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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: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Big Boy Cream of Broccoli Soup

    Menu Description: "Our famous Big Boy soups and chili are made fresh daily from fresh vegetables, pure cream and only the finest ingredients."

    In 1936, Bob Wian had to make the painful decision to sell his cherished 1933 DeSoto roadster to buy a ten-stool lunch counter from a pair of elderly ladies in Glendale, California. He named his new restaurant Bob's Pantry, and went to work behind the counter himself. Receipts form his first day totaled only twelve dollars. But with the creation of a new hamburger just the next year, and a name change to Bob's Big Boy, business took off. Within three years Bob had expanded his first store and built another location in Los Angeles. In 1948 Bob Wian was voted mayor of Glendale.

    A cup of broccoli soup makes a great first course or a nice partner to a sandwich. I first designed this recipe using frozen broccoli, but the frozen stuff just isn't as tasty as a big bunch of firm, fresh broccoli. So go shopping, and get chopping. 

    Served in a large bowl, this soup can be a small meal in itself, or serve four as an appetizer that you can pair with my Bob's Big Boy Double Decker Hamburger.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.here. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.75 (votes: 4)
    Einstein Bros. Bagels Santa Fe Egg Sandwich

    If your crew likes food with a little kick, and they're into breakfast sandwiches, grab some of your favorite bagels and give this clone a go. The jalapeño salsa cream cheese used here is made with only four ingredients, and the rest of the recipe is even easier: cook up some turkey sausage patties in a skillet and prepare each serving of scrambled eggs in a small bowl in the microwave so they fit perfectly on the bagels. For the turkey sausage, I used Wampler brand which comes in 1-pound tubes, but you can also use small turkey breakfast links—just squeeze the sausage out of the casings and form your patties (ditch the casings). You can also use pork sausage if you like.

    Still hungry? Check out my recipe for Einstein Bros. Bagels Twice Baked Hash Browns

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 4)
    Cracker Barrel Eggs-in-the-Basket

    Menu Description:"Two slices of sourdough bread grilled with an egg in the middle, served with thick-sliced bacon or smoked sausage patties and fried apples or hash brown casserole."

    Breakfast is a popular meal at Cracker Barrel restaurants. Just to prove it, the restaurant has some amazing statistics printed on the back of their breakfast menus: "Each Spring 607,142 Sugar Maple Trees must be tapped to produce enough pure maple syrup for our guests;" "It takes 5,615,000,000 (THAT'S BILLION!) coffee beans each year to satisfy our guests' need for coffee. Each tree produces only 1 pound of coffee per year, that's 1,560,000 trees."

    This recipe is a classic egg-in-the-hole recipe that I used to make all the time as a kid. I thought my family invented it.

    Find more fun ideas for breakfast here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Chili's White Chocolate Molten Cake

    Menu Description: "Topped with vanilla ice cream under a hard chocolate shell."

    After the success of the Molten Chocolate Cake, Chili's chefs went back into the development kitchen and emerged with this incredible white chocolate variation that has become the new go-to meal ender. Just as with my clone for the Molten Chocolate Cake in Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2, I found that an instant cake mix is the perfect solution to quickly and easily copy this awesome dish. It just so happens that Duncan Hines Butter Recipe cake mix produces a butter cake that perfectly matches the moist, buttery cake in the Chili's original.

    For the molten white chocolate inside the cake we mix melted white chocolate chips with cream and then spoon the creamy mixture into a hole cut into each cake. Pop the filled cakes into your refrigerator, and then when you're ready to serve the dessert, nuke each one in the microwave to heat up the filling, add ice cream and a little white chocolate on top, and serve. This is a great make-ahead dish since the loaded cakes can be stored in your refrigerator for a couple days (or even longer in your freezer), and when you're ready to plate the impressive dessert, each serving only takes a minute or two to set up.

    Chocolate lovers can find my Chili's Chocolate Molten Cake recipe here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Bennigan's Irish Coffee

    Time for the ultimate Irish coffee clone recipe from the country's favorite Irish-themed chain restaurant to warm you up. It looks great with green creme de menthe drizzled over the whipped cream, and it's topped off with a cherry hat.

    Think of all the famous drinks you can make at home. Check out my recipes here

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

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 2)
    Claim Jumper Cheese Potatocakes

    Menu Description: "(Our most popular appetizer.) Parmesan, Cheddar & Monterey Jack cheeses, cilantro, onion, fresh dill & mashed potato lightly breaded and fried crispy topped with fresh cut chives. Served with herbed ranch salsa."

    This top-seller is a versatile side dish alternative to mashed potatoes, but also stands well on its own as an appetizer. With cilantro, green onion, and three different cheeses in there, the flavor is the bomb. When you add a crispy breading and some herbed ranch salsa drizzled over the top, it's clear why this is the most popular appetizer on the huge Claim Jumper menu. Try dropping a pinch or two of cayenne pepper into the herbed ranch salsa for an extra spicy boost.

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  • Score: 3.67 (votes: 3)
    Einstein Bros. Bagels Bagels

    According to legend, in 1683 a Jewish baker shaped dough into the form of a riding stirrup to honor King Sobieski of Poland, a skilled horseman who had saved the Austrian people from Turkish invaders. Three hundred years later, this Boulder, Colorado chain is the biggest seller of what has become Americas favorite bagel brand. Since the first Einstein Bros. Bagel store opened in 1995, the chain has quickly expanded into 38 states. Today there are around 450 Einstein Bros. Bagel stores serving 16 varieties of the chewy bread snack. The company also owns Noah's Bagels, giving them another 140 stores. Each company has its own style of bagel, but both brands often win awards in local bagel contests. The company strives to open a new Einstein Bros. or Noah's somewhere in the country each business day.

    Here are clone recipes for three of the chains most popular bagels plain, everything, and jalapeno. You'll notice the special ingredient that sets these bagels apart from others is molasses. That gives the bagels a sweet flavor as well as a slightly dark tint.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 bagel
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–Plain 337, Everything 356, Jalapeno 340
    Fat per serving–Plain 1g, Everything 2g, Jalapeno 1g

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur. 

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 7)
    BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes

    You'll find these easy-to-clone mashers served alongside BJ's new Parmesan Crusted Chicken Breast (click here for a clone of that dish). But this is a versatile side that can also be served up with all sorts of your home-cooked entrees. You won't need gravy for these rich, flavorful mashed potatoes—just a fork.
     
    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur. 

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  • Not rated yet
    Bahama Breeze Rum Cake

    Nothing finishes a meal in the islands better than traditional rum cake. And the 37-unit island-themed Bahama Breeze chain knows how to do rum cake right with a mini Bundt-style serving, topped with ice cream, and smothered in three delicious sauces. It's no less than pure paradise for your mouth.

    At the restaurant, they bake this single-serving cake in a mini Bundt cake pan, but if you don't have one of those you can use a jumbo muffin pan, or use small cake pans and slice the cake before serving. 

    What makes this rum cake presentation special are the sauces: a rum sauce that soaks into the cake, a vanilla sauce that’s spooned onto the bottom of the plate, and the delicious raisin butterscotch sauce that oozes over the top and down the sides of the ice cream and cake. Of course, all these amazing sauces are hacked here for your food-cloning pleasure, and they're a breeze to make.

    Combine all the flavors in one bite, and you'll experience one of the best rum cakes you've ever tasted.

    Find more of my copycat Bahama Breeze recipes here

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  • Not rated yet
    Cheesecake Factory Cheeseburger Spring Rolls

    Here's how to build a cheeseburger in crispy spring roll dough and make the secret 4-ingredient dipping sauce for a perfect hack of Cheesecake Factory’s Cheeseburger Spring Rolls. I found the best solution for a good clone was to first cook two 4-ounce Angus patties—with no less than 15 percent fat, so the beef stays juicy—in a sauté pan until browned. I then sautéed some onion in the same pan and mixed it into the crumbled patties, with ketchup and diced American cheese. 

    I tried several different wrappers and found the thinnest wrappers to work the best. Try to find wrappers that say “super thin” on them. Thicker dough wrappers will blister when fried, which is not how the restaurant version looks, although the thicker wrappers still make tasty spring rolls.

    Rice paper wrappers will give you a chewier, less crispy bite, and are a good option if you're interested in a gluten-free version. If you go with rice paper, you won’t need the cornstarch solution to seal them. Dipping the whole wrapper in a little water makes the rice paper pliable and naturally sticky.

    The list of recipes I've copied from Cheesecake Factory is almost as long as their menu. Check them out here.

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  • Score: 4.71 (votes: 35)
    Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich

    In 1946, twenty-five-year-old S. Truett Cathy and his younger brother Ben, opened a restaurant called The Dwarf House in Hapeville, Georgia. In the early sixties, Cathy began experimenting with different seasonings and a faster cooking method for his original chicken sandwich. The finished product is the famous pressure-cooked chicken sandwich now served at all 460 Chick-fil-A outlets in thirty-one states.

    Annual sales for the chain topped $324 million in 1991. That makes Chick-fil-A the fourth largest fast-food chicken restaurant in the world. And Cathy still adheres to the deeply religious values that were with him in the days of the first Dwarf House. That is why you won't find any Chick-fil-A restaurants open on Sundays, when a good Chick-Fil-A Chicken sandwich recipe comes in handy.

    Check out my Chick-Fil-A Spicy Deluxe Chicken Sandwich recipe for the chain's kicked up fried chicken sandwich, with new secrets for an even better homemade masterpiece.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 3)
    California Pizza Kitchen Sedona White Corn Tortilla Soup Low-Fat

    When you get a steaming bowl of great tortilla soup plopped down in front of you, it's tough to stop slurping until you hit bottom. California Pizza Kitchen has just such a soup, but the oil and fried tortilla chips jack up the fat. Never fear. We can now make this delicious white corn tortilla soup taste just as good as the original without most of the oil and fat. Fat-free chicken broth stands in well for the regular stuff, and baked corn tortilla chips give the soup its traditional taste and texture. You'll want to use a hand blender for this one, if you've got one. If not, a regular blender or food processor will work fine to purée the soup so that it has the smooth consistency of the original CPK tortilla soup, but with only a miniscule two grams of fat per serving.

    Check out my other clone recipes for CPK soups, salads, and pizza here.

    Nutrition Facts
    :
    Serving size–1 1/2 cups
    Total servings–4
    Calories–260 (Original–305)
    Fat–2g (Original–14g)

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

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  • Score: 4.95 (votes: 22)
    BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse Parmesan Crusted Chicken Breast

    Menu Description: "Our marinated chicken breast coated with Parmesan cheese and crunchy panko breadcrumbs, lightly pounded and pan fried to a golden brown. Served with white cheddar mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli and topped with a lemon Chardonnay butter sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil and Parmesan cheese." 

    This re-creation lays out a great way to prepare that 4-pack of chicken breasts you dropped into your shopping cart. While you're at the market, head down the aisle where the Asian foods are parked and pick up some Japanese breadcrumbs, also called "panko" breadcrumbs. Combining these coarse breadcrumbs with shredded Parmesan cheese makes a crispy breading for the chicken that doesn't even need a sauce to taste good. Still, the lemony Chardonnay butter sauce used at the restaurant is cloned here too, so you'll have the complete flavor experience. You'll want to plan ahead a bit for this dish since the chicken fillets will need to marinate in the brine solution for 2 to 3 hours. This dish goes great with the clone recipe for BJ's White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    Cheesecake Factory Key Lime Cheesecake

    Just 15 minutes after the very first Cheesecake Factory opened in Beverly Hills back in 1978, the lines began forming. Here's my recipe for Cheesecake Factory's Key Lime Cheesecake. A yummy twist on Key lime pie. Since Key limes and Key lime juice can be hard to find, I decided to use standard lime juice which can be purchased bottled or squeezed fresh. If you can find Key lime juice, bear in mind that Key limes are more tart, so you'll need only half as much juice. You'll also need a springform pan. If you don't have one, you can use two 9-inch pie pans and make two smaller cheesecakes.

    Try more of my Cheesecake Factory hacks here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 3)
    Claim Jumper Garlic Cheese Bread

    Claim Jumper restaurants may only be found in the West, but the chain can claim national recognition for its delicious garlic cheese bread and toast. That's because you can find boxed loaves of the stuff ready for baking in the frozen food section of your well-stocked local supermarket. The recipe is such a simple one though, that it doesn't take much longer to make the cheesy goodness from scratch, and you save a few shekels to boot. Plus, it's nice to use fresh bread—your choice of either Texas toast or your favorite French loaf. The restaurant serves the Texas toast version, and the supermarket version is a French loaf. All you have to do for a clone is mix together a few basic ingredients, spread it generously on the bread of your choice, and pop it in the oven.

    Click here for more of your favorite dishes from Claim Jumper!

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 4)
    Boston Market Garlic Dill New Potatoes

    Technically speaking "new potatoes" can be any young potato. Boston Market, however, uses red potatoes for this particular dish, and they're actually not all that young. So, for this recipe you need some common, medium-size red potatoes. After cutting the potatoes into bite-size slices, you steam them on a steamer rack or basket in a large covered saucepan over boiling water. When the potatoes are done, toss them with a delicious mix of melted butter, fresh dill, and garlic, and you've got a quick clone that could stand up to any taste test.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 2)
    California Pizza Kitchen Original Chopped Salad

    Menu Description: "Chopped lettuce, basil, salami, chilled roast turkey breast, diced tomatoes and Mozzarella cheese tossed in our herb-mustard Parmesan vinaigrette topped with scallions."

    It's the delicious herb-mustard Parmesan vinaigrette that makes this salad so good. And since freshly made dressings are way better than anything you'll buy in a store, here's a great clone for vinaigrette that you can use either on the chopped salad clone here, or on any salad you assemble with ingredients on hand. After heating up these vinaigrette ingredients for a couple minutes, let the mixture cool, and then drizzle a thin stream of olive oil into the dressing as you blend it with an electric mixer on high speed. This will create an emulsion to thicken the vinaigrette and hold all the ingredients together even as the dressing chills.

    Try more of my CPK copycat recipes for appetizers, soups, and pizza here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 4)
    Applebee's Chocolate Mousse Dessert Shooter

    Menu Description: "Decadent Oreo chunks, chocolate mousse and whipped cream make this a rich and creamy treat."

    After searching for an awesome chocolate mousse to clone, I've finally found inspiration in this new dessert shooter from Applebee's. This is a single serving of thick and rich chocolate mousse that is easy to replicate using half a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips melted slowly in a double-boiler or in a bowl set over a pan of hot water. To make an authentic Applebee's chocolate mousse shooter copycat recipe, we don't want a mousse that's too fluffy, so we'll stir the egg whites into the melted chocolate rather than folding them in. We'll save the folding for the whipped cream. With a little Godiva chocolate liqueur and some chopped up bits of chocolate that go in there, you'll have a great mousse that is made even better when served in a 6-ounce rocks glass along with Oreo cookie crumbs, chocolate fudge topping, and whipped cream. Make this dessert shooter recipe today!

    Check out more of my Applebee's copycat recipes here. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.83 (votes: 6)
    Applebee's Strawberry Cheesecake Dessert Shooter

    Menu Description: "Classic cheesecake, graham cracker crumbs, strawberry sauce and whipped cream make this one to savor."

    Making cheesecake like this means you don't need to crank up your oven and run it for the hour or more that traditional cheesecake recipes require. Since the cheesecake filling is layered into a small glass, you make it ahead of time on your stovetop, which substantially shortens cooking and cooling times. When the filling is chilled, it's spooned into 6-ounce glasses on top of graham cracker crumbs, then thawed sliced strawberries in syrup are spooned on top. After finishing off each dessert with a pile of whipped cream, you get to pass out some spoons, sit back, and enjoy a roomful of "mmmm" and "aww" at your homemade Applebee's Strawberry Cheesecake Dessert Shooter. 

    Find more of your favorite Applebee's recipes here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.75 (votes: 4)
    BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse Avocado Egg Rolls

    Menu Description: "Crispy golden wontons wrap a tantalizing blend of avocados, cream cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, red onions, cilantro, pine nuts, chipotle peppers and spices. Served with a sweet tamarind sauce."

    Avocado egg rolls or spring rolls seem to be increasing in popularity as an appetizer at casual chains, but they are a bit more of a high maintenance menu item than, say, southwestern egg rolls, or other spring roll variations. Since avocados are quick to oxidize and turn brown, these rolls must be made and served within a 2 to 12-hour timeframe. Also, cooks must be careful not to over fry the egg rolls or the avocado inside will become too hot, turn brown, and taste pretty gross. So, if you're planning to serve these later in the day, make them in the morning and let them chill out in your fridge until it's time to fry them up. You can also make the tamarind sauce early in the day and park it in the fridge. You'll need a little tamarind paste for this sauce, which can be found at Whole Foods or specialty stores. If you don't want to clone the sauce as served in the restaurant, you can always use your favorite sweet and/or spicy bottled dipping sauces. Creamy southwestern-style dipping sauces are also awesome on these. Enjoy our take on BJ's avocado egg rolls recipe!

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.
     

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  • Score: 3.67 (votes: 6)
    Big Boy Double-Decker Hamburger Classic

    Menu Description: "1/4 pound of 100% pure beef in two patties with American cheese, crisp lettuce and our special sauce on a sesame seed bun."

    Bob Wian's little ten-stool diner, Bob's Pantry, was in business only a short time in Glendale, California, before establishing a following of regular customers—among them the band members from Chuck Fosters Orchestra. One February night in 1937, the band came by after a gig as they often did to order a round of burgers. In a playful mood, bass player Stewie Strange sat down on a stool and uttered, "How about something different for a change, Bob?" Bob thought it might be funny to play along and serve up Stewie a burger he could barely get his mouth around. So Bob cut a bun into three slices, rather than the usual two, and stacked on two hamburger patties along with lettuce, cheese, and his special sauce. When Stewie tasted the huge sandwich and loved it, every band member wanted his own!

    Just a few days later, a plump little six-year old named Richard Woodruff came into the diner and charmed Bob into letting him do odd jobs in exchange for a burger or two. He often wore baggie overalls and had an appetite that forced the affectionate nickname "Fat Boy". Bob thought it was the perfect name for his new burger, except the name was already being used as a trademark for another product. So the name of the new burger, along with Bob's booming chain of restaurants, was changed to "Big Boy." The company's tradename Big Boy character is from a cartoonists napkin sketch of "fat boy," little Richard Woodruff.

    The Big Boy hamburger was the first of the double-decker hamburgers. McDonald's Big Mac, the world's best-known burger that came more than 30 years later, was inspired by Bob Wian's original creation. See if you can get your mouth around it. 

    Check out my other Big Boy copycat recipes here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    Cheesecake Factory Pork Belly Sliders

    The delicious Cheesecake Factory Pork Belly Sliders appetizer features four little sandwiches, each packing big flavor. Smoked pork belly is slathered with barbecue sauce, then stacked on soft slider buns with spicy sauce, creamy coleslaw, and crispy fried pickles. Smoked pork belly is the star, so you’ll either smoke some yourself using a smoker or use your grill with the technique described in the Tidbits below. You need around 10 ounces of pork belly to get 6 ounces when smoked, or 1½ ounces per sandwich.       

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

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

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    American Coney Island Chili Dogs

    Over a century ago, Detroit, Michigan became the Coney Island chili dog capital of the world, even though Coney Island is nowhere near there. Greek immigrants who entered the U.S. through Ellis Island adapted a recipe for the hot dogs they ate while visiting Coney Island, New York, on their way to the Midwest. When they settled in southern Michigan, many opened restaurants to sell their clones of the food they ate when they first got to America, turning New York-style Coney Dogs into a Midwest phenomenon.

    Two of the most famous Coney Island restaurants in Detroit are Lafayette Coney Island and its next-door neighbor, American Coney Island. The two buildings were originally one building with a single restaurant inside, built by brothers Gus and Bill Keros in 1915. But somewhere along the way the brothers had a falling out and split the restaurant in half, right down the middle, and it stayed that way. Today, the two Coney Island restaurants are under different ownership, but they still remain next-door rivals.

    I decided the best Coney dog to hack is from American Coney Island, not only because of the restaurant’s deep history, but also because I was able to order the chili dogs shipped to my house in a kit. That’s always good news, since shipped foods must list ingredients, and I get to see exactly what’s in the chili. Built the traditional way, a typical Detroit Coney Island chili dog features a natural-casing hot dog in a soft white bun, smothered in chili sauce, drizzled with mustard, and topped with a pile of diced sweet onion. The kit came with everything I needed, including the tub of chili with clearly-labeled ingredients that I was counting on.

    With the help of that information, I was able to create a thick, flavorful chili sauce that you can use on your favorite hot dogs to make a delicious clone of American Coney Island Chili Dogs. Crushed soda crackers thicken the chili, and extra beef fat adds a smooth quality that mimics the famous 100-year-old American Coney Island chili recipe.

    The chili must simmer for four hours to properly tenderize the meat, so plan your Coney dog cloning adventure accordingly.

    Try making your other favorite condiments at home, like ketchup or mustard, with my copycat recipes here

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  • Score: 4.14 (votes: 14)
    Applebee's Bourbon Street Steak

    Menu Description: "This succulent 10 oz. steak is jazzed up with Cajun spices and served with sauteed onions, mushrooms, garlic mashed potatoes and garlic toast."

    This Cajun-style dish is named after the famous street in the French Quarter in New Orleans, so you won't need any booze for this recipe unless it's for you to drink while you're making it. Plan to make this dish 12 to 24 hours in advance, so the steaks have time to soak up the goodness. This marinating time will also give the meat tenderizer a chance to do its thing, but don't go longer than 24 hours or the protein fibers may become so tender that they turn mushy. I used McCormick brand tenderizer, which uses bromelian, a pineapple extract, to tenderize the meat. Lawry's (Adolph's) meat tenderizer, uses papain from papayas, to tenderize the proteins, but this brand also brings other spices into the mix and will alter the flavor of your finished product. Both of these tenderizers contain a lot of salt so we won't need to include salt in the marinade formula. 

    Try my copycat recipe for Applebee's almond rice pilaf as great side-dish.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 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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    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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  • Not rated yet
    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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  • Not rated yet
    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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