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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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Show: 24
  • Score: 3.50 (votes: 2)
    Wendy's Single With Cheese Reduced-Fat

    Over 5,000 Wendy's restaurants around the world serve the hamburger with the square patty that hangs over the edge of the bun. It's the burger that inspired the 1984 award-winning ad campaign with a little old lady crying out, "Where's the beef?" This secret recipe to create a lower-fat clone of the famous burger asks the question, "Where's the fat?" By using super-lean ground beef, fat-free mayonnaise, and fat-free cheese, we have cut the fat to less than half of what is in the original. Now you can have two cloned burgers for less than the fat found in one original.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 sandwich
    Total servings–1
    Calories per serving–335 (Original–420)
    Fat per serving–10g (Original–21g)

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur. 

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Chili's Guiltless Grill Guiltless Chicken Sandwich

    Here's another item that has been on Chili's Guiltless Grill menu from the start. It's a chicken sandwich that gets its sweet smoky flavor from the marinated chicken that is grilled over an open flame. The chicken is stacked on whole wheat buns with lettuce and tomato; and a tasty, yet simple-to-make honey mustard sauce is drizzled over the top. If your chicken fillets are too plump, just give'em a few whacks with a tenderizing mallet and rejoice in the extra calories you work off.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 sandwich
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–378
    Fat per serving–8g

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    Denny's The Super Bird Reduced-Fat

    Here's another very popular Denny's creation. This 20-year-old menu item can be easily converted to a reduced-fat version by substituting fat-free cheese and turkey bacon. When shopping for that bacon, I've found that Butterball makes one of the best turkey bacons around—it tastes just like the pork version. Then get yourself some low-fat turkey breast form the supermarket deli counter or prepackaged near the other luncheon meats. A little butter-flavored spray and a hot skillet on the stove, and you're on your way to reducing the fat by around by 60 percent. Now that's super.

    Nutrition Facts

    Serving size–1 sandwich
    Total servings–1
    Calories per serving–425 / Original–565
    Fat per serving–8.5 g / Original–22 g

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    McDonald's Big Mac Reduced-Fat

    When the first Big Mac was served by a McDonald's franchisee in 1968, it was a time when all food in America was prepared with little attention to the amount of fat. Some low-calorie products had been developed, but they were not hugely popular, and most Americans ate and prepared food using whatever ingredients made it taste the best. Around 27 years later, McDonald's responded to the public's rapidly changing, health-conscious eating habits with the McLean Deluxe, a burger with a significantly reduced amount of fat. But the McLean Deluxe was not a commercial success; it never even came close to selling as fast as the other McDonald's burgers. Soon, the McLean Deluxe was history. And today, as reduced-fat products in supermarkets are selling faster than ever, McDonald's has not replaced the McLean Deluxe on its menu. The Big Mac is still king, with its 31 grams of fat. Here's a clone to make a version of the Big Mac at home with less than half the fat of the original.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 burger
    Total servings–2
    Calories per serving–500 (Original–560)
    Fat per serving–13g (Original–31g)

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur. 

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Pal's Sauce Burger

    Here's a simple, great-tasting burger from a small yet beloved Tennessee-based hamburger chain famous for its quirky buildings, tasty food, and "Sudden Service." Established in 1956 by Pal Barger, this twenty-one-unit fast-service chain accepted the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award from President George W. Bush and has performed admirably in markets with bigger chains such as McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's. The signature sandwich from this little drive-thru comes slathered with a simple sauce—a combination of ketchup, mustard and relish—that makes quick production of scores of these tasty burgers a breeze when the line of cars grows long, as it often does. 

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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

    The Classic Greek Pita used the same salad base and dressing as the clone for the Chicken Caesar Pita, but replaces the chicken and Parmesan with a Greek topping that's a breeze to make. Even though Wendy's uses a pocketless pita that can be tough to find in stores, you can use the more common pocketed pita, just without opening the pocket. Instead, you heat up the pita, then fill up the center and fold it like a soft taco.  

    Source: Even More 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: 4.40 (votes: 5)
    Red Robin The Banzai Burger

    Menu Description: "Marinated in teriyaki and topped with grilled pineapple, Cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and mayo. Dude, you'll be like, ready to ride the pipeline on Oahu's North Shore after you chomp on this!"

    Here's customer choice number one from Red Robin's huge burger menu. According to Red Robin servers, the beef they use for all their burgers is ground from Angus flank steak. That beef makes a great burger, but it can be hard to find. If you can't find Angus beef, pick up some ground chuck for this recipe. Make sure the fat content is at least 15 percent, since low-fat ground beef makes burgers that are too dry and short on flavor. I tested a half-dozen popular teriyaki glazes in the stores and nothing comes close to the stuff they use at the restaurant, so I've included a recipe here to make your own. Be sure to watch your marinated meat and pineapple slices closely on the grill since the sugar in the teriyaki marinade could burn over the open flame. If you're grilling outside, keep the lid open. And don't hit the La-Z-Boy until this burger's done.

    Find more of my Red Robin copycat recipes here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Wendy's Grilled Chicken Fillet Sandwich

    In 1990 Wendy's not only added this new sandwich to its growing menu, but also added more international restaurants to the chain, including stores in Indonesia, Greece, Turkey, and Guatemala. Wendy's now claims more than 4,000 outlets around the world, with more than $3 billion in sales.

    This is an excellent sandwich if you like grilled chicken, and it contains only nine grams of fat, if you're counting.

    Source: More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    Wendy's Junior Bacon Cheeseburger

    Surely when Dave Thomas opened his first Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers restaurant in 1969, and named it after his daughter, he never imagined the tremendous success and growth his hamburger chain would achieve. In 1989 Dave starred in a series of television ads that boosted Wendy's customer awareness level to the highest levels since its famous "Where's the beef?" campaign.

    In the same year, Wendy's introduced the Super Value Menu, a selection of items all priced under a buck. The Junior Bacon Cheeseburger was added to the selection of inexpensive items and quickly became a hit.

    Source: More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Wendy's Single

    In 1984 the diminutive Clara Peller blurted out in a series of four television ads the memorable phrase that would pop up on T-shirts and in presidential campaigns: "Where's the beef?" The ad was devised by Wendys' advertising agency to attack the misconception that its Single hamburger was smaller than its competitors "big name" hamburgers. The campaign was so original that it stole the show at the 1984 Clio Awards, winning the advertising industry's highest honors and registering the highest consumer awareness level in the industry's history.

    Source: More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    Gardenburger Classic Greek Veggie Patty

    In June of 1998, Gardenburger was on a roll. Bolstered by booming sales of its Original Veggie Burger, the company introduced three new varieties of its popular meatless patties: Classic Greek, Fire-Roasted Vegetable, and Savory Mushroom. The first one, the Classic Greek Veggie Patty, includes calamata olives, feta cheese, and spinach to give it a distinctively Mediterranean flavor, yet with only three grams of fat per serving. 

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 patty
    Total servings–8
    Calories per serving–150
    Fat per serving–3g

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

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  • Not rated yet
    Gardenburger Fire-Roasted Vegetable Veggie Patty

    Paul Wenner started his company in 1985 when he developed a meatless hamburger from leftovers at his vegetarian restaurant. Even though his Gardenburger was a hit, Paul was forced to close the restaurant due to dwindling sales. On the bright side, this gave Paul more free time to develop and sell his delicious puck-shaped plant patty. Today Paul's Gardenburger brand is thriving, with an estimated fifty million patties served in restaurants, cafeterias, and concession stands in 1998 alone.

    To make this clone, you'll need a food processor and a hot barbecue grill. And if you're looking for an interesting way to serve it, the manufacturer suggests you slap the veggie patty onto some focaccia bread and top it off with marinara sauce, grilled squash, and a little Parmesan cheese.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 patty
    Total servings–8
    Calories per serving–150
    Fat per serving–3g

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

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  • Not rated yet
    Gardenburger Savory Mushroom Veggie Patty

    Chef Paul Wenner fathered a hot product when he ground up those leftover vegetables at his restaurant and formed them into the shape of a hamburger patty. When Paul got out ot the restaurant business, he peddled the meatless patties out of his van under name Wholesome and Hearty Foods. In 1992, when his company went public, the stock shop up to $30 from $3 on rumors that McDonald's was planning to sell the veggie patties under the golden arches. When those rumors proved to be false, the stock came crashing down quicker than sales figures for the McLean Deluxe. Later, the name of the company was changed to Gardenburger, and new products, such as the Savory Mushroom Veggie Patty, were developed.

    For this clone, you'll need to track down three types of mushrooms: the common white button, brown or crimini, and portobello. You'll also need a food processor to mash everything up real good.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 patty
    Total servings–8
    Calories per serving–140
    Per per serving–3g

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

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 2)
    Wendy's Spicy Chicken Fillet Sandwich Reduced Fat

    Wendy's kicked it up a notch in 1996 when the burger chain introduced the Spicy Chicken Fillet Sandwich. The deep-fried chicken fillet is breaded with a secret coating containing just a bit of sting for those who like their food with heat. It's not knock-your-socks-off hot, but the spice gives the chicken a great flavor that's got customers coming back for more.

    In this Top Secret Recipes reduced-fat Wendy's spicy chicken fillet sandwich recipe, you'll learn how to get that heat in the chicken, and then how to use a special baking technique that will give the clucker meat a breaded-and-fried consistency without too much oil.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 sandwich
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–380 (Original–410)
    Fat per serving–8g (Original–15g)

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

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  • Not rated yet
    Wendy's Junior Bacon Cheeseburger Reduced-Fat

    Did you know that Dave Thomas, the spokesman and founder of the country's third-largest hamburger chain, got his start in fried chicken with a famous Kentucky colonel? In 1962, Dave had an opportunity to turn around four failing KFC carryouts for an ownership stake in them. Dave worked hard and was eventually successful. He parlayed his new ownership into four more KFC restaurants, and in 1968 he sold them all for $1.5 million. Dave was a millionaire at age thirty-five. A year later, Dave opened his first Wendy's restaurant, and today the chain is over 5000 units strong. Pretty good for a guy who didn't finish high school.

    Here's my conversion of one of the best items on Wendy's bargain ninety-nine-cents menu that weighs in at 25 grams of fat. Let's knock this down to just eleven grams, using lean ground beef, fat-free mayo, and turkey bacon.

    Nutrition Facts 
    Serving size–1 sandwich
    Total servings–1
    Calories per serving–310 (Original–430)
    Fat per serving–11g (Original–25g)

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

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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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  • Not rated yet
    Wendy's Chicken Caesar Fresh Stuffed Pita Reduced-Fat

    Publicity stunt alert. For one day in 1997, St. Petersburg, Florida, became "St. Pitas-burg" to celebrate the introduction of Wendy's Fresh Stuffed Pita sandwiches. Over 40,000 balloons formed a giant pita sandwich at a local Wendy's restaurant, while local residents and Wendy's staff learned the "art of eating a pita" from pita eating experts.

    The Chicken Caesar Fresh Stuffed Pita was one of those pitas introduced on that glorious day. See if you can figure how to eat this clone version, made with much less fat, all on your own.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 sandwich
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–283 (Original–490)
    Fat per serving–5g (Original–18g)

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

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  • Not rated yet
    Sonic Drive-In Jalapeno Burger Reduced-Fat

    One day in 1958, when Top Hat restaurants were operating in several Oklahoma cities, lawyers informed founder Troy Smith that Top Hatwas already a copyrighted name and that he would have to make some hasty changes. The chain's partners searched for a name that summed up the company motto: "Service at the Speed of Sound." They agreed that the name Sonic had a nice ring to it.

    Sonic is now the country's fifth-largest hamburger chain and boasts some amazing statistics. For example, if you were to take all of the hamburger patties Sonic served last year and stack them up, they would be as tall as 2,576 Empire State Buildings stacked one on top of the other. 

    If you like your burgers with a spicy kick and dig mustard, try this reduced-fat clone for one of Sonic's tastiest creations.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 sandwich
    Total servings–1
    Calories per serving–400 (Original–380)
    Fat per serving–10.5g (Original–16g)

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

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  • Not rated yet
    Sonic Drive-In Hickory Burger Reduced-Fat

    Driving through Louisiana in 1953, Troy Smith happened upon a cozy hamburger stand that had installed an intercom system to speed up ordering. Troy adapted the idea for his small chain of burger joints and hired nimble servers to bring the food out to customers quickly. The concept was a smash, with revenues for the chain doubling during the first week. Sonic was cashing in on the growing popularity of the automobile. Customers parked their cars in a stall, rolled down the window, and ordered from a speaker. The food was then brought to the car on a tray by a roller-skating carhop with extraordinary balance.

    Today, Sonic has rejuvenated the carhop concept by serving customers the same way as in the '50s: with individual car stalls, speakers, and waitresses on wheels. The company is America's largest drive-in hamburger chain with more than two thousand units rolling in 1999.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 sandwich
    Total servings–1
    Calories per serving–400 (Original–314)
    Fat per serving–10.5g (Original–15.7g)

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

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  • Not rated yet
    Sonic Drive-In No. 1 Burger Reduced-Fat

    The Sonic story starts back in 1953, when Troy Smith traded in his failing fried chicken stand in Shawnee, Oklahoma, for a parcel of land that had a steakhouse and a root beer stand on it. Troy thought he'd make the steakhouse his primary operation, but as it turned out, patrons preferred the hot dogs and cold drinks at the root beer stand. Troy dumped the steakhouse and focused on offering additional items at the stand such as hamburgers. Those hamburgers became the big seller at this revised restaurant, which Troy had dubbed the Top Hat. But that name would soon change when the Top Hat sign was replaced by one that read Sonic Drive-In.

    This is a lower-fat clone of that first hamburger, which has been on the menu since the beginning. We'll substitute lean ground beef and fat-free mayonnaise to shear off more than sixteen grams of fat.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 sandwich
    Total servings–1
    Calories–400 (Original–409)
    Fat–10.5g (Original–26.6g)

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

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  • Not rated yet
    Arby's Lite Menu Roast Chicken Deluxe

    Here's an awesome kitchen clone for a selection off of Arby's 3-item "Light Menu." As other fast food chains were zigging by creating giant gooey burgers with fat grams in the 40-plus range, this 3,100-outlet roast beef sandwich chain opted to zag, offering a selection of scrumptious sandwiches with only 6 to 10 grams of fat each.

    The secret to recreating the special Arby's taste in the Roast Chicken Deluxe is the marinade. Let your chicken soak in it for several hours, or even overnight. It also helps if you have a meat slicer to get that paper-thin, deli-style cut to the chicken. If you don't have a slicer, do what I do. Use the "poor man's meat slicer," otherwise known as a very sharp knife and a steady hand. 

    Nutrition facts
    Serving size–1 sandwich 
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–201
    Fat per serving–6.5g

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    Rainforest Cafe Tropical Chicken Quartet Reduced Fat

    This quartet of chicken sliders made with dinner rolls has been on the theme eatery's menu since the first restaurant opened back in 1994. It was called Tortuga Tidbits back then, but as a restaurant spokesperson explains, "No one knew what a Tortuga Tidbit was...neither did we. So last year we changed the name to make it more descriptive of the menu item."

    For this low-fat conversion, we'll need to use the Top Secret Recipes hack of Rainforest Cafe Reggae Beat spice blend. The recipe is designed to make a rather unusual yield total of three sandwiches, since the dinner rolls come in packages of twelve.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 4-roll sandwich
    Total servings–3
    Calories per serving–768 (Original–863)
    Fat per serving–14g (Original–27g)

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

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  • Not rated yet
    McDonald's Arch Deluxe Reduced Fat

    McDonald's introduced its new sandwich in 1996 with a $200 million marketing blitz aimed at winning over grown-ups. We watched Ronald McDonald golf, dance, and hang out with sophisticated human beings, rather than his usual gang of puppets. These messages were supposed to tug at the adult market lost to more inspired sandwich creations from chains like Wendy's and Arby's and Carl's Jr.

    Did the campaign work? So far, the sales figures have been less than stellar for the burger with even more fat in it than a Big Mac. But the sandwich, with its specially developed Dijon mustard-mayo sauce, does have its share of devoted fans. Perhaps even more of us would get on Team Arch Deluxe if we could make a clone using reduced-fat ingredients to knock the fat down to nearly one-third that of the original, as I have here.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 burger
    Total servings–1
    Calories per serving–430 (Original–550)
    Fat per serving–11g (Original–31g)

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

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Show: 24

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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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  • Not rated yet
    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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