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Sauces

Good job. 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 sauces here. New recipes added every week.

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    Swiss Chalet is one of the biggest Canada-based restaurant chains with over 200 stores, and it’s the place our northern neighbors go when they want delicious rotisserie chicken and ribs. At one time there were a few Swiss Chalet restaurants in the U.S., but the last of those closed in 2010. So, if you to want to taste the food from Swiss Chalet and you live in the States, you’re out of luck. Unless you do a little food hacking.

    Fortunately, the Canadian chain makes a few of its products available to purchase outside of the restaurant, including the most sought-after recipe from the chain: the dipping sauce. The famous dipping sauce is used on the chain’s popular chicken, fries and rolls, and the instant version of the sauce comes in 36g envelopes, but even those are tough to find in the States. Luckily, I found some on eBay and got to work.

    An instant mix like this sauce powder is often tough to copy since many ingredients in the packet are hard to find in supermarkets. For this hack, though, I found Knorr tomato bouillon cubes to be incredibly useful. These cuboids of concentrated flavor contain many of the ingredients we need for a great clone, including tomato powder and chicken fat, both of which can be found in the original.

    After you pulverize the bouillon cube into powder, combine it with the other ingredients in a small bowl, and you’ve got an instant dry blend that can be converted into a flavorful sauce in minutes, just like the real thing.

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    Getting a table at the 123-year-old original Rao’s restaurant in New York City is next to impossible. The tables are “owned” by regulars who schedule their meals months in advance, so every table is full every night, and that’s the way it’s been for the last 38 years. The only way an outsider would get to taste the restaurant’s fresh marinara sauce is to be invited by a regular.

    If that isn’t in the stars for you, you could buy a bottle of the sauce at your local market (if they even have it). It won't be fresh, and it's likely to be the most expensive sauce in the store, but it still has that great Rao's taste. An even better solution is to copy the sauce for yourself using this new and very easy hack.

    The current co-owner of Rao’s, Frank Pellegrino Jr., told Bon Appetit in 2015 that the famous marinara sauce was created by his grandmother many years ago, and the sauce you buy in stores is the same recipe served in his restaurants. The ingredients are common, but correctly choosing the main ingredient—tomatoes—is important. Try to find San Marzano-style whole canned tomatoes, preferably from Italy. They are a little more expensive than typical canned tomatoes, but they will give you some great sauce.

    After 30 minutes of cooking, you’ll end up with about the same amount of sauce as in a large jar of the real thing. Your version will likely be just a little bit brighter and better than the bottled stuff, thanks to the fresh ingredients. But now you can eat it anytime you want, with no reservations, at a table you own.

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    Wingstop's menu offers nearly a dozen flavor variations of fried chicken wings including original hot buffalo-style, garlic parmesan, and mango habanero, but it’s the lemon pepper wings that get the most raves. And even though they’re referred to as “dry rub” wings on the menu, the secret to a perfect hack of the chain’s lemon pepper wings is in the buttery baste that goes on first.

    The lemon pepper won’t stick to the wings without first making them wet, and that’s where the sauce, or baste, comes in. The baste is easy to make by clarifying butter and combining it with oil (to prevent the butter from solidifying), then adding lemon pepper and salt.

    I obtained a sample of the lemon pepper that Wingstop uses and took a few stabs at cloning the blend from scratch. Ultimately, I decided the task was a waste of time and unnecessary when pre-blended lemon pepper is so easy to find. I compared Wingstop’s lemon pepper with the blends from two of the most popular brands, McCormick and Lawry’s—each one slightly different than what Wingstop uses. McCormick’s is lemonier than Wingstop’s blend, and Lawry’s version is chunkier and less lemony, but either blend is still close enough to deliver a satisfying clone.

    After the wings are fried, baste them with the sauce below, and sprinkle them with your favorite lemon pepper. Now you’ve just whipped up wings like a Wingstop pro.

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    If you feel like diving into a pile of wings with big flavor but no heat, you'll love this hack of a top pick at Wingstop. These wings are deliciously doused with a buttery garlic Parmesan baste and then sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese. A home clone is easy by tossing the crispy wings in this formula of the top secret baste, and topping them with a snowfall of good quality Parmesan cheese. 

    To duplicate the baste, you clarify a stick of butter, then add a little oil so that the butter doesn’t solidify. Parmesan cheese, garlic, and salt are mixed in, then the sauce is set aside to cool and thicken.

    Once the wings are fried to a golden brown, toss them with the baste in a bowl, then grab the grated Parm and make it snow.        

    Check out my other Wingstop clone recipes here.  

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    The ridiculously popular crispy chicken sandwich at Popeyes comes with your choice of regular mayonnaise or kicked-up with spicy mayonnaise. Fortunately, I was able to hack the sandwich before it sold out just a couple weeks after its debut (get the recipe here), but that recipe includes just the plain mayonnaise. Recently I had the chance to hack the secret spicy mayonnaise, and I’m glad I did. Popeyes chicken sandwich with regular mayonnaise is seriously good, but with spicy mayonnaise that sandwich is great.

    You can use this sauce on a variety of sandwiches and burgers, or as a dip for chicken fingers, nuggets, and fried shrimp.

    Check out my other Popeyes clone recipes for their famous red beans and rice, buttermilk biscuits and fried chicken.

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    Score: 4.80. Votes: 5

    The little red packets of viscous hot sauce at the fast food giant have a cult following of rabid fans who will do whatever it takes to get their hands on large quantities. One such fan of the sauce commented online, "Are there any Wendy's employees or managers out there that will mail me an entire case of Hot Chili Seasoning? I swear this is not a joke. I love the stuff. I tip extra cash to Wendy's workers to get big handfuls of the stuff." Well, there's no need to tip any Wendy's employees since now you can make as much of the spicy sauce as you want in your own kitchen with this Top Secret Recipe.

    The ingredients listed on the real Hot Chili Seasoning are water, corn syrup, salt, distilled vinegar, natural flavors, xanthan gum, and extractives of paprika. We'll use many of those same ingredients for our clone, but we'll substitute gelatin for the xanthan gum (a thickener) to get the slightly gooey consistency right, and for the natural flavor and color we'll use cayenne pepper, cumin, paprika, and garlic powder, then filter the particles out with a fine wire mesh strainer after they've contributed just what the sauce needs.

    This recipe makes 5 ounces of sauce—that costs just pennies to make—and it's just the right amount to fit nicely into a used hot sauce bottle.

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    Score: 4.79. Votes: 82

    A big part of the Big Mac's appeal is the tasty "secret" spread slathered onto both decks of the world's most popular double-decker hamburger. So what's so special about this sauce? It's basically just thousand island dressing, right? Pretty much. But this sauce has a bit more sweet pickle relish in it than a typical thousand island salad slather. Also, I found that this clone comes close to the original with the inclusion of French dressing. It's an important ingredient—ketchup just won't do it. That, along with a sweet-and-sour flavor combo from vinegar and sugar, makes this sauce go well on any of your home burger creations, whether they're Big Mac clones or not. If you like this recipe, check out Todd Wilbur's McDonald's Special Burger Sauce.

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 3.33. Votes: 3

    If you're a big fan of onion rings from Burger King, you probably already know about the spicy dipping sauce offered from the world's number two burger chain (it's not always on the menu, and you usually have to request it). The creamy, mayo-based sauce seems to be inspired by the dipping sauce served with Outback's signature Bloomin Onion appetizer, since both sauces contain similar ingredients, among them horseradish and cayenne pepper. If you're giving the clone for Burger King Onion Rings a try, whip up some of this sauce and go for a dip. It's just as good with low-fat mayonnaise if you're into that. And the stuff works real well as a spread for burgers and sandwiches, or for dipping artichokes.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.60. Votes: 5

    Even though Arby's has diversified its menu over the years with toasted subs and deli-style sandwiches on sliced whole wheat bread, it's the thinly-sliced roast beef piled high on hamburger buns that originally made this chain famous. Since roast beef and horseradish go so beautifully together, Arby's created this delicious mayo-based horseradish sauce as a spread for the roast beef sandwiches. It also happens to be great on your homemade sandwiches too, but it just isn't cool to hoard handfuls of those blister packs to take home with you. So, with the help of this secret formula, you can clone as much Horsey sauce as you want. First step: get out the blender. You'll need it to puree the horseradish into the mix so that the sauce is smooth and creamy like the real deal.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 3.87. Votes: 15

    The origin of the name of this chain of Japanese steakhouses dates back to 1935. that's when founder Rocky Aokis father, Yunosuke Aoki, opened a small coffee shop in Japan and named it "Benihana" after a wild red flower that grew near the front door of his shop. Next time you're at Benihana, look carefully and you'll notice that bright red flower has been incorporated into the restaurants logo.

    With most of the cooking performed before your eyes on an open hibachi grill, Benihana maintains a much smaller kitchen than most restaurants, allowing practically the entire restaurant to become productive, money-generating dining space. The limited space behind the scenes is for storage, office and dressing rooms, and a small preparation area for non-cooked items like these sauces. These sauces will go well with a variety of Asian dishes and can be frozen in sealed containers for weeks at a time. If it's the Benihana Chicken and Steak you crave, you can find my clone recipe here

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

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