The #1 Copycat Recipes Website

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You lucky devil. You just found copycat recipes for all of 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. See if Todd hacked your favorites from Famous Amos to Jolly Ranchers here. New recipes posted each week.

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Show: 24
  • Score: 4.44 (votes: 18)
    Hidden Valley The Original Ranch Dressing

    It is true that ranch dressing was invented at Hidden Valley Ranch near Santa Barbara, California, by a real salad-wranglin' rancher. In the 50s and 60s, Steve Henson and his wife, Gayle, shared their 120-acre dude ranch with University of California at Santa Barbara students and other festive partiers for rousing weekend shindigs. The dozens of guests were served steak dinners and delicious salads topped with Steve's special blend of herbs, spices, mayonnaise, and buttermilk. As word got out about the fabulous dressing, more guests were showing up at the ranch and walking home with complimentary take-home jars filled with the stuff. 

    Eventually, Steve figured he could make a little cash on the side by packaging the dressing as a dry mix and selling it through the mail. At first, he was filling envelopes himself, but within a few months, Steve had to hire twelve more people to help with the packaging. Soon Steve had a multi-million dollar business on his hands with a product that for ten years he had been giving away for free. 

    Reverse-engineering Steve's special blend of herbs, spices, mayonnaise, and buttermilk was fairly simple. I could guess all the ingredients by taste. From there, I played around with amounts until I came up with the perfect Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing recipe. Soon, you'll be throwing fabulous parties and "wow"-ing your friends with take-home jars of amazing Ranch dressing.

    Find all of your favorite salad dressing copycat recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 4)
    French's Classic Yellow Mustard

    Americans' passion for yellow mustard began in St. Louis at the 1904 World's Fair when the tangy sauce was spread over the top of the classic American hot dog. Today, over 100 years later, French's mustard is the top brand found in restaurants, and 80 percent of U.S. households have a bottle of French's somewhere in the pantry or fridge. 

    Those bottles will eventually run dry. And if that happens to you, you may need to whip up some of your own yellow mustard in a flash. If you've got dry ground mustard and turmeric in the spice rack, you can use my French's Yellow Mustard recipe below to easily clone it at home. My recipe yields just 1/4 cup of yellow mustard, but that should hold you over. At least until you can get to the store for more of the real thing.

    Ready to make all your favorite condiments at home? Click here for more of my copycat recipes. 

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.55 (votes: 44)
    Girl Scout Cookies Thin Mints

    If those cute little cookie peddlers aren't posted outside the market, it may be tough to get your hands on these thin mint cookies—the most popular cookies sold by the Girl Scouts every spring. One out of every four boxes of cookies sold by the girls is Thin Mints. 

    My Girl Scout cookie thin mint recipe uses an improved version of the chocolate wafers created for my Oreo cookie clone in the second TSR book, More Top Secret Recipes. That recipe creates 108 cookie wafers, so when you're done dipping, you'll have the equivalent of three boxes of the Girl Scout Cookies favorite. That's why you bought those extra cookie sheets, right? You could, of course, reduce this recipe by baking only one-third of the cookie dough for the wafers and then reducing the coating ingredients by one-third, giving you a total of 36 cookies. But that may not be enough to last you until next spring.

    Click here for more of your favorite Girl Scout Cookies

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

    Update 11/16/17: You can make an even better clone using a chocolate product that wasn't available when I created this recipe. Rather than using the semi-sweet chocolate chips combined with shortening and peppermint for coating the cookies, use Ghirardelli Dark Melting Wafers. You will need 2 10-ounce bags of the chips, mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract (and no shortening). Melt the chocolate the same way, and dip the cookies as instructed.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 6)
    General Foods International Coffees

    With just a few simple ingredients, you can re-create the European-style coffees that come in rectangular tins at a fraction of the cost. Use my General Foods International Coffee recipes for perfect home clones of Cafe Vienna, French Vanilla Cafe, and Suisse Mocha. 

    Since these famous instant coffee blends are created by Maxwell House, it's best to use Maxwell House instant coffee, although I've tried them with Folger's and Taster's Choice, and the recipes still work out fine. You'll also need a coffee bean grinder to grind the instant coffee into powder. When you're finished making the mix, you can store it for as long as you like in a sealed container, until you're ready for a hot coffee drink. When that time comes, measure some of the mix into a cup and add boiling water. Stir well and enjoy while watching shows about Europe on the Travel Channel to enhance the experience.

    Find more recipes for your favorite famous drinks here.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes: Sodas, Smoothies, Spirits & Shakes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.20 (votes: 5)
    Good Seasons Italian Salad Dressing Mix

    Below you'll find my Good Seasons Italian Salad Dressing Mix that copies the instant dressing mix you buy in the .7-ounce packets. When added to vinegar, water, and oil, you get one of the best-tasting instant salad dressings around. But what if you can't find the stuff, or it is no longer sold in your area, as I've heard is the case in some cities? Or maybe you just want to save a little money by making your own? Use my recipe below to make as much dry mix as you want, and save it for when you need instant salad satisfaction. I used McCormick lemon pepper in the recipe here because it contains lemon juice solids that help duplicate the taste of the sodium citrate and citric acid in the real thing. The dry pectin, which can be found near the canning supplies in your supermarket, is used as a thickener, much like the xanthan gum in the original product.

    Find more of my delicious salad dressing copycat recipes here

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 4)
    GrandMa's Oatmeal Raisin Big Cookies

    GrandMa's Cookie Company was founded back in 1914 by Foster Wheeler, but it wasn't until 1977 that the company introduced the popular Big Cookie. This large, soft cookie comes two to a pack and is offered in several varieties, including oatmeal raisin. Now you can bake up a couple batches of your own with my GrandMa's oatmeal raisin cookies copycat recipe. Just be sure not to over bake these. You want the cookies soft and chewy when cool—just like a happy grandma would make. Be sure to take the cookies out of the oven when they are just beginning to turn light brown around the edges.

    You might also like my copycat for GrandMa's Peanut Butter Big Cookies.

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

    Update 1/13/17: For an improved GrandMa's Big Cookies recipe, replace the 1/2 cup shortening with 3/4 cup softened unsalted butter. Also, reduce baking soda to 1 1/2 teaspoons and cinnamon to 1/2 teaspoon. Raising the oven temperature a little—to 300 degrees F—will help with browning and still keep the cookies chewy. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    GrandMa's Peanut Butter Big Cookies

    Make my Grandma's Big Peanut Butter cookies recipe below, and when your cookies are cool, be sure to seal them up real tight in something like Tupperware or a Ziploc bag. That's the way to keep them moist and chewy, like the original GrandMa's Big Cookies. In fact, he real product claims to be the only national cookie brand that guarantees the freshness of the product or double your money back. That confident guarantee comes from the current manufacturer, Frito-Lay, which purchased the GrandMa's Cookies brand from General Mills back in 1980.

    You might also like my copycat for GrandMa's Big Raising Cookies. 

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

    Update 1/13/17: For an improved recipe, replace the 1/2 cup shortening with 3/4 cup softened unsalted butter. Also, reduce the baking soda to 1 1/2 teaspoons. 2 teaspoons is too much. Also, raising the oven temperature a little—to 300 degrees F—will help with browning and still keep the cookies chewy. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 2)
    Great American Cookies White Chunk Macadamia

    When Arthur Karp shared his grandmother's favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe with Michael Coles, the business partners knew they had a hit on their hands. They opened their first Great American Cookies store in 1977 in The Perimeter Mall in Atlanta, Georgia. Now with more than 350 stores in the chain, these cookies have quickly become a favorite, just begging to be cloned. The chain bakes the cookies in convection ovens at the low temperature of 280 degrees for around 16 to 17 minutes. But since most of us don't have convection ovens and may have a hard time getting the oven temperature to this odd setting, I have made some adjustments in my Great American Cookies White Chunk Macadamia recipe below. Just be sure, when you remove the cookies from the oven, that they appear undercooked and only slightly browned around the edges. This will give the cookies the perfect chewy texture when they cool.

    You might also like my recipe for Great American Snickerdoodles

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

     

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  • Score: 4.80 (votes: 5)
    Heinz Heinz 57

    In the late 1800s Henry John Heinz established the slogan "57 Varieties," which you can still find printed on Heinz products even though the company now boasts over 5700 varieties in 200 countries. Today Heinz is the world's largest tomato producer, but interestingly the first product for the company that was launched in 1869 had nothing to do with tomatoes—it was grated horseradish. It wasn't until 1876 that ketchup was added to the growing company's product line.

    Tomato is also an important ingredient in Heinz 57 steak sauce. But you'll find some interesting ingredients in there as well, such as raisin purée, malt vinegar, apple juice concentrate, and mustard. And don't worry if your version doesn't come out as brown as the original. Heinz uses a little caramel coloring in its product to give it that distinctive tint. It's just for looks though, so I've left that ingredient out of my Heinz 57 recipe. The turmeric and yellow mustard will help tint this version a little bit like the color of the real deal.

    Try my homemade versions of Heinz Ketchup, Mayochup, and Heinz premium chili sauce

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.82 (votes: 44)
    Hellmann's - Best Foods Mayonnaise

    One day in France in 1756, when Duke de Richelieu's chef couldn't find any cream for a sauce made with eggs and cream, he substituted oil. The thick emulsion that formed after a vigorous beating became one of the basic sauces for our modern cuisine. A version of this simple culinary breakthrough was an important ingredient for Richard Hellmann's salads in the deli he opened in New York City in 1905. When Richard started selling his mayonnaise by the jar at the deli, the bottles flew out the door. Before long Hellmann's creamy mayonnaise dominated in the eastern United States, while another company, Best Foods, was having incredible sales success with mayonnaise west of the Rockies. In 1932 Best Foods bought Hellmann's, and today the two brands split the country: Best Foods is sold west of the Rockies and Hellmann's can be found to the east. Nowadays the two mayonnaise recipes are nearly identical, although some people claim that Best Foods mayonnaise is a little tangier.

    In my Hellmann's / Best Foods Mayonnaise recipe below, you'll be creating an emulsion by whisking a stream of oil into a beaten egg yolk. The solution will begin to magically thicken and change color, and before you know it you'll be looking at a bowl of beautiful, off-white, fresh mayonnaise. I've found the best way to add the oil to the egg yolk a little bit at a time while whisking is to pour the oil into a plastic squirt bottle like the kind used for ketchup or mustard. This will allow you to whisk continuously with one hand while squirting oil with the other. You can also use a measuring cup with a spout and pour the oil in a thin stream.

    Fans of Miracle Whip will enjoy my copycat recipe here. You can also find recipes for ketchup and mustard here. Yep, I've got you covered.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.69 (votes: 80)
    Heinz Ketchup

    By the age of 12 John Heinz was peddling produce from his family's garden in post-Civil War Pittsburgh. By age 25, he and a friend launched Heinz & Noble to sell bottled horseradish in clear glass bottles that revealed its purity. Henry's pickling empire grew as he added jams, jellies, and condiments to the line, including ketchup, which was added in 1876. You'll still see the famous Heinz pickle logo on every product, and if you want a quick tip on how to get the thick stuff out of the bottle easily, don't pound on the backside like a maniac. Instead, Heinz recommends a good smack to the embossed "57" found on the neck of every bottle. 

    Today, Heinz is the world's largest tomato processor, with the famous ketchup bottles sitting on a shelf somewhere in over half of U.S. households. But if one day you find your house is all out, you can use my Heinz ketchup recipe below with a few common ingredients and get a whole 12-ounce bottle worth of thick, tasty ketchup.

    If you're looking to avoid high fructose corn syrup and refined sugar, check out my clone for Real Ketchup here.

    Source: Even More Top Secret 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: 4.56 (votes: 9)
    Heinz Premium Chili Sauce

    The name of this tomato-based sauce belies its taste. There's not even a hint of spiciness here that someone might associate with "chili." Instead you get a sweet and sour sauce that's got more tang than ketchup, and more chunks. And what are those chunks? According to the label they're dehydrated onions, so that's exactly what we'll use in this formula. Be sure to get the kind that say dried "minced" onions, because dried "chopped" onions are too big. The recipe is a simple one since you just combine everything in a saucepan and simmer until done. And if you cruise down to the Tidbits at the bottom of this recipe, I'll show you a super-easy way to turn this saucy clone into a beautiful carbon copy of Heinz Seafood Cocktail Sauce.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 3.67 (votes: 15)
    Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Before Wally Amos shared his soon-to-be-famous homemade chocolate chip cookies with the world, he landed a job in the mailroom at the William Morris talent agency and soon became the agency's first African-American talent agent. Wally's unique approach of sending performers boxes of homemade chocolate chip cookies that he developed from his aunt's secret recipe eventually helped him get Diana Ross & The Supremes as clients. After perfecting his cookie recipe in 1975, Wally launched his own cookie company and, solely from word of mouth, his baking business boomed. Today there are several flavors of Famous Amos Cookies, including oatmeal chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and peanut butter, but it is the plain chocolate chip cookies that are the most popular. The clone here will give you 100 little chocolate chip cookies just like the originals that are crunchy and small enough to dunk into a cold glass of moo juice. 

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.00 (votes: 1)
    Hawaiian Punch Fruit Juicy Red

    Real Hawaiian Punch contains only 5 percent fruit juice. Even though some of the ingredients in our clone are not pure fruit juice, and we're adding additional water and sugar, this homemade Hawaiian punch fruit juice - red recipe still contains a lot more tasty real fruit juice than the real thing.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes: Sodas, Smoothies, Spirits & Shakes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.19 (votes: 21)
    Fritos Hot Bean Dip

    Re-create the popular bean dip at home in minutes with a food processor: just pour in all the ingredients and fire it up. With my Fritos Hot Bean Dip recipe below, you can duplicate the taste of the popular dip without any added fat. If you check out the label of the real thing, you'll see that there's hydrogenated oil in there. We avoid this trans fat without sacrificing flavor in this home clone that's a healthier choice for dipping. Bring on the chips!

    Try more amazing copycat recipes for famous dips here.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.60 (votes: 10)
    Great American Cookies Snickerdoodles

    Rather than trying to beat the competitors—especially if they have an exceptional product—Mrs. Fields Famous Brands throws cash at 'em. With the acquisition of Great American Cookies in 1998 by the company that made chewy mall cookies big business, Mrs. Fields is now peddling her baked wares in more than 90 percent of the premier shopping malls in the United States. That's how you make some serious dough. One of the all-time favorite cookies you can grab at any of the 364 Great American Cookies outlets is the classic snickerdoodle. Rolled in cinnamon and sugar, it's soft and chewy and will seem to be undercooked when you take it out of the oven. When it cools it should be gooey, yet firm in the middle. Just a couple bites should make you wonder: "Got milk?!" 

    Check out my recipe for Great American White Chunk Macadamia cookies here

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 6)
    Grand Marnier Liqueur

    In 1880s France, oranges were quite rare and exotic. When Louis Alexandre Marnier-Lopostolle traveled to the Caribbean in search of ingredients, he came back with bitter oranges to combine with his family's fine cognac. Other orange-flavored liqueurs such as triple sec and curacao are mixed with a neutral alcohol base. Grand Marnier took it to the next level with a more complex flavor that makes it today's top-selling French liqueur.

    Now you too can combine cognac with a real orange to make a home version of the tasty—and pricey—stuff. By using an inexpensive cognac that costs around 18 to 20 dollars a bottle, you can create a clone cousin of the real thing that normally sells for around 30 bucks a bottle. All you need, in addition to the cognac, is some sugar, an orange, and a little patience to wait at least 2 weeks.

    Try more of my copycat cocktail and liquor recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes: Sodas, Smoothies, Spirits & Shakes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.42 (votes: 26)
    Hostess Twinkie

    The Twinkie was invented in 1930 by the late James A. Dewar, then the Chicago-area regional manager of Continental Baking Company, the parent corporation behind the Hostess trademark. At the time, Continental made "Little Short Cake Fingers" only during the six-week strawberry season, and Dewar realized that the aluminum pans in which the cakes were baked sat idle the rest of the year. He came up with the idea of injecting the little cakes with a creamy filling to make them a year-round product and decided to charge a nickel for a package of two.

    But Dewar couldn't come up with a catchy name for the snack cake—that is, until he set out on a business trip to St. Louis. Along the road he saw a sign for Twinkle Toe Shoes, and the name Twinkies evolved. Sales took off, and Dewar reportedly ate two Twinkies every day for much of his life. He died in 1985.

    The spongy treat has evolved into an American phenomenon. Today the Twinkie is Continental's top Hostess-line seller, with the injection machines filling as many as 52,000 every hour.

    You will need a spice bottle, approximately the size of a Twinkie, ten 12x14 -inch pieces of aluminum foil, a cake decorator or pastry bag, and a chopstick.

    Watch Todd's video demonstration of this classic hack.

    If you're a fan of Hostess powdered Donettes, or cupcakes, check out these recipes

    Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Girl Scout Cookies Shortbread Cookies

    Since they only sell these once a year, in the spring, you're bound to crave them again sometime in the fall. Now you can have a fresh batch in the off-season made from this clone recipe for the first variety of cookies sold by the Girl Scouts back in 1917.

    Craving Thin Mints? Get more Girl Scout Cookies copycat recipes here.

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Hellmann's - Best Foods Real Ketchup

    Hellmann’s—or Best Foods as the company is known west of the Rockies—recently debuted this new ketchup for customers looking to avoid high fructose corn syrup, refined sugar, and artificial ingredients. The label lists only six ingredients: tomato puree, honey, white wine vinegar, salt, onion powder, and spices. It wasn’t immediately clear what the “spices” referred to until I wiped a wide smear of the ketchup across a white plate, making the blacks specks of fine grind pepper clearly stand out. After that, creating my Best Foods Real Ketchup recipe was just a matter of getting the ratios right.

    If you're a fan of the original Heinz Ketchup, check out my clone recipe 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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  • Not rated yet
    Hostess Mint Chocolate CupCakes

    Recently, Hostess released a new “limited-edition” mint chocolate version of the brand’s famous CupCakes, with mint creamy filling and mint frosting on top. I had already hacked the well-known chocolate CupCakes from Hostess for my Step-by-Step book, so the cake recipe and the white icing on top was already done. I reworked the filling and the frosting with delicious mint flavor and proper green hue, and put it all together in this new hack that’s a twist on an old favorite.

    As with the chocolate CupCakes clone, the frosting is designed to be runny so that you can dip the cupcakes in it. This will produce a smooth frosting that, when dry, looks just like the real thing. Most likely you’ll need a couple coats of frosting. The first coat is a crumb layer that locks in the chocolate cake crumbs so that the second layer finishes clean and smooth. If you find that you’re losing too many crumbs in the frosting bowl when dipping the cupcakes, you may want to spread on your first layer with a butter knife.   

    Before baking be sure to grease your muffin cups well so that cupcakes come out clean. And you'll need a piping bag or pastry gun with a medium tip to fill the cupcakes and a small tip to add the seven loops of white icing on top. No proper recipe of Hostess Chocolate Cupcakes would be right without that final step.

    Check out my clone recipes for Hostess Twiinkies and Powdered Donettes

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Heinz Mayochup

    The basic recipe of two parts mayonnaise to one part ketchup has been around for years, served as a condiment with French fries and other fried finger foods. It’s commonly called “fry sauce,” but Heinz chefs added a few more ingredients to their version of the sauce, making it more sweet-and-sour than the common two-ingredient formula, and then they gave it a new name.

    Heinz debuted Mayochup in September of 2018 following a carefully planned social media campaign that polled followers on whether or not they wanted Heinz to create the product. Final result: 55 percent said “yes.” 

    Now you can make your own mimicked Mayochup in a matter of minutes with these five common ingredients, a bowl, and a whisk. Use it on burgers and sandwiches, or as a dip for French fries and other fried foods.

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    Jovy Fruit Rolls

    Fruit leather first emerged in the U.S. in New York City in the early 1900s when Syrian immigrants dried apricot paste until it was chewy, and it came in one flavor: apricot. Louis Shalhoub, whose grandfather George was one of those immigrants selling apricot fruit leather in the early days, founded Joray in the 1960s and sold the first commercial fruit rollups in America in a variety of non-apricot flavors. Shortly after that, General Mills came out with their own brand of Fruit Roll-Ups in various kid-friendly forms including Fruit-by-the-Foot and Gushers, and today those are the chewy fruit snacks that dominate the market.

    After checking out the ingredients in the Joray and General Mills chewy fruit products, neither seemed worthy of a clone. Joray rolls are all apricot puree-based fruit rolls, sweetened with corn syrup and sugar, artificially flavored, and diluted with flour for a red licorice vibe. The texture of these rolls was hard and overly chewy, and the fruit flavors were lacking. On the other hand, the flavor of the General Mills rolls was delicious, and the products were always soft and chewy as you would expect. But with so much sugar and just a wee bit of real fruit pear puree in the mix, these products aren’t much more than candy.

    As it turns out, the fruit rolls with the deepest histories are not the best fruit rolls on the market. That honor goes to Jovy, a brand from Mexico with fruit rolls in a variety of flavors that actually taste like the fruit that’s printed on the label. Jovy does this by using real fruit and berries combined with a blend of apple and pear. Apples and pears have subtle flavors that party well with other fruits, plus their high pectin content contributes a pleasant chewy texture to the finished product. Jovy enhances the fruitiness of their product by adding artificial flavors and colors to the rolls, but I chose to go with all-natural ingredients in this hack so that the real fruit flavors could shine.

    I’m including recipes for three Jovy Fruit Roll flavors: strawberry, raspberry, and mango; all of which call for frozen fruit or berries so you can make these any time of the year. Puree everything for the roll of your choice in a food processor or blender, then pour 1/3-cup portions onto baking mats and bake at a low temperature until you can peel off the tasty fruit leather. If you have a “time bake” or “cook time” setting on your oven, you can start a batch in the evening, the oven will turn off automatically when it's done, and your fruit will be cool and ready to roll in the morning.

    Find more fun snack recipes here

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 5)
    Jack Link's Original Beef Jerky

    Using his grandfather’s old recipes for sausage and smoked meats, Jack Link created his first kippered beef sticks in Wisconsin in 1986, and they quickly became a popular snack throughout the state. But that wasn’t enough for Jack, so he invested in a packaging machine to expand into other markets, and eventually—with the help of a successful Sasquatch-themed marketing campaign—Jack Link’s became the #1 jerky brand in the country.

    Beef jerky is usually made in a dehydrator designed to circulate air around the food at a low temperature. The temperature for drying beef jerky in a dehydrator is typically 130 to 140 degrees, which is a lower temperature than you can reach with a conventional home oven. But that doesn’t mean we can’t use our home oven to make a perfectly acceptable beef jerky hack that tastes like Jack’s. And even though Jack uses a smoker for his beef jerky, you won’t need one to give your jerky a similar smoky flavor.

    The pineapple juice in the marinade is an important part of the taste, but its primary contribution is a unique enzyme that helps break down the proteins in the tough cut of meat to tenderize it. Soy sauce and beef bouillon contribute to the umami savoriness of the jerky, and liquid hickory smoke is used in this hack as a quick way to add the smoky flavor.

    The marinating takes 24 hours and the oven drying takes between 6 to 8 hours, so get the sliced beef into the bath in the morning, and you’ll be munching on copycat Jack Link's beef jerky by dinnertime the next day. And to help you out, I'm including step photos.

    Find more cool recipes for your favorite snacks here.

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    Glico Pocky

    These candy-coated biscuit sticks come in dozens of flavors today, but for years the original chocolate flavor invented by Yoshiaki Koma in Japan in 1966 was the only Pocky you could eat. Almond and strawberry were introduced in the ‘70s, and as Pocky sales grew throughout Asia and the world, more flavors were added including the popular matcha and cookies and cream found just about everywhere these days.

    Our homemade Pocky starts by making a proper biscuit stick with a buttery flavor like the original. We’ll use real butter here rather than butter flavoring found in the real thing because we can. To give the stick its tender bite I found that pastry flour, with its lower gluten content, worked much better than all-purpose. I recommend Bob’s Red Mill brand pastry flour. And to further tenderize the sticks we’ll use both yeast and baking powder for leavening, just like the real ones.

    You can make dozens of very thin sticks by rolling the dough to 1/8-inch thick and about 5 inches wide. Use a sharp paring knife guided by a straight edge, like a metal ruler, to slice 1/8-inch wide strips of dough and arrange them on a lined baking sheet. I found that chilling the rolled-out dough in your freezer for 10 minutes makes the dough more manageable and the thin strips of dough will be less likely to break as you work with them.  

    Three coating flavors are included here: Chocolate, strawberry and matcha. The chocolate coating is made with chocolate-flavored melting chips or chunks and melts easily in your microwave. The strawberry and matcha are made with white chocolate or vanilla melting chips, with strawberry oil and real matcha powder added for flavor.      

    I've hacked a lot of famous candy over the years. See if I copied your favorites here

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Jolly Rancher Hard Candy

    The name Jolly Rancher has a friendly Western sound to it, and that’s why Bill Harmsen picked the name for his Golden, Colorado confection company in 1949. Bill sold chocolate and ice cream, but it was his hard candies that got the most attention, and that’s where Bill focused his efforts and grew his business.

    The first Jolly Rancher hard candies came in just three flavors: apple, grape, and cinnamon. Eventually they added more flavors including cherry, orange, lemon, grape, peach, and blue raspberry. But today the main flavors have been cut to just five: cherry, watermelon, apple, grape, and blue raspberry. I’ve included clone recipes here for four of them: grape, cherry, watermelon, and green apple.

    The flavors are all sour, thanks to malic acid, a very tart natural ingredient often used to make sour candies. If you can’t find malic acid, you can duplicate the sour taste with easier-to-find citric acid. I found some at Walmart.

    You’ll also need super-strength flavoring from LorAnn in whichever flavors you chose to make. This is the most popular baking/candy flavoring brand, and you can find it online or in craft stores like Michael’s. Each small bottle is 1 dram, which is just under 1 teaspoon, and you’ll need one of those for each flavor.  

    Regardless of which flavors you choose to make, the base candy recipe will be the same. The hard candy is formed by bringing the sugar solution up to the “hard crack” stage, or the stage where the candy becomes hard and brittle when cool. You must get the candy to exactly 300 degrees F, and for that, you’ll need a candy thermometer.

    The thermometer is essential here and will help you determine when to add the coloring, when to remove the candy from the heat, and when to add the malic or citric acid. If you cook the candy too long, it will begin to caramelize and darken and won't taste right. If you add the acid before the candy cools to 165 degrees F, it will burn and turn bitter. If you add it too late, it may be hard to mix.

    My Jolly Rancher recipe makes over 60 hard candies. When cool, crack the candies apart along their score lines, wrap them up in 4x4-inch cellophane candy wrappers, and you should have more than enough hacked homemade hard candies to fill a candy bowl.

    Click here to make more famous candy at home. 

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    Hostess Powdered Donettes

    At the 2018 Salvation Army National Doughnut Day World Doughnut Eating Contest, held every June 1st, competitive eater Joey Chestnut consumed 257 Hostess powdered Donettes in six minutes to take home the top prize. There was a big smile on Joey's powdered-sugar-and-crumb-coated face that day as he raised a trophy to celebrate another glorious gastronomic feat.  

    If you had to guess who makes the top-selling doughnuts in America, you’d probably say Dunkin’ Donuts or Krispy Kreme, but you’d be wrong. According to Hostess, Donettes are the country’s most popular doughnuts—you rarely find a supermarket, corner market, or convenience store without at least a few packages on the shelf. Hostess Donettes come in several flavors, including chocolate, crumb, and strawberry, but the one most people turn to, and the one I grew up on (they were called “Gems” back then), is coated with a thick layer of powdered sugar.    

    Cloning the Hostess powdered donuts is not hard, once you know the secrets. You'll make a stiff cake dough, punch out 2-inch rounds with a biscuit cutter, pierce the dough with a straw or chopstick to make a hole, then fry the doughnuts for 2 minutes until golden brown. After you roll them in powdered sugar, you'll have around 20 fresh, home-cloned miniature Hostess Powdered Donettes that will make you feel like a kid again.

    And—just doing a little math here—it would take Joey Chestnut all of about 14 seconds to eat that entire plate of doughnuts you just made.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Heinz Mayochup

    The basic recipe of two parts mayonnaise to one part ketchup has been around for years, served as a condiment with French fries and other fried finger foods. It’s commonly called “fry sauce,” but Heinz chefs added a few more ingredients to their version of the sauce, making it more sweet-and-sour than the common two-ingredient formula, and then they gave it a new name.

    Heinz debuted Mayochup in September of 2018 following a carefully planned social media campaign that polled followers on whether or not they wanted Heinz to create the product. Final result: 55 percent said “yes.” 

    Now you can make your own mimicked Mayochup in a matter of minutes with these five common ingredients, a bowl, and a whisk. Use it on burgers and sandwiches, or as a dip for French fries and other fried foods.

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  • Not rated yet
    Hostess Mint Chocolate CupCakes

    Recently, Hostess released a new “limited-edition” mint chocolate version of the brand’s famous CupCakes, with mint creamy filling and mint frosting on top. I had already hacked the well-known chocolate CupCakes from Hostess for my Step-by-Step book, so the cake recipe and the white icing on top was already done. I reworked the filling and the frosting with delicious mint flavor and proper green hue, and put it all together in this new hack that’s a twist on an old favorite.

    As with the chocolate CupCakes clone, the frosting is designed to be runny so that you can dip the cupcakes in it. This will produce a smooth frosting that, when dry, looks just like the real thing. Most likely you’ll need a couple coats of frosting. The first coat is a crumb layer that locks in the chocolate cake crumbs so that the second layer finishes clean and smooth. If you find that you’re losing too many crumbs in the frosting bowl when dipping the cupcakes, you may want to spread on your first layer with a butter knife.   

    Before baking be sure to grease your muffin cups well so that cupcakes come out clean. And you'll need a piping bag or pastry gun with a medium tip to fill the cupcakes and a small tip to add the seven loops of white icing on top. No proper recipe of Hostess Chocolate Cupcakes would be right without that final step.

    Check out my clone recipes for Hostess Twiinkies and Powdered Donettes

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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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  • Not rated yet
    Hellmann's - Best Foods Real Ketchup

    Hellmann’s—or Best Foods as the company is known west of the Rockies—recently debuted this new ketchup for customers looking to avoid high fructose corn syrup, refined sugar, and artificial ingredients. The label lists only six ingredients: tomato puree, honey, white wine vinegar, salt, onion powder, and spices. It wasn’t immediately clear what the “spices” referred to until I wiped a wide smear of the ketchup across a white plate, making the blacks specks of fine grind pepper clearly stand out. After that, creating my Best Foods Real Ketchup recipe was just a matter of getting the ratios right.

    If you're a fan of the original Heinz Ketchup, check out my clone recipe here

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  • Not rated yet
    Healthy Choice Traditional Pasta Sauce

    It was a heart attack that inspired Charles M. Harper of ConAgra Foods to come up with a new product line. In 1988, the Healthy Choice brand introduced frozen dinners with reduced fat, sodium, and cholesterol. Hundreds of other products followed through the '90s, including this fat-free pasta sauce, which hit stores in 1992. It's a cinch to make and goes great on any pasta, pizza, or meatball sandwich.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1/2 cup
    Total servings–5
    Calories per servings–50
    Fat per serving–0g

    Source: Low-Fat Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    Healthy Choice Chunky Tomato, Mushroom and Garlic Pasta Sauce

    Healthy Choice was one of the first low-fat brands to hit the stores. The Wall Street Journal reported in 1993, "When Healthy Choice dinners first arrived in stores, big competitors were caught off guard: nothing quite like it had ever been marketed on a large scale." But nowadays the competition ain't so lean. You'll find more than a dozen brands devoted to the same low-fat, healthy claims in stores, all fighting it out for shelf space and market share.

    If you like your marinara sauce with big chunks of veggies in it, then this is the one you'll want to make. The canned tomatoes, plus fresh mushrooms, onion, and garlic make for a thicker sauce that works great over your favorite pasta dish.

    Nutrition Facts
    Servings size–1/2 cup
    Total servings–5
    Calories per serving–45
    Fat per serving–0g

    Source: Low-Fat Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.00 (votes: 1)
    Hawaiian Punch Fruit Juicy Red

    Real Hawaiian Punch contains only 5 percent fruit juice. Even though some of the ingredients in our clone are not pure fruit juice, and we're adding additional water and sugar, this homemade Hawaiian punch fruit juice - red recipe still contains a lot more tasty real fruit juice than the real thing.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes: Sodas, Smoothies, Spirits & Shakes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.60 (votes: 10)
    Great American Cookies Snickerdoodles

    Rather than trying to beat the competitors—especially if they have an exceptional product—Mrs. Fields Famous Brands throws cash at 'em. With the acquisition of Great American Cookies in 1998 by the company that made chewy mall cookies big business, Mrs. Fields is now peddling her baked wares in more than 90 percent of the premier shopping malls in the United States. That's how you make some serious dough. One of the all-time favorite cookies you can grab at any of the 364 Great American Cookies outlets is the classic snickerdoodle. Rolled in cinnamon and sugar, it's soft and chewy and will seem to be undercooked when you take it out of the oven. When it cools it should be gooey, yet firm in the middle. Just a couple bites should make you wonder: "Got milk?!" 

    Check out my recipe for Great American White Chunk Macadamia cookies here

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    Hostess Lights Low-Fat Twinkie

    Howdy Doody peddled them on his 1950s TV show. Archie Bunker got one in his lunchbox every day. Even President Jimmy Carter was a fan, supposedly ordering a Twinkie vending machine installed in the White House. Yes, Twinkies are an American favorite. And if the oblong little snack isn’t being eaten, it’s being talked about: usually by talk show hosts joking about the snack food's supposedly long shelf life.

    The crème-filled cakes we know today are not exactly the same as the early Twinkies. When the snack cake was first conceived by Hostess plant manager James Dewar in 1930, it was as a way to use the cake pans for the strawberry “Little Short Cake Fingers,” which sat idle for all but the six-week strawberry season. The filling in those original cakes was flavored with bananas, and they were called “Twinkle Fingers.” When bananas got scarce during World War II the filling was changed to the vanilla flavor we know today, and the name was shortened to “Twinkies.” 

    The latest reformulation of the Twinkie came in 1990, when a low-fat version was first introduced. Now Twinkie lovers could have their cakes and eat ‘em too, with only half the fat of the original.

    You should know that these clones are twice the size of the Hostess version, with the fat and calories double as well. By weight, though, this clone’s nutrition stats are right on track with the original. 

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 snack cake
    Total servings–12 
    Calories per serving–280 
    Fat per serving–3g

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    Hostess Lights Low-Fat CupCakes

    The Twinkie company, otherwise known as Hostess, was one of the first to introduce reduced-fat baked goods to the masses. In 1990 the company took its most popular products and created lower-fat versions under the "Hostess Lights" label. Among the company's well-known low-fat offerings is this popular cupcake, with its seven loops of white icing on the top of frosted, creme-filled cake. Here's a way you can recreate these popular cupcakes at home, with applesauce in the cake to help replace the fat, and filling made with marshmallow creme.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 cupcake 
    Total servings–12 
    Calories per serving–220 
    Fat per serving–1.5g

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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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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