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Appetizers

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. See if Todd hacked your favorite appetizers here. New recipes added every week

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    At the time I was writing this book there were two ways you could have your bacon and scallops at Red Lobster: wrapped and broiled, or grilled on a skewer. The former is a smaller portion to be served as an appetizer, while the grilled version is served as a main entree. I've included recipes to clone both versions.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 2

    Menu Description: "Quickly-cooked spiced chicken served with cool lettuce cups."

    While working on the formula for P.F. Chang's Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps, I discovered that there were several ways I could improve the clone recipe for the Chicken Wraps that I published in Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2. I've now perfected the flavor of the stir-fry with the addition of mirin (a sweetened sake syrup) and oyster sauce, both of which you can find in your market where the Asian foods are stocked. The "special sauce" that you spoon over your wraps has also been tweaked and perfected. And fnally, after reducing the amount of chicken from two breasts fillets to just one, I think this new and improved version of P.F. Chang's most popular dish is the absolute best clone it can be. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    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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    Menu Description: "Our flour tortilla is packed with sauteed chicken, sausage, bruschetta marinara, bacon and oozing with Monterey Jack cheese. We coat it with Parmesan, and pan-fry it to a crispy, golden brown, then drizzle it with balsamic glaze." 

    Italy meets Mexico in this new hit appetizer that combines a cheese-filled tortilla with ingredients you wouldn't usually find inside a quesadilla, including Friday's bruschetta marinara. Parmesan cheese is crusted on the outside of the tortilla, and the balsamic glaze drizzle is the perfect finishing touch. This is an awesome party dish appetizer since the whole recipe makes 4 quesadillas that can each be sliced into as many as 8 pieces.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    You've got to hand it to him. Alan Stillman thought that if he opened his own restaurant, it might be a great way to meet the flight attendants who lived in his New York City neighborhood. Not only did the dude follow through on his plan in 1965 with the first T.G.I. Friday's, but today the company is 387 units strong. 

    Friday's kitchen came up with a delicious blend of barbecue sauce and apple butter for coating the deep-fried chicken wings. For our reduced-fat clone, we'll re-create the same taste of the barbecue sauce, but we'll strip the skin from the chicken wings and bake the wings to cut the fat way down.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–3 pieces
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–150 (Original–235)
    Fat per serving–6 g (Original–16 g)

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

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 2

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

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

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    Score: 4.33. Votes: 3

    Menu Description: "Our signature appetizer...jumbo lump blue crab meat, gulf shrimp and mushrooms, simmered in a Cajun cream sauce and served with toasted garlic bread. We make it here so you know it's good!"

    This dips rocks, and I'm not the only one who thinks so. According to the Margaritaville menu, it's the theme chain's signature appetizer. And what's not to like: delicious blue crab, little bay shrimp and sliced mushrooms are all swimming in a Cajun-style cream sauce, topped with melted Cheddar and Jack cheeses, and broiled until the cheese melts...yum. Serve up your clone with slices of freshly toasted buttery garlic bread and you've got a great party snack. The restaurant version is a tiny little serving that's barely enough for two, so I've supersized this clone recipe to make enough dip to satisfy The Brady Bunch.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur. 

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    Score: 3.20. Votes: 10

    You probably don't need me to tell you that traditional chicken wings have significant fat and calories. In most cases, the wings are deep-fried in hot oil, the skin is left on the chicken, and then they are smothered in a spicy sauce that is usually around half butter. Good stuff for sure, but sometimes you might want to take a break from the fat. So then, how can we reduce the fat in a clone recipe for what has become one of the most popular chicken wings around without compromising the flavor and everything else that makes the Hooters version so great?

    First of all, we must broil and bake them instead of using the traditional frying method. As the wings broil we keep the skin on so that the meat won't dry out. Once the wings have cooled a little, we take off the skin and replace it with a seasoned breading and a light coating of cooking spray. We bake the wings until they're golden brown, smother them with a spicy wing sauce that's made with a light butter-flavored spread rather than butter, and, voila—a Hooters Buffalo Chicken Wing clone that weighs in at around one-third the fat of the original version. 

    Nutrition Facts:
    Serving size–5 pieces
    Total servings–2
    Calories per serving–210 (Original–471)
    Fat per serving–10g (Original–30g)

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.00. Votes: 2

    Menu Description: "Irresistible, creamy cheeses and elbow noodles golden fried to perfection."

    When T.G.I. Friday's vice president of research and development Phil Costner was in Las Vegas at Fix restaurant in the Bellagio in 2006, he tried a version of this fantastic finger food and immediately went to work locating a supplier to develop the dish for his chain of 550 restaurants. Now Fried Mac & Cheese is one of seven "radically new" finger foods on Friday's appetizer menu that includes Crispy Green Bean Fries, Potato Skinny Dippers and Triple Meat Fundido. After several hours in the underground lab I decided on a couple ways to approach this particular clone. Since Friday's Fried Mac & Cheese is made with a blend of cheeses, I'll first show you how to re-create the mac & cheese from scratch using Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses. And for those of you who love shortcuts, head on down to the Tidbits at the bottom of the recipe and I'll show you how to clone our T.G.I. Friday's Fried Mac & Cheese recipe appetizer much faster using frozen Stouffer's Macaroni & Cheese.
     
    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 2

    With this secret recipe from Low-Fat Top Secret Recipes, it isn't necessary to cook the chicken over a mesquite grill as they do in the restaurant chain. Sure, you could get some mesquite wood chips and throw 'em on your barbecue or you can use that charcoal that has mesquite in it. But an easier way to get the flavor of mesquite—especially if all you've got is a gas grill—is to soak the chicken in a marinade made with mesquite-flavored liquid smoke. In the restaurant these puppies are made with red chili tortillas. Since these type of tortillas can be tough to find, especially in fat-free versions, we'll use plain fat-free tortillas for our tasty reduced-fat clone.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–2 pieces
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–278 (Original–400)
    Fat per serving–10g (Original–20g)

    Source: Low-Fat Top Secret Recipes 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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