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Sandwiches

Nice work. 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 sandwiches here. New recipes added every week.

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    Shake Shack ShackBurger

    Several puzzles had to be solved to make a satisfying hack of the signature sandwich from the rapidly expanding New York chain. First, our burger must include a spot-on facsimile of the secret ShackSauce. I got a sample of the sauce from one of our Las Vegas Shake Shacks and determined the seven common ingredients, including pickle juice, to combine for a great shack sauce recipe.

    Second, the burger must be made with a special ground mix of four different cuts of beef and the patties need to be cooked the right way. I tested many combinations of meat until I landed on a flavorful blend of chuck, brisket, skirt steak, and short ribs. If you don't have a meat grinder at home, you can have your butcher grind these for you. At the restaurant, the ground beef blend is formed into ¼-pound pucks that are smashed onto the grill with a metal press. Grab a strong spatula and heat up a heavy skillet.

    And third, you'll need some soft, buttered and toasted potato buns to hold it all together. Shake Shack uses Martin's rolls, which are not cut all the way through, allowing the buns to be hinged open for loading. If you can’t find Martin’s, any soft potato rolls will do.

    Use these secrets and follow the easy steps below, and soon you’ll be biting into a perfect re-creation of Shake Shack Shackbuger. The famous cheeseburger that helped this chain grow from a single food cart in New York City to over 162 stores.

    Try my Shake Shack vanilla custard and vanilla milkshake recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unleashed by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Burger King BK Stacker King

    With a simple stack of meat, bacon, cheese, and secret sauce, the original BK Stacker was introduced in 2006 as a product targeted to men. Hungry men. The Stacker came with one, two, three, or four 2-ounce beef patties, and several slices of bacon on top, along with a slathering of the top secret Stacker sauce. Even though the sandwich had developed something of a cult following over the years, it was dropped from the menu in 2012.

    Today, the BK Stacker has been revived, but this time as a bigger, badder version with a new name, and beefier beef patties that weigh in at a whopping quarter-pound each. And just like the original, you can stack the patties, but this time up to a max of three because the patties are so darn big. Good luck getting your mouth around a triple with nearly a pound of meat between the buns.

    As with the original Stacker, this sandwich’s big secret is the Stacker sauce. Its base is a typical burger spread combo of mayo/ketchup/sweet pickle relish, but this one has a hint of celery flavor and rosemary not found in other burger sauces. To get the celery juice you can grate a stalk of celery on a grater or Microplane then press the pulp through a wire mesh strainer. You’ll get plenty of juice, but you just need a little bit to make your hacked sauce a perfect taste-alike. Just so you know, all other Stacker Sauce hacks I researched leave out the celery juice and rosemary.

    My Burger King BK Stacker King recipe here makes four single hamburgers, but feel free to stack up as many patties as you can handle.

    Check out my clones for the Whopper, Big King, Onion Rings, the Stuffed Steakhouse Burger, and more from Burger King.  

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 11)
    Wendy's Spicy Chicken Fillet Sandwich

    When sales of this once limited-offering sandwich exceeded expectations, Wendy's made it a permanent menu item. Now you can re-create the spicy kick of the original with a secret blend of spices in the chicken's crispy coating. Follow the same stacking order as the original, and you will make four sandwich clones here at a fraction of the cost of the real thing.

    Check out more Wendy's copycat recipes like their famous chili here.

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.25 (votes: 4)
    Applebee's Club House Grill

    Menu Description: "Applebee's signature hot club sandwich with warm sliced ham and turkey, cheddar, tomatoes, mayonnaise and Bar-B-Que sauce on thick-sliced grilled French bread. Served with a side of coleslaw."

    Here's a sandwich that Applebee's claims is a signature item for the chain. It's a cross between a club sandwich and a grilled cheese. So, if you like both of those, you'll love this.

    For the sliced turkey and ham, go to your deli service counter in the supermarket and get the stuff they machine-slice real thin for sandwiches. This usually tastes the best. If you don't have a service counter, thin-sliced prepackaged meats will also work great.

    Find more of your favorite Applebee's copycat recipes here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur. 

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Burger King Stuffed Steakhouse Burger

    In January of 2011, Burger King introduced the fast food world’s first stuffed burger. Spicy bits of real jalapeno and little chunks of cheddar cheese are embedded in the quarter-pound beef patty which is flame-broiled and stacked on a corn-dusted bun with lettuce, tomato and an excellent spicy poblano sauce. 

    Making the Burger King Stuffed Steakhouse burger is no big secret: just chop up jalapenos and cheddar cheese and work them into the ground beef, then freeze the patties so that they hold their shape when grilled. The freezing will also prevent the cheese from melting too much. 

    The real kicker in this recipe is the sauce. I had to design the formula to make much more than you will use on these 4 burgers because there needs to be enough volume for your food processor or blender to properly work its magic. If you have an extremely small food processor, you can certainly cut the sauce recipe in half and there will be plenty for all your burgers. But then again, if you go with the whole recipe, you’ll have extra sauce left over to spread on other sandwiches or to use as a dip for grilled artichokes.

    Find more of your favorite Burger King copycat recipes here.

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

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Carl's Jr. The Six Dollar Burger

    In 2001 this West Coast chain came up with a great idea: clone the type of burger you'd get at a casual restaurant chain such as Chili's or T.G.I. Friday's for around six bucks, but sell it for just $3.95. It's 1/3 pound of ground beef stacked on top of plenty of fixings, including red onion and those sweet-tasting bread-and-butter pickle slices. And the cost of a Six Dollar Burger gets even lower when you make your own version at home. How does less than two bucks grab ya?

    Craving more famous sandwiches from Carl's Jr? Find your favorites here.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.43 (votes: 14)
    Burger King Whopper

    In 1954, in Miami, Florida, James McLamore and David Edgerton built the first Burger King Restaurant. By 1991 more than 6,400 Burger King outlets could be found in forty countries and all fifty states. That gives this burger giant more than $6 billion is sales each year, making it the country's second-largest fast food chain.

    For many, the favorite item on the menu is a flame-broiled hamburger conceived by the partners on a business trip from Orlando to Miami in 1957. Dubbed the "Whopper," this sandwich is overwhelmingly popular; figures show that Burger King sells more than 540 million annually, or nearly 2 million each day. And with more than 1,023 different combinations of the eight ingredients, including a vegetarian version, you really can "have it your way." 

    Use my Burger King Whopper recipe below to assemble your own flame-broiled burger creation. Have it your way, or follow the stacking order listed below to duplicate the original.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Carl's Jr. Famous Star

    It was in Los Angeles in 1941 that Carl Karcher and his wife, Margaret, found a hotdog cart on Florence and Central for sale for $326. They borrowed $311 on their Plymouth, added $15 of their own, and bought the brightly colored stand. Although the sign on this first stand read "Hugo's Hot Dogs," Karcher began purchasing more carts, painting on them "Carl's Hot Dog's." In 1945 Karcher opened his first drive-thru restaurant, which he named "Carl's Drive-In Barbecue." In 1956 he opened two smaller restaurants in Anaheim and Brea, California, and used the Carl's Jr. name for the first time.

    With 630 units as of 1991, the chain's trademark smiling star can be seen throughout the West and Southwestern United States, as well as in Mexico, Japan, and Malaysia. The chain has come a long way from the days when Karcher used to mix the secret sauce in twenty-gallon batches on his back porch. Carl's Jr. takes credit for introducing salad bars to fast-food restaurants back in 1977. Today, salads are regular fare at most of the major chains.

    Carl's top-of-the-line hamburger is still the flame-broiled Famous Star, one of several products that has made Carl's Jr. famous. 

    Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Jack in the Box Jumbo Jack

    In 1950 a man named Robert O'Petersen built the first Jack-in-the-Box restaurant at El Cajon and 63rd streets in San Diego, California. The restaurant was originally built for drive-thru and walk-up service only, and customers would speak into a clown's mouth to order their food. The clown was blasted to smithereens with explosives in a 1980 advertising campaign, however, signifying a shift toward a more diverse adult menu. 

    The signature Jumbo Jack Hamburger has been on the menu since 1974. 

    Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    McDonald's McD.L.T.

    In 1963 the busiest clown in America, Ronald McDonald, made his debut in Washington, D.C. But beneath that red wig and 14 1/2-inch shoes was someone who would later become the portly weatherman on NBC's "Today" show. It was Willard Scott.

    Future Ronald McDonald wanna-be's get their training at McDonald's "college," just as many of the chain's managers and franchise owners do. It is a surprisingly busy institution. By 2001 the 40,000th student was granted a Hamburgerology Degree from McDonald's Hamburger University in Oak Brook, Illinois. Hamburger University was set up to provide instruction for McDonald's personnel in the various aspects of their business—equipment, controls, human relations skills, and management skills.

    Nearly 3,000 students pass through the halls of the school each year as they continue to grow in their McDonald's careers. And the American council on Education has approved eighteen of the university's courses for college credits.

    One more chapter in the studies of H.U. graduates came in 1985, when the "hot side" and "cool side" of the McD.L.T. found their way onto McDonald's menu. It lives on only here, for five years after it was introduced, the McD.L.T. was dropped and replaced with the McLean Deluxe.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Carl's Jr. Chicken Club

    The first days receipts at Carl Karcher's just-purchased hot-dog cart in 1941 totaled $14.75. Peanuts, right? But Karcher was determined to make it big. So during the next two years he purchased several more stands throughout the Los Angeles area, later expanding into restaurants and diversifying the menu. In 1993, what had once been a business of one tiny hot-dog cart had become a multi-million-dollar company with 642 outlets. From $14.75 on the first day to today's $1.6 million in daily receipts, old Carl was on the right track.

    Now you can use my Carl's Jr. Chicken Club recipe to duplicate the delicious teriyaki marinated chicken breast, bacon, and Swiss cheese sandwich at home. 

    Find more of your favorite Carl's Jr. burgers and sides here

    Source: More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 3)
    McDonald's Hamburger

    Ronald McDonald is an international hero and celebrity. In Japan, since the "R" sound is not part of the Japanese language, everyone knows the burger-peddling clown as "Donald McDonald." And in Hong Kong, where people place a high value on family relationships, he is called Uncle McDonald, or in their language, "McDonald Suk Suk."

    These burgers were the original hallmark of the world's largest fast-food chain. In 1948, when brothers Dick and Mac McDonald opened their first drive-in restaurant in San Bernardino, California, it was this simple sandwich that had hundreds of people driving in from miles around to pick up a sackful for just 15 cents a burger.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.00 (votes: 4)
    McDonald's Quarter Pounder with cheese

    What is the McDonald's sign referring to when it says "Over 100 billion served?" That's not the number of customers served, but the number of beef patties sold since McDonald's first opened its doors in the forties. A hamburger counts as one patty. A Big Mac counts as two.

    McDonald's sold its 11 billionth hamburger in 1972, the same year that this sandwich, the Quarter Pounder, was added to the growing menu. That was also the year large fries were added and founder Ray Kroc was honored with the Horatio Alger Award (the two events are not related). In 1972, the 2,000th McDonald's opened its doors, and by the end of that year McDonald's had finally become a billion-dollar corporation.

    Find more of my McDonald's copycat recipes here. 

    Source: More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Carl's Jr. Bacon Swiss Crispy Chicken Sandwich

    If you love crispy chicken sandwiches—and especially if you don't live in the West where this chain is located—you'll want to try out this clone of the tasty Carl's Jr. creation. The recipe makes four of the addicting chicken sandwiches from the California-based fast-food chain, but will also come in handy for making a delicious homemade ranch dressing. Try using some lean turkey bacon, fat-free Swiss cheese, and fat-free mayonnaise if you feel like cutting back on the fat. 

    Find more of my copycat Carl's Jr. recipes here.

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 7)
    Red Robin Teriyaki Chicken Burger

    Menu Description: "A premium charbroiled chicken breast with sweet teriyaki sauce, grilled pineapple, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and mayo. Why did the chicken cross the Pacific? Now you know."

    You're out there on the front line hanging over the grill. The smoke's in your eyes, the hair on your forearm is singed, and your sunburn is heading toward 2nd degree. But you don't care, because it's Saturday and you still get all of Sunday to heal. So whip out some chicken and grab the mallet or tenderizer to pound the chicken to a uniform thickness that works best when building these sandwiches. The sweet and salty flavors of the custom secret teriyaki marinade go perfectly with the grilled pineapple and Swiss cheese (this recipe is for one sandwich but you'll have enough teriyaki marinade to make several sandwiches). Just be sure to watch the pineapple and chicken carefully while over the flames, since the teriyaki marinade has sugar in it and could cause nasty flare-ups and charring. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.31 (votes: 13)
    Carl's Jr. Santa Fe Chicken Sandwich

    This is a simple fast food sandwich to clone, and it's one of my favorites to make at home. This sandwich has been around since March of 1991, and has been a popular choice at Carl's Jr. outlets dotting the western United States. Chicken fillets are marinated in teriyaki sauce and grilled. The chicken is then stacked on a whole wheat bun along with American cheese, lettuce, mild green chili peppers and a spicy southwestern-style spread. If you're looking to fire up the barbecue for a little chicken grilling, give this sandwich a go and bring a surprise to the table.

    Source: More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 3)
    Carl's Jr. Western Bacon Cheeseburger

    In 1989, Carl's Jr. became the first fast-food chain to allow customers to use their ATM cards to make purchases. Not only can customers buy a Western Bacon Cheeseburger and fries to go without using cash, they can get cash back out of their account.

    Onion rings, bacon, American cheese and tasty barbecue sauce combine to make a manly gut-grinder that can be thoroughly enjoyed during the grilling season, or any time of the year if you use an indoor grill. The sandwich was introduced in 1983, and has since become so successful that it has spawned variations, from a junior version to the monstrous double, both of which are included here. While any barbecue sauce you use for this recipe will work just fine, track down some Bulls-Eye Hickory Smoke flavor barbecue sauce if you want the closest cloned results. This recipe makes one sandwich. Double, triple, and quadruple it as needed based on current hunger requirements.

    This recipe also includes clones for the Junior Western Bacon Cheeseburger and the Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger.

    Source: "More Top Secret Recipes" by Todd Wilbur.

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    Olive Garden Chicken Parmigiana Sandwich Reduced-Fat

    Chicken Parmigiana is delicious, but who needs all the fat that comes from pan frying the chicken breast? Olive Garden's delicious chicken parmigiana sandwich was the perfect product for a reduced-fat clone using a special baking technique for the chicken to replace the greasy frying. Even when we use regular provolone cheese in this recipe, our conversion comes out to around half the fat of the original, which has been filling the bellies of Olive Garden customers since 1995. And you won't get splattered with hot oil.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 sandwich
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–553 (Original–631)
    Fat per serving–11g (Original–21g)

    Find many more Olive Garden copycat recipes here

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

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  • Score: 4.00 (votes: 2)
    Carl's Jr. Charbroiled Santa Fe Chicken Sandwich Reduced-Fat

    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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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Hard Rock Cafe Pig Sandwich

    Menu Description: "Select pork, hickory-smoked then hand-pulled, so it's tender and juicy. 'An old Southern delicacy' with our famous vinegar-based bar-b-que sauce. Served with fries, ranch beans and homemade coleslaw."

    Take a big honkin' bite out of one of this, and you'll soon know why it's the Hard Rock Cafe's most popular sandwich. The pork is hickory smoked for 10 hours, but since we're impatient hungry people here, we'll cut that cooking time down to under 4 hours using a covered grill and carefully arranged charcoal; or by packaging your wood chips in foil to use on a gas grill.

    You can certainly use an actual smoker for this Hard Rock Café pulled pork sandwich recipe if you've got one and go the full 10 hours. You should try to make your cabbage a day ahead of time so it has time to marinate.

    Serve with Hard Rock cole slaw and baked beans on the side.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Arby's Lite Menu Roast Turkey Deluxe

    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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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 2)
    Denny's The Super Bird

    Menu Description: "A Denny's original. Sliced turkey breast with Swiss cheese, bacon and tomato on grilled sourdough. Served with French Fries and pickle chips."

    Now you can munch down your own clone of this popular palate pleaser, The Super Bird, a cross between a grilled cheese and a club, and Denny's top-selling sandwich. When shopping for sourdough bread, try to find a high-quality loaf with large slices. The thin-sliced turkey breast is best purchased at your market's deli service counter where they cut it while you wait. If you don't have a service counter like this near your house, you can use the prepackaged thin-sliced meats located in the cold deli section. Or you can move.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Dive! Brick Oven Mushroom and Turkey Cheese Sub

    Menu Description: "Our fresh roasted turkey, brick oven roasted seasonal mushrooms with white Cheddar cheese and melted Swiss cheese. Served Hot."

    Although not intended to be a restaurant where sightseeers are encouraged to catch a glimpse of celebrities, many stars were spotted at the L.A. location of this trendy theme eatery. Through the "hatch" walked the likes of Candice Bergen, Warren Beatty, Michael Keaton, Tom Hanks, Michael Douglas, and Rob Reiner. Pierce Brosnan and Henry Winkler were regulars, and for some time co-founder Steven Spielberg could be seen eating there weekly. Today, the only way to experience food from this now defunt chain is to clone it at home. Sadly, you won't spot many celebrities in your kitchen. 

    For this sandwich, inspired by Dive!'s popular Brick Oven Mushroom and Turkey Cheese Sub, you will likely not have the luxury of a brick oven to roast the mushrooms, but I've found the recipe is just as tasty as the real thing with sauteed mushrooms. It's important that you find the freshest bread your market has available, and if possible, get the turkey sliced for you at a full-service deli counter. A sandwich is only as good and as fresh as its ingredients, so try to find the best your market has to offer.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Cheeseburger in Paradise El Cubano Sandwich

    Menu Description: “Ham, salami, pork, Swiss cheese, mayo, mustard and pickles, pressed until golden brown.”

    This chain of island-themed restaurants features a delicious Cuban sandwich as one of the menu’s specialty items. A variety of meats are stacked on a crusty sandwich roll along with some pickles, then the sandwich is pressed until warm and flattened on a plancha grill. While there are many different ways to build a Cuban sandwich, the traditional recipe does not include mayonnaise, tomatoes, lettuce or onions. Cheeseburger in Paradise breaks tradition a bit by spreading some mayonnaise on the bread, but that’s okay, because otherwise this recipe stays true to the classic formula. Marinated pork is the superstar in this sandwich, so we must make that from scratch using juices plus lots of garlic, onion and oregano. We’ll marinate the pork for a couple hours just as the restaurant does, then bake it in a slow oven. When the pork is ready and sliced you stack it on the sandwich with other sliced deli meats, some Swiss cheese and pickles, and then it’s ready to be browned. I don’t expect you’ll have a plancha grill handy, but you can use a hot skillet with another very heavy pan, such as a cast iron skillet, to press down on top of the sandwich. I also like to put a brick in the skillet on top to help flatten the sandwich even more. For a true Cuban experience serve these along with a pitcher of mojitos and have everyone do their best Ricky Ricardo impression. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 2)
    Chick-fil-A Spicy Deluxe Chicken Sandwich

    This chain’s not-spicy original chicken sandwich which debuted in 1964 was the first chicken sandwich introduced to America by a fast food chain, and it put Chick-fil-A on the map. By diversifying the menu with new products such as this kicked-up version of the famous sandwich, the chain grew over the years to become the #1 chicken restaurant in the nation, and this sandwich is now one of the most popular picks on the menu board.

    The secrets for a good clone of the Chick-Fil-A Spicy Deluxe Chicken Sandwich lie in the brine and the breading. I recently obtained some insider intel confirming the long-standing rumor that pickle juice is the brine. I hadn’t called for it in my prior Chick-fil-A clones because the listed ingredients for the sandwich didn’t include it. I’m not sure why that is, but my latest test versions with the pickle juice were noticeably better, so now it’s in there. You should also know that MSG is an important ingredient in both the brine and breading, so don’t leave that out if you want the best clone.

    Use this special trick to get three perfect sandwich-size cutlets out of each chicken breast, and then give the chicken a nice 4-hour brine. Your patience will be rewarded with one of the best chicken sandwich hacks to come out of a home kitchen. 

    Now, check out my version of Chick-fil-A Mac and Cheese!

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  • Not rated yet
    Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s Hand-Breaded Chicken & Waffle Sandwich

    In the midst of the chicken sandwich wars of 2019-2021, Carl’s Jr. (Hardee’s) debuted a simple chicken and waffle sandwich that is surprisingly good. Crispy chicken breast is doused with maple butter sauce and sandwiched between two Belgian waffle buns for a sweet-and-savory handful of fab.     

    To clone the sandwich at home, the chicken gets brined for great flavor and juiciness like the real thing, then it’s cooked until perfectly golden brown and crispy. The maple butter sauce is easy to hack with just three ingredients and a mixer.

    The biggest secret I reveal is how to make Belgian waffles with one flat side just like the real sandwich using a standard waffle iron and a piece of folded aluminum foil. Those exclusive tricks are here plus plenty of helpful step photos so your homemade Carl's Jr. chicken & waffle sandwich will come out perfect.

    Find more of my copycat Carl's Jr. recipes here

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  • Not rated yet
    Red Robin Burnin' Love Burger

    Menu Description: “Fried jalapeno coins, house-made-salsa, pepper-Jack, lettuce, tomatoes, and chipotle aioli.”              

    This 570-unit full-service chain has a sizeable menu, but it’s the thick 1/3-pound gourmet hamburgers, like this boomin’ bestseller, that bring in the crowds. And if you’re a burger lover who enjoys burgers that bite back, this recipe for Red Robin Burnin' Love hamburger is for you. 

    To assemble your own version of this big beauty, I’ll first show you (with photos) how to make perfect crispy jalapeno coins and a simple chipotle aioli. The seasoning formula for the beef patty that I’m including here is an updated and improved version of the secret sprinkle I hacked years ago, but this time we’ll use easier-to-find ingredients.  

    Once you’ve prepped these components, it’s time to kick up the flames and grill some burgers. Top your burgers with pepper-Jack cheese, and assemble everything on sesame seed buns along with salsa, lettuce, and tomato. Then open wide. 

    Look here for more of your favorite dishes from Red Robin, Yummm.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Burger King French Toast Sandwich

    The sweet-and-savory breakfast sandwich made with two slices of French toast first appeared on the Burger King menu in 2019, but it was just for a limited time. In 2021, BK brought the breakfast sandwich back, and this time it came with a new ingredient: buttery maple spread. The first version of the Burger King French Toast sandwich was good, but the sequel with the new maple spread is great, so that's what I've copied here.

    The hack here for the buttery maple spread is just three ingredients, and it will chill out in your fridge while you make the easy French toast. Find small, thin slices of white bread for that. Sara Lee makes a loaf of bread called Delightful that works great.

    The real French toast sandwiches come with either sausage, bacon, or ham, so pick your favorite and insert it between the egg and cheese. If your ingredients cool down as you are prepping, just pop each assembled sandwich into your microwave for about 15 seconds prior to serving for perfectly warmed French toast and gooey melted cheese.

    Check out more of my Burger King copycat recipes here.

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  • Not rated yet
    McDonald's Bacon, Egg & Cheese McGriddles

    It was the creator of Pizza Hut’s Stuffed Crust Pizza who came up with the idea to cook bits of maple syrup into small pancakes for a new sweet-and-savory breakfast sandwich offering from the world’s #1 fast food chain. Tom Ryan’s idea became a reality in 2003 when the McGriddles—with maple-flavored griddle cake buns—debuted on McDonald’s breakfast menu, and the sandwich is still selling like hotcakes today.

    To make four homemade McGriddles, you’ll first need to produce eight perfectly round griddle cakes that are infused with sweet maple bits. Recipes that instruct you to make hard candy from maple syrup for this hack will fail to tell you that the shattered shards of hard candy don't completely melt when the griddle cakes are cooked resulting in a distinct crunch not found in the real McDonald’s product. Also, breaking the hard maple candy into small uniform chunks is both difficult and messy. My solution was to make a flavorful maple gummy puck that could be neatly petite diced and sprinkled into the batter as it cooks.  

    Just be sure to use maple flavoring rather than maple extract for the maple gummy. Maple flavoring has a more intense flavor than the extract, and the dark brown caramel coloring will make your maple bits look like pancake syrup. You’ll also need one or two 3½-inch rings to make griddle cakes that are the perfect size for your clones.

    This recipe duplicates the bacon version of the sandwich, but you can replace the bacon with a patty made from breakfast sausage for the sausage version, or just go with egg and cheese.

    Get more of my McDonald's copycat recipes here.

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    Wendy's Breakfast Baconator

    In March 2020, Wendy’s entered the fast food breakfast wars with 18 new items, and the star that emerged from the bunch is a bacon-lover’s dream. The Breakfast Baconator help lead Wendy’s to morning meal sales success in the midst of a pandemic, as other fast feeders, like McDonald’s, struggled in the a.m.

    Wendy's substantial sunrise sandwich is made with a square (of course) sausage patty, a fried egg, 2 slices of American cheese, and 6 halved bacon slices. That's good right there, but when you slather Wendy's delicious top secret Swiss cheese sauce onto a brioche bun, you've got something really special. And filling. All the building instructions are here in my Wendy's Breakfast Baconator recipe, including an easy hack for the Swiss cheese sauce using just 4 ingredients!

    One of the ingredients—Swiss cheese Singles—is what allows us to make a smooth, non-gritty sauce. If you can’t find Singles, use any other brand of Swiss cheese “product” that contains sodium citrate. That’s the secret ingredient that helps make the sauce so creamy.

    Find more of my Wendy's copycat recipes here.

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  • Score: 4.80 (votes: 15)
    Popeyes Chicken Sandwich

    When Popeyes debuted its new crispy chicken sandwich on August 12, 2019, the company was not prepared for the eruption of social media video posts comparing the new sandwich to Chick-fil-A’s classic chicken sandwich. As a result of the apparently unplanned instant viral campaign in which Popeyes almost always emerges as the winner, customers swarmed the stores and waited in long lines to try the now-famous sandwich. The buzz continued to build day by day, and just two weeks after its debut, the sandwich had sold out—a full month ahead of schedule.

    But sold out or not, you don’t need Popeyes to get the great taste combo of the crispy buttermilk breaded chicken breast, soft buttered brioche bun, mayo, and pickles. Fortunately, I was able to get my hands on several of the sandwiches before they were gone and cranked out a Popeyes Chicken Sandwich copycat recipe, so you can now learn to make the Popeyes fried chicken sandwich any time you want. With these new tricks you’ll be able to make crispy chicken at home that’s flavorful, juicy, and tender, just like Popeyes, coated in a thick golden breading with the same light crunch.

    The secret to moist, tasty chicken is to brine it for several hours in a spicy mixture of buttermilk, pepper sauce, salt, and MSG. The buttermilk is slightly acidic, so it will help tenderize the chicken without making it too tough like harsher acids, while the salt enhances the flavor (as does the MSG) and keeps the chicken juicy. The MSG (monosodium glutamate) is an amino acid with a salt-like flavor that at one time was thought to be unhealthy, but is now considered an important culinary additive. Popeyes uses it in their chicken because it provides an essential savory flavor called “umami,” and you cannot make an accurate clone without it.

    To imitate the light, crispy breading of Popeyes Chicken Sandwich, we’ll use baking powder in the flour. The baking powder forms bubbles in the flour when the chicken cooks so that the breading is tender and crispy, rather than crusty and dense. I found that self-rising flour works great since it conveniently has just the right amount of baking powder and salt already added. But don't use a low-protein self-rising flour like White Lily. That brand is awesome for biscuits, but its low gluten content makes it not stick well on chicken breasts. I used Gold Medal self-rising flour, and it worked great. If all-purpose flour is all you’ve got, that can work as well. I’ve put measurements for using all-purpose flour, plus baking powder and salt, in the Tidbits below. 

    If you'd like to kick up your Popeyes Chicken Sandwich copycat recipe, clone the spicier version by replacing the plain mayo with my easy hack for Popeyes Spicy Mayonnaise

    Click here for more of my copycat recipes for Popeye's famous dishes.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Burger King BK Stacker King

    With a simple stack of meat, bacon, cheese, and secret sauce, the original BK Stacker was introduced in 2006 as a product targeted to men. Hungry men. The Stacker came with one, two, three, or four 2-ounce beef patties, and several slices of bacon on top, along with a slathering of the top secret Stacker sauce. Even though the sandwich had developed something of a cult following over the years, it was dropped from the menu in 2012.

    Today, the BK Stacker has been revived, but this time as a bigger, badder version with a new name, and beefier beef patties that weigh in at a whopping quarter-pound each. And just like the original, you can stack the patties, but this time up to a max of three because the patties are so darn big. Good luck getting your mouth around a triple with nearly a pound of meat between the buns.

    As with the original Stacker, this sandwich’s big secret is the Stacker sauce. Its base is a typical burger spread combo of mayo/ketchup/sweet pickle relish, but this one has a hint of celery flavor and rosemary not found in other burger sauces. To get the celery juice you can grate a stalk of celery on a grater or Microplane then press the pulp through a wire mesh strainer. You’ll get plenty of juice, but you just need a little bit to make your hacked sauce a perfect taste-alike. Just so you know, all other Stacker Sauce hacks I researched leave out the celery juice and rosemary.

    My Burger King BK Stacker King recipe here makes four single hamburgers, but feel free to stack up as many patties as you can handle.

    Check out my clones for the Whopper, Big King, Onion Rings, the Stuffed Steakhouse Burger, and more from Burger King.  

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  • Not rated yet
    Wendy's Maple Bacon Chicken Sandwich

    Wendy’s claims it took three years to develop this hit chicken sandwich that’s built on a croissant roll and slathered with the chain’s secret maple glaze. Now you can re-create Wendy's Maple Bacon Chicken Sandwich at home (four of them, actually), with copycat ingredients, and I’ve got some shortcuts here to help make all of it quick and easy.

    For the chicken, find frozen chicken breasts or large tenderloins with a homestyle breading. Tyson’s Southern Style Breast Tenderloins work great if you pick out the biggest pieces from the bag. The breading on this chicken is similar to what you get at Wendy’s.

    Rather than making croissants from scratch, which is a time-consuming task, we’ll use Pillsbury dough from a tube. Pillsbury’s “Crescents” are not true croissants, even though they look and taste similar to croissants. Real croissant dough rises with yeast and would blow out a Pillsbury paper tube in a day or two, even if chilled. For that reason, Pillsbury uses baking powder in breads that usually call for yeast, such as cinnamon rolls and croissants. Unlike yeast, baking powder is a chemical leavening agent activated by heat, so the dough will remain stable in the refrigerated section of your supermarket, safely inside the paper tubes until you’re ready to bake it.

    Instead of cooking the rolls as directed on the package, we'll roll the dough using the technique below, form it in a 3½-inch ring mold, and then bake it. This will make perfect croissant buns that we can slice and toast for our sandwich. If you don’t have a 3½-inch ring mold you can use a ring from a canning jar or a biscuit cutter. If the diameter of your ring is less than 3½ inches, just form the dough using the smaller ring, then remove it and press down on the dough to spread it out until it is 3½ inches across. 

    Follow the steps I've laid out below for the best homemade Wendy's Maple Bacon Chicken sandwich.

    I've cloned a lot of items from Wendy's. See if I hacked your favorites here

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  • Not rated yet
    Shake Shack ShackBurger

    Several puzzles had to be solved to make a satisfying hack of the signature sandwich from the rapidly expanding New York chain. First, our burger must include a spot-on facsimile of the secret ShackSauce. I got a sample of the sauce from one of our Las Vegas Shake Shacks and determined the seven common ingredients, including pickle juice, to combine for a great shack sauce recipe.

    Second, the burger must be made with a special ground mix of four different cuts of beef and the patties need to be cooked the right way. I tested many combinations of meat until I landed on a flavorful blend of chuck, brisket, skirt steak, and short ribs. If you don't have a meat grinder at home, you can have your butcher grind these for you. At the restaurant, the ground beef blend is formed into ¼-pound pucks that are smashed onto the grill with a metal press. Grab a strong spatula and heat up a heavy skillet.

    And third, you'll need some soft, buttered and toasted potato buns to hold it all together. Shake Shack uses Martin's rolls, which are not cut all the way through, allowing the buns to be hinged open for loading. If you can’t find Martin’s, any soft potato rolls will do.

    Use these secrets and follow the easy steps below, and soon you’ll be biting into a perfect re-creation of Shake Shack Shackbuger. The famous cheeseburger that helped this chain grow from a single food cart in New York City to over 162 stores.

    Try my Shake Shack vanilla custard and vanilla milkshake recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unleashed by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Cheddar's Monte Cristo

    Menu Description: "Smoked ham, smoked turkey, two cheeses, battered and fried until golden with raspberry preserves and dusted with powdered sugar."

    When pondering casual chains with the best Monte Cristo sandwiches, two come to mind: Bennigan's and Cheddar's recipes. At each chain the sandwich is built with turkey, ham, and cheese, then it’s battered and fried, dusted with powdered sugar, and served with raspberry preserves for dipping. It probably sounds strange if you've never had one, but Monte Cristo alums know it all tastes pretty darn great together. I hacked Bennigans' version years ago for my cookbook Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2, and recently, on a trip to Charlotte, North Carolina, I was able to get my hands on Cheddars' signature version of this famous sandwich.

    I planned for the mission by bringing along a cooler of ice so that I could get a fresh sample safely back home. Once I was back in the lab in Vegas, I subjected the sandwich to a series of tasty tests, burned through several versions of batter, and eventually assembled this new Cheddar's Monte Cristo copycat recipe that I think is even better than my previous Bennigan's hack. The better batter is the big secret here—it's light and crispy and perfectly golden brown, and the sandwich features two kinds of cheese, both white and yellow American. Will this be the best Monte Cristo you've ever had? You’re about to find out.

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  • Not rated yet
    Wendy's Classic Greek Fresh Stuffed Pita Low-Fat

    In 1997, Wendy's announced its IPO—also known as the Initial Pita Offering—on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Wendy's CEO Gordon Teter rang the bell to open the day of trading while Wendy's stock traders on the floor munched out on four varieties of the pita sandwiches, including this one, the Classic Greek Fresh Stuffed Pita.

    For our low-fat clone, well cut a gaggle of grams by making the dressing fat-free, and then well use low-fat feta cheese. Following this secret formula below, you can turn what is normally a 20-fat-gram sandwich into one that weighs in with only 2.5 grams.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 sandwich
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–240 (Original–440)
    Fat per serving–2.5g (Original–20g)

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

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 4)
    Wendy's Chicken Caesar Fresh Stuffed Pita

    Early in 1997 Wendy's introduced its selection of cold "Fresh Stuffed" pita sandwiches—a nice change of pace from the typical fast food fare. Basically what you're getting is a small salad wrapped in a warm pita bread. You might be saying to yourself "That doesn't sound like much for 3 bucks!" Then I would say, "Perhaps, but what if you could make a clone yourself for a mere fraction of that?" You would say, "Cool, man! Lay it on me." And then I would say, "Here you go." 

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 4)
    T.G.I. Friday's Tuscan Portobello Melt

    Menu Description: "Sliced Portobello mushrooms between layers of Provolone & Monterey Jack cheeses, roasted onions and tomatoes on grilled, buttery bread."

    Contestants on the November 1, 2006 episode of Top Chef on Bravo were challenged to take a childhood favorite dish and update it with a twist. Friday's Senior Executive Chef Stephen Bulgarelli sat at the judges table and endured a bizarre wonderland mushroom plate, a sloppy cheese steak sandwich, and an over-salted surf and turf tragedy. Finally, it was the delicious variation on a grilled cheese sandwich created by Betty Fraser that took the top spot. As a reward, Betty's sandwich was added to over 500 Friday's menus across the country, and now we have a Top Secret clone to easily recreate the tasty winner at home. Friday's modified Betty's recipe to make it easier to prepare in the quick-service environment of the restaurant, and that's the version I've cloned for you in this recipe.

    Click here to see if I hacked more of your favorites from T.G.I. Friday's.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    T.G.I. Friday's California Chargrilled Turkey Sandwich

    Menu Description: "Chargrilled all-white meat turkey burger, served on a toasted whole wheat bun with lettuce, tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts, onions and avocado."

    Noting the success of the first T.G.I. Friday's in New York City, a group of fun-loving Dallas businessmen opened the first franchise store. The investors decorated their Dallas T.G.I. Friday's with antiques and collectibles gathered from around the countryside—now all of the Friday's are decorated that way. Six months after the opening of the Dallas location, waiters and waitresses began doing skits and riding bicycles and roller skates around the restaurant. That's also when the now defunct tradition of ringing in every Friday evolved. Thursday night at midnight was like a New Year's Eve party at T.G.I. Friday's, with champagne, confetti, noisemakers, and a guy jumping around in a gorilla suit.

    Here's a favorite of burger lovers who don't care where the beef is. It's an alternative to America's most popular food with turkey instead of beef, plus some alfalfa sprouts and avocado to give it a "California" twist.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant 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 clone recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.

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