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Side Dishes

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 side dishes here. New recipes added every week.

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    Score: 4.67. Votes: 3

    Menu Description: "Our famous fries are fresh cut daily from whole potatoes with the skins left on."

    Not only can I show you the best way to make french fries at home in this clone of Islands top-selling version, but I'm also supplying you with a super simple way to make the same type of salt blend that Islands uses to make those fries so dang addicting. As with any good french fry recipe, you'll need to slice your potatoes into strips that are all equal thickness. That means you need a mandoline, or similar slicing device, that makes 1/4-inch slices. Once you've got your potatoes cut, you must rinse and soak them in water to expel the excess starch. The frying comes in two stages: A quick blanching stage, and the final frying to put a crispy coating on the suckers. Islands uses a combination of peanut and vegetable oils in their fryers, so you simply combine the two in your home fryer. The whole process is not that tough once you get going, and certainly worth the effort if hungry mouths are waiting for the perfect homemade french fries. However, if you want to simplify the process because your hungry mouths aren't of the patient sort, you could certainly buy frozen french fries, cook 'em up following the instructions on the bag, and then sprinkle on this garlic/onion salt blend for a quick-and-easy kitchen clone.

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    Score: 4.50. Votes: 8

    Menu Description: "Stir-fried with garlic."

    This is a standard side dish at the country's biggest Chinese dinner chain, and it'll take you just a couple minutes to duplicate at home as a good veggie side for any meal, Chinese or otherwise. It's especially good when you're pressed to slam together a last minute vegetable for tonight's dinner. You can use a wok for this, but I always just use a medium-size saute pan. The trick is to saute the snap peas quickly over high heat, tossing often, until they're hot, yet still crispy and bright green. You get the garlic in right at the end, and then quickly pull the pan off the heat so the garlic doesn't scorch. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.78. Votes: 9

    Here's a replica recipe that's great for a cookout, or as your cool cloned contribution to a party. You can add everything to the dish ahead of time and bake it when you get to the shindig. Just find yourself a couple cans of the small white beans (not pinto beans or great northern beans), and the rest is easy. Throw all of the ingredients into a casserole dish and let the sucker bake, while you get in on the festivities.

    Complete your meal with my copycat Original Fried Chicken and KFC Coleslaw recipes here.

    Source: Even More Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.75. Votes: 4

    If you like baked beans you'll want to try this clone recipe from the world's first theme restaurant chain. Combine ingredients in a covered casserole dish, and bake for an hour and a half. This makes the dish handy if transporting to another location for a party or potluck, since you can fill the dish, cover it, then pop it into the oven once you arrive. For the pulled pork you can either use the recipe here Hard Rock Cafe Pig Sandwich clone, or you can add some pre-made pulled pork found in most stores. Or just leave that ingredient out. Either way the beans you make here will be a tasty side dish or solo snack.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    Menu Description: "Crisp, lightly fried carrots, choice of two dips."

    In 1992, Steven Spielberg organized a search for a hoagie sandwich like those he remembered from his childhood in Phoenix, Arizona. The famed director sent his assistants out to search L.A. for the perfect submarine sandwich, and from the 20 sandwiches brought back to him, not one passed the test. Former chairman of Walt Disney Studios and close friend Jeffrey Katzenberg was in on the taste test that day and agreed that most of the sandwiches were either too soggy or too leathery. The two began tossing around the idea of opening their own restaurant to reinvent the submarine sandwich with fresh baked bread and unique combinations of ingredient—like what Spago's and California Pizza Kitchen were doing with pizza. Partnered with Mark and Larry Levy of Levy Restaurants, the two movie moguls tasted over 100 sandwich recipes before finding two dozen they liked. A year of planning went by to build a deep-sea theme around the recipes, and in 1994, the first Dive! restaurant opened in L.A.

    In addition to the gourmet sandwiches on the menu, Dive! features pastas, salads, burgers, and delicious appetizers like carrot chips complete with your choice of dipping sauces. Because the carrots need to be sliced no thicker than 1/16 inch, you'll probably have to use a thin-slicing machine such as a mandoline for this recipe. I tried slicing the carrots by hand, but it's practically impossible to get the carrots a uniform thickness without using a gadget.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    Here's a great way to make mashed potatoes, Houlihan's style. The Smashed Potatoes at the restaurant chain are considered one of Houlihan's specialty signature dishes. This a la carte dish is unique because of the added fresh onion, spices, and sour cream; and especially because of the finishing touch—some onion straws sprinkled on top. It's important when making your own version that you not entirely mash the potatoes, but instead leave a few small potato chunks for texture. Try making mashed potatoes like this, and you may never want to make them any other way.

    Want more Houlihan's? See if I cloned your favorites here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    The best selling menu items at the Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon are the mesquite-grilled steaks. The USDA choice-graded steaks are hand-cut fresh daily and displayed in a glass meat counter that is visible from the dining area of each restaurant. Customers are encouraged to view the meat for themselves and personally select the steak they wish to eat.

    Here's a hack for the great rice served on the side at the famous steakhouse chain. Check out my other clone recipes for famous foods from Lone Star Steakhouse here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 8

    "Ruth's Chris Steak House" is such a difficult name to spit out that a restaurant critic suggested it be used as a sobriety test. Surely anyone who could say the name three times fast couldn't possibly be intoxicated. But the hard-to-say name has worked well for the steakhouse chain—it's memorable. The name came from the first restaurant that Ruth purchased in 1965 called Chris Steak House. When she opened a second restaurant with that same name, the previous owner, Chris Matulich, tried to sue her. She won the case, but to avoid future lawsuits, she put her name in front of the original and it became the tongue twister we know today.

    The delicious creamed spinach served at Ruth's Chris inspired this recipe that has just a hint of cayenne pepper in it for that Louisiana zing. The recipe requires a package of frozen spinach to make it convenient, but you can use the same amount of fresh spinach if you prefer.

    Now that you've chosen the veggies, finish off the meal with my copycat recipes for Ruth's Chris Petite Filet and Au Gratin Potatoes.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 4

    Menu Description: "In cream sauce, topped with melted sharp cheddar."

    There are many ways to order potatoes from the Ruth's Chris menu including steak fries, julienne fries, shoestring fries, cottage fries, Lyonnaise, baked and au gratin.

    Here's a traditional, classic recipe for the delicious side dish inspired by the Ruth's Chris creation. You may use less of the cream and milk mixture in your version depending on the size baking dish you use and the size of your potatoes. Stop adding the creamy mixture in your version when it is level with the sliced potatoes in the baking dish. Be sure to use a casserole dish that has a lid for the first stage of baking.

    Click here for more of my copycat recipes from Ruth's Chris Steak House

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur. 

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    Menu Description: “Our house specialty with cream, jalapenos and cheddar cheese.”

    These slightly spicy au gratin potatoes are cooked at a low heat several hours in advance of the dinner house’s evening opening. When an order for the signature side comes into the kitchen a generous serving of the potatoes is portioned out, topped with grated sharp cheddar cheese, and baked again at a high temperature until browned. The real trick to this Fleming's potato au gratin recipe is to slice the potatoes very thin—1/16 of an inch to be exact—and the only way to do that is with a slicer, such as a mandoline. The rest of the prep involves making a basic béchamel sauce using cream, and then carefully layering the sauce and sliced potatoes in the baking dish. The potatoes are baked for 2 hours and then chilled in the restaurant, so this can be a great make-ahead dish for entertaining. You can also serve the potatoes immediately by topping them with cheese, cranking up the oven, and heading straight into the second baking step.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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