THE MOST TRUSTED COPYCAT RECIPES
THE MOST TRUSTED COPYCAT RECIPES
Applebee's Quesadillas copycat recipe by Todd Wilbur

Applebee's Quesadillas

Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
Reviews: 1
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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.

Get This

_main
  • 2 10-inch ("burrito size") flour tortillas
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/3 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 medium tomato, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon diced canned jalapeno ("nacho slices")
  • 1 slice bacon
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • Pinch salt
On the side
  • Sour cream
  • Guacamole
  • Salsa
Do This

1. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat.

2. Spread half of the butter on one side of each tortilla. Put one tortilla, butter side down, in the hot pan.

3. Spread the cheeses evenly onto the center of the tortilla in the pan. You don't have to spread the cheese all the way to the edge. Leave a margin of an inch or so all the way around.

4. Sprinkle the tomato, onion, and jalapeño over the cheese.

5. Crumble the slice of cooked bacon and sprinkle it over the other ingredients.

6. Sprinkle the cilantro and a dash of salt over the other ingredients.

7. Top off the quesadilla with the remaining tortilla, being sure that the buttered side is facing up.

8. When the bottom tortilla has browned, after 45 to 90 seconds, flip the quesadilla over and grill the other side for the same length of time.

9. Remove the quesadilla from the pan, and, using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the quesadilla three times through the middle like a pizza, creating 6 equal slices. Serve hot with sour cream, guacamole, and salsa on the side.

Serves 2 as an appetizer.

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Reviews
Georgia75
Dec 14, 2017, 10:07
This is the first time that I tried a Todd Wilbur recipe although I have printed off and saved many of them to try in the future.

I made this recipe last night and it was absolutely wonderful! Light golden brown and crisp as a quesadilla should be.

I normally never make a change to a recipe the first time I try it but I did with this one only because I do not eat jalapenos anymore but I substituted chopped chilies from a can.

I followed the recipe to a T especially the cooking time and it came out perfect. I used to make quesadilla all the time and thought mine were the best but this is absolutely the best I have ever had and a fantastic recipe!

Thank you, Todd, for sharing your wonderful version of this recipe!

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Cracker Barrel Baked Apple Dumplin

    One of the best choices you will make in life is having this dish for dessert when you’re at Cracker Barrel. They call it a “dumplin” but it’s just a little streusel-covered apple pie, served up hot in its own small baking dish with two scoops of vanilla bean ice cream on top, and drizzled with warm apple/caramel sauce—it's good stuff. Take a bite and you may notice the apples inside taste like Cracker Barrel’s Fried Apples side dish, so we'll use my previous hack for that part to bring it all together.

    My Cracker Barrel Baked Apple Dumplin recipe makes two small pies that serve up to four. Check out more of my cool copycat recipes from Cracker Barrel here.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Panda Express Fried Rice

    A popular staple of any Chinese chain is fried rice, so it better be good, and the version served at Panda Express most certainly is. Here's my easy Panda Express Fried Rice recipe for when you need a stress-free, low-cost side for your entrées. But I do suggest that you cook the white rice several hours or even a day or two before you plan to make the finished dish. I found that the cooked rice called for in this recipe works best when it's cold. 

    As for a shortcut, bagged frozen peas and carrots will save you from the hassle of petite-dicing carrots since the carrots in those bags are the perfect size to produce an identical clone. And they're already cooked. 

    This recipe was our #3 most popular in 2021. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes for the year: Panda Express Chow Mein (#1), Qdoba 3-Cheese Queso (#2), Outback Baked Potato Soup (#4), Chipotle Carne Asada (#5).

    Check out this list of our most popular recipes of all-time.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 6)
    Olive Garden Lasagna Classico

    Crafting an Olive Garden’s signature Lasagna Classico recipe became the perfect opportunity to create a beautiful multi-layered lasagna hack recipe that uses up the whole box of lasagna noodles and fills the baking pan all the way to the top. This Top Secret Recipe makes a lasagna that tips the scale at nearly 10 pounds and will feed hungry mouths for days, with every delicious layer copied directly from the carefully dissected Olive Garden original.

    I found a few credible bits of intel in a video of an Olive Garden chef demonstrating what he claims is the real formula on a midday news show, but the recipe was abbreviated for TV and the chef left out some crucial information. One ingredient he conspicuously left out of the recipe is the secret layer of Cheddar cheese located near the middle of the stack. I wasn’t expecting to find Cheddar in lasagna, but when I carefully separated the layers from several servings of the original dish, there was the golden melted cheesy goodness in every slice.

    This clone recipe will make enough for 8 big portions, but if you make slightly smaller slices this is easily enough food to fill twelve lasagna-loving bellies. If you like lasagna, you're going to love this version.

    This recipe was our #2 most popular in 2020. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes for the year: Rao's Homemade Marinara Sauce (#1), King's Hawaiian Original Hawaiian Sweet Rolls (#3), Pei Wei Better Orange Chicken (#4), Chipotle Mexican Grill Carnitas (#5).

    Check out this list of our most popular recipes of all-time.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Carl's Jr. Fried Zucchini

    For decades, Carl’s Jr. has effectively cornered the market on fried zucchini at major fast food chains by serving a great crispy breaded version that’s flavorful all the way through. Now you can make zucchini that tastes just as good, as long as you know the secret step that other fried zucchini recipes miss. It makes all the difference.

    The secret is a brine. I found that this fried zucchini tastes best when it takes a salted water bath before breading. In 60 minutes, the salt in the brine is absorbed by the zucchini, spreading good flavor all the way through. After the brine, the zucchini is rinsed, coated twice with flour and once with seasoned breadcrumbs, and fried to a beautiful golden brown.

    I’m giving you a couple choices here. You can make the recipe all the way through and serve it immediately, or if you want to serve it later, you can par-fry the zucchini and freeze it for several days. After that, when an occasion arises, a couple minutes is all it takes to finish off the dish and serve it. My Carl's Jr. Fried Zucchini copycat recipe makes enough for a small gathering, but you can easily cut it in half for a more intimate hang.

    Click here for more amazing Carl's Jr. copycat recipes. 

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 5)
    Maggiano's Beef Tenderloin Medallions

    For many years this entrée has been a top menu choice at Maggiano's, the 54-unit Italian chain from Brinker, the same company that operates Chili’s Grill & Bar. The $30 restaurant dish consists of three 2½-ounce tenderloin steaks, swimming in a fantastic balsamic cream sauce with sliced portabello mushrooms—but a home version is only six easy steps away, and it won't hit you in the wallet as hard as the pricey original.

    Cracking this dish required a perfect hack of the balsamic cream sauce, and that came quickly after obtaining some very reliable information from my incredibly helpful server/informant at a Las Vegas Maggiano’s. Let’s call him Skippy.

    According to Skippy, the balsamic cream sauce is as simple as mixing a sweet balsamic glaze with the chain’s creamy Alfredo sauce. So, I first got a sample of Maggiano’s Alfredo sauce and figured out how to replicate it. Once that was done, I measured increments of balsamic glaze into the Alfredo sauce until the color and flavor matched the original. The rest of the recipe was easy.

    My recipe will make two servings and includes preparation for the tenderloins and sauce. If you’d like to complete the dish the way it’s served at the restaurant (as in the photo), add some garlic mashed potatoes on the side, using my hack for Olive Garden Garlic Mashed Potatoes.   

    Try my Maggiano's Beef Tenderloin Medallions copycat recipe below, find more of my Maggiano's copycat recipes here.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 2)
    Outback Steakhouse Toowoomba Steak

    Here’s a hack that might help when you feel like doing something special with those steaks in the fridge. Or maybe you have salmon fillets in there? Doesn’t matter, this recipe works great on both. And it also makes a great pasta sauce.

    The secret Toowoomba sauce is a variation on alfredo sauce that Outback served over pasta at one time. These days the sauce is only used to top steak and salmon at the restaurant, but you can also use it on just about any type of pasta.

    In my early batches of the sauce, I noticed that if the shrimp are added at the beginning they get too tough. To solve that problem, I sautéed the seasoned shrimp separately, then added them closer to the end, and they came out perfect.

    Spoon your homemade Toowoomba sauce over grilled tenderloin filets (or salmon filets) for an easy way to elevate your entrée. My Outback Steakhouse Toowoomba sauce copycat recipe will make enough for four servings.

    If you love Outback Steakhouse, check out my other clone recipes here

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 4)
    Taco Bell Chalupa Supreme

    I’m not sure when it happened, but it appears Taco Bell recently changed its seasoned beef recipe. I hacked the recipe several years ago for the book TSR Step-by-Step, and I recall the recipe had much more oat filler, so that’s how I cloned it. Taco Bell came under fire in 2011 for the significant amount of oats in the recipe that the chain was listing as “spices,” and after that, Taco Bell was more transparent about ingredients. But somewhere along the way it appears the company tweaked the recipe to include less filler and more flavor, so I decided I had to create a new Taco Bell seasoned beef copycat recipe. 

    You can use my recipe below to make the famous Chalupa—which the restaurant makes by deep-frying the flatbread used for Gorditas. You can also use this new, improved Taco Bell seasoned beef recipe for anything you’re copying, whether it's tacos, burritos, Enchiritos, Mexican Pizzas, or a big pile of nachos.

    The secret ingredient in our hack is Knorr tomato bouillon. This flavor powder adds many ingredients found in the original recipe and provides the umami savoriness that’s required for a spot-on clone of the famous seasoned ground beef. To get the right flavor, you need to find "Knorr Tomato Bouillon with Chicken Flavor" powder, in a jar. Not the bouillon cubes.

    Try my Taco Bell Chalupa Supreme recipe below, and find copycat recipes for Taco Bell mild, hot or diablo sauce here.

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  • Score: 4.50 (votes: 2)
    Panera Bread Cinnamon Crunch Scone

    After the success of Panera Bread’s Cinnamon Crunch Bagels, the popular sandwich chain went back into the development kitchen and came out with these incredible scones, filled with the same crunchy cinnamon drops found in the bagels and drizzled with cinnamon icing.

    When first released, these scones were cut as triangles and frosted, but in 2018 the shape was changed to more “rustic”-shaped round blobs with drizzled or piped icing on top. I like to hack the newest version, so my Panera Bread Cinnamon Crunch Scones recipe here re-creates that scone.

    These are cream scones, so cream is the main wet ingredient that holds the dough together—but keep the dough crumbly as you mix it, and try not to compress it much, or you risk making the final product too dense. The best way to form the scones is to use both hands and shape the dough like you’re making a loose snowball. Then use one hand to place the dough onto the baking sheet and form it into a rough dome shape. The scones will flatten and spread out a little bit as they bake, creating the same rustic shape as the original.

    Try my Panera Bread Cinnamon Crunch Bagel recipe here.

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  • Not rated yet
    Panera Bread Turkey Chili

    Panera’s turkey chili is a wholesome and flavorful mix of dark meat turkey, beans, tomatoes, chilies, carrots, onions, and spices that’s easy to hack at home, once you know the secrets. I found that adding turkey in two forms—ground and sliced—resulted in the best hack of Panera Bread Turkey Chili. The sliced turkey should be dark meat, if possible, but if you can’t find uncooked, sliced dark meat, white meat is fine. It doesn’t finish quite as tender and flavorful as the dark meat, but it still works.

    To further improve flavor, I’m slipping in some nutritional yeast, which acts like MSG. Panera uses a natural yeast extract similar to this in many of their soups to improve flavor, so we’ll do the same. You can find nutritional yeast, or “nooch,” at Whole Foods or another well-stocked food store. If you can’t track it down, add another ¼ teaspoon of salt to the pot.

    And take note that you won’t be adding the edamame until the latter half of the cooking process. We do it this way so that when the chili is ready, the edamame will still be green, rather than the unappetizing grey color that can curse overcooked soybeans.

    Try my Panera Bread Turkey Chili copycat recipe below, and find more of your favorite Panera Bread copycat recipes here.

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

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

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

    This way to more cool copycats from Cheddar's.

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  • Score: 4.33 (votes: 3)
    Cheesecake Factory Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

    Menu Description: "Two fresh breakfast favorites are even better together with our buttermilk pancakes swirled with cinnamon-brown sugar."

    This new Cheesecake Factory brunch item packs everything you love about cinnamon rolls into an extra-wide stack of pancakes, including buttery icing on top. To make pancakes that are caramel brown on their faces and super spongy with lots of air pockets, you’ll need a tablespoon of baking soda in the batter. When the alkaline baking soda collides with the acidic buttermilk, the batter will instantly puff up, making pancakes that are extra light and airy, and very dark on their surface, like pretzels.

    My Cheesecake Factory cinnamon roll pancake copycat recipe makes plain buttermilk pancakes until the secret cinnamon filling is swirled over the top of the batter when it's poured into the pan. The combination of brown sugar, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and butter will melt into the pancake, making it look and taste like a sweet, buttery cinnamon roll. Hopefully you have a big griddle or very large skillet to cook these on. The real Cheesecake Factory Cinnamon Roll pancakes are 7 to 8 inches across, so you’ll need a big cooking surface if you want to cook more than one at a time. Or you could just make smaller pancakes.

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

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 3)
    Cheesecake Factory Oreo Dream Extreme Cheesecake

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

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

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

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  • Not rated yet
    P.F. Chang's Banana Spring Rolls

    The crispy banana spring rolls are just one delicious component of this signature dessert—it also comes with a big scoop of coconut-pineapple ice cream for an extraordinary flavor combo. The perfect mash-up of the warm spiced banana and the sweet tropical ice cream is why this is the number one dessert at the restaurant, and no other copycat recipe I’ve seen provides methods for you to make both parts at home.

    The bananas are wrapped in spring roll dough and fried, but first they are rolled in sugar and seasoned with Chinese five-spice, which is a blend of anise, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger that you can find in most big food stores.

    The ice cream hack is made by combining your favorite vanilla ice cream with toasted coconut bits, coconut extract, and real pineapple in a frozen bowl. Chains such as Cold Stone Creamery mix chunks into ice cream in a similar way­­—on a frozen slab of stone—so that the ice cream doesn’t melt while mixing.

    I’m also sharing with you an easy way to make the vanilla bean sauce from scratch, because there’s nothing better than fresh when it comes to vanilla sauce. For the caramel sauce, just pick your favorite from the many delicious bottled sauces available, and try to get one that comes in a squirt bottle so your dish looks great.

    Bring it all together, and you’ll have a beautiful hack of P.F. Chang's Banana Spring Rolls, with enough for four people to share.

    Click here for more amazing copycat recipes from P.F. Chang's.

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  • Score: 3.86 (votes: 7)
    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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  • Score: 4.60 (votes: 10)
    Red Robin Campfire Sauce

    Red Robin is known for great gourmet hamburgers and tasty cocktail concoctions, but the 400-plus-unit chain also serves a huge tower of onion rings that comes with a side of this creamy, sweet-and-smoky dipping sauce. An Internet search revealed a few clues about what might be mixed into this mystery Red Robin onion ring sauce, but the complete culinary conundrum was yet to be solved. A mixture of mayonnaise and barbecue sauce was a good starting point, but with so many varieties of barbecue sauce on the market, I had to figure out which came closest to the flavor of the original Campfire Sauce. So, I went back to Red Robin, obtained a sample of the barbecue sauce they use, and conducted a side-by-side taste test of all the major brands on the market. After more spoonfuls of straight barbecue sauce than any human should consume at one sitting, I finally concluded that Bull's Eye Brown Sugar and Hickory comes the closest to the sauce used at the restaurant. A little more experimentation with this sauce, some mayonnaise and a couple of other ingredients, and I eventually had an awesome re-creation of the delicious dipping sauce that can be served with home-baked onion rings, poppers, French fries, or as a really great hamburger spread. Mission accomplished.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 15)
    On the Border Guacamole Live!

    Menu Description: "Made fresh to order, with ripe avocados and choice of tomatoes, jalapeños, cilantro, red onions and fresh lime juice. Enough to share."

    This 160-unit casual Mexican chain makes a nice table side guacamole that you can easily duplicate for your amigos. This is the basic formula, but you can freely adjust it to suit the tastes of your crew. It's also easy to double it (or more) for a bigger fiesta, if that's the plan. My On The Border Guacamole Live! copycat recipe is much better when slightly chilled. So, put the avocados into the fridge for an hour or two before you open them up.

    Wash it all down with this copycat for On the Border's Mexican Mojito.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 9)
    Cheesecake Factory Miso Salmon

    Menu Description: "Fresh salmon marinated in miso and baked. Served with a delicious miso sauce, snow peas and white rice."

    Cheesecake Factory's miso salmon is presented beautifully on top of white rice and surrounded by sake butter sauce that tastes like candy. Miso is a salty-fermented soy bean paste that combines well with sweet brown sugar and sake for a syrupy marinade that makes salmon taste so good that even salmon haters will devour it. Look for red miso in a refrigerator in your market. You can also find it in Asian markets and some health food stores. 

    After cooking up your marinade, you should allow the salmon fillets to soak in it for up to six hours, so start this dish early in the day and plan to scarf out at dinnertime. The cool presentation starts by pressing cooked rice into a lightly greased 5-inch ramekin or small cake pan, and then turning it out onto the center of your serving plate. Add a moat of sake reduction sauce, a few steamed snow pea pods, and you will have a copycat Cheesecake Factory Miso salmon recipe that looks and tastes exactly like the real thing.

    Click here for more of your favorite recipes from Cheesecake Factory.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.
     

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 6)
    Chili's Quesadilla Explosion Salad

    Menu Description: "Fajita-marinated chicken, corn relish, mixed cheese, cilantro, diced tomato and crispy tortilla strips. Garnished with a chipotle-ranch drizzle and cheese quesadilla wedges. Served with our citrus-balsamic dressing."

    I'm a happy camper on a Saturday afternoon when diving into one of these big salads, served up with a Presidente Margarita to help relieve my hangover from a Friday night hoo-ha. For the last several years, this has been the go-to salad when you're dining at Chili's. The chicken marinade is delicious, the corn relish is a great touch, and the citrus-balsamic vinaigrette totally rocks. And where else can you get a salad that includes slices of cheese quesadilla on the side? I love it. If you're a fan of the original, my 4-serving Chili's Quesadilla Explosion salad copycat recipe will bring it home.

    Craving more of your favorite dishes from Chili's? See if I hacked your favorites here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 6)
    Bahama Breeze Island Onion Rings

    Menu Description: "Thick-cut and coconut breaded, with chili-horseradish and citrus-mustard dipping sauces."

    For my Bahama Breeze Onion Rings recipe, you'll want to track down a couple large, sweet onions, and some shredded coconut for this Island-style twist on golden onion rings. Make 1-inch slices in each onion so that when the slices are separated you end up with at least 16 wide rings. The breading here will be enough for that many rings, although you might be able to squeeze out a few more. I've also got recipes here for the diptastic sauces: Chili-horseradish and citrus-mustard. Learn the secret ingredient that gives the citrus-mustard clone its strong orange flavor without thinning out the sauce. When you're done, you'll have an impressive tower of rings that makes a kickin' appetizer or party dish for at least a half dozen of your crazy friends and family folks.

    You might also dig my recipes for Bahama Breeze coconut shrimp, and rum cake. Ya Mon!

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.
     

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  • Score: 4.83 (votes: 6)
    IHOP Funnel Cakes

    International House of Pancakes Funnel Cake Carnival promotion brought the famous fairground food to the masses for a limited time. As you would expect from the name, the first thing you'll need to make proper funnel cakes is, of course, a funnel. The funnel is used to swirl batter into hot oil where it will fry to a happy golden brown in about a minute on each side. Find a funnel with an opening that is at least 1/2-inch wide so that your funnel cakes will have approximately the same thickness as the IHOP version. For the frying, shortening works the best since that's what IHOP uses, but you can also use vegetable or canola oil. I used a trans fat-free shortening from Smart Balance and it worked great. Load your oil or shortening into a small saucepan with about a 6-inch diameter. This way the batter won't spread out when you funnel it into the oil, and you'll get funnel cakes that are all about the same size. When it's time to serve the dish, arrange two funnel cakes on a plate, dust them with powdered sugar, top 'em off with fruit and whipped cream, and enjoy fairground-style funnel cakes without any scary carnies watching you eat. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.83 (votes: 12)
    Original Pancake House Apple Pancake

    Menu Description: "Oven baked with fresh apples and pure Sikiyan cinnamon glaze."

    Fresh, high-quality ingredients and traditional recipes are what makes this growing chain a frequent favorite for anyone who stops in. The star of the show is the incredible apple pancake, the chain's signature dish. To make a dead-on clone, Granny Smith apples are sautéed in butter, brown sugar and cinnamon, then allowed to cool for a bit. That way, when the batter is poured into the pan, the apples and glaze stay anchored to the bottom. This technique also prevents the glaze from penetrating into the batter as the pancake bakes since there is now an apple barrier preventing any mixing of the ingredients. When the pancake comes out of the oven, it's flipped over onto a plate and the apples are right there on top, dripping with a delicious cinnamon-sugar glaze. You won't need any syrup for this one, that's for sure. Just a light dusting of powdered sugar on top. Then dig into an apple pancake unlike any other.

    Try my Original Pancake House Apple Pancake recipe below, and check out my recipe for the Original Pancake House German Pancake aka "Dutch Baby".

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.62 (votes: 42)
    Buffalo Wild Wings Buffalo Wings and Sauces

    Menu Description: "Here they are in all their lip-smacking, award-winning glory: Buffalo, New York-style chicken wings spun in your favorite signature sauce."

    Since Buffalo, New York was too far away, Jim Disbrow and Scott Lowery satisfied their overwhelming craving in 1981 by opening a spicy chicken wing restaurant close to home in Kent, Ohio. With signature sauces and a festive atmosphere, the chain has now evolved from a college campus sports bar with wings to a family restaurant with over 300 units. 

    While frying chicken wings is no real secret—simply drop them in hot shortening for about 10 minutes—the delicious spicy sauces are what make the wings special. There are 12 varieties of sauce available to coat your crispy chicken parts at the chain, and I'm presenting clones for the more traditional flavors. These sauces are very thick, almost like dressing or dip, so we'll use an emulsifying technique that will ensure a creamy final product where the oil won't separate from the other ingredients. 

    In my Buffalo Wild Wings copycat recipe below you'll find the cooking and coating technique for the wings, followed by copycat recipes for the most popular sauces: Spicy Garlic, Medium and Hot. The sauce recipes might look the same at first, but each has slight variations to make your sauce hotter or milder by adjusting the level of cayenne pepper. You can find Frank's pepper sauce by the other hot sauces in your market. If you can't find that brand, you can also use Crystal Louisiana hot sauce.

    Find my copycat recipes for Buffalo Wild Wings Asian Zing; Parmesan Garlic, and Caribbean Jerk sauces here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.84 (votes: 37)
    Hard Rock Cafe Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

    Give this simple soup clone a shot and you'll never again want to eat chicken soup from a can. I designed this recipe to be easy, requiring chicken fillets rather than a whole chicken, and you won't need to create a stock from scratch. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.39 (votes: 54)
    Maid-Rite Loose Meat Sandwich

    It's been an Iowa tradition since 1926, and today this sandwich has a huge cult following. It's similar to a traditional hamburger, but the ground beef is not formed into a patty. Instead, the lightly seasoned meat lies uncompressed on a white bun, dressed with mustard, minced onion, and dill pickles. Since the meat is loose, the sandwich is always served with a spoon for scooping up the ground beef that will inevitably fall out.

    When this clone recipe for Maid-Rite was originally posted on our website several years ago, it elicited more e-mail than any recipe in the site's history. Numerous Midwesterners were keyboard-ready to insist that the clone was far from accurate without the inclusion of a few bizarre ingredients, the most common of which was Coca-Cola. One letter states: "You evidently have not ever had a Maid-Rite. The secret to the Maid-Rite is coke syrup. Without it you cannot come close to the taste." Another e-mail reads: "Having lived in the Midwest all of my life and knowing not only the owners of a Maid-Rite restaurant but also many people who worked there, I can tell you that one of the things you left out of your recipe is Coca-Cola. Not a lot, just enough to keep the meat moist."

    On the flip side, I received comments such as this one from an Iowa fan who lived near Don Taylor's original Maid-Rite franchise: "The secret to the best Maid-Rite is the whole beef. Don had a butcher shop in his basement where he cut and ground all his beef. Some people still swear they added seasoning, but that is just not true. Not even pepper."

    Back in my lab, no matter how hard I examined the meat in the original product—which was shipped to me in dry ice directly from Don Taylor's original store in Marshalltown, Iowa—I could not detect Coca-Cola. There's no sweetness to the meat at all, although the buns themselves seem to include some sugar. When the buns are chewed with the meat, the sandwich does taste mildly sweet. I finally decided that Coca-Cola syrup is not part of the recipe. If it is added to the meat in the Maid-Rite stores, it's an insignificant amount that does not have any noticeable effect on the flavor.

    Also, the texture is important, so adding plenty of liquid to the simmering meat is crucial. My Maid Rite sandwich copycat recipe requires 1 cup of water in addition to 1/4 cup of beef broth. By simmering the ground beef in this liquid for a couple of hours, the meat will tenderize and become infused with a little flavor, just like the real thing.

    When the liquid is gone, form the ground beef into a 1/2 cup measuring scoop, dump it onto the bottom of a plain hamburger bun, then add your choice of mustard, onions, and pickles. Adding ketchup is up to you, although it's not an ingredient found in Maid-Rite stores. Many say that back in the early days "hobos" would swipe the ketchup and mix it with water to make tomato soup. Free ketchup was nixed from the restaurants way back then, and the custom has been in place ever since.

    Just think of all the famous sandwiches you can make at home. I've hacked the Popeye's Chicken Sandwich, McDonald's Big Mac, Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich, and many more. See if I've duplicated your favorite here.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.83 (votes: 6)
    Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies

    These soft, creme-filled sandwich cookies were the first snacks produced by McKee Foods back in 1960. It was his 4-year-old granddaughter Debbie after whom founder O.D. McKee named his line of snack cakes. O.D. was inspired by a picture of the little girl in play clothes and a straw hat, and that's the image we still find today on every package. The secret to cloning these mouth-watering snacks is re-creating the soft, chewy consistency of the oatmeal cookies. To duplicate the texture, the cookies are slightly underbaked. Then you whip up some of the easy-to-make creme filling with marshmallow creme, and spread it between two of the oatmeal cookies to complete your homemade Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies.

    Find my lighter version of Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies here

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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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 copycat recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.

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