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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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    Chevys Texas BBQ Wrap Reduced-Fat

    In the restaurant, these are made with red chili tortillas. Since those can be hard to find, especially in fat-free versions, well use plain flour fat-free tortillas. Except for the color, you can hardly tell the difference. You'll want to prepare several elements of this recipe ahead of time. The relish and slaw is best when made the day before, and the chicken will have to marinate for an hour or so before you grill it.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 wrap
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–515 (Original–644)
    Fat per serving–5g (Original–15g)

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

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    Carl's Jr. Bacon Swiss Crispy Chicken Sandwich Reduced-Fat

    Helping Carl's Jr. rebound from its sales slump was a series of TV commercials featuring over sauced sandwiches that splattered ketchup and mayo onto floors, clothes, and shoes. The tag line, "If it doesn't get all over the place, it doesn't belong in your face," made sloppy synonymous with tasty.

    If you look forward to messing up your clean clothes but don't need all the saturated fat that usually comes with this drippy fare, you'll want to give this clone a try. The fat-free ranch dressing saves you from oodles of nasty fat grams, and then the special baking technique that clones the taste and texture of deep frying eliminates a bunch more.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 sandwich
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–660 (Original–720)
    Fat per serving–19g (Original–36g)

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

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    Carl's Jr. Charbroiled Chicken Club Sandwich Reduced-Fat

    Eight weeks after the board of directors locked seventy-six-year old Carl Karcher out of his office in 1993, he was engineering a takeover of the "Happy Star" company that he had built over five decades. Crafty Carl found financier William P. Foley to assume his debts in exchange for stock and take control of the company as the new chairman of the board. Carl was named chairman emeritus and finally got his desk back. His plan to sell Mexican food at Carl's Jr. restaurants was later adopted and became a huge success for the chain, and almost all of the executives who had fired him have since left the company.

    Here's one of Carl's delicious sandwiches that we can clone with much fewer fat grams by using turkey bacon, fat-free mayonnaise, and fat-free Swiss cheese. These substitutions for full-fat ingredients can bring the fat down from twenty-nine grams to just over ten without compromising that distinctive Carl's Jr. taste.

    Nutrition Facts 
    Serving size–1 sandwich
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–366 (Original–570)
    Fat per serving–10.5g (Original–29g)

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

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    Carl's Jr. Ranch Crispy Chicken Sandwich Reduced-Fat

    The 1980s were the beginning of tough times for one of the worlds largest burger chains. Carl Karcher had built the little hot-dog cart he purchased for $311 in 1941 into a successful West Coast hamburger chain 600 units strong; but his luck was about to change. Carl took his company public, then opened several Carl's Jr. restaurants in Texas. The bottom line for the Texas stores fell way below expectations, and the stock began to skid. In 1988 Carl was charged with insider trading for selling stock just before its price fell, and he paid almost $1 million in fines. When poor Southern California real estate investments left him million of dollars in debt, Carl was desperate to find a way out of the hole. He proposed to the board of directors that Carl's Jr. should sell Mexican food. The board voted to fire Carl instead, and the man with the vision was ousted from the very company he had founded.

    For this reduced-fat clone of an excellent chicken sandwich, well make the ranch dressing from scratch with fat-free ingredients. Then well use a special Top Secret Recipes baking technique of the fat we can't avoid when frying.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 sandwich
    Total Servings–4
    Calories–580 (Original–620)
    Fat–11g (Original–29g)

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

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    Bennigan's Buffalo Chicken Sandwich Reduced-Fat

    Visit the Bennigan's website and you'll find out that in the early 1900s, Irishman D. Bennigan came to the United States to work as a bartender with the dream of one day opening his own tavern. During the depression, Bennigan got his wish when he purchased an old, foreclosed bar; redecorated it, and opened the original Bennigan's Irish American Grill and tavern. The "Our Story" page also explains that today all Bennigan's restaurants still use elements from that original location such as the brass rails, period pictures, and memorabilia hanging from the walls. What the Web page won't tell you is that this history is entirely made up. You'll have to dig a little deeper to find out that Bennigan's actually started in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1976, and was, at that time, owned by Pillsbury.

    For this clone, well use a special technique developed in the secret underground test kitchen to prepare the chicken without frying. This will knock that fat down to just around one-third of the original.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 sandwich
    Total servings–1
    Fat per serving–512 (Original–1038)
    Calories per serving–9g (Original–27g)

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

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    White Castle Cheeseburgers Reduced-Fat

    Some call them "whitey one-bite." They're also known as "sliders," gut busters," and "belly bombers." The cooking technique is unique to the chain, because it involves steaming the ground beef patties. Minced onions are placed on the grill, with a beef patty on top. The steam from the grilling onions rises up through the five holes in each thin patty so that the beef is thoroughly cooked without having to flip it over.

    Now you can use the same method, but with reduced-fat ingredients, to cook a lower-fat version of one of the country's first chain burgers.

    Nutrition Facts

    Serving size–2 burgers
    Total servings–8
    Calories per serving–310 (Original–310)
    Fat per serving–5g (Original–17g)

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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    Burger King Big King Reduced-Fat

    The burger wars are on. Burger King stepped up first with this competitor of the Big Mac. Yes, it has two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun—although everything's arranged a big differently, and there's no middle bun. The beef patties are also bigger than those found on a Big Mac. The other big difference? The Big King weighs in with 12 grams more fat than Mickey D's signature product, for a grand total of 43 grams. Here's a clone that re-creates the "secret" burger spread from scratch and includes super-lean ground beef. Add it all up and you've got a gram-zapping clone that comes in at around one-third the fat of the real thing.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 sandwich
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–562 (Original–660)
    Fat per serving–15g (Original–43g)

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur. 

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Burger King BK Broiler Reduced-Fat

    Here's a clone for a sandwich that America's number-two burger chain introduced in 1990, and soon after the launch was selling over a million a day. This was the same year that Burger King switched from animal fat to vegetable oil to cook the fried items. But, even though the BK Broiler includes flame-broiled chicken, rather than fried, it still comes with 29 grams. A big part of that comes from the mayonnaise. So, by replacing the regular mayonnaise with fat-free mayo and by not adding any additional fats, we can produce a sandwich that will taste like a BK Broiler, yet have less than one-quarter of the fat and fewer calories. 

    Nutritional Facts 
    Serving size–1 sandwich 
    Total servings–4 
    Calories per serving–335 (Original–550)
    Fat per serving–6g (Original–29g)

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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    Hard Rock Cafe Filet Steak Sandwich

    Menu Description: "Filet mignon grilled to perfection, sliced thin, with shredded lettuce, tomato and spicy mustard. Served on a sourdough French roll with fries and a salad."

    When the first Hard Rock Cafe opened in 1971 on Old Park Lane in London, England, not one guitar or gold record decorated the walls. The burger joint was the inspiration of two Americans, Peter Morton and Isaac Tigrett, who couldn't find a decent American style hamburger anywhere in London and decided to do something about it. The restaurant soon became famous only for its food, until along came Eric Clapton, who donated his guitar as a joke. Up on the wall it went. Not wanting to be outdone, Pete Townsend of The Who soon offered up a guitar of his own to be hung on the wall next to Clapton's with a note: "Mine's as good as his." That started a wave of donations from rock and rollers through the decades, and thus was born the world's first theme restaurant. Soon more Hard Rock Cafes were opening around the world, with the first one in America opening in Los Angeles in 1982. After that came New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, New Orleans, Maui, Las Vegas, Aspen, Newport Beach, and many more. The success of the Hard Rock Cafe spawned a trend which now includes other restaurants built around themes ranging from movies to fashion to motorcycles to blues.

    Here is an easy-to-make sandwich that features tender slices of filet mignon. It's a clone of one of the Hard Rock's more popular recent additions to the menu. This recipe suggests another way you can serve the filet mignons you've been saving in the freezer.

    Try my other Hard Rock Cafe clone recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Burger King Whopper Reduced-Fat

    Burger King's Whopper was an instant hit when it was first introduced in 1957 at a measly 37 cents each. And in more than 9,500 outlets dotting the globe, you can still have the burger "your way"—which comes to over 1,000 different combinations. But by using fat-free mayonnaise and super-lean ground beef, you can still have a sandwich with the taste of Burger King's most popular burger, but with almost 75 percent less in the fat column.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 sandwich
    Total servings–1
    Calories per serving–430 (Original–640)
    Fat per serving–11g (Original–39g)

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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    Sizzler Chicken Club Sandwich

    Del Johnson and his wife wanted the perfect single-word name for their new restaurant concept. "Something that would merchandise well," said Del. "In the old days, they served steaks on those sizzling platters. In a first class restaurant when you ordered a steak, they'd bring it out, put the butter on that steak and that plate was hot, it was aluminum and it would sizzle when they put it down in front of you. That's how we came up with the name. I knew we wanted to use those sizzling platters."

    Eventually the restaurant would diversify the menu to include items other than sizzling steak. One of those on the menu today is the chicken club sandwich, which you can now easily duplicate at home.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    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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    Denny's Moons Over My Hammy Low-Fat

    It's got a goofy name and tons of fans. This is one of  Denny's most popular sandwiches, and it has remained on Denny's menu since 1978. But whether you have it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you might like to know there's a way to enjoy the taste of this grilled sandwich for around 30 grams less fat than the real thing. My lower fat Denny's Moons Over My Hammy recipe cuts fat in several ways, but the most significant savings come from using fat-free cheese. Get some low-fat ham at your supermarket deli counter, or you can find it prepackaged near the luncheon meats. Start heating up a couple sauté pans and get ready to devour this delicious lower-fat treat.

     Nutrition Facts

    Serving size–1 sandwich
    Total servings–1
    Calories per serving–460 (Original–700)
    Fat per serving–3g (Original–33g)

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 2)
    Burger King BK Broiler

    This grilled chicken sandwich was introduced by America's number-two burger chain in 1990, and soon after the launch, the BK Broiler was selling at a rate of over a million a day. Not good news for chickens.

    This one's easy to duplicate at home. To clone the shape of the chicken served at the burger giant, you'll slice the chicken breasts in half, and pound each piece flat with a mallet. Pounding things is fun. Let the chicken marinate and then fire up the grill. The recipe makes four sandwiches and can be easily doubled if necessary for a king-size munch fest.

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.67 (votes: 6)
    White Castle Burgers

    Nicknamed "Sliders" and "Gut Bombers," these famous tiny burgers were one of the earliest fast-food creations. It all started in 1921 when E.W. Ingram borrowed $700 to open a hamburger stand in Wichita, Kansas. Ingram chose the name White Castle because "white" signified purity and cleanliness, while "castle" represented strength. permanence, and stability. White Castle lived up to its name, maintaining that permanence and stability by growing steadily over the years to a total of 380 restaurants.

    Ingram's inspiration was the development of steam-grilling, a unique process that helped the burgers retain moisture. The secret is grilling the meat over a small pile of onions that give off steam as they cook. Five holes in each mini-burger help to ensure that the meat is completely cooked without having to flip the patties. Today customers can buy these burgers "by the sack" at the outlets, or pick them up in the freezer section of most grocery stores, but hey, making them at home is fun!

    Now, how about some fries and a milkshake to complete the meal?

    Source: 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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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 4)
    Denny's Grand Slamwich

    Menu Description: "Two scrambled eggs, seasoned sausage, crispy bacon, shaved ham, mayonnaise and American cheese grilled on potato bread with a maple spice spread."

    After a successful Super Bowl promotion when Denny's gave away over 2 million Grand Slam Breakfast platters in February 2009, the chain revealed its next generous publicity stunt the following April by offering a free serving of its new Grand Slamwich with every purchase of a Grand Slam Breakfast. This entire breakfast-in-a-sandwich features everything you'd want in a hearty day starter including 2 eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, and cheese, all on potato bread. It seems that the taste buds of Denny's corporate chefs were influenced by the maple-flavored buns used on McDonald's McGriddle sandwich when they got the idea to brush the bread on each Grand Slamwich with a maple-infused buttery spread. Regardless of the inspiration, the Denny's Grand Slamwich recipe works great, and now you can make it at home anytime you like.
     
    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Sonic Drive-In Sonic Burger

    Driving through Louisiana in 1953, Troy Smith discovered a hamburger stand that had installed an intercom system to speed up ordering. Troy thought the idea of ordering food from parked cars would be perfect for his Top Hat Restaurant in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He borrowed a bunch of cars from a friend who owned a used car lot and parked the cars in a row as a guide to form stalls around his restaurant. He wired an intercom system to the stalls and renamed his drive-in "Sonic" with the slogan "Service with the Speed of Sound." The new concept was a smash, and revenues for the redesigned hotdog and hamburger stand doubled during the first week. There are no secret ingredients in this clone of Sonic's signature hamburger, just common hamburger components. The secret is how you stack the ingredients that makes this burger taste like a sonic burger.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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    Sonic Drive-In Hickory Burger

    Word quickly spread through Oklahoma of Sonic's early success in the 1950s. One day Sonic Drive-In founder Troy Smith noticed a man measuring car stalls that surrounded the restaurant. Troy went to see what was going on, and the man introduced himself as Charles Woodrow Pappe, an entrepreneur. Charles said he was trying to figure out why the stalls were different sizes and if this had something to do with the booming business at the restaurant. Troy explained that he lined up several cars from his friend's used car lot to lay out the stalls and that the varying stall sizes were not part of the business plan—the cars he used were different sizes. The two men hit it off after that, and Charles eventually became the first franchise owner of a Sonic Drive-In, in Woodward, Oklahoma, in 1956. This burger variation is similar to the signature Sonic Burger, but with smoky BBQ sauce instead of mayo, and no pickle or sliced tomato.   

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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    Sonic Drive-In Jalapeno Burger

    By 1978 there were more than 800 Sonic Drive-Ins in 13 states, but throughout the 1960s and 1970s there were no standardized procedures in place for franchisees. Recipes varied from restaurant to restaurant, so loyal customers never knew what their burger would taste like when visiting a new location. This inconsistency caused a sharp decline in business, and by the 1980s Sonic was in trouble. A new management team came on board in the mid-'80s and established standard franchise procedures and a Sonic Management School that turned the company around. Sonic redesigned all stores with a "retro-future" look, and today business is booming. These days a jalapeno burger that you purchase in Seattle, Washington, is guaranteed to look and taste the same as one purchased near Sonic's headquarters in Oklahoma City. How many jalapeno slices can you handle on your burger? Now you can find out.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked 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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  • 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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    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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    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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    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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    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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