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. Get all the best restaurant recipes from Applebee's to El Pollo Loco here. New recipes added every week.

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  • Score: 4.77 (votes: 22)
    El Pollo Loco Creamy Cilantro Dressing

    Sliced chicken breast, romaine lettuce, pico de gallo, tortilla strips, and cotija cheese make up El Pollo Loco's Caesar Salad, but it is the fantastic creamy cilantro dressing recipe that gets the raves. Simply combine the basic ingredients in my El Pollo Loco Creamy Cilantro Dressing recipe in a blender, and you'll soon have more than one cup of the delicious dressing cloned and ready to pour over any of your home salad creations.

    You can also make El Pollo Loco Flame Broiled Chicken, pinto beans, Spanish rice and more. Find my copycat recipes here

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Chipotle Mexican Grill Chipotle-Honey Vinaigrette

    Menu Description: "Spicy, shredded beef, braised with our own chipotle adobo, cumin, cloves, garlic and oregano."
     
    The original Mexican dish barbacoa was traditionally prepared by cooking almost any kind of meat goat, fish, chicken, or cow cheek meat, to name just a few, in a pit covered with leaves over low heat for many hours, until tender. When the dish made its way into the United States via Texas the word transformed into "barbecue" and the preparation changed to incorporate above-ground techniques such as smoking and grilling. The good news is that we can recreate the beef barbacoa that Chipotle has made popular on its ginormous burritos without digging any holes in our backyard or tracking down a local source for fresh cow faces. After braising about 30 pounds of chuck roasts, I finally discovered the perfect clone with a taste-alike adobo sauce that fills your roast with flavor as it slowly cooks to a fork-tender delicacy on your stovetop over 5 to 6 hours. Part of the secret for great adobo sauce is toasting whole cumin seeds and cloves and then grinding them in a coffee grinder (measure the spices after grinding them). Since the braising process takes so long, start early in the day and get ready for a big dinner, because I've also included clones here for Chipotle's pico de gallo, pinto beans, and delicious cilantro-lime rice to make your burritos complete. You can add your choice of cheese, plus guacamole and sour cream for a super-deluxe clone version.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    Claim Jumper Absolutely Electric Lemonade

    Tastes like lemonade, buzzes like booze. Use the fresh lemonade hack recipe here, or a pre-made lemonade when on time-sensitive missions.

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

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Cheesecake Factory Asian Pear Martini

    Pear vodka and pear nectar combine for big pear flavor in this refreshing martini hack from The Factory. If you can't find Torani passion fruit syrup, use passion fruit juice and a little simple syrup (see Tidbits). And be sure to chill the glass with ice and a little water before mixing.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Denny's Cherry Cherry Limeade

    Menu Description: "One part lime. Two parts cherry. All blended with ice-cold Sprite." 

    Denny's Fusion Favorites are creative drink mixes blended from the chain's soda fountain with a variety of added fruit flavors. The secret ingredients in these trademarked drinks are the flavored syrups dispensed from giant squirt bottles next to the soda machines, but I discovered that we can easily recreate these syrups using Kool-Aid drink mix powder. For this drink, that is the top choice on the Fusion Favorites menu, dissolve the Kool-Aid mix into a little lime juice for a cherry/lime syrup that can be stirred into a blend of Sprite and Minute-Maid lemonade. And if you want to significantly reduce the calories in this drink, use diet Sprite and light Minute-Maid lemonade and you can hardly tell the difference.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 6)
    Denny's Moons Over My Hammy

    With its goofy-yet-memorable name, Moons Over My Hammy is a delicious scrambled egg sandwich that can be eaten for breakfast with hash browns on the side, or for lunch with a side of French fries. When you get the sourdough bread for this recipe, try to find a good-quality loaf with large slices.

    Click here for more amazing copycat sandwich recipes. 


    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.25 (votes: 4)
    El Pollo Loco Salsa
    Along with your order from this 250-unit Western U.S. chain, comes a delicious, yet simple to clone, fat-free salsa. If you don’t have a food processor, never fear. You can also make the salsa by hand with a large, sharp knife and some steady-handed chopping. Keep your head down and watch the fingers.

    Nurtrition facts:
    Serving size–1oz
    Total servings–8
    Calories per serving–6
    Fat per serving–0g 
     
    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur. 
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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Chi-Chi's Twice Grilled Barbecue Burrito

    Menu Description: "Grilled steak or chicken wrapped in a flour tortilla with cheese and sauteed vegetables. Then the burrito is basted with spicy barbecue sauce and grilled again. Served with Spanish rice and sweet corn cake."

    This dish burst with the Southwestern flavors that have become so popular lately. Southwestern dishes like fajitas and specialty burritos are the latest rage in the restaurant industry, and now more chains than ever are creating their own spicy, Southwestern-style-goodies.

    I think you'll really enjoy this one. Chi-Chi's has taken fajita-style grilled beef, rolled it up like a burrito, grilled it again, and then smothered it with smoky barbecue sauce. This dish has quickly become a favorite menu item at Chi-Chi's and a favorite for people tiring of the same old Mexican food. Fire up the grill and give this recipe a try.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 3.00 (votes: 2)
    Chi-Chi's Mexican "Fried" Ice Cream

    Menu Description: "Our specialty! French Vanilla ice cream with a crunchy, crispy cinnamon coating. Served with your choice of honey, chocolate or strawberry topping."

    Cooks at Chi-Chi's chain of Mexican restaurants are instructed to not memorize recipes for the dishes they make. Management says each chef is required to consult the company cookbooks every time they whip up a meal, so that each dish tastes exactly the same in every Chi-Chi's any time of the day. Perhaps it's that practice that has made Chi-Chi's the largest Mexican restaurant chain in the country. 

    This crispy-coated ice cream sundae is not exactly fried as you may expect by the name. The scoop of vanilla ice cream is actually rolled in cornflake crumbs that have been flavored with sugar and cinnamon, giving it the appearance and texture of being fried. It's a simple idea that tastes just great, and is well worth the try. Chi-Chi's calls this their "specialty" and claims it's the most requested dessert item on the menu.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    Chili's Grilled Caribbean Salad

    Menu Description: "Grilled, marinated chicken breast, mixed greens, pico de gallo, pineapple chunks, tortilla strips & honey-lime dressing."

    Larry Levine started building his chain of Chili's restaurants in Dallas in 1975. At that time, Chili's was basically a hamburger joint with a gourmet touch, dining room service and booze. Even though the menu then offered only eleven items, the restaurant was so popular that the throngs of hungry customers waited patiently in lines extending into the parking lots. This caught the eye of persuasive restaurateur Norman Brinker, who, in 1983, convinced Larry to sell his chain of Chili's restaurants, which by then had grown to a total of thirty.

    Before Norman had stepped into the picture, more than 80 percent of Chili's business was in hamburgers. Today a much larger menu reflects the current trends in food, and salads are some of the best-selling items. These days the Grilled Caribbean Salad with the tasty honey-lime dressing is the salad of choice. 

    Check out more of my copycat recipes for Chili's favorites here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Chili's Peanut Buttercup Cheesecake

    Menu Description: "Chocolate & vanilla marbled cheesecake on a chocolate cookie crust, topped w/fudge & Reese's Peanut Butter Cup pieces."

    A great dessert for anyone who likes cheesecake...and peanut butter cups. Use an 8-inch springform pan for this recipe if you have one. If not, you can also use two 9-inch pie pans and make two smaller cheesecakes. For the Oreo cookie crumbs, you can crumble three Oreo cookies (after removing the filling) or you can find packaged Oreo crumbs in the baking section of your supermarket near the graham cracker crumbs.

    Get more great Chili's copycat recipes here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Denny's Scram Slam

    Menu Description: "Three eggs scrambled with Cheddar cheese, mushrooms, green peppers and onions, then topped with diced tomatoes. Served with hash browns, sausage, bacon and choice of toast, homestyle buttermilk biscuit or English muffin."

    In 1953, Harold Butler realized his dream of opening a donut shop. The little shop in Lakewood, California was called Danny's Donuts, and Harold's philosophy was simple: "We're going to serve the best cup of coffee; make the best donuts; give the best service; keep everything spotless; offer the best value; and stay open 24 hours a day."

    That little donut store made $120,000 in its first year—a good bit of change for any restaurant in 1953. When customers showed interest in a more diverse menu, Harold began offering sandwiches, breakfasts, and other meals; and in 1954 changed the name to Danny's Coffee Shops. The name of the chain would eventually change again, this time to Denny's—the nation's largest full-service restaurant chain when this recipe was created.

    In 1977, Denny's introduced the Grand Slam Breakfast—a value priced breakfast that included eggs, sausage, bacon, and pancakes. Later, the successful Grand Slam Breakfast specials expanded to include other variations including the French Slam, Southern Slam, and the Scram Slam, a popular vegetable-and-scrambled egg creation you can now make for yourself.

    How about some pancakes or French toast to go with your scrambled eggs? Click here for more copycat recipes from Denny's.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Dive! Sicilian Sub Rosa

    Menu Description: "Our traditional sub with capocollo, mortadella, Genoa salami, prociutto ham, provolone cheese, roasted red peppers, fresh basil, lettuce, sliced tomato, onions and vinaigrette. Served hot or cold."

    Casino magnate Steve Wynn teamed up with Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and the Levy Brothers for the second Dive! restaurant which opened in Las Vegas in March of 1995. Like the first restaurant which opened the year before in Los Angeles, the Vegas Dive! features Spielbergian special effects designed by Hollywood set builders, such as bubbling potholes, spinning gauges, working periscopes, steaming pipes, and a simulated dive run by a computer every hour. Diving down the Vegas "strip" you can't miss the giant nose of a submarine crashing through a 30-foot wall of water, which pumps 100 gallons of water per foot per minute down thick glass window panes. A pool below explodes with synchronized depth charges that splash passersby at random intervals. Back inside, if you look carefully, you can see the partner's initials stenciled on torpedoes hanging high over the heads of diners.

    The Dive! concept was built around submarine sandwiches and the Sicilian Sub Rosa is its signature traditional Italian submarine sandwich. It's said to be co-founder Steven Spielberg's favorite. Since the Dive! has taken a dive, you have to make this Dive! Sicilian Sub Rosa recipe to recapture that signature flavor. Try to get all the meat sliced fresh at a full-service deli counter if you have one at your supermarket.

    What other famous sandwiches can you make at home? Click here to find out.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    Dive! Brick Oven Mushroom and Turkey Cheese Sub

    Menu Description: "Our fresh roasted turkey, brick oven roasted seasonal mushrooms with white Cheddar cheese and melted Swiss cheese. Served Hot."

    Although not intended to be a restaurant where sightseeers are encouraged to catch a glimpse of celebrities, many stars were spotted at the L.A. location of this trendy theme eatery. Through the "hatch" walked the likes of Candice Bergen, Warren Beatty, Michael Keaton, Tom Hanks, Michael Douglas, and Rob Reiner. Pierce Brosnan and Henry Winkler were regulars, and for some time co-founder Steven Spielberg could be seen eating there weekly. Today, the only way to experience food from this now defunt chain is to clone it at home. Sadly, you won't spot many celebrities in your kitchen. 

    For this sandwich, inspired by Dive!'s popular Brick Oven Mushroom and Turkey Cheese Sub, you will likely not have the luxury of a brick oven to roast the mushrooms, but I've found the recipe is just as tasty as the real thing with sauteed mushrooms. It's important that you find the freshest bread your market has available, and if possible, get the turkey sliced for you at a full-service deli counter. A sandwich is only as good and as fresh as its ingredients, so try to find the best your market has to offer.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    Cheeseburger in Paradise El Cubano Sandwich

    Menu Description: “Ham, salami, pork, Swiss cheese, mayo, mustard and pickles, pressed until golden brown.”

    This chain of island-themed restaurants features a delicious Cuban sandwich as one of the menu’s specialty items. A variety of meats are stacked on a crusty sandwich roll along with some pickles, then the sandwich is pressed until warm and flattened on a plancha grill. While there are many different ways to build a Cuban sandwich, the traditional recipe does not include mayonnaise, tomatoes, lettuce or onions. Cheeseburger in Paradise breaks tradition a bit by spreading some mayonnaise on the bread, but that’s okay, because otherwise this recipe stays true to the classic formula. Marinated pork is the superstar in this sandwich, so we must make that from scratch using juices plus lots of garlic, onion and oregano. We’ll marinate the pork for a couple hours just as the restaurant does, then bake it in a slow oven. When the pork is ready and sliced you stack it on the sandwich with other sliced deli meats, some Swiss cheese and pickles, and then it’s ready to be browned. I don’t expect you’ll have a plancha grill handy, but you can use a hot skillet with another very heavy pan, such as a cast iron skillet, to press down on top of the sandwich. I also like to put a brick in the skillet on top to help flatten the sandwich even more. For a true Cuban experience serve these along with a pitcher of mojitos and have everyone do their best Ricky Ricardo impression. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 5)
    Cheesecake Factory Banana Cream Cheesecake

    Menu Description: “Banana Cream Cheesecake Topped with Bavarian Cream and Fresh Sliced Bananas.”

    I’ve learned a lot about cheesecakes over the last couple decades in the process of duplicating a variety of popular versions for the Top Secret Recipes cookbooks, and I’ve made a lot of mistakes. But the biggest secret I’ve discovered for baking picture-perfect cheesecakes is using a water bath. By baking the cheesecake in a pan filled with just a little water you add moisture to the oven, thereby allowing the top of the cheesecake to expand as it cooks without developing what will look like an aerial view of the San Andreas Fault. If you don’t over mix your filling and use a water bath, you’ll bake a restaurant-quality cheesecake every time. You also need to have a good recipe of course, and this one here is great if you like banana cream pie. It’s quickly become a top choice at the restaurant chain because of the banana flavor hidden in each layer. And everyone knows that Nilla Wafers go great with bananas, so these ground-up cookies make the perfect crust.

    Find more amazing Cheesecake Factory copycat recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 3)
    Applebee's Perfect Margarita

    You’ll need a cocktail shaker for this one. If you want to serve it up the same way as in the restaurant, you need a small martini glass. You’ll also need some simple syrup to sweeten the drink. You can buy it or make your own by mixing two parts sugar to one part boiling water. You can make sweet and sour mix from scratch with this recipe

    You’ll have some leftover ingredients for an additional serving if you like. And once you taste this, you’ll like.

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

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 2)
    Burger King/McDonald's McWhopper

    To honor the International Day of Peace on September 21, 2015, Burger King published an open letter to McDonald's in The New York Times and Chicago Tribune proposing that the two burger giants call a cease fire on their "burger wars," and honor the day by joining forces to sell a one-day mash-up of their two famous hamburgers at a pop-up shop located in Atlanta—the halfway point between the two cities where the chains' headquarters are located (Chicago and Miami). The letter stated that the "McWhopper" would include "All the tastiest bits of your Big Mac and our Whopper, united in one delicious, peace-loving burger." Burger King spent some significant time and money on the campaign, building a beautiful website and super slick YouTube video, but unfortunately the proposal fell flat. McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook responded with his own open letter stating, "We love the intention, but think our brands could do something bigger to make a difference." In other words, "Thanks, but no thanks." He ends his letter with a biting p.s. that reads, "A simple phone call will do next time." Ouch. 

    It looks like there won't be a real McWhopper in our near fast food future, but that doesn't mean you can't still taste one for yourself. Or, at least a clone of one using this Top Secret Recipe which I assembled from information found on the McWhopper website and the hack recipes I created years ago for the Big Mac and Whopper. If you like both of those sandwiches I promise you that your efforts will be rewarded here. This is a really good burger. 

    Included in the recipe below is my new, improved hack of McDonald's secret sauce from the new book, Top Secret Recipes Step-by-Step, plus the full assembly instructions for the burger. The Whopper is built with a flame-broiled patty, so you'll need a grill for that, and the Big Mac patty can be cooked in a pan on your stovetop. The bun sizes are different for each of these burgers, so if you want it to be authentic, you'll need to buy a package of small sesame seed buns and a package of large ones. Slap together the six components from each of the two burgers and even though the two halves taste great on their own, when combined these ingredients make a delicious and unique hamburger that unlike any you've had before.

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  • Score: 4.83 (votes: 6)
    Burger King Onion Rings

    Since McDonald's doesn't sell onion rings, these crunchy, golden hoops from the world's number two restaurant chain are the most popular onion rings in the world. There are more than 12,000 Burger Kings in 61 countries these days, and after French fries, onion rings are the second-most popular companion to the chain's signature Whopper sandwich. Check out how simple it is to clone a whopping four dozen onion rings from one onion, using this triple-breading process. When frying, trans fat-free vegetable shortening makes for the best Burger King Onion Rings recipe, but you can get by fine using vegetable oil if that's the way you want to go.. (For a great dipping sauce—similar to Outback's Bloomin' Onion sauce—check out my clone recipe for Burger King's Zesty Onion Ring Dipping Sauce.)

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 3.75 (votes: 4)
    Burger King Zesty Onion Ring Sauce

    If you're a big fan of onion rings from Burger King, you probably already know about the spicy dipping sauce offered from the world's number two burger chain (it's not always on the menu, and you usually have to request it). The creamy, mayo-based sauce seems to be inspired by the dipping sauce served with Outback's signature Bloomin Onion appetizer, since both sauces contain similar ingredients, among them horseradish and cayenne pepper. If you're giving the clone for Burger King Onion Rings a try, whip up some of this sauce and go for a dip. It's just as good with low-fat mayonnaise if you're into that. And the stuff works real well as a spread for burgers and sandwiches, or for dipping artichokes.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 13)
    El Pollo Loco Avocado Salsa

    This creamy green sauce is available at the salsa bar at each of the 389 El Pollo Loco outlets located throughout the western United States, and folks are going crazy over it. The problem is, you can only get it in small quantities at the restaurant, and once you taste a little there you're going to want a lot more of it at home. Use a food processor to mix this one up (everything but the cilantro and onion goes in there) and prepare for a delicious, spicy concoction that you can pour over your favorite homemade Mexican-style dishes, from taco salads to fajitas. Big props go out to Pancho Ochoa, who opened his first roadside chicken stand in Guasave, Mexico in 1975. Today Pancho's El Pollo Loco is the number one quick-service, flame-broiled chicken chain in America.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 3.83 (votes: 6)
    Applebee's Onion Peels

    Menu Description: "Crisp-fried tender onion strips served with a creamy horseradish dipping sauce."

    This signature appetizer from Applebee's is the chain's reaction to overwhelming success of Outback's Bloomin' Onion and Chili's Awesome Blossom. A Bloomin' Onion is sliced with a special device, but cloning Onion Peels requires only the most basic kitchen prep and tools: slice the onion with a knife, separate the slices, dip the slices in batter and fry. Just remember to make the essential horseradish dipping sauce in advance so that the ingredients can mingle in the fridge.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.40 (votes: 15)
    Chili's Honey Mustard Dressing

    One of America's favorite casual chains brings us a popular salad dressing that you can't buy in stores. Instead, buy these six simple ingredients at a store and make your own version cheaply and quickly.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 2)
    California Pizza Kitchen Original BBQ Chicken Pizza

    Menu Description: "Introduced in our first restaurant in 1985. With barbecued chicken, sliced red onion, cilantro, and smoked Gouda cheese."

    In 1985, attorneys Larry Flax and Rick Rosenfield traded in their private practice, which included defending mob bosses and union officials, for a specialty pizza chain. These two "amateur chefs" say they were influenced by Wolfgang Puck, whose Spago restaurant in Los Angeles was the first to create pizza with unusual toppings. Now they have developed a niche somewhere between gourmet food and traditional Italian-style pizzas, creating what one magazine described as "designer pizza at off-the-rack prices." In addition to the pastas, soups, and salads, California Pizza Kitchen offers dozens of unique pizza creations that reflect the current trends in dining. When Cajun food was in style, the Cajun chicken pizza was a top seller; today that item has been replaced with Southwestern and Thai pizza varieties. As the menu explains, the Barbecued Chicken Pizza was one of the first pizzas served at California Pizza Kitchen. Decades later it remains one of the top-selling pizza creations.

    You can use this CPK BBQ chicken pizza recipe to make your pizza with pre-made or packaged dough, but I highly recommend taking the time to make the dough yourself. You'll find that it's well worth the little bit of extra work.

    Click here to see if I cloned your favorite salads and appetizers from CPK.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    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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  • 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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  • Not rated yet
    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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  • Not rated yet
    Applebee's Spinach & Artichoke Dip

    When I saw a recent Mashed.com poll where most people picked the spinach & artichoke dip as their favorite appetizer on the Applebee’s menu, I realized I haven’t yet cracked the recipe, and immediately got to work.

    I've hacked many spinach & artichoke dips over the years, but this one is different with a blend of Italian cheese in the mix. Thankfully, grocery stores usually have bags of pre-blended shredded Italian cheese, to make things easy. With that cheese blend, plus some additional Asiago and Parmesan, we've got a spot-on match to Applebee's Spinach & Artichoke Dip.

    No need to defrost the frozen spinach ahead of time—that will be taken care of when it steams in your microwave. Add the steamed spinach to the cheese and other ingredients in a saucepan with the trimmed artichoke hearts, and when it’s hot, sprinkle on some more Parm, brown it under your broiler, and bust out the chips.

    Check out my recipe for Applebee's Chicken Wonton Tacos and more here

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  • Not rated yet
    Del Taco Tamales

    This 600-unit Mexican fast food chain celebrates the holidays each year with delicious little $2 corn husk-wrapped pork tamales made from a traditional recipe for authentic south-of-the-border taste. The only problem is when the holidays go away, so do these tasty tamales. And that's why we bust out this Top Secret Recipe.

    Making authentic tamales is not difficult, but it does take time. The pork requires a braise for several hours to get it fork-tender, and the wrapped tamales will take around 2 hours to steam until they're done.

    My Del Taco tamale recipe is inspired by traditional tamale recipes that include a braising sauce for the pork made from rehydrated guajillo peppers. To coax out more flavor, I chose to first toast the peppers before adding them to the liquid. And rather than using lard in the masa dough, I found a combination of vegetable shortening and butter to be a more flavorful alternative.

    Steam all 24 of tamales until they are fully cooked, and store those you can’t eat in your freezer for several weeks. Steam the frozen tamales for 20 to 30 minutes, and they’ll taste as good as fresh.

    How about a cold margarita to wash down those tamales? Find your favorite famous drink recipes here.

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  • Not rated yet
    Chick-fil-A Peppermint Chip Milkshake

    The chicken chain’s seasonal milkshake made with chips of peppermint and chocolate is only available November through January each year, but what if you’re craving one in March? Or what if it’s Sunday and you can’t get your favorite shake because that’s when every Chick-fil-A is closed?

    Now you can make Chick-Fil-A Peppermint Chip Milkshake at home in the few minutes it takes to smash some candy canes and turn on a blender. Use a small storage bag and a kitchen mallet or handle of a butter knife to smash the peppermint candy into small crumbs, then combine those with dark chocolate bits, ice cream, milk, flavoring, and color, and you’ll be sipping on a perfect copy of the famous shake in under 5 minutes.

    Oh, don’t forget the whipped cream and a cherry.

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

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  • Not rated yet
    Domino's Sweet Mango Habanero Sauce

    This is the hottest of Domino’s dipping sauce offerings, and many would say it’s the best. The big sweet-and-sour flavors hit you first right out of the gate, then the habanero creeps in to remind your mouth which ingredient is the boss.   

    Sure, habanero is in the name, but there are actually several peppers at work here including jalapeno and red bell, and three juices: mango, orange, and lime. For your clone, everything gets pureed in the blender until smooth. When your Domino's Sweet Mango Habanero sauce has cooled, use it as a dip or baste for chicken fingers, nuggets, wings, coconut shrimp, salmon, and pizza (yes, pizza!). Give it a try with my Domino's pizza copycat recipes here

    Come for the great flavor, but stay for the heavenly heat of my simple and delicious original recipe for Domino's Sweet Mango Habanero sauce. Includes handy step photos. 

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Cracker Barrel Buttermilk Biscuits

    A great buttermilk biscuit isn’t hard to make. This is good news if you're serving hundreds each day as they do at this popular Southern kitchen chain. But a simple recipe such as this one is also a blessing when you need to whip up a modest batch at home for your hungry gang of biscuit fanatics, and it's an added bonus if they taste as good as the famous biscuits from Cracker Barrel. 

    The secret to tender, flakey biscuits like you get at the restaurant chain is using a lower-gluten self-rising flour such as White Lily; a staple for Southern biscuit recipes. A bit of shortening in the mix will help tenderize the finished product, as will a light mixing hand. Overmixing the dough may toughen your biscuits, so mix the dough gently and only as much as you have to.

    If you don’t use White Lily flour and go with a heavier self-rising flour such as Gold Medal, take note that you may have to add a couple of tablespoons more buttermilk to the dough to loosen it up. Good biscuit dough should be soft, but not sticky.

    After making these Cracker Barrel biscuits from scratch, try home versions of Cracker Barrel hash brown casserolebuttermilk piemeatloaf, and more.

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    Cracker Barrel Biscuit Beignets

    The delicious beignets Cracker Barrel creates with the chain's famous buttermilk biscuit formula are unlike traditional beignets in that they start with such a tangy dough. But once you add all the sweet stuff—cinnamon-sugar, powdered sugar, and butter-nut sauce—the saltiness is offset, resulting in a perfect harmony of great flavor.

    The dough here is a tweaked version of my hack for Cracker Barrel's Buttermilk Biscuits, but unlike that dough where we strive for flakiness in the finished product, this dough won't call for a light stirring hand. Instead, you should give this dough a decent beating in the mixing bowl to tighten it up so that it resists oil absorption when deep-fried.

    Along with all the steps and step photos for a great copycat of Cracker Barrel biscuit beignets, I’m also including my new hack for a delicious butter-nut dipping sauce that tastes just like what the chain serves, except this one is made with real butter. 

    Find more of your favorite Cracker Barrel dishes here

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    Applebee's Riblets

    Ever wonder where Riblets come from?

    "Riblets" is Applebee’s trademarked name for button ribs or rib tips (as they are called at Walmart), which is a short cut trimmed from the back end of pork spareribs, packed with lots of connective tissue. And that's a good thing because, after 3 to 4 hours of braising, that connective tissue will break down, producing fork-tender meat that slips off the bone. Of the cooking methods I tried for my version of Applebee's Riblets recipe, which included steaming, slow-roasting, and smoking; braising made the most tender, flavorful ribs—even before the sauce went on. 

    For the braising formula, I found that chicken broth infused with liquid smoke creates tender ribs that taste as if they came out of a smoker. Finish off the braised ribs on your grill and baste them with the original TSR hack below that clones Applebee’s honey barbecue sauce, or use your favorite bottled sauce. 

    And if you'd like to serve these riblets with almond rice pilaf as they do in the restaurant, you can find my clone recipe here on the site.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Domino's Chocolate Lava Crunch Cakes

    A traditional “molten” cake or “lava” cake is baked at a high temperature for a short time so that the outside of the cake is fully cooked, but the batter at the center stays unset and gooey. Domino’s lava cakes are different with pure fudge topping hidden in the middle rather than cake batter. The little dessert is delicious, with a crunchy exterior and two forms of chocolate in one bite, but it presents some challenges, such as how to fully enclose soft fudge in the center of a small cake without holes, and how to keep the fudge from disappearing into the cake batter as it bakes.

    Since there are no holes or seams detected on the cakes, the filling needs to be loaded into the cakes before baking. I thought about freezing the fudge in disk shapes and then concealing those into the middle of a muffin cup of cake batter, but the fudge doesn’t freeze solid in a home freezer. It just gets really cold and really sticky, and it's much too messy to work with.

    Going back to the drawing board, I found the clue I needed on Domino's website. The list of ingredients for the lava cakes includes “cake crumbs” and “cookie crumbs” along with butter, eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla, and cocoa. This suggests that crumbs of pre-baked cake and cookies could be combined with the other ingredients to make firmer cake “dough” rather than runny cake batter. The soft fudge could then be spooned onto the bottom of the uncooked mini cakes, topped with more dough, and baked.

    After baking the little cakes with this new technique there is no detectable seam, and the fudge inside gets warm and gooey and oozes out when you eat it, just like the real thing. Serve these up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side and watch the fun when everyone takes a bite.

    My Domino's chocolate lava crunch cake recipe makes 12 cakes, and I'm adding a bunch of step photos so yours will come out perfect. You can chill any leftovers for serving later with the reheating instructions I'm including at the end.

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

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    Applebee's Oreo Cookie Milkshake

    This delicious made-to-order oreo cookie milkshake was one of several items cut from the menu in 2020 when the pandemic brought the dine-in restaurant business to a crawl. But in June 2021 when the song “Fancy Like” from country singer Walker Hayes, which mentions the milkshake by name, went viral on TikTok, Applebee’s brought back the shake to satisfy the increased demand.

    Now you can make your own Applebee's Oreo Cookie Milkshake without leaving home with this simple hack that requires just a few ingredients and a blender. Start by getting the ice cream smooth in the blender with the milk before adding in the Oreo pieces so that you don’t make the Oreo cookie crumbs too small. You want a few little bits in there for crunch, but they shouldn’t be big enough to clog the straw. Add some whipped cream on top with some Oreo crumbs and you’ve just made enough for two 12-ounce shakes.

    As the song goes, “We fancy like Applebee’s on a date night, got that Bourbon Street steak with the Oreo shake.” Now that you’ve got your Oreo shake, how about a Bourbon Street steak

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 2)
    Chick-fil-A Spicy Deluxe Chicken Sandwich

    This chain’s not-spicy original chicken sandwich which debuted in 1964 was the first chicken sandwich introduced to America by a fast food chain, and it put Chick-fil-A on the map. By diversifying the menu with new products such as this kicked-up version of the famous sandwich, the chain grew over the years to become the #1 chicken restaurant in the nation, and this sandwich is now one of the most popular picks on the menu board.

    The secrets for a good clone of the Chick-Fil-A Spicy Deluxe Chicken Sandwich lie in the brine and the breading. I recently obtained some insider intel confirming the long-standing rumor that pickle juice is the brine. I hadn’t called for it in my prior Chick-fil-A clones because the listed ingredients for the sandwich didn’t include it. I’m not sure why that is, but my latest test versions with the pickle juice were noticeably better, so now it’s in there. You should also know that MSG is an important ingredient in both the brine and breading, so don’t leave that out if you want the best clone.

    Use this special trick to get three perfect sandwich-size cutlets out of each chicken breast, and then give the chicken a nice 4-hour brine. Your patience will be rewarded with one of the best chicken sandwich hacks to come out of a home kitchen. 

    Now, check out my version of Chick-fil-A Mac and Cheese!

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    Cheesecake Factory Spicy Cashew Chicken

    This popular chain wrangles a wide variety of dishes and cooking styles day after day with consistently high quality. From pasta to burgers to tacos, from salads to pancakes to beautiful cheesecakes for dessert, there is something for everyone at the Cheesecake Factory.

    The thorough menu's Asia-inspired plates include Thai, Korean, and Chinese dishes, but one that consistently stands out is this excellent Mandarin-style spicy chicken entrée, served over your choice of white or brown rice.

    The secret of the great flavor is in the sauce, which has now been hacked for you in this recipe. Plus, I’ll walk you through the process of creating perfect crispy chicken from scratch using juicy chicken tenderloins.

    If you’d like to save time, you can bake up some pre-cooked breaded chicken tenders and focus all your efforts on the amazing sauce. Tips on that shortcut can be found below in the Tidbits.    

    If you like this recipe for Cheesecake Factory Spicy Cashew chicken, you'll want to check out more of my copycat Cheesecake Factory recipes here.

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    Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s Hand-Breaded Chicken & Waffle Sandwich

    In the midst of the chicken sandwich wars of 2019-2021, Carl’s Jr. (Hardee’s) debuted a simple chicken and waffle sandwich that is surprisingly good. Crispy chicken breast is doused with maple butter sauce and sandwiched between two Belgian waffle buns for a sweet-and-savory handful of fab.     

    To clone the sandwich at home, the chicken gets brined for great flavor and juiciness like the real thing, then it’s cooked until perfectly golden brown and crispy. The maple butter sauce is easy to hack with just three ingredients and a mixer.

    The biggest secret I reveal is how to make Belgian waffles with one flat side just like the real sandwich using a standard waffle iron and a piece of folded aluminum foil. Those exclusive tricks are here plus plenty of helpful step photos so your homemade Carl's Jr. chicken & waffle sandwich will come out perfect.

    Find more of my copycat Carl's Jr. recipes here

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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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