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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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    Everyone seems to love these delicious mashed potatoes at the "Fresh Mex" Mexican Food chain. Sure, mashed potatoes may seem like a healthy side dish, but when the traditional recipe includes cream and butter, it's easy to consume more than just a few grams of fat in one small serving.

    This fat-crushing hack proves that mashed potatoes don't have to include fat to taste good.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 1/4 cups
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–285 (Original–338)
    Fat per serving–0g (Original–9g)

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

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    Helping Carl's Jr. rebound from its sales slump was a series of TV commercials featuring over sauced sandwiches that splattered ketchup and mayo onto floors, clothes, and shoes. The tag line, "If it doesn't get all over the place, it doesn't belong in your face," made sloppy synonymous with tasty.

    If you look forward to messing up your clean clothes but don't need all the saturated fat that usually comes with this drippy fare, you'll want to give this clone a try. The fat-free ranch dressing saves you from oodles of nasty fat grams, and then the special baking technique that clones the taste and texture of deep frying eliminates a bunch more.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 sandwich
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–660 (Original–720)
    Fat per serving–19g (Original–36g)

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

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    Score: 4.00. Votes: 2

    In the last few years, Carl's Jr. has become one of the fastest-growing fast-food chains in the country. In 1997, the burger joint grew from 930 restaurants in nine states to nearly 3,900 in forty-four states with its purchase of Hardee's hamburger outlets. This makes Carl's Jr. the fourth-largest burger chain in the country, behind McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's.

    One of the unique sandwiches that makes Carl's a popular stop for the lunch crowd is this Charbroiled Santa Fe Chicken Sandwich with the delicious spicy sauce. It's that tasty sauce that give the real thing much of its fat, so by cloning it with nonfat ingredients, we can cut the grease on this sandwich to one-fifth of the original, while keeping all of the flavor.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 sandwich
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–305 (Original–530)
    Fat per serving–5.5g (Original–29g)

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

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    Eight weeks after the board of directors locked seventy-six-year old Carl Karcher out of his office in 1993, he was engineering a takeover of the "Happy Star" company that he had built over five decades. Crafty Carl found financier William P. Foley to assume his debts in exchange for stock and take control of the company as the new chairman of the board. Carl was named chairman emeritus and finally got his desk back. His plan to sell Mexican food at Carl's Jr. restaurants was later adopted and became a huge success for the chain, and almost all of the executives who had fired him have since left the company.

    Here's one of Carl's delicious sandwiches that we can clone with much fewer fat grams by using turkey bacon, fat-free mayonnaise, and fat-free Swiss cheese. These substitutions for full-fat ingredients can bring the fat down from twenty-nine grams to just over ten without compromising that distinctive Carl's Jr. taste.

    Nutrition Facts 
    Serving size–1 sandwich
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–366 (Original–570)
    Fat per serving–10.5g (Original–29g)

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

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    The 1980s were the beginning of tough times for one of the worlds largest burger chains. Carl Karcher had built the little hot-dog cart he purchased for $311 in 1941 into a successful West Coast hamburger chain 600 units strong; but his luck was about to change. Carl took his company public, then opened several Carl's Jr. restaurants in Texas. The bottom line for the Texas stores fell way below expectations, and the stock began to skid. In 1988 Carl was charged with insider trading for selling stock just before its price fell, and he paid almost $1 million in fines. When poor Southern California real estate investments left him million of dollars in debt, Carl was desperate to find a way out of the hole. He proposed to the board of directors that Carl's Jr. should sell Mexican food. The board voted to fire Carl instead, and the man with the vision was ousted from the very company he had founded.

    For this reduced-fat clone of an excellent chicken sandwich, well make the ranch dressing from scratch with fat-free ingredients. Then well use a special Top Secret Recipes baking technique of the fat we can't avoid when frying.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 sandwich
    Total Servings–4
    Calories–580 (Original–620)
    Fat–11g (Original–29g)

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

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    When Boston Market first opened in 1989, it was called Boston Chicken. That's because at that time chicken was the only meat served at the chain. But three years later, in 1992, the chain added meatloaf, turkey, and ham, and officially became Boston Market. Yes, a lot of signs had to be changed at considerable expense.

    This popular side dish, which contains three types of cheese, normally has 24 grams of fat per serving. So, for this recipe, we will be using two fat-free cheeses along with regular Provolone, and we'll be able to re-create the taste of the real thing, but with just 25 percent of the fat in the original.

    Nutritional Facts
    Serving size–1/2 cup
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–180 (Original–300)
    Fat per serving–6g (Original–24g)

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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    This item has been a huge best-seller since it was first added to Applebee's menu in 1993 as promotional summer chow. The original version of this chicken dish is topped with an oil-based Mexi-ranch dressing, plus a melted cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese blend, making it every shade of tasty, yet brutal on the midriff. This lighter version of the original recipe cuts the fat in half. You'll need only a small amount of tequila to make this taste like the original—we're not making a margarita here! I learned the hard way that if you add more than the seemingly minuscule 1/4 teaspoon of tequila to your chicken, it'll taste like it just got back from a bachelor party in Tijuana. 

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 entree
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–495 (Original–580)
    Fat per serving–15g (Original–30g)

    Source: Low Fat Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Visit the Bennigan's website and you'll find out that in the early 1900s, Irishman D. Bennigan came to the United States to work as a bartender with the dream of one day opening his own tavern. During the depression, Bennigan got his wish when he purchased an old, foreclosed bar; redecorated it, and opened the original Bennigan's Irish American Grill and tavern. The "Our Story" page also explains that today all Bennigan's restaurants still use elements from that original location such as the brass rails, period pictures, and memorabilia hanging from the walls. What the Web page won't tell you is that this history is entirely made up. You'll have to dig a little deeper to find out that Bennigan's actually started in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1976, and was, at that time, owned by Pillsbury.

    For this clone, well use a special technique developed in the secret underground test kitchen to prepare the chicken without frying. This will knock that fat down to just around one-third of the original.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 sandwich
    Total servings–1
    Fat per serving–512 (Original–1038)
    Calories per serving–9g (Original–27g)

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

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    A deserted Kroger grocery store in Richfield, Minnesota, was the site for the first Chi-Chi's in 1976. That was the year restaurateur Marno McDermott got together with ex-Green Bay Packer football player Max McGee to open the first of what would soon become a growing chain of Mexican food restaurants. Today, with around 100 restaurants found mostly in the Midwestern and Eastern states, Chi-Chi's has become famous for its large portions of food, and for the expression, "don't touch the plate, it's very hot!" 

    Alongside many of the entrees served at the restaurant is this sweet side dish. It's sort of like a combination of custard and cornbread, with corn and cornmeal in it. But the original is loaded with butter. That means if you eat just a very small scoop of the tasty corn cake you'll be putting away around a dozen grams of fat. By using light butter or margarine and substituting milk for the heavy cream, we knock those fat grams down to about half of the real thing served in the restaurant. Yet the flavor and texture is just as good.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 scoop
    Total servings–8
    Calories per serving–125 (Original–185)
    Fat per serving–6.5g (Original–13g)

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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    It was in 1991 that Arby's saw a market for a selection of sandwiches that weighed in with very little fat. The chain was able to create three sandwiches that had 10 grams of fat or less, with whole wheat hamburger buns, light mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato. Of the three selections, it is the Roast Turkey Deluxe that has the least fat, with only 6 grams per sandwich.

    Now you can make a clone of that light creation, with deli-sliced roast turkey breast that you can pick up at any deli counter at your local supermarket. You can also find the turkey in pre-packaged portions near the luncheon meats.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 sandwich
    Total servings–1
    Calories  per serving–201
    Fat per serving–6g

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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I'm Todd Wilbur,
Chronic Food Hacker

For 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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