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    Menu Description: "Grilled chicken breasts topped with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, basil pesto, and a lemon garlic sauce.”

    This Olive Garden signature dish hack starts with a quick 30-minute brine to bless the chicken with flavor and juiciness. While the chicken is marinating and then grilling, you’ll have plenty of time to make the basil pesto and lemon garlic sauce knock-offs.

    When the chicken comes off the grill, it gets topped with cheese and popped under the broiler for a nice melt. Once plated, the chicken is doused with sauce, topped with pesto, and sprinkled with grape tomato halves.

    I also worked up a clone for the side served with this entree at Olive Garden—the Parmesan zucchini. I've got that hack in the Tidbits below if you’d like to include this simple addition to your copycat plate.

    This recipe makes four servings, which is four lunch-size servings at Olive Garden, or two dinner portions. How hungry are you?

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    This delicious new appetizer from The Cheesecake Factory features four little sandwiches, each packing big flavor. Smoked pork belly is slathered with barbecue sauce, then stacked on soft slider buns with spicy sauce, creamy cole slaw, and crispy fried pickles. Smoked pork belly is the star, so you’ll either smoke some yourself using a smoker or use these tips here to smoke it in your grill. You need around 10 ounces of pork belly to get 6 ounces when smoked, or 1½ ounces per sandwich.       

    The cole slaw is easy, the spicy sauce is easy, the barbecue sauce is pre-made (bottled), and the fried pickles are a simple exercise in breading and frying that anyone can master. After the pork belly is perfectly smoked and fall-apart tender, stack everything on your favorite toasted soft slider rolls, and let the devouring begin.

    Click here for more clone recipes for Cheesecake Factory's famous cheesecakes, appetizers, entrees, soups and more! 

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    Hooters debuted a new flavor and style of their famous chicken wings in 2013 with the introduction of Daytona Beach Style Wings—naked wings (not breaded) that are fried, sauced and grilled. The new menu item was a sales success, eclipsing the famous buffalo style wings the chain had become known for, and making it imperative that we have a delicious and accurate copycat hack. And now we do.

    To build an identical home version you’ll first need to make a knock-off of the delicious Daytona sauce to brush over the wings. It’s a combination of barbecue sauce and the same cayenne sauce used to coat traditional Buffalo wings, plus a few other important ingredients that make the sauce special (and things you won’t find in other hacks), like Worcestershire sauce and minced jalapenos. The wings are coated, grilled for just a minute on each side, then sauced again for maximum flavor. Stack the napkins close by and get something tall to drink, because these messy wings are guaranteed to deliver a super spicy kick to your food hole.

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    Panera’s top soup pick in the summer is a creamy vegetarian chowder that’s full of flavor and very simple to duplicate at home once you know an important flavor secret. I started my hack using a vegetable broth since that’s what all the other “copycats” call for, but I found its strong vegetable flavor dominated the soup, so I quickly bailed on that plan. Starting over, I referred to the soup ingredients posted online by Panera Bread and noticed there is no broth in the soup, which means every copycat recipe I found online is wrong. I didn’t want to make the same mistake in my recipe, but without the broth this soup would be severely lacking in flavor, and that’s no good either.

    In many soup recipes, the broth or stock is important for the umami quality provided by the yeast extract added to the product. Yeast extracts are one of the many ways food manufacturers add an MSG flavor-enhancing effect without adding true MSG. Panera does in fact list “yeast extract” as one of the ingredients in the soup, so I needed to find a readily available ingredient that provides the same savory quality. Enter nutritional yeast—or “nooch” as it’s often called—a flakey, nutrient-packed, vegan ingredient that’s growing quickly in popularity thanks to the savory, cheesy flavor it adds to a variety of foods (it’s great on popcorn). Nooch is also popular with the vegans and vegetarians since it’s fortified with vitamin B12, an essential nutrient that's mainly found in animal-sourced foods.

    Now, with nooch in there, along with yellow corn, red skin potatoes, poblano pepper, tomatoes, cilantro, and other tasty things, no broth is required. Just add water and a little patience. 

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    For me, the most important component of a good crostata, or Italian baked tart, is a great crust. When cloning this top Olive Garden dessert, that's where I first focused my efforts, baking dozens of slightly different unfilled sugared crusts. Thankfully, flour is cheap. Once I had an easy, yet still delicious and flakey crust that was as good, if not better, than the real thing, I turned to the filling.

    Olive Garden uses Northern Spy apples in the crostata, which is a somewhat tart, firm apple, often used in pies. But they are hard to find. If you can’t find Northern Spy apples, I found that the much more common Granny Smiths work just fine here. When it came to cutting the apples I noted that the apple pieces in the real crostata have no uniformity—the apples appear to be sliced, then those slices are coarsely chopped resulting in a mixture of small and large apple pieces. We'll do the same here.

    After your crostatas have been baked to a golden brown, top each one with a scoop of ice cream and drizzle some caramel sauce over the top for a beautiful dessert no one will have the power to resist. 

    This recipe makes 4 crostatas, which is enough for 8 people to share. If you have crostatas left over, they can be stored in a covered container for a couple of days, then re-heated under a broiler until hot, just before serving.

    Want some more of my Olive Garden clone recipes? I've got a bunch right here.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    A requirement of any visit to Chicago is eating at least one slice of deep dish pizza in the city that perfected it. Deep dish pizza quickly became a Chicago staple after Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo opened the first Pizzeria Uno in 1943 and served a hearty new style of pizza constructed in a high-rimmed cake pan. The yeast crust was tender and flakey, like a pastry, and the cheese was layered under the sauce so that it wouldn’t burn in a hot oven for the long cooking time.

    While researching a home hack of this now iconic recipe I discovered an unexpected technique that I hadn’t seen in any other deep dish recipes. Employees told me the pizza crusts are partially cooked each morning to cut down on the wait time for customers. Before the restaurant opens each day, cooks press the dough into a pan and then sprinkle it with a little shredded cheese. The shells are then partially baked and set aside. Later, when an order comes in, the pizza is built into one of the par-baked crusts and finished off. This way customers get their food faster, and the tables turn over quicker.

    Copying that delicious, flakey crust was the task that took me the longest. After two weeks of baking, I finally settled on a formula that mashed-up yeast dough and pie crust, making a perfectly tender deep dish crust with great flavor that exactly mimicked the original. If you like Uno, you will love this.

    Regarding the cheese: be sure your cheese is at room temperature, and not cold, or it may not melt all the way through. Also, it’s best if you buy cheese by the block and shred it yourself. Pre-shredded cheese is dusted with cornstarch (so that the shreds don’t stick together in the bag), and it won’t melt as smoothly as cheese you shred by hand.

    This recipe will make enough sauce for two pizzas. Just thought you should know that in case you get the urge to make another deep dish after this one disappears.

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    Three components must be mastered to hack this top menu pick at the country’s largest fast Chinese chain: candied nuts, honey sauce, and perfectly battered shrimp. For the candied walnuts I came up with a technique using the oven, which means there’s no candy thermometer required and it’s a no-brainer. The shrimp at Panda Express is not tightly curled up, and you can do the same thing at home when you fry yours. Pinch the tail of each shrimp after it has been floured and dip it into the batter until well-coated. The weight of the batter will help to unfurl the shrimp, and if you lower each one slowly into the batter it will mostly stay that way. When all of the shrimp has fried, you bake them in the oven so that they are crispy and warm, then toss the shrimp and the nuts in the delicious honey sauce and serve.

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    Here's how to build a cheeseburger in crispy spring roll dough and make the secret 4-ingredient dipping sauce, for a perfect hack of one of Cheesecake Factory’s newest appetizers. I found the best solution for a good clone was to first cook two 4-ounce Angus patties—with 15% fat so the beef stays juicy—in a saute pan until browned. I then grilled some onion in the same pan, and mixed it into the crumbled patties, with ketchup, and diced American cheese. 

    I tried several different wrappers and found the thinnest wrappers to work the best. Try to find wrappers that say “super thin” on them. Thicker dough wrappers will blister when fried, which is not how the restaurant version looks, although the thicker wrappers still make tasty spring rolls. Rice paper wrappers will give you a chewier, less crispy bite, but are a good option if you're interested in a gluten-free version. If you go with rice paper, you won’t need the cornstarch solution to seal them. Just dipping the wrapper in a little water makes the rice paper pliable and naturally sticky.

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    The Cheesecake Factory’s autumnal dessert offering is a clever mashup of pecan pie and pumpkin cheesecake in a traditional flakey pie crust. At first glance, I thought this would be an easy one to unlock, but I found the recipe to be a surprisingly tricky hack since all the components in the cheesecake follow different baking rules.

    The first step was to design a crust that could withstand being cooked three times. After a few tests, I came up with a recipe that produces a hardy dough that can be par-baked, then baked again two more times while staying flakey and delicious.

    The next step was to thicken the pecan filling before adding it to the cheesecake pan. My first version skipped this step and pecan filling soaked through the crust and through the springform pan onto the bottom of the oven where a charred, dark stain remains to this day.

    By cooking the pecan filling before it goes into the cheesecake it will thicken and not soak through the crust, and not wind up on your oven. After the filling cools for 45 minutes, you can build a cheesecake on top of it.

    Add the cheesecake filling right up to the top of the crust. If you do a good job making the top edge of the crust even all the way around, the cheesecake filling will fit perfectly.

    I'm sharing two ways to make the essential caramel sauce that goes over the top. The easy way is to simply combine walnuts with your favorite caramel sauce and pour it over a slice. But the best way is to make the sauce from scratch using the other recipe I've included here. It's only a few ingredients, it's not too hard, and I think you'll love the results.

    Pour the sauce over the top, add a dollop of whipped cream, and you'll have produced a finished slice of cheesecake that looks—and tastes—like it was made by a pro.

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    Menu Description: "Two fresh breakfast favorites are even better together with our buttermilk pancakes swirled with cinnamon-brown sugar."

    This new Cheesecake Factory brunch item packs everything you love about cinnamon rolls into an extra-wide stack of pancakes, including buttery icing on top. To make pancakes that are caramel brown on their faces and super spongy with lots of air pockets, you’ll need a tablespoon of baking soda in the batter. When the alkaline baking soda collides with the acidic buttermilk, the batter will instantly puff up, making pancakes that are extra light and airy, and very dark on their surface, like pretzels.

    Your batter makes plain buttermilk pancakes until the secret cinnamon filling is swirled over the top of the batter when it's poured into the pan. The combination of brown sugar, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and butter will melt into the pancake, making it look and taste like a sweet, buttery cinnamon roll. Hopefully, you have a big griddle or very large skillet to cook these on. The original pancakes are 7 to 8 inches across, so you’ll need a big cooking surface if you want to cook more than one at a time. Or, you could just make smaller pancakes.

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