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Salads

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 has hacked your favorite salads here. New recipes added every week.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    If you didn’t know this salad came from Chick-fil-A you could easily be fooled into thinking it was a much more expensive salad from a casual chain like T.G.I. Friday’s or Chili’s. The bed of greens is built with crisp romaine, green leaf, and red leaf lettuce, and without a speck of tasteless iceberg in sight. On top of that are ingredients you don’t associate with fast food, like grilled corn, black beans, roasted peppers, spicy chili lime pepitas, and crunchy tortilla chips. Everything works great together, and now I can show you how to make all of it for a spot-on home hack.

    Chick-fil-A knows chicken, so of course the spicy chicken served on top of the salad is delicious. We can easily clone it by marinating chicken fillets in a special spicy brine for a few hours to infuse it with flavor and juiciness, then grilling it, chilling it, and slicing it thin.

    The biggest star of the salad is the secret recipe that kitchen cloners have requested most: the creamy salsa dressing. To make your own version roast some peppers, mix those with the other ingredients in a blender until the dressing is smooth and creamy, and you’ll get a bright, spicy dressing that’s perfect for this salad, or any other home-crafted salads in your future.

    Hungry for more Chick-Fil-A? Find my clones for their famous chicken sandwichmac & cheese, and more here.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 2

    Menu Description: "Chopped lettuce, basil, salami, chilled roast turkey breast, diced tomatoes and Mozzarella cheese tossed in our herb-mustard Parmesan vinaigrette topped with scallions."

    It's the delicious herb-mustard Parmesan vinaigrette that makes this salad so good. And since freshly made dressings are way better than anything you'll buy in a store, here's a great clone for vinaigrette that you can use either on the chopped salad clone here, or on any salad you assemble with ingredients on hand. After heating up these vinaigrette ingredients for a couple minutes, let the mixture cool, and then drizzle a thin stream of olive oil into the dressing as you blend it with an electric mixer on high speed. This will create an emulsion to thicken the vinaigrette and hold all the ingredients together even as the dressing chills.

    Try more of my CPK copycat recipes for appetizers, soups, and pizza here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.82. Votes: 17

    This cheesy little number is one of the most popular side salad choices at America's favorite steakhouse chain. Cinnamon Pecans and fried angel hair pasta are tossed with salad greens and a delicious sweet and sour bleu cheese vinaigrette. The crunchy angel hair pasta pieces are made by first boiling 24 sticks of uncooked pasta for half of the usual cooking time. When the pasta is cool, fry it in a bit of oil until light brown and crispy. The cinnamon pecans are easily candied in a small saucepan with a few basic ingredients. The recipe here makes two large salad servings, which will require only half of the dressing. This way, if you want to serve more salads you can easily double up on the other ingredients, and you'll have just the right amount of dressing for a couple more servings.

    How about a 'Bloomin Onion to go with that salad? I've cloned a ton of famous dishes from Outback Steakhouse. See if I hacked your favorites here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    Menu Description: "Chopped lettuce, black beans, sweet corn, jicama, cilantro, basil, crispy corn tortilla strips, and Monterey Jack cheese tossed together in our herb ranch dressing. Topped with chopped BBQ chicken breast, diced tomatoes and scallions."

    It was probably the popularity of CPK's BBQ chicken pizza that inspired this twist on the original chopped salad. I think the herb ranch dressing that's made here is much better than any ranch dressing you can buy in bottles in your local supermarket, but you can still choose to use one of those on this salad to speed things up, if you prefer. You might also consider substituting ingredients listed here for lower-fat ingredients, such as low-fat mayonnaise, sour cream and fat-free milk. As with any clone, consider this formula as your springboard into a custom dish that suits your own specs.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.58. Votes: 104

    Menu Description: "Crisp Oriental greens topped with chunks of crunchy Chicken Fingers, toasted almonds and crispy rice noodles tossed in a light Oriental vinaigrette."

    Applebee's 60-item menu is revised twice a year. That means about 40 percent of the entire menu changes on a regular basis. The other 60 percent are items that are found on menus in all of the Applebee's restaurants, and seldom ever change. One item that has been on the menu for some time now is this Oriental Chicken salad, which is considered one of the restaurant's signature items. The recipe makes one dinner-size salad and can be easily doubled or quadrupled for additional servings. This recipe comes from the third book, Top Secret Restaurant Recipes, but the dressing has been improved to more closely match the current dressing served at the restaurant.

    Want more Applebee's? See if I hacked your favorites here

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 4

    Menu Description: "Shredded napa cabbage, chilled grilled chicken breast, julienne cucumbers, edamame, crispy wontons, peanuts, cilantro, julienne carrots, red cabbage and scallions tossed with a lime-cilantro dressing. Topped with crispy rice sticks and Thai peanut dressing."

    You can plan ahead for this amazing salad clone by first grilling the chicken and chilling it, then preparing the cilantro-lime dressing and the peanut sauce in advance. The menu description says that the salad is topped with "crispy rice sticks," but they look to me like crispy bean threads, cooked in a flash when dropped into hot oil for a few seconds. The crispy wontons are made from frying thinly sliced wonton wrappers in the same hot oil. For the edamame (soybeans), look in the frozen food section, and if they're still in their pods, be sure to take them out before measuring and tossing them into the salad. Once you've got everything chilled and chopped, building each dish is a breeze, and you'll have four huge dinner-size salads that will each be enough for an entire meal.

    I've cloned a ton of dishes from California Pizza Kitchen. See if I hacked your favorites here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 5

    Menu Description: "Grilled chipotle chicken breast with guacamole and sour cream on a bed of greens tossed with two cheeses, pico de gallo, tortilla strips and our Mexi-ranch dressing."

    Create a robust chipotle marinade that fills your chicken fillets with flavor. As you wait for the chicken to marinate you have plenty of time to throw together clones of the Mexi-ranch dressing and fresh pico de gallo. Now most of the work is done, and you're standing in front of the gate to salad heaven. When you're ready to enter, simply grill the chicken, assemble your salads and open wide.

    You should know that if you don't have buttermilk for the dressing, and don't want to buy a whole carton to use just a single tablespoon, simply substitute regular milk. You'll find ground chipotle pepper where all the spices are stocked in the market: I use McCormick. If you can't track down ground chipotle, use ground cayenne pepper. Just be sure to measure roughly half the amount, since cayenne packs more heat than chipotle.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 3

    Menu Description: "Pecan-crusted chicken, served sliced and chilled on salad greens tossed with Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing, topped with mandarin oranges, sweet-glazed pecans, celery, dried cranberries and bleu cheese."

    With dried cranberries, mandarin orange wedges, bleu cheese, pecan-crusted chicken breast, and a delicious sweet and sour balsamic vinaigrette, it's no wonder this salad is the top pick at one of America's first casual dining chains. And don't be intimidated by all the ingredients. The dressing is a cakewalk since you pour everything except the garlic into a blender. The pecan-crusted chicken is a simple breading process, and the chicken cooks up in a snap. You'll be spending most of your time at the chopping block as you hack pecans into little pieces and get the lettuce, garlic and celery ready. I've designed this recipe to serve four, but if there are only two of you, you can easily cut it in half.

    Find more yummy T.G.I. Friday's copycat recipes here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 4

    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, this 4-serving clone 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: 4.75. Votes: 12

    As the seasons change so does the menu, at this popular 1064-unit casual restaurant chain. You'll find this item in the "Low-Fat and Fabulous" column during the summer months where it's been a favorite since 1997. As with any salad, the waistline violator is the traditionally fat-filled dressing that's drizzled in gobs over the top of very healthy greens. A tablespoon of dressing is usually around 10-12 grams of fat each. So if we can just figure out a cool way to make the dressing fat-free, we're well on our way to making huge salad—four of them to be exact—with only 12 grams of fat on the entire plate. Most of those grams come from the chicken breast, while the crunchy chow mein noodles pick up the rest. Just be sure to plan ahead when you make this one. The chicken should marinate for a few hours if you want it to taste like the original. Get ready for some big, meal-size salads.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving Size–1 salad
    Total Servings–4
    Calories per serving–575
    Fat per serving–12g

    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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