THE MOST TRUSTED COPYCAT RECIPES
THE MOST TRUSTED COPYCAT RECIPES

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Re-create your favorite restaurant dishes with copycat recipes you won't find anywhere else from America's most trusted food hacker, Todd Wilbur. Browse by dish here. New recipes added every week.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 2)
    Costco (Kirkland) Almond Poppy Muffins

    The real Costco muffins taste great, but they may not be as wholesome as you would like them to be. The dough has been conditioned with gums to thicken, ingredients to emulsify, and to preserve shelf-life the muffins contain no butter. Plus, the flavors you taste—including butter, almond, and vanilla—are all artificial.

    I attempted to stay true to the original formula in my first take on the famous muffins with this copycat recipe for Costco’s Blueberry Muffins. In that hack, I chose to avoid butter like the real muffins do, opting instead for margarine. And since the Costco muffins contain no buttermilk, I also stayed away from that ingredient, even though I love its magical properties for baking.

    This time, for my Costco Almond Poppy Muffins recipe, I’m taking a different approach to hacking the muffins with more whole egg, real butter, and, yes, buttermilk to bring great flavor and a better crumb to our finished product. Without all the dough conditioners found in the original, these home-cloned muffins are less rubbery and slightly crumblier than Costco’s, and the flavor is better, because it’s real.

    Find more favorite famous bread recipes here

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    Legal Sea Foods New England Clam Chowder

    This phenomenal clam chowder, made with lots of fresh littleneck clams, was chosen to represent the state of Massachusetts at the first inauguration of Ronald Reagan in 1981—just a year after first being served at the restaurant—and has been served at every presidential inauguration since. I think it's the best clam chowder you'll get at any casual restaurant chain in America, making it a perfect home clone candidate.

    I could glean only minimal information from servers at Legal Sea Foods in Philly where I first tasted this fantastic chowder. Fortunately, the company has an online seafood store where I could order a quart of the soup—for a whopping 45 bucks with shipping—which provided me with an ingredients list on the package to aid in the hacking. The restaurant has its cookbook, which provides a few more clues, but the recipe there does not produce a soup that is anything like the version in the restaurant. Many of the ingredients I found on the label of the restaurant version are not listed in the cookbook recipe. 

    The real soup includes a little salt pork, which I have replaced here with bacon since such a small amount is used. For the best flavor, you'll want to use fish or seafood stock, which I found at Walmart, but you can substitute with chicken broth if seafood stock is unavailable. My Legal Sea Foods New England Clam Chowder copycat recipe makes over 2 quarts of the soup and will cost you a fraction of what I paid for just a single quart through the company's website. 

    Find my Legal Sea Foods Crab Cakes copycat recipe here.

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

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  • Not rated yet
    IHOP Cinnamon Bun Crepes

    One of IHOP’s creative new crêpes is this cinnamon bun/cheesecake mashup that’s probably more dessert than breakfast food, although no one at my house complained. Two delicate crêpes are filled with cheesecake mousse and drizzled with cinnamon bun filling and cream cheese icing, and it looks beautiful on the plate.

    For my take on the IHOP Cinnamon Bun Crêpes recipe, I reworked the cinnamon topping which I previously hacked for IHOP’s Cinn-A-Stacks to hold its shape better when applied with a squirt bottle. And I’m including two easy new hacks for the cream cheese icing and cheesecake mousse.

    Once your mousse and icings are done, use this original crêpes formula to make eight beautiful, delicate crêpes for four servings, topped with sliced strawberries and a dusting of powdered sugar.

    Find more of my IHOP copycat recipes here.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    IHOP Classic Eggs Benedict

    In 2023, IHOP introduced some creative new eggs Benedict dishes, including one made with bacon jam and another with shredded beef and poblano hollandaise sauce. I can certainly appreciate the chain’s novel approach to the traditional recipe, but your taste buds may not be quite ready for those big flavors in the early a.m. That’s why, for this hack, I'm turning to the classic version of the chain’s Benedict, which will be extremely kind to your palate, no matter what time of the day it is.

    For my IHOP Classic Eggs Benedict copycat recipe, I’ll show you how to make hollandaise sauce from scratch in just a few minutes, and how to easily poach perfect eggs just as quickly. Hopefully, this recipe is one that you return to whenever you want an impressive breakfast that doesn’t take much work. 

    Once the poached eggs are done, stack them on black forest ham (a much better choice than Canadian bacon) and English muffins, douse them with the great hollandaise, and serve the dish with crispy hash browns or fruit on the side.

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    Chick-fil-A Honey Pepper Pimento Chicken Sandwich

    Chick-fil-A becomes the first fast food chain to feature pimento cheese—a traditional Southern spread made with cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, and pimentos—on a sandwich. The chain’s Honey Pepper Pimento Chicken Sandwich features a regular or spicy crispy chicken breast fillet­ stacked on sliced jalapeños, then drizzled with honey and topped with a healthy portion of their exclusive pimento cheese formula.

    For the chicken fillet, I was able to use my previous Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich copycat recipe, but the chain’s excellent pimento cheese spread is a new creation that needed to be hacked from scratch. Rinsing the real spread through a strainer revealed some hidden secrets, including tiny bits of green pepper, which I copied by adding a small amount of minced jalapeño.

    The chicken requires four hours to brine, and that’s a good time to make the pimento cheese so it can rest for a bit to improve its color and flavor. The recipe included here is for the original chicken fillet, but if you prefer the kicked-up spicy version of the sandwich, I’ve got the tweak for that variation down in the Tidbits.

    Try my Chick-fil-A Honey Pepper Pimento Chicken Sandwich copycat recipe below, and find more of my Chick-fil-A copycat recipes here.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 3)
    Southern Comfort Traditional Egg Nog

    Online taste tests and reviews routinely mention Farmland Fresh, Darigold, and Southern Comfort as America's best egg nog brands. And of the three, Southern Comfort, a brand famously known for fruit-flavored whiskey, often takes the top spot with its delicious “traditional” egg nog. Which, ironically, contains no booze.

    But the first egg nog, invented in medieval Britain, was quite intoxicating. It was a warm drink made with milk and sherry, and thickened with plenty of egg yolks. That’s a much different beverage experience than today’s branded egg nog, often served cold. And the cartons of egg nog from your market are now made with non-traditional ingredients such as corn syrup, and much of the egg yolk has been replaced with cheaper and longer-lasting natural gums, like carrageenan and guar gum.

    But, for my Southern Comfort Traditional Egg Nog copycat recipe, we'll turn back the clock and make egg nog more traditionally, with plenty of real egg yolks to thicken the batch, and no gums or corn syrup. My easy recipe will give you around 36 ounces of fresh homemade egg nog. And it’s up to you to add any booze.

    Make more fun, famous drinks with my recipes here.

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  • Not rated yet
    KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) Hot & Spicy Wings

    If you like chicken wings with a strong, spicy punch that doesn't overwhelm the great flavor, these are the wings for you. The Colonel's new extra-crispy chicken wings don’t rely on a zesty sauce for heat because it’s built into the delicious extra-crispy breading. And by soaking the wings in a chili brine, you'll get great flavor that goes through to the bone.

    The secret ingredient in my KFC Hot & Spicy Wings copycat recipe is ground habanero pepper, which you can find online. For wings as hot as the originals, you'll need this ground pepper to add to the breading and the brine.

    Another secret to re-creating the KFC experience is to let the fried wings rest in a warm, but not hot, oven for at least 20 minutes before serving as soon as they're done frying. An oven set to 250 degrees simulates the holding station at the restaurant where fried chicken pieces rest until an order comes in. This simple step is a crucial one for crispy wings that taste just like the real deal.

    How about some famous coleslaw or wedge potatoes? Check out my collection of KFC clone recipes here.

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  • Not rated yet
    See's Candies Chocolate Walnut Fudge

    Fudge can be finicky. It's created by combining hot candy syrup with chocolate, which can result in a grainy mess if the chocolate seizes and gets clumpy. This undesirable situation can be avoided by closely monitoring the temperature, but even then your chocolate could still lock up, and your fudge will be ruined. I couldn't let that happen in my recipe re-creation of the famous fudge from the 100-year-old West Coast candy chain. 

    For my See's Chocolate Walnut Fudge copycat recipe, I made over 56 pounds of fudge on my quest to develop a recipe that works every time, even if the chocolate seizes. And in most of my batches, it usually did. So I came up with a secret trick: reserve a little cream for later, then after the hot candy syrup is mixed with the chocolate and the chocolate begins to seize, send the cream to the rescue and the fudge will become smooth, as if by magic. 

    Stir in some walnuts, then pour the fudge into a wax paper-lined pan, and when it cools, you'll have over 3 1/2 pounds of thick fudge that tastes just like the real thing. That's more than $110 worth of fudge if you bought it at the candy store!

    Fans of the cinnamon lollipop will love my See's Cinnamon Lollypop recipe here.

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  • Not rated yet
    McDonald's Sweet & Spicy Jam

    Sugar and spice make this rare McDonald’s sauce very nice, but it was only available for a limited time at the chain. Fortunately, that short time window was long enough for me to procure several samples of the new McNuggets dipping sauce, and reverse-engineer a sweet copycat that can step up now that the tasty original is gone.

    This flavorful jelly brings the heat with ground cayenne pepper and cayenne pepper sauce, which, along with the minced red bell, give the sauce its red tint. The real thing also contains Szechuan peppercorn extract which adds a magical numbing effect to the flavor profile. So, for my McDonald's Sweet & Spicy Jam copycat recipe, I’m including just a bit of ground Szechuan peppercorn, which you can grind from whole peppercorns, or buy pre-ground.

    When your cooked sauce cools it will thicken and become jelly, thanks to the magical properties of pectin. Loosen it up by stirring it before serving alongside a variety of finger foods, including crispy chicken strips and nuggets, fried shrimp, eggrolls, jalapeño poppers, baked brie, and lamp chops.

    Find more McDonald's famous dipping sauces here.

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  • Not rated yet
    Giordano's Famous Stuffed Deep Dish Pizza

    No discussion of iconic Chicago foods would be complete without talking about deep dish pizza and quibbling over who makes it best. Is it Pizzeria Uno, the originator of deep dish pizza? Or maybe it's Gino's East, with their signature yellow crust? Or perhaps it's Giordano's, and their double-decker stuffed deep dish? Each pizza is unique in its own way and all of them have a devoted fanbase, but with extra cheese, an additional layer of dough—and some aggressive franchising—many are now calling Giordano's Famous Stuffed Deep Dish Pizza the best Chicago deep dish in America.

    Get this recipe for free on my Food Hacker Blog here.

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    McDonald's Szechuan Sauce

    This once dead sauce was brought back to life by a cartoon show and a sustained social media campaign from scores of obsessed fans prodding and poking at McDonald's. Unfortunately, how the fast food giant chose to comply with their demands turned out to be one really bad idea.

    Learn more and get my recipe for free on my Food Hacker Blog here.

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    In-N-Out Double-Double Hamburger

    This legendary hamburger is a construct of simple ingredients, but until now, no one has succeeded in creating a perfect clone recipe—most likely because they miss the subtleties that make this 70-year-old recipe so great.

    Learn more and get my recipe for free on my Food Hacker Blog here.

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  • Not rated yet
    Harry Potter Butterbeer

    The imaginary drink from J.K. Rowling's books became a reality when the first Wizarding World of Harry Potter appeared in 2010. Since then, many hacks for the beverage have emerged online. The only problem is, if Rowling's reported requirements for the drink are true, then almost all of those copycats recipes got something very wrong.

    Learn more and get my recipe for free on my Food Hacker Blog here.

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  • Not rated yet
    Barney's Beanery Texas-Style Chili

    The century-old iconic L.A. diner is famous for its chili, and the bean-less Texas-Style Chili is the best of the bunch.

    Learn more and get my recipe for free on my Food Hacker Blog here.

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  • Not rated yet
    Portillo's Italian Beef Sandwich

    Thin-sliced roast beef is dunked in herbed gravy to soak up the flavor, then it’s stacked on a warm Italian sandwich roll and topped with sweet peppers or spicy hot Giardiniera. The recipe may seem like a simple one, but if any component of this iconic sandwich isn’t faithful to the Chi-Town original, true beef fanatics will cry “foul” quicker than bleacher bums at Wrigley field.

    Get this recipe for free on my Food Hacker Blog here.

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    Nestle Drumstick

    Not only is it possible to make a clone of Nestle's world-famous Drumstick in your home kitchen, it's also a heck of a lot of fun.

    Get this recipe for free on my Food Hacker Blog here.

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    Cafe Du Monde Beignets

    A French Quarter tradition since 1862, Cafe Du Monde beignets are probably the most famous beignets in the world.

    Learn more and get this recipe for free on my Food Hacker Blog here.

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  • Not rated yet
    Haribo-Gold Gummy Bears Candy

    The nearly 100-year-old candy recipe can be easily replicated with Jell-O and a few other ingredients. But it's a little bit of food science that makes this gummy candy hack different from any other.

    Learn more and get my recipe for free on my Food Hacker Blog here.

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    Cheddar's Baked Spasagna

    If spaghetti and lasagna were in a romantic comedy together, they would eventually overcome their differences and end up like this: blissfully entangled for life, and better than the sum of their parts.

    Learn more and get my recipe for free on my Food Hacker Blog here.

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    Smucker's Chocolate Fudge Magic Shell

    It comes out of the bottle as a liquid, but within seconds of landing on a scoop of ice cream, this magical sauce becomes a solid shell of chocolate.

    Learn more and get my recipe for free on my Food Hacker Blog here.

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    Panera Bread Blueberry Scone

    A great cream scone should include just enough cream to help the dough stick together, but not so much that the inside of the scone is gooey. And the perfect amount of butter is required to keep the scone from being either too tough, or too flakey, like pie crust. 

    After two dozen attempts, I believe I found the right ratios that will give you tender, nicely-browned scones with juicy blueberries buried inside–and very little blue dough from blueberry juice just like the real thing. 

    Get the recipe in my book "Top Secret Recipes Unleashed" only on Amazon here.

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    Taco Bell Green Tomatillo Sauce

    Taco Bell has two green sauces mentioned on its website. One is a green chili sauce, which isn’t served at any Taco Bell I’ve been to. The other is a green tomatillo sauce, the most popular of the two, which can be ordered on any Taco Bell item or will be provided a la carte for you to pour on as you see fit. The tomatillo sauce, with its mild heat and bright tomatillo flavor, is the one we’re hacking here.

    It appears that Taco Bell uses canned peppers and tomatillos for their recipe, which is great because canned ingredients are ready to use, they add additional flavors and the acidity we need, and they simplify the recipe. Fresh produce would certainly require much more wrangling.

    My Taco Bell Green Tomatillo sauce recipe is easy. Just pop everything into a blender in the order prescribed and blend away, but don’t blend so much that the seeds get pulverized. You want a sauce that isn’t completely pureed, with visible small pieces of peppers and seeds. You’ll end up with 1½ cups of the tasty green stuff to use on tacos, burritos, salads, eggs, and more.

    Be sure to warm up the sauce a little before you use it (they keep it in a warmer at Taco Bell). The flavor of the real thing is fairly mild, so if you want your version hotter than that, just add more jalapeños to the blender.

    Get the recipe in my book "Top Secret Recipes Unleashed" only on Amazon here.

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    Zaxby's Chicken Fingerz

    Zaxby's is the largest chicken-finger chain in the country, with over 800 units throughout the Southeastern U.S., but it wasn't the first. In the early 1980s, Guthrie's restaurant in Haleyville, Alabama was serving hamburgers, sandwiches, ice cream, and Golden Fried Chicken Fingers that became a smash hit with customers. Guthrie's eventually eliminated all the other menu items and began serving just chicken fingers, French fries, Texas toast, and coleslaw, along with a special dipping sauce. You’ll find the same offerings on Zaxby’s menu, and the chain’s Chicken Fingerz are always the star of the show.

    One secret to making great chicken fingers at home is brining the chicken with a lightly seasoned salt solution to add flavor and juiciness throughout the tenderloins. Another secret revealed here is the inclusion of baking soda in the breading. This will make a light, crispy coating with a perfect golden brown color, just like Zaxby's chicken fingers.

    Get the recipe in my book "Top Secret Recipes Unleashed" only on Amazon here.

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    Nabisco Fig Newtons

    In 1891, a baker named Charles Rosen invented a machine that inserted fig paste into seamless pastry dough and was soon mass-producing one of the first commercially baked products in America. Rosen named his creation after the nearby town of Newton, Massachusetts, and eventually sold the recipe to the Kennedy Biscuit Company, which later became Nabisco. Today Nabisco sells over 1 billion Fig Newtons each year.

    It has long been my wish to create a satisfying clone of such an iconic snack, but I was never quite sure how to go about it. The fig filling needs to be sweet with a sour aftertaste, and thick like jam. The thin pastry would need to be tender, not tough, and should smoothly wrap around the figs without cracking. After a week or so of pureeing dry figs and testing pastry doughs, I finally created a Fig Newton recipe that tasted great and looked just like the original.

    Since you likely don’t have a fig bar extruder in your kitchen like Charles Rosen did, we’ll use a dough folding technique to make nicely shaped bars with smooth sides, no cracks, and no visible seam. The trick is to roll out the dough on wax paper, then wrap the dough around the fig filling by lifting the wax paper up and over the filling. You can cleanly manipulate very thin dough this way, and when you flip the bar over, the seam will be hidden.

    Re-hydrating the dried figs will help make them easier to puree, and the dry pectin in the mix will thicken the figs to a jammy consistency and give the filling additional tartness (citric acid is in pectin to help activate it). My Fig Newton recipe will make 48 cookies, or more than twice what you get in two 10-ounce packages of the real thing.

    Get the recipe in my book "Top Secret Recipes Unleashed" only on Amazon 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 copycat recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.

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