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Good job. 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. See if Todd hacked your favorite copycat recipes from K.C. Masterpiece to Orville Redenbacher's here. New recipes added every week.

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    Score: 3.00. Votes: 2

    The spicy seasoned salt mash-up that Lawry's and Tabasco created several years ago garnered a cult following. Unfortunately the number of fanatics that celebrated the delicious salty, sour, and spicy blend was too small to satisfy the manufacturer, and today this tasty blend has joined the growing list of Dead Foods. The good news is I've discovered a technique for a home version, and the process is a simple one. We can duplicate the sourness that comes from vinegar powder in the real thing by adding Tabasco pepper sauce, which contains vinegar, to a handful of dry ingredients and then letting the blend dry overnight. The hardened chunks are then ground with a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder, producing a fine blend that can be poured into a spice shaker and sprinkled on anything from French fries to eggs. It's back.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 3.80. Votes: 5
    This now "Dead Food" was introduced in the mid 90s when sales of low-fat snack foods were surging. At that time the markets were so inundated with new lower-fat packaged foods that the survival rate of those new products was very low. Today, these once-thriving SnackWell's snack bars are among the deceased. But a clone lives on. The creamy sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup, and egg substitute helps to keep the cake moist and chewy. We can even add a little butter and still keep the total fat per serving at less than 2 grams.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 bar
    Servings–21
    Calories per serving–113
    Fat per serving–1.8g
     
    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.
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    Score: 4.60. Votes: 15

    In 1992 Fortune magazine estimated the Mars family's personal worth at somewhere around $12.5 billion. This solid foundation of wealth, built on the country's undying passion for chocolate and other sweets, has made this clan the richest family in America—and the most reclusive. A family rule prohibits photographs to be taken of the Mars family and corporate executives. According to Fortune, a photographer who once tried to get a shot of Forrest Mars, Sr., found himself enveloped in a cloth that was thrown as he was about to snap the picture. 

    The fortune grew steadily larger as the corporation routinely kept four brands in the top-ten-selling chocolates in the country: Milky Way, M&M's Plain and Peanut, and, in the number-one spot, Snickers.

    For a live demonstration of this classic clone recipe, check out this video.

    Check out my other clone recipes for famous candy bars here.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    The brand that makes the most popular rice pudding in the country also makes a great tapioca pudding, with large tapioca pearls in delicious vanilla cream. I wanted to duplicate the pudding as easily as possible, and since large tapioca pearls are much harder to find and take longer to cook than Minute Tapioca made by Kraft, I opted to design the recipe using this more available ingredient.

    Minute Tapioca's small pearls of tapioca have been par-cooked so that it takes less time to prepare the pudding. Soaking large tapioca pearls until tender is a process that can take as long as 12 hours, and then you still have to make the pudding. This quick recipe, however, will take you just an hour from beginning to end.

    Give the pudding a nice chill once it's done and it will thicken up nicely. You can be spoon-deep in a bowl of homemade tapioca pudding the same day you make it.  

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    You probably think the dark chocolaty stuff that looks like dark chocolate on a dark chocolate Kind nut bar is all chocolate, but it mostly isn’t. There is chocolate in there, but chicory root is listed third in the ingredients statement, right after peanuts and almonds and way before cocoa, so the dark chocolate is actually a chocolate-flavored coating made mostly with chicory root fiber. Curiously, older labels list “chocolate-flavored coating” as the second ingredient, but newer labels don’t.

    Chicory is the root of the endive plant and it’s beloved in New Orleans, where it’s combined with coffee drinks because its taste is so similar to coffee. Chicory also happens to taste a lot like chocolate, and it’s cheaper than chocolate, and that’s probably why it’s used here.

    But just because Kind uses chicory, doesn’t mean we have to. For our hack, we’ll use real chocolate in the form of melting wafers you can find in most stores. I used Ghirardelli brand because it tastes great, but any easy-to-melt, dippable dark chocolate will do.

    The bars are stuck together with honey and agave syrup heated to 260 degrees F, or the hard ball stage. The sticky mixture is pressed into a 10x5-inch loaf pan, cooled, and sliced into 8 bars. The bottoms are dipped in the pure chocolate, and more is drizzled over the top. About 30 minutes later, when the chocolate sets up, your bars are ready to eat.

    Do you like dipping things in chocolate? Check out more of my clone recipes here

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    It’s been nearly 100 years since Walter and Cordelia Knott first started selling berries, preserves, and pies from their roadside produce stand in Buena Park, California. Walter Knott’s berry stand and farm was a popular stop throughout the 1920s for travelers heading to the Southern California beaches.

    But Walter’s big claim to fame came in 1932 when he cultivated and sold the world’s first boysenberries—a hybrid of raspberry, blackberry, loganberry, and dewberry. This new berry brought so many people to the farm that they added a restaurant, featuring Cordelia’s secret fried chicken recipe, and the Knotts struck gold again.

    The fried chicken was a huge hit, and the restaurant got so crowded the Knotts added rides and attractions to the farm to keep customers occupied while they waited for a table. Over the years the real berry farm transformed into an amusement park called Knott’s Berry Farm—one of my favorites as a kid—which is now ranked as the tenth most visited theme park in North America.

    Knott’s Berry Farm is also a brand of delicious preserves, jams, and other foods, including these fantastic little jam-filled shortbread cookies that everyone seems to love. The shortbread dough is piped into closed “c” shapes with a pastry bag onto baking sheets, then a little bit of jam is spooned into the center. You’ll need a pastry bag and a 1M open star tip, plus your favorite seedless jam. Once you’ve got all that, the rest is pretty easy.

    Follow this link for more copycat cookies, brownies and treats.

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    The most popular recipe circulating on the internet and among Food Network chefs who claim it as their own makes decent marshmallows, but the ubiquitous formula won’t pass as a hack for America’s favorite marshmallows, Jet-Puffed. I know this for sure because my eleven-year-old daughter says so, and she’s the House Marshmallow Expert (HME).

    According to our HME, the internet recipe makes marshmallows that are too sweet, and they don't have the right flavor. After testing the sweetness for myself I decided she was right, so I reduced the sugar for my clone. I also adjusted the flavor by adding more vanilla, and after another taste test, my batch of fresh marshmallows got the HME seal of approval.

    But the shape was still wrong.

    One thing you’ll notice about homemade marshmallow recipes is that they all make cubic marshmallows, which are hand-sliced from one sheet of marshmallow that has set up in a square pan. But Jet-Puffed Marshmallows aren’t cubes, they’re cylindrical, and I wanted marshmallows like that. So, borrowing a technique for cornstarch molds used by candy manufacturers, I came up with a way you can make cylindrical marshmallows just like the big boys do. All you need is cornstarch and a muffin pan. You’ll find instructions for cylindrical marshmallows at the bottom of the recipe in the Tidbits if you want to give the more authentic shape a try.

    Regardless of what shape you decide to make, a stand mixer and a candy thermometer will help you turn out the best-ever homemade marshmallows—which, by the way, make fantastic s'mores.

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    Kahlua may market itself as the coffee liqueur developed in Mexico, but many believe the brand originated in Turkey. Looking at the label, we can still see an Arabic archway under which a sombrero-wearing man rests. Old labels of the brand show this man wearing a turban and smoking a pipe. Even the name Kahlua is of Arabic origin. Regardless of where the drink came from, it dominates all other coffee liqueurs out there, including the very popular Tia Maria.

    Here's a greatly improved version of the clone recipe that appears in Top Secret Recipes. You'll find this recipe is easier to make, tastes better, and, just as with the first recipe, improves with age. 

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 2

    My previously published recipe hack of America's most popular rice pudding was not clear about which kind of rice to use. That's a problem because not all rice is created equal. The recipe calls for medium-grain rice but is not any more specific than that, which could lead to varying results in the consistency of the pudding since every rice has a different thickening ability.

    I recently reworked this recipe using many different types of rice, including instant rice, converted rice, basmati rice, jasmine rice, calrose rice, arborio rice, and even sushi rice. Most didn't contain the starch needed to properly thicken the pudding, especially the par-cooked rice such as instant rice and converted rice. On the other end of the spectrum, sushi rice contained too much starch and was much too small.

    The best of the bunch was jasmine rice, a long-grain rice, which thickened the pudding nicely after 45 minutes or so of simmering and appeared to be comparable in size to what is in the real thing. Jasmine rice plus five more ingredients are all it takes to make this new, improved clone.

    And now there's no need for a cooking thermometer as required in my previous recipe, since you can just add the rice when you see the milk beginning to steam and keep the pudding at a low simmer until it's done. After about an hour, you'll have a Kozy Shack rice pudding copycat recipe that's ready to pop into the fridge until it’s cool, creamy, and ready to eat.

    Also, check out my copycat recipe for Kozy Shack Tapioca Pudding.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    The health concerns regarding microwave popcorn are a result of the way it’s packaged. For the corn to pop, the kernels are submerged in boiling fat inside the bag until a buildup of steam in the kernels causes them to burst. To prevent the liquid fat from seeping through, the bags are lined with a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid, which, unfortunately for microwave popcorn lovers, has been linked to cancer and other nasty things.

    I set out on a mission to make better homemade microwave popcorn with only natural ingredients, and without using costly popping gadgets. I also wanted to avoid using plastic, tape, or metal, such as staples. My solution is a new method of prepping the kernels, but like many other techniques I researched, it requires paper lunch bags. I was dismayed to find some discussions about the potential for problems using brown paper bags in your microwave oven, such as fire, but I had absolutely no issues any of the many times I did it. No smoke, no sparks, nothing looking at all dangerous was going on inside my cooking box. The USDA states that using paper bags in your microwave, “may cause a fire, and may emit toxic fumes,” yet the internet is full of microwave popcorn recipes calling for paper bags. I chose to still share my recipe and technique, but ultimately leave it up to you to decide if it’s a hack recipe you feel safe using. If you’d rather stay on the safe side, see the Tidbits for an alternate technique. 

    My hack starts with clarifying butter so that it’s pure fat, without any milk solids or water. Butter is about 16 percent water and if any of that stays in the mix, your popcorn will be on a fast trip to Soggytown. Once the butter is clarified, we’ll combine it with popcorn and salt and freeze it into pucks that can be saved for weeks until you are ready to make quick popcorn.

    When it’s popcorn time, a puck goes into a small bowl, which goes inside two interlocking paper bags. After a warming session, you hit the “popcorn” button on your microwave oven and the popcorn will pop just like the store product (you may have to add another 30 seconds or so of cooking time). The first bag will soak up the excess butter that splashes around inside as the popcorn pops, and the second bag will keep the butter from messing up your oven.

    To serve, pull the bags apart over a big bowl, and you’ll have a fresh batch of hot microwave popcorn coated perfectly with real butter and salt. 

    If you're like me and you like things spicy, try sprinkling your popcorn with my original Hell Flakes to create what we like to call "Hell Corn".

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I'm Todd Wilbur,
Chronic Food Hacker

For 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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