, and vegetables for dipping. The most popular of the cheese fondues is this one made with medium cheddar and just a little Emmentaler Swiss cheese melted into beer and combined with garlic and spices. Talking with a manager at my local Melting Pot, I learned that the chain uses Milwaukee's Best or Colt 45 in the fondue, so make sure you use a mild (and cheap) lager beer. He told me that the mild flavor of these beers doesn't overpower the cheese. Use a traditional fondue pot intended for cheese/chocolate fondue.

    Check out my Melting Pot Traditional Swiss Fondue recipe in "Top Secret Recipes Step-by-Step". 

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    McDonald's Strawberry and Creme Pie

    Tiny apple pies have been a signature dessert on the McDonald’s menu for decades, but the chain upped its pie game recently with a tasty new treat featuring a duo of fillings in a flaky, lightly-iced crust. And no one has developed a good hack...until now.

    To duplicate these personal McDonald's Strawberry and Crème pies at home, I’ve created a new crust formula and filled it with thickened, puréed frozen strawberries next to a sweetened cream cheese filling. You'll find everything you'll need in my McDonald's Strawberry and Cream Pie recipe below. 

    To apply the perfect amount of filling, you can convert small plastic storage bags into mini piping bags by snipping off a corner. Squeeze the fillings onto the dough, then seal up the pies, brush them with light icing, and pop them in the oven. This recipe makes ten pies, which is a good thing because everyone who watches you make these will want one.   

    Find my McDonald's Apple Pie recipe in "Top Secret Recipes Step-by-Step".

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    Pizza Hut Spicy Lover's Pizza

    To satisfy America’s growing desire for foods that bite back, Pizza Hut introduced its spiciest pizza ever in early 2022. The new peppery pies include Spicy Hawaiian Chicken and Spicy Veggie, but it’s the Spicy Double Pepperoni version, with both regular pepperoni and cupped pepperoni, that takes the top spot.

    This is Pizza Hut’s first pizza to be topped with brined red jalapeño slices, which are similar to those packed in a jar from Old El Paso. If you can’t find bottled slices, use sliced fresh red jalapeños or red Fresno peppers, or any other spicy red pepper you find in your produce section. Red jalapeños will certainly bring some sting, but most of the boom will come from the chain’s new spicy marinara sauce that’s been kicked up with added peppers, and it's hacked here for you.

    When your feisty pie comes out of the oven, hit it with some “fiery flakes” (crushed red pepper and parsley) and you’ve got a perfect hack of Pizza Hut Spicy Lover's Pizza for your pizza-loving, hungry home team who like some heat.

    You might also want to try my clone recipe for Pizza Hut Pan Pizza.

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    Lofthouse Frosted Cookies

    When the Lofthouse frosted cookies were first produced from a handed-down family recipe in a makeshift bakery in the back of a Utah garage in 1994, it's likely the ingredients were different than they are in the mass-produced product found in markets across the country today. To maintain a long shelf-life, it is common for baked goods to be manufactured with nondairy substitutes, so butter is often replaced with hydrogenated oil and butter flavoring (otherwise known as margarine), and various vegetable gums and preservatives are added to improve the texture and stabilize the product. 

    Rather than using ingredients such as artificial flavoring, lecithin, cellulose gum, or carrageenan in my Lofthouse cookie recipe, as you will see on the label of the store product, we will use real butter, fresh eggs, and vanilla extract in our clone - perhaps just as the family who created this recipe did back in the day. The big difference is that you have to be sure to eat the cookies within a few days to get that freshly baked taste and texture. Or you may want to freeze them. Cake flour is used here rather than all-purpose flour to duplicate the tender, cakey texture of the original, and sour cream is used to add in the dairy needed without overliquefying the dough (as milk would). An added benefit of sour cream is the high acidity, which activates the leavening power of the baking soda. The dough is still going to be much thinner and tackier that typical cookie dough, so chilling it for a couple of hours before portioning it out onto a baking sheet is a must to make it easier to shape. 

    Get the full recipe in Todd Wilbur's "Top Secret Recipes Step-by-Step" cookbook. 

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    IHOP Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancakes

    A scoop of cocoa powder and a handful of chocolate chips are mixed into the chain’s famous buttermilk batter for a bold stack that is a chocoholic’s dream come true. And making a picture-perfect home hack with my IHOP Chocolate Chip Pancake recipe is about as easy as cooking can get.

    Just before you serve up each stack, drizzle it with chocolate syrup and add more chips. Finish it up with a pile of whipped cream on top, and some warmed maple syrup on the side.

    Check here for many more of my IHOP copycat recipes.

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I'm Todd Wilbur, Chronic Food Hacker

For over 30 years I've been deconstructing America's most iconic brand-name foods to make the best original clone recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.

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