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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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Show: 24
  • Score: 4.88 (votes: 16)
    Cheesecake Factory Original Cheesecake

    Menu Description: "Our famous Original cheesecake recipe! Creamy and light, baked in a graham cracker crust. Our most popular cheesecake!"

    Oscar and Evelyn Overton's wholesale cheesecake company was successful quickly after it first started selling creamy cheesecakes like this clone to restaurant chains in the early 1970's. When some restaurants balked at the prices the company was charging for high-end desserts, Oscar and Evelyn's son David decided it was time to open his own restaurant, offering a wide variety of quality meal choices in huge portions, and, of course, the famous cheesecakes for dessert. Today the chain has over 87 stores across the country, and consistently ranks number one on the list of highest grossing single stores for a U.S. restaurant chain.

    Baking your cheesecakes in a water bath is part of the secret to producing beautiful cheesecakes at home with a texture similar to those sold in the restaurant. The water surrounds your cheesecake to keep it moist as it cooks, and the moisture helps prevent ugly cracking. You'll start the oven very hot for just a short time, then crank it down to finish. I also suggest lining your cheesecake pan with parchment paper to help get the thing out of the pan when it's done without a hassle.

    This recipe is so easy, even a 2-year old can make it. Check out the video

    More amazing Cheesecake Factory copycat recipes here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Bob Evans Farms Banana Nut Bread Loaf

    When I checked out the ingredients for the Banana Nut Bread Loaf—the most popular baked item at Bob Evans Farms—I was surprised to discover that the banana bread has very little real banana in it. In fact, banana is the second-to-last ingredient, just before water. So the banana taste in the loaf appears to come from artificial banana flavoring. But I have to assume that there was once a time when these delicious loaves were made with more real banana, and with real butter instead of the less expensive margarine that is used in the loaves today. And that’s how I crafted this clone.

    This upgraded recipe calls for old-school wholesome ingredients, and it produces a moist, delicious banana bread loaf that tastes like the real thing—and maybe even a little bit better. So if you like Bob Evans Banana Nut Bread Loaf, you'll love this new recipe hack.

    Making bread is fun, right? Find more of my copycat recipes for famous bread here

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Cheesecake Factory Oreo Dream Extreme Cheesecake

    The Cheesecake Factory’s latest decadent dessert goes extreme with America’s favorite cookie. You’ll find Oreos in the middle of the cheesecake, in the cookie mousse layer, pressed onto the edge, sprinkled on the whipped cream, and even up on top where an Oreo wafer crowns each slice. In fact, I’ve designed my copycat Cheesecake Factory Oreo cheesecake recipe to use every Oreo in a standard size-package—all 36 of them!

    This beautiful cheesecake starts with a chocolate cake layer, topped with a layer of chocolate buttercream icing, followed by a no-bake cheesecake layer, Oreo cookie mousse, and more chocolate icing. It’s a chocolate lover’s—and Oreo lover’s—dream, and not surprisingly, one of Cheesecake Factory’s best sellers.

    When creating your own version of this dessert masterpiece at home, be sure to use a 10-inch springform pan. This is a big cheesecake, so you'll get 12 large slices out of it. The restaurant charges around 56 bucks for a whole cheesecake this big, but thankfully, a homemade version will cost you much less than that.

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  • Not rated yet
    Cheesecake Factory Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake

    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 maintaining flakiness.

    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.

    Cooking the pecan filling before it goes into the cheesecake will thicken it so it won't soak through the crust and wind up dirtying 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 delicious finishing 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 recipe I've included here. It's only a few ingredients, it's not too hard, and 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 Factory Pumpkin Pecan cheesecake that looks—and tastes—like it was made by a pro.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 2)
    Cheesecake Factory Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

    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.

    The batter here 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 real Cheesecake Factory Cinnamon Roll 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.

    Find your favorite cheesecake, appetizers, and entrée recipes from Cheesecake Factory here

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Cheddar's Santa Fe Spinach Dip

    Spinach dips are a great finger food appetizer and just about every chain has its own version, but Cheddar's has one of the best in the business with a unique, slightly spicy southwestern twist. Four different kinds of cheese are used in this recipe: three are blended into the spinach, then mozzarella is melted over the top just before serving.

    And for speed, we’ll use a microwave oven to quickly defrost the box of frozen spinach so that you’ll have a delish copycat Cheddar's Santa Fe spinach dip on the table in just 20 minutes.

    This way to more cool copycats from Cheddar's.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Bojangles' Buttermilk Biscuits

    There’s one copycat recipe for these famous biscuits that’s posted and shared more than any other, and it’s downright awful. The dough is formulated with self-rising flour, baking powder, powdered sugar, shortening, and buttermilk, and many complain that the recipe creates dough that’s much too loose and the resulting biscuits are a complete disaster. Yet there the recipe remains on blogs and boards all over the interweb for unsuspecting home cloners such as yourself to waste time on. But that won’t happen anymore, because I have made a good copycat Bojangles' buttermilk biscuits recipe that works the way it should, guaranteeing you’ll get amazing golden buttermilk biscuits that look and taste just like a trained Bojangles’ pro made them.

    In addition to the obvious overuse of buttermilk, the popular recipe I found online has many problems. The author gets it right when calling for self-rising flour, which is flour containing salt and a leavening agent (aka baking powder), but why would the copycat Bojangles biscuit recipe be designed to use self-rising flour and then add additional leaving? Well, it probably wouldn’t. Biscuits are job number 1 for self-rising flour, and the leavening in there is measured for that use, so there’s no need to add more. If you were planning to add your own leavening, you’d probably start with all-purpose flour, which has no leavening in it. And let's just be clear: baking powder tastes gross, so we want to add as little as possible, not more than necessary.

    It’s also important to handle the dough the same way that workers at Bojangles’ do. They make biscuits there every 20 minutes and there are plenty of YouTube videos showing the preparation technique. In a nutshell, the dough is mixed by hand (in the restaurant they use their hands because the quantity is so large, but for this recipe use a mixing spoon), then it’s folded over a few times on a floured countertop before it’s rolled out. This gentle handling of the dough prevents the gluten in the flour from toughening and adds layers, so your biscuits come out of the oven tender and flakey.

    For the best results, find White Lily flour. This self-rising flour is low in gluten and makes unbelievably fluffy biscuits. If you use another self-rising brand, you’ll still get great biscuits, but the gluten level will likely be higher, the biscuits will be tougher, and you’ll probably need more buttermilk. Head down to the Tidbits below for details on that.

    And I noticed another thing most copycat Bojangles biscuit recipes get wrong. For biscuits that are beautifully golden brown on the top and bottom, you’ll want to bake them on a silicone baking mat (or parchment paper) at 500 degrees F. Yes, 500 degrees. That may seem hot, but this high temp works well with self-rising flour, and in 12 to 15 minutes the biscuits will be perfectly browned.

    Counterintuitively, it’s the lower temperatures that end up burning the biscuits, while the higher temperature cooks them just right. At lower temps the biscuits must stay in the oven longer to cook through, which exposes the surfaces to more heat, and they end up too dark on the outside, especially the bottom. For even better results, if you have a convection setting on your oven, use that and set the temp to 475 degrees F. Your biscuits will look like they came straight from the drive-thru.

    Find more tasty Bojangles' copycat recipes here.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 2)
    Einstein Bros. Cream Cheese Shmear

    These Einstein's bagel schmear recipes are very easy to make, and if you would like yours to firm up more after mixing in the ingredients, just pop the finished spread (in a microwave safe bowl) for a minute of two, stir, cover, and chill completely. Use these spreads with bagels of your choice.

    Click here for more of your favorite copycat recipes from Einstein Bros. 

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  • Score: 4.83 (votes: 12)
    Cracker Barrel Chicken & Dumplins

    Menu Description: "We use only the 'best of the breast' chicken tenderloin in our recipe. Our dumplins are made from scratch, then hand-rolled and cut into strips before simmering to perfection in chicken stock."

    By 1977 there were 13 Cracker Barrel stores located in Georgia and Tennessee, with all of them based on founder Dan Evins' original concept of a restaurant and store built around gasoline pumps. But with the oil embargo and energy crisis of the mid-seventies, Cracker Barrel started building stores that did not offer gas. Eventually, all of the original 13 stores were converted so you can no longer "filler-up" while you fill yourself up.

    An old-time favorite at Cracker Barrel is the Chicken & Dumplins found on the lunch and dinner menu. The nice thing about this version of the popular classic dish is that it creates its own tasty gravy. As the "dumplins" dissolve, the flour thickens the stock into a creamy sauce.

    Satisfy your cravings for more Cracker Barrel with my copycat recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

     

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 7)
    Claim Jumper Meatloaf

    Menu Description: "Our own special recipe made with fresh ground chuck, pork, mild onions, green peppers and more. Served with mashed potatoes, brown gravy and garlic toast."

    Here's a great meatloaf recipe to add to your dinnertime repertoire. This luscious loaf combines ground chuck with ground pork along with bread crumbs, green onion, garlic, carrot and green pepper for one of the best classic American meatloaves. Use a perforated nesting meatloaf pan if you've got one so that the fat drains out into the pan below. If you don't have one of those, a regular loaf pan will still work fine. But use a large one, my Claim Jumper meatloaf recipe makes a pretty big loaf.

    Complete the Claim Jumper experience with my recipes for their cheesy garlic bread and cheese potato cakes.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.74 (votes: 38)
    Applebee's Tomato Basil Soup

    Menu Description: "A tasty twist on a family favorite. Red, ripe tomatoes slowly simmered in a rich cream sauce and seasoned with basil and select herbs."

    This easy Applebee's tomato basil soup recipe requires two large cans of crushed tomatoes. Your homemade soup will still have the impressive taste and texture of gourmet tomato bisque, requiring fresh tomatoes and more work. You may notice that the large amount of basil used here contributes an overwhelming flavor and aroma when first added, but as the soup simmers, the herb mellows to create the perfect clone of the original. And there's no need to make croutons from scratch for the garnish when you can buy lightly seasoned packaged croutons in just about any market.

    Find more of my Applebee's copycat recipes here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.
     

     

     

     
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  • Score: 4.20 (votes: 5)
    Cheesecake Factory Famous Factory Meatloaf

    Filled with carrots, onions, garlic, bell peppers, and herbs—this is definitely one of the tastiest meatloaves I've cloned so far, and it's one of Cheesecake Factory's signature dishes. While most meatloaf creations are coated with a tomato-based sauce, such as ketchup or barbecue sauce, this one is doused with rich mushroom gravy, and then topped with a pile of caramelized onions (those secret formulas are included here as well). This recipe will yield exactly three ginormous dinner-size portions—that's three thick slices of meatloaf at the restaurant. But you could easily fill the bellies of four or more famished folks with more reasonable serving sizes.

    Now, what's for dessert

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.84 (votes: 25)
    Carrabba's Spicy Sausage Lentil Soup

    It's not served every day at Carrabba's Italian Grill, but when this amazing soup is on the menu consider yourself lucky and snag a bowl. It's chock-full of lentils and other good bits of vegetables and herbs, plus there are big chunks of spicy Italian sausage in every bite. Best of all, Carrabba's sausage and lentil soup recipe is a cinch to clone. Most of the work here is just chopping stuff up, including a small ham steak which you can find where the bacon is sold in your market. If you can't find a ham steak, you can slice up some deli ham. Get everything in a pot and let it simmer. In 1 hour you'll have enough hot, chunky soup for at least a dozen cup-size servings. Also enjoy our Carrabba's chicken marsala recipe.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    Denny's Broccoli Cheese Soup

    This soup is only served on Mondays at the Denny’s near my house, and it’s not even on the menu. But of all the soups served at the huge diner chain, this one tops the list for cloning requests we get here at TSR HQ. 

    A home clone for Denny's Broccoli Cheese Soup is beautifully simple: make a roux with flour and butter, add milk, shredded Cheddar cheese, chicken broth and broccoli, and simmer until thick. The only suggestion I would make is to shred the Cheddar yourself rather than using the pre-shredded stuff. I find that in soups like this, freshly shredded cheese melts much better, giving the soup a creamier and less grainy consistency.

    Find more of your favorite famous copycat recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    Cheesecake Factory Bruschetta

    Menu Description: "Grilled Bread Topped with Fresh Chopped Tomato, Red Onion, Garlic, Basil and Olive Oil."

    In 1972, Oscar and Evelyn Overton moved from Detroit to Los Angeles to build a wholesale bakery that would sell cheesecakes and other high-quality desserts to local restaurants. Business was a booming success, but some restaurants balked at the high prices the bakery was charging for its desserts. So, in 1978, the couple's son David decided to open a restaurant of his own—the first Cheesecake Factory restaurant—in posh Beverly Hills. The restaurant was an immediate success and soon David started an expansion of the concept. Sure, the current total of 20 restaurants doesn't seem like a lot, but his handful of stores earns the chain more than $100 million in business each year. That's more than some chains with four times the number of outlets rake in.

    Bruschetta is one of the top-selling appetizers at the restaurant chain. Bruschetta is toasted bread flavored with garlic and olive oil, broiled until crispy, and then arranged around a pile of tomato-basil salad in vinaigrette. This salad is scooped onto the bruschetta, and then you open wide. My Cheesecake Factory Bruschetta recipe makes five slices just like the dish served at the restaurant, but the recipe can be easily doubled.

    Now, what's for dinner?

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.50 (votes: 26)
    California Pizza Kitchen Dakota Smashed Pea and Barley Soup

    Got one of those cool hand blenders? It comes in handy for my California Pizza Kitchen Dakota Smashed Pea and Barley Soup recipe, which requires the split peas to be smashed into a smooth consistency, just like the original. If you don't have a hand blender, also called a stick blender, a standard blender works just fine. This soup is very tasty and very low in fat. And the barley gives it a special chunky texture and nutty flavor that isn't found in most pea soups.

    Find more of your favorite dishes from CPK hacked here.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–2 cups
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–450
    Fat per serving–3g

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

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  • Score: 4.90 (votes: 10)
    Applebee's Baked French Onion Soup

    It may not be listed on the menu, but this is Applebee's most ladled soup each and every day. Just be sure you have some oven-safe soup bowls on hand before you jump into my Applebee's Baked French Onion Soup recipe, since you're going to pop the dish under the broiler to brown and melt the cheese on top. Under the gooey melted provolone of the original version you get from Applebee's is a unique round crouton that's made from bread that looks like a hamburger bun. So that's what we'll use for our clone.

    Find more of your favorite dishes from Applebee's here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 4)
    Carnegie Deli Classic New York Cheesecake

    Carnegie Deli's huge pastrami sandwiches were selected as the best in New York by New York Magazine in 1975, but it's the cheesecakes, which can be shipped anywhere in the country, that really put this famous deli on the map. 

    The secret to accurately cloning Carnegie Deli traditional New York cheesecake is in creating the perfect not-too-sweet sugar cookie crust and varying the baking temperature so that you get a nicely browned top before cooking the cheesecake through. Get ready for the best deli-style cheesecake to ever come out of your oven.

    Find more famous dessert recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.75 (votes: 4)
    Chevys Garlic Mashed Potatoes

    This easy-to-clone Chevys Garlic mashed potato dish comes alongside many of the tasty entrees at this Mexican restaurant chain, or it can be ordered up, pronto, on the side. It's a nice homemade garlic mashed potatoes clone to have around since it goes well with so many of your homemade dishes, Mexican or otherwise. Get yourself four large russet potatoes and start peeling, but you don't need to peel all the skin off. Leave a little skin on there for texture. And when you boil the potatoes, toss the whole garlic cloves right in the pot. That way the garlic begins to flavor the potatoes as they boil, and when you mash the potatoes the cooked garlic gets mashed up too.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Denny's Pancake Puppies

    The original version of these bite-size breakfast treats made with extra thick pancake batter and coated with cinnamon sugar are a big success at Denny's. So, chefs there have come up with another version with blueberries and white chocolate chips inside. Initially I thought I could use an instant blueberry pancake mix to clone the new flavor, such as the mix made by Krusteaz. But those "blueberries" in there aren't even real blueberries - they're fake blueberry flavored bits. Not good. I found that the best solution for the best clone is to add chopped up dried blueberries to an extra-thick batter, along with a little chopped up white chocolate chips. The batter is easy to portion out using a 1 3/4-inch cookie scoop that's been dipped in oil, but you could also use a tablespoon measure as long as you don't scoop up too much. Keep your batter balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter or they may not cook all the way through. Here are clones for the original Pancake Puppies as well as the new blueberry and white chocolate chip version.

    Denny's does pancakes right! Check out my other clone recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.96 (votes: 25)
    Chili's Molten Chocolate Cake

    Menu Description: "Warm chocolate cake w/chocolate fudge filling. Topped w/vanilla ice cream under a crunchy chocolate shell."

    Get out your "easy" button for this one. The clone recipe for this top-requested Chili's dessert is easy to make—and can even be made days ahead of time. A chocolate fudge cake mix is all you need for the cake part of the recipe. The cake batter is poured into the large cups of a Texas-size muffin pan. When the cakes are done and cooled, you make a secret hole where the hot chocolate is loaded. Now you can keep the cakes chilled until dessert time. To serve, heat a cake, plop a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, and top it off with some Magic Shell, (a chocolate topping that hardens on ice cream) that you can make from scratch with my recipe here. When your diners dig into the cake, the delicious hot fudge center oozes out of the warm chocolate cake.

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

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.
    Try my improved version in Top Secret Recipes Step-by-Step.

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  • Score: 4.00 (votes: 13)
    BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse Chili

    Menu Description: "Chili made with select cuts of tender pork and beef, pinto beans, Piranha Pale Ale and topped with melted jack and Cheddar cheeses, sour cream and green onions."

    There's nothing that warms the soul like a hot bowl of spicy chili. And since BJ's is a brewery, the 54-unit chain adds an ingredient that makes a steamy bowl of red even better: beer! The Piranha Pale Ale that's poured into the chili pot is very similar to Bass Pale Ale, so that's what's called for here in our BJ's Pale Ale Chili recipe clone. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale also works well. Toss everything into the pot over the heat, and in about 90 minutes you'll have enough chili for eight hungry mouths. Serve up the chili in bowls, or more impressively, in the center of hollowed-out sourdough loaves. Nice.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 3.20 (votes: 10)
    Cracker Barrel Macaroni n Cheese

    No mix that comes in a box tastes as good as macaroni and cheese that's made from scratch. It seems crazy that these boxed mixes are so popular when making really good mac 'n cheese the old-fashioned way is so easy. The 562-unit Cracker Barrel Country Store restaurant chain serves up an awesome version that's offered as a side dish with any meal. We'll whip up this cool clone in a 10-inch skillet and then brown it just a bit on top under the broiler before presenting it to the crew.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    Capital Grille Creme Brulee

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

    Now, how about an amazing petite filet for dinner

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

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Show: 24

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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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    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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    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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