The #1 Copycat Recipes Website

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You lucky devil. You just found copycat recipes for all of your favorite famous foods! Bestselling author and TV host Todd Wilbur shows you how to easily duplicate the taste of iconic dishes and treats at home. Get all the best restaurant recipes from Applebee's to El Pollo Loco here. New recipes added every week.

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  • Score: 4.88 (votes: 8)
    Applebee's Almond Rice Pilaf

    You're grilling some steaks or baking some chicken and don't know what to serve on the side? Try out this simple clone for a dish that's served along with several of Applebee's entrees. Since the recipe requires converted rice because instant rice is gross, you have to plan ahead about 25 minutes to give the rice time to cook. It's worth the wait. The secret to an authentic, great-tasting rice pilaf is sauteing the uncooked rice kernels in butter first, before adding the liquid—in this case chicken broth. Then, as the rice is cooking, you have plenty of time to saute the almonds, celery, and onions that are tossed into the rice at the end.

    Want some more of my Applebee's recipes? I've got a bunch right here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    Chili's Fajita Salad Reduced-Fat

    This big salad of mixed greens, fajita steak, pico de gallo, black beans, bell peppers, corn and guacamole comes slathered with two types of salad dressings plus fried tortilla chips, making the restaurant version a fat-filled fiesta.

    The two dressings here are made fat-free, knocking the fat grams down to around a third of what you'd down in the original. There are several components here in this conversion, but this recipe makes four of the huge entree-size salads, and the results are worth the effort. This recipe clones the steak version of the salad, but you can also replace the beef with chicken.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 salad
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–591 (Original–784)
    Fat per serving–15g (Original–45g)

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

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  • Not rated yet
    Applebee's Baja Potato Boats Reduced-Fat

    This is Applebee’s variation on the popular potato skins appetizer made famous by T.G.I. Friday’s. Many seem to prefer these to regular potato skins because of their south-of-the-border flair. The only problem is a serving has around 12 grams of fat (even more if you plop on some sour cream). And that’s for only three pieces. If you usually don’t stop there, you might be interested in this TSR version of the delicious dish, which cuts the fat by 66 percent. Now you can eat three times as much of these Mexican-style potato skin wedges for the same amount of fat as the real deal, thanks to reduced-fat cheese and fat-free sour cream.

    Nutrition facts 
    Serving size–3 pieces 
    Total servings–4 
    Calories per serving–246 (Original–390) 
    Fat per serving–4g (Original–12g)

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 4)
    Chili's Crispy Honey-Chipotle Chicken Crispers

    Menu Description: "Tossed in our honey-chipotle sauce."

    After cloning the plain version of these breaded, cripsy chicken fingers in Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2, I received requests to knockoff this more flavorful sweet-and-spicy version. If you like big flavor and some heat, this Chili's Honey-Chipotle Chicken Crispers recipe is for you. The breading technique is the big secret: first use a wet batter and then toss the tenders in a dry breading. When the chicken tenders are fried to a golden brown they are gently tossed in the honey-chipotle sauce and served either as an appetizer, or with corn on the cob and French fries as an entree.

    Find my recipe for Chili's Chicken Crispers here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.67 (votes: 6)
    Arby's Horsey Sauce

    Even though Arby's has diversified its menu over the years with toasted subs and deli-style sandwiches on sliced whole wheat bread, it's the thinly-sliced roast beef piled high on hamburger buns that originally made this chain famous. Since roast beef and horseradish go so beautifully together, Arby's created this delicious mayo-based horseradish sauce as a spread for the roast beef sandwiches. It also happens to be great on your homemade sandwiches too, but it just isn't cool to hoard handfuls of those blister packs to take home with you. So, with the help of my Arby's Horsey Sauce recipe, you can clone as much sauce as you want. First step: get out the blender. You'll need it to purée the horseradish into the mix so that the sauce is smooth and creamy like the real deal.

    You might also like my Arby's BBQ sauce recipe.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Applebee's Quesadillas

    Menu Description: "Two cheeses, bacon, tomatoes, onion, jalapenos grilled between tortillas with guacamole, sour cream and salsa."

    When Bill and T.J. Palmer opened their first restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1980, they realized their dream of building a full-service, reasonably-priced restaurant in a neighborhood setting. They called their first place T.J. Applebee's Edibles and Elixirs, and soon began franchising the concept. In 1988 some franchisees bought the rights to the name and changed it to Applebee's Neighborhood Grill and Bar. By that time, there were over 650 outlets, making Applebee's one of the fastest-growing restaurant chains in the world.

    According to waiters at the restaurant, the easy-to-make and slightly spicy quesadillas are one of the most popular appetizers on the Applebee's menu. My Applebee's quesadillas recipe calls for 10-inch or "burrito-size" flour tortillas, which can be found in most supermarkets, but any size can be used in a pinch. Look for the jalapeño "nacho slices" in the ethnic or Mexican food section of the supermarket. You'll find these in jars or cans. 

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

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Applebee's Pizza Sticks

    Menu Description: "Parmesan: Thin crusty strips of pizza dough topped with herbs and melted Italian cheese, served with marinara sauce. Loaded: Add Italian sausage and pepperoni."

    Each Applebee's makes an effort to decorate the inside of the restaurant with pictures and memorabilia from the neighborhood in which it is located. You'll see photographs of local heroes and students, license plates, banners, old souvenirs, trinkets, and antiques-all representing area history. Take a look around the walls of the next Applebee's you visit. Maybe you can find something you lost several years ago.

    Meanwhile, here's a find: pizza sticks that are made from dough that is proofed, fried, and then broiled. The frying adds a unique flavor and texture to the dough that you won't get with traditional pizza. I've designed my Applebee's pizza sticks copycat recipe to use the premade dough that comes in tubes. You know, like the stuff from that dough boy. But you can make this with any dough recipe you like. Just roll the dough into a 10x15-inch rectangle before slicing.

    These appetizers can be made either in the Parmesan version without meat, or "loaded" with sausage and pepperoni. This recipe yields a lot, so it makes good party food.

    Speaking of party food, you can check out more of my copycat appetizers here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.25 (votes: 4)
    Applebee's Club House Grill

    Menu Description: "Applebee's signature hot club sandwich with warm sliced ham and turkey, cheddar, tomatoes, mayonnaise and Bar-B-Que sauce on thick-sliced grilled French bread. Served with a side of coleslaw."

    Here's a sandwich that Applebee's claims is a signature item for the chain. It's a cross between a club sandwich and a grilled cheese. So, if you like both of those, you'll love this.

    For the sliced turkey and ham, go to your deli service counter in the supermarket and get the stuff they machine-slice real thin for sandwiches. This usually tastes the best. If you don't have a service counter, thin-sliced prepackaged meats will also work great.

    Find more of your favorite Applebee's copycat recipes here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur. 

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Burger King Stuffed Steakhouse Burger

    In January of 2011, Burger King introduced the fast food world’s first stuffed burger. Spicy bits of real jalapeno and little chunks of cheddar cheese are embedded in the quarter-pound beef patty which is flame-broiled and stacked on a corn-dusted bun with lettuce, tomato and an excellent spicy poblano sauce. 

    Making the Burger King Stuffed Steakhouse burger is no big secret: just chop up jalapenos and cheddar cheese and work them into the ground beef, then freeze the patties so that they hold their shape when grilled. The freezing will also prevent the cheese from melting too much. 

    The real kicker in this recipe is the sauce. I had to design the formula to make much more than you will use on these 4 burgers because there needs to be enough volume for your food processor or blender to properly work its magic. If you have an extremely small food processor, you can certainly cut the sauce recipe in half and there will be plenty for all your burgers. But then again, if you go with the whole recipe, you’ll have extra sauce left over to spread on other sandwiches or to use as a dip for grilled artichokes.

    Find more of your favorite Burger King copycat recipes here.

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

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Carl's Jr. The Six Dollar Burger

    In 2001 this West Coast chain came up with a great idea: clone the type of burger you'd get at a casual restaurant chain such as Chili's or T.G.I. Friday's for around six bucks, but sell it for just $3.95. It's 1/3 pound of ground beef stacked on top of plenty of fixings, including red onion and those sweet-tasting bread-and-butter pickle slices. And the cost of a Six Dollar Burger gets even lower when you make your own version at home. How does less than two bucks grab ya?

    Craving more famous sandwiches from Carl's Jr? Find your favorites here.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Chick-fil-A Carrot and Raisin Salad

    The secret to cloning Chick Fil-A's popular carrot raisin salad lies in proper carrot shredding technique. A standard shredder, like the type you might use to shred a hunk of cheddar cheese, creates a coarse shred that makes the salad taste much too "carroty." Instead, find yourself the type of fine shredder that is often used for Parmesan cheese. Sure, it'll take a little more elbow grease to reduce 5 or 6 carrots to ultra thin strips, but I guarantee you'll end up with a superior finished product that will help you forget all about the extra effort.

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

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Chili's Guiltless Grill Guiltless Chicken Salad

    This salad was one of the first six selections offered when Chili's Guiltless Grill premiered on the chain's menu in 1993. You'll love the Southwestern flavors in this delicious and healthy salad clone. The marinated grilled chicken has a sweet, smoky taste, and the pico de gallo lends a nice zip to the dish. Top it all off with irresistible Southwest dressing and you'll have a meal-size salad that comes in at only 5 grams of fat.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 salad
    Total servings–2
    Calories per serving–558
    Fat per serving–5g

    Find more copycat recipes of your favorite dishes from Chili's here.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Chili's Guiltless Grill Guiltless Chicken Sandwich

    Here's another item that has been on Chili's Guiltless Grill menu from the start. It's a chicken sandwich that gets its sweet smoky flavor from the marinated chicken that is grilled over an open flame. The chicken is stacked on whole wheat buns with lettuce and tomato; and a tasty, yet simple-to-make honey mustard sauce is drizzled over the top. If your chicken fillets are too plump, just give'em a few whacks with a tenderizing mallet and rejoice in the extra calories you work off.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 sandwich
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–378
    Fat per serving–8g

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.00 (votes: 1)
    Chili's Guiltless Grill Guiltless Pasta Primavera

    According to one Chili's spokesperson, "The Guiltless Grill selections are extremely popular. Guiltless Grill was a smash from the start." This clone recipe makes two huge dinner-size portions, just like the restaurant serves. The recipe should even be enough for three, perhaps four—if there's a big dessert coming.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 dinner sized portion
    Total servings–2
    Calories per serving–600
    Fat per serving–15g

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    Applebee's Tijuana Philly Steak Sandwich

    Menu Description: "Lean shaved Philly steak folded into a grilled tortilla roll with Monterey Jack and Cheddar, sauteed mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, bacon and jalapenos."

    With the acquisition of 13 Rio Bravo cantinas in 1994, Applebee's made its move into the competitive "Mexican casual dining sector." Perhaps it's the company's interest in Mexican food that inspired this Philadelphia-Tijuana hybrid sandwich. The steak, cheese, mushrooms, and onions give the sandwich a Philly taste, while the tomatoes, bacon, jalapenos, and the tortilla take you across the border.

    I really like this newer addition to the menu, probably because I'm a big cheesesteak fan who also loves Mexican food. As you can see from this dish, Applebee's has a knack for breathing new life into old sandwich concepts. I hope you'll find this one worth a try.

    If you want to make a "lite" version, refer to the Tidbits at the bottom of the recipe.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    Denny's The Super Bird Reduced-Fat

    Here's another very popular Denny's creation. This 20-year-old menu item can be easily converted to a reduced-fat version by substituting fat-free cheese and turkey bacon. When shopping for that bacon, I've found that Butterball makes one of the best turkey bacons around—it tastes just like the pork version. Then get yourself some low-fat turkey breast form the supermarket deli counter or prepackaged near the other luncheon meats. A little butter-flavored spray and a hot skillet on the stove, and you're on your way to reducing the fat by around by 60 percent. Now that's super.

    Nutrition Facts

    Serving size–1 sandwich
    Total servings–1
    Calories per serving–425 / Original–565
    Fat per serving–8.5 g / Original–22 g

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Boston Market Cinnamon Apples Fat-Free

    By the end of 1997, there were 1,166 Boston Market outlets in 38 states. It took only ten years for the company to reach this number of units—pretty impressive growth. The cinnamon apple side dish has been on the menu since the company opened the doors to its first outlet. The dish from the chain is fairly low in fat—only 4.5 grams of fat per serving—but there is apparently some butter or oil in there. Using the right cooking techniques and some Butter Buds, we can easily take that fat all the way down to zippo, while still getting all of the same great flavors of the original Boston Market cinnamon apples.

    Want more Boston Market? Click here to see if I hacked your favorites.

    Nutritional Facts
    Serving size–1/2 cup
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–177 (Original–250)
    Fat per serving–0g (Original–4.5g)

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.43 (votes: 14)
    Burger King Whopper

    In 1954, in Miami, Florida, James McLamore and David Edgerton built the first Burger King Restaurant. By 1991 more than 6,400 Burger King outlets could be found in forty countries and all fifty states. That gives this burger giant more than $6 billion is sales each year, making it the country's second-largest fast food chain.

    For many, the favorite item on the menu is a flame-broiled hamburger conceived by the partners on a business trip from Orlando to Miami in 1957. Dubbed the "Whopper," this sandwich is overwhelmingly popular; figures show that Burger King sells more than 540 million annually, or nearly 2 million each day. And with more than 1,023 different combinations of the eight ingredients, including a vegetarian version, you really can "have it your way." 

    Use my Burger King Whopper recipe below to assemble your own flame-broiled burger creation. Have it your way, or follow the stacking order listed below to duplicate the original.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Carl's Jr. Famous Star

    It was in Los Angeles in 1941 that Carl Karcher and his wife, Margaret, found a hotdog cart on Florence and Central for sale for $326. They borrowed $311 on their Plymouth, added $15 of their own, and bought the brightly colored stand. Although the sign on this first stand read "Hugo's Hot Dogs," Karcher began purchasing more carts, painting on them "Carl's Hot Dog's." In 1945 Karcher opened his first drive-thru restaurant, which he named "Carl's Drive-In Barbecue." In 1956 he opened two smaller restaurants in Anaheim and Brea, California, and used the Carl's Jr. name for the first time.

    With 630 units as of 1991, the chain's trademark smiling star can be seen throughout the West and Southwestern United States, as well as in Mexico, Japan, and Malaysia. The chain has come a long way from the days when Karcher used to mix the secret sauce in twenty-gallon batches on his back porch. Carl's Jr. takes credit for introducing salad bars to fast-food restaurants back in 1977. Today, salads are regular fare at most of the major chains.

    Carl's top-of-the-line hamburger is still the flame-broiled Famous Star, one of several products that has made Carl's Jr. famous. 

    Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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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: 4)
    Dairy Queen Blizzard

    When the United States was emerging from the Great Depression in 1938, J.F. McCullough was experimenting with the idea of creating a new frozen dairy product. McCullough felt ice cream tasted better when it was soft and dispensed fresh from the freezder, not frozen solid. To test his theory with the public, McCulllough held and "All-the-Ice-Cream-You-Can-Eat-for-Only-10-Cents" sale at a friend's ice cream store. More than 1,600 people were served the soft ice cream in the course of two hours. Convinced that the new product was a big hit, McCullough had to find a machine that could dispense the product at the right consistency. It wasn't long before he found Harry Oltz, the inventory of a freezer that could do the job. In 1940 McCullough opened the first Dairy Queen in Joliet, Illinois.

    As of 1991 the company claimed to have more than 5,300 retail stores in the United States and twelve other countries. Since its creation in 1985, the Blizzard has shot to the top as the most popular Dairy Queen product, with more than 200 million of the treats sold each year. This is my version of the ice cream Blizzard with Heath candy bar bits in it.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    Hardee's 1/4-Pound Hamburger

    In 1975 Hardee's opened its 1,000th restaurant. The 2,000th unit was opened in 1983, and shortly after that, in 1988, the 3,000th unit opened its doors. This pattern of expansion has continued: a new Hardee's restaurant now opens on the average of one each workday. With the acquisition of the Roy Rogers chain in 1990, Hardee's neared the 4,000-unit mark, ringing up system-wide sales of more than $3 billion. This is a chain that has come a long way since its first menu in 1961, which contained only eight items, including fifteen-cent hamburgers and ten-cent soft drinks.

    As part of its continuing effort to offer nutrition-conscious customers a range of menu choices, Hardee's was one of the first of the "Big Four" burger chains to switch to low-calorie mayonnaise for its sandwiches. 

    Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.43 (votes: 7)
    Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls Low-Fat/Low-Calorie

    When The Dr. Oz show asked me to make a tasty low-fat, low-cal version of Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls, I wasn't sure it was possible. By reducing fat and calories in these awesome cinnamon rolls I was afraid we would lose too much of the familiar Cinnabon flavor we love. But I believe I found a good balance. See what you think. 

    For this recipe, you’ll need a 9x13-inch pan and a 9x9-inch pan for baking these rolls, plus parchment paper to line the pans. Cinnabon uses Indonesian Korintje cinnamon (they call it “Makara”). Find that cinnamon if you want the best clone, but any cinnamon will still make great rolls. To keep the cinnamon from oozing out of the rolls a natural stabilizer such as xantham gum (or guar gum) works best, but you can also use cornstarch. You can find xantham gum at specialty stores such as Whole Foods. You’ll also need a ruler or yard stick to measure and mark the rolls for slicing, and a serrated knife, such as a bread knife, to slice them. The baked rolls can be frozen for several weeks and reheated in your microwave before serving.

    Original            Todd's
    880 calories    450 calories
    36g fat              12g fat

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  • Not rated yet
    El Pollo Loco Pinto Beans Fat-Free

    This is a simple little recipe that is healthy and delicious. Along with your chicken order from this fast-growing West Coast chain, comes your choice of side orders. Pinto beans is the most popular choice. But the real thing has some fat that you won't need to include in this light version. And this recipe will give you pintos that taste just like the original, along with a little heat from finely minced jalapeno peppers. Spoon some of these beans into a tortilla along with chicken. Or maybe just serve them on the side.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1/2 cup
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–96 (Original–145)
    Fat per serving–0g (Original–3g)

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    Cheesecake Factory Thai Coconut-Lime Chicken

    Menu Description: “Tender pieces of chicken. Snow peas, shiitake mushrooms, onions, and garlic in a Thai coconut-curry sauce with cashews and pineapple. Served with white rice.”

    Sautéed white meat chicken comes swimming in the chain’s magical coconut-lime curry sauce, served alongside a bed of rice, with stir-fried vegetables, and topped with pineapple relish, cashews, and toasted coconut. The Cheesecake Factory captures great Thai flavors in this striking entrée from the restaurant chain’s specialty menu selections, and you can re-create the Cheesecake Factory Thai-Coconut Lime Chicken dish at home, with this exclusive recipe that I’ve sleuthed out down to every delicious detail.

    The star of the show is the mouthwatering coconut-lime curry sauce that brings together the traditional Thai combination of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy flavors. The sauce brings in sour from lime and tamarind, sweet from honey, salt from fish sauce, and spicy heat from red pepper flakes. And if the sauce is cooked minimally after the parsley is added, the leafy herb will stay bright green for a beautiful and tasty dish that perfectly mirrors the original Cheesecake Factory Thai Coconut-Lime Chicken.

    Check out more of my copycat Cheesecake Factory recipes here.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Domino's Spicy Jalapeno-Pineapple Specialty Chicken

    My Domino’s new spicy specialty chicken recipe gives you a new way to turn frozen breaded chicken from any supermarket into an impressive appetizer. And this Top Secret Recipe comes with my complete formula for duplicating the chain’s famous sweet mango habanero dipping sauce to give your dish its fiery personality.

    Top your chicken with a blend of Cheddar and mozzarella cheese, jalapeño slices, and pineapple, and bake it on a strip of parchment paper until the cheese is bubbly and browned around the edges.

    Find more of your favorites from Domino's here

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  • Not rated yet
    Carrabba's Traditional Cannoli

    Menu Description: “Two crisp pastry shells stuffed with sweet ricotta and chocolate chip filling, topped with pistachios and powdered sugar.”           

    For great traditional cannoli, one need not look any further than a nearby Carrabba’s Italian Grill. The cannoli there are exactly what you want cannoli to be: a crunchy shell that isn’t soggy or too thick, packed with sweetened ricotta cheese filling that’s smooth and not grainy. And with that classic crunchy/creamy combination comes a hint of cinnamon lingering in the background to complete the traditional taste of a legit cannoli.

    To make Carrabba's cannoli at home, you’ll need 8 cannoli tubes to form the shells. After wrapping circles of dough around these 5-inch long metal tubes, they get deep-fried for a few minutes resulting in shells that are perfectly golden brown.

    As for the filling, it needs to be smooth if you want a good clone, so try to find ricotta cheese that isn’t too grainy. We’ll first strain the cheese overnight so that most of the liquid runs off for a thicker filling, but if your cheese is still grainy run the filling through a food processor until the cheese is smooth before folding in the whipped cream. Now that’s good cannoli.

    Click here for more of your favorite dishes from Carrabba's.

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  • Not rated yet
    Applebee's Spinach & Artichoke Dip

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

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

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

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

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  • Not rated yet
    Del Taco Tamales

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Not rated yet
    Domino's Sweet Mango Habanero Sauce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Cracker Barrel Biscuit Beignets

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

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

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

    Find more of your favorite Cracker Barrel dishes here

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    Applebee's Riblets

    Ever wonder where Riblets come from?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Applebee's Oreo Cookie Milkshake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • 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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    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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