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

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

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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.

Get This

Fat-Free Ranch Dressing
  • 1/3 cup fat-free mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons fat-free sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-fat buttermilk
  • 1½ teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • Pinch dried dillweed
  • Pinch garlic
  • Pinch ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 2 teaspoons hot water
Sandwich
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 skinless chicken breast fillets
  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 4 sesame seed hamburger buns
  • 4 iceberg lettuce leaves
  • 4 tomato slices
Do This

1. Prepare the ranch dressing by combining all ingredients except the gelatin and hot water in a medium bowl. Combine the gelatin with the hot water in a small bowl and stir to dissolve all of the gelatin. Add this to the other ingredients and stir well. Cover and chill (best to chill at least a couple of hours).

2. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.

3. Combine the egg substitute and water in a large, shallow bowl.

4. Combine the flour, salt, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder in another shallow bowl.

5. Cut each chicken breast in half across the middle. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and pound it to about ¼ inch thick. Trim each piece so that it is round-ish.

6. Working with one fillet at a time, coat each with the flour, then dredge it in the egg and water mixture. Coat the chicken once again with the flour and set aside until all of the fillets have been breaded.

7. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray the foil with a generous coating of cooking oil. Place the chicken fillets on the baking sheet, then coat each one with a light layer of cooking spray.

8. Bake the fillets for 12 minutes, then crank the oven up to broil for 4 to 5 minutes, then flip the chicken over and broil for another 2 to 4 minutes or until the chicken is browned and crispy on both sides.

9. As the chicken is cooking, prepare each sandwich by grilling the faces of the hamburger buns on a hot skillet over medium heat. Spread about 1 ½ teaspoons of the ranch dressing on the face of the top and bottom buns.

10. On the bottom bun, stack a leaf of lettuce and a tomato slice.

11. When the chicken is done cooking, stack a fillet over the tomato onto the bottom of the sandwich, then top off the sandwich with the top bun. Repeat for the remaining sandwiches.

Makes 4 sandwiches.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Bojangles' Buttermilk Biscuits

    There’s one copycat recipe for these famous biscuits that’s posted and shared more than any other, and it’s downright awful. The dough is formulated with self-rising flour, baking powder, powdered sugar, shortening, and buttermilk, and many complain that the recipe creates dough that’s much too loose and the resulting biscuits are a complete disaster. Yet there the recipe remains on blogs and boards all over the interweb for unsuspecting home cloners such as yourself to waste time on. But that won’t happen anymore, because I have made a good copycat Bojangles' buttermilk biscuits recipe that works the way it should, guaranteeing you’ll get amazing golden buttermilk biscuits that look and taste just like a trained Bojangles’ pro made them.

    In addition to the obvious overuse of buttermilk, the popular recipe I found online has many problems. The author gets it right when calling for self-rising flour, which is flour containing salt and a leavening agent (aka baking powder), but why would the copycat Bojangles biscuit recipe be designed to use self-rising flour and then add additional leaving? Well, it probably wouldn’t. Biscuits are job number 1 for self-rising flour, and the leavening in there is measured for that use, so there’s no need to add more. If you were planning to add your own leavening, you’d probably start with all-purpose flour, which has no leavening in it. And let's just be clear: baking powder tastes gross, so we want to add as little as possible, not more than necessary.

    It’s also important to handle the dough the same way that workers at Bojangles’ do. They make biscuits there every 20 minutes and there are plenty of YouTube videos showing the preparation technique. In a nutshell, the dough is mixed by hand (in the restaurant they use their hands because the quantity is so large, but for this recipe use a mixing spoon), then it’s folded over a few times on a floured countertop before it’s rolled out. This gentle handling of the dough prevents the gluten in the flour from toughening and adds layers, so your biscuits come out of the oven tender and flakey.

    For the best results, find White Lily flour. This self-rising flour is low in gluten and makes unbelievably fluffy biscuits. If you use another self-rising brand, you’ll still get great biscuits, but the gluten level will likely be higher, the biscuits will be tougher, and you’ll probably need more buttermilk. Head down to the Tidbits below for details on that.

    And I noticed another thing most copycat Bojangles biscuit recipes get wrong. For biscuits that are beautifully golden brown on the top and bottom, you’ll want to bake them on a silicone baking mat (or parchment paper) at 500 degrees F. Yes, 500 degrees. That may seem hot, but this high temp works well with self-rising flour, and in 12 to 15 minutes the biscuits will be perfectly browned.

    Counterintuitively, it’s the lower temperatures that end up burning the biscuits, while the higher temperature cooks them just right. At lower temps the biscuits must stay in the oven longer to cook through, which exposes the surfaces to more heat, and they end up too dark on the outside, especially the bottom. For even better results, if you have a convection setting on your oven, use that and set the temp to 475 degrees F. Your biscuits will look like they came straight from the drive-thru.

    Find more tasty Bojangles' copycat recipes here.

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    KFC Extra Crispy Fried Chicken (Improved)

    To get their Extra Crispy Chicken so crispy, KFC breads the chicken two times. This double breading gives the chicken its ultra craggy exterior and extra crunch, which is a different texture than the less crispy original recipe fried chicken that’s breaded just once and pressure fried.

    As with my KFC Original Fried Chicken recipe, we must first brine the chicken to give it flavor and moisture all the way through, like the real thing, then the chicken is double breaded and deep-fried until golden brown. KFC uses small chickens which cook faster, but small chickens can be hard to find. If your chicken parts are on the large side, they may not cook all the way through in the 12 to 15 minutes of frying I’m specifying here. To be sure your chicken is cooked, start frying with the thickest pieces, like the breasts, then park them in a 300-degree oven while you finish with the smaller pieces. This will keep the chicken warm and crispy, and more importantly, ensure that they are cooked perfectly all the way through.

    On my CMT show Top Secret Recipe I chatted with Winston Shelton, a long-time friend of KFC founder Harland Sanders. Winston saw the Colonel's handwritten secret recipe for KFC Original Recipe chicken, and he told me one of the secret ingredients is Tellicherry black pepper. It's a more expensive, better-tasting black pepper that comes from the Malabar coast in India, and you should use it here if you can find it. Winston pulled me aside and whispered this secret to me when he thought we were off-camera, but our microphones and very alert cameramen caught the whole thing, and we aired it.

    I first published my KFC Extra Crispy Fried Chicken recipe in Even More Top Secret Recipesbut recently applied some newly acquired secrets and tips to make this much-improved recipe of one of the most familiar fried chicken recipes in the world. 

    My KFC Extra Crispy Fried Chicken recipe below was our #2 most popular in 2019. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes of the year: Texas Roadhouse Rolls (#1), Olive Garden Braised Beef Bolognese (#3), Pizzeria Uno Chicago Deep Dish Pizza (#4), Bush's Country Style Baked Beans (#5).

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Barney's Beanery Classic Chili

    Barney's Beanery, the self-proclaimed "third oldest restaurant in Los Angeles," has a long history of celebrity patrons dropping by for a hot bowl of chili and a beer or three. John "Barney" Anthony opened the first Barney's Beanery in Berkley, California in 1920, and seven years later relocated the restaurant to its current location on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood.

    Barney's soon became a popular watering hole for film stars from the 1920s and '30s, such as Clara Bow, Clark Gable, and John Barrymore. In the '50s and '60s Lou Costello was a regular, and so were Donald O'Connor, Charles Bukowski, and Dennis Hopper. Jim Morrison and his Doors bandmates were frequent customers since the offices of their record label, Elektra, were nearby. Janis Joplin was said to have had a drink there the night she died. The Brat Pack of the '80s—Charlie Sheen, Rob Lowe, John Cusack, Emilio Estevez, and Demi Moore—would often come in to play pinball and video games. And Quentin Tarantino wrote most of his screenplay for Pulp Fiction while sitting at his favorite booth at Barney's.

    This original chili was a favorite of Peter Falk's character on Columbo, who ate it often at the restaurant on the TV show. But the show wasn't filmed at the actual location. The Barney’s Colombo viewers saw on their TV was a sound-stage replica.

    I found the secret to the flavor in Barney's chili comes from two chili powders that were popular in the West over 100 years ago, around the time Barney's first opened: Gebhardt and Mexene. Chili powders were new at that time, and there were very few on the market, so it's highly likely these ingredients were used in the recipe that made Barney's Beanery famous. Find those two chili powders, and you're well on your way to making Barney's Beanery classic chili at home.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Panera Bread Vegetarian Summer Corn Chowder

    Panera’s top soup pick in the summer is a creamy vegetarian chowder that’s full of flavor and easy to copy at home once you know an important flavor secret. I started my hack using a vegetable broth, since that’s what all the other “copycats” call for, but I found its strong vegetable flavor dominated the soup, so I quickly bailed on that plan.

    Starting over, I referred to the soup’s ingredients posted online by Panera Bread and noticed there is no broth in the soup, which means every copycat recipe online is wrong. I didn’t want to make the same mistake in my Panera Bread Vegetarian Summer Corn Chowder recipe, but without the broth my soup would be lacking some important flavor components, and that’s no good either.

    In many soup recipes, the broth or stock is important for the umami quality provided by the yeast extract added to the product. Yeast extracts are one of the many ways food manufacturers add an MSG flavor-enhancing effect without adding MSG. Panera does in fact list “yeast extract” as one of the ingredients in the soup, so I needed to find a readily available ingredient that would provide the same savory quality.

    Enter nutritional yeast—or “nooch” as it’s often called—a flakey, nutrient-packed, vegan ingredient that’s growing quickly in popularity thanks to the savory, cheesy flavor it adds to a variety of foods (it’s great on popcorn). Nooch is also popular with vegans and vegetarians since it’s fortified with vitamin B12, an essential nutrient that's mainly found in animal-sourced foods.

    Now, with nooch in there, along with yellow corn, red-skin potatoes, poblano peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, and other tasty things, no broth is required. Just give your Panera Bread Vegetarian Summer Corn Chowder some water and a little patience.

    Find more of your favorite Panera Bread recipes here

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Patti LaBelle Sweet Potato Pie

    When YouTuber James Wright sang and swooned over Patti Labelle's Sweet Potato Pie in an exuberant November 2015 video, it went viral, racking up a quick 5 million views. The sudden popularity of the video led to a mad run on the pies, and stores around the country were sold out for weeks.

    Now, no one who craves the rich goodness of a delicious sweet potato pie will be forced to go Patti-less for long, with my recipe that re-creates everything good about her pie. And the one bad thing about the real Patti LaBelle Sweet Potato Pie—it's too small—that problem is fixed here with a finished pie that is about twice as big as the store version. You won't find this recipe anywhere else, including Patti's cookbook, which makes a sweet potato pie very different from the bestselling pie that was sold out in stores. Try my Patti LaBelle Sweet Potato Pie recipe below. I know you'll be happy you did.

    What other incredible, famous desserts can you whip up at home? Check out my other clone recipes here.

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  • Score: 4.38 (votes: 8)
    Olive Garden Breadsticks

    Anyone who loves Olive Garden is probably also a big fan of the bottomless basket of warm, garlicky breadsticks served before each meal at the huge Italian casual chain. My guess is that the breadsticks are proofed, and then sent to each restaurant where they are baked until golden brown, brushed with butter and sprinkled with garlic salt. Getting the bread just right for a good Olive Garden breadstick recipe was tricky—I tried several different amounts of yeast in all-purpose flour, but then settled on bread flour to give these breadsticks the same chewy bite as the originals. The two-stage rising process is also a crucial step in this much requested homemade Olive Garden breadstick recipe. Also check out our Olive Garden Italian salad dressing recipe.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 14)
    KFC Grilled Chicken

    It took chefs several years to develop what would eventually become KFC's most clucked about new product launch in the chain's 57-year history. With between 70 to 180 calories and four to nine grams of fat, depending on the piece, the new un-fried chicken is being called "KFC's second secret recipe," and "a defining moment in our brand's storied history" in a company press release. The secret recipe for the new grilled chicken is now stored on an encrypted computer flash drive next to the Colonel's handwritten original fried chicken recipe in an electronic safe at KFC company headquarters. Oprah Winfrey featured the chicken on her talk show and gave away so many coupons for free grilled chicken meals that some customers waited in lines for over an hour and half, and several stores ran out and had to offer rain checks. Company spokesperson Laurie Schalow told the Associated Press that KFC has never seen such a huge response to any promotion. "It's unprecedented in our more than 50 years," she said. "It beats anything we've ever done."

    When I heard about all the commotion over this new secret recipe I immediately locked myself up in the underground lab with a 12-piece bucket of the new grilled chicken, plus a sample I obtained of the proprietary seasoning blend, and got right to work. After days of nibbling through what amounts to a small flock of hens, I'm happy to bring you this amazing cloned version of this fast food phenomenon so that you can now reproduce it in your own kitchen. Find the smallest chicken you can for this KFC grilled chicken copycat recipe, since KFC uses young hens. Or better yet save some dough by finding a small whole chicken and cut it up yourself. The secret preparation process requires that you marinate (brine) your chicken for a couple hours in a salt and MSG solution. This will make the chicken moist all of the way through and give it great flavor. After the chicken has brined, it's brushed with liquid smoke-flavored oil that will not only make the seasoning stick to the chicken, but will also ensure that the chicken doesn't stick to the pan. The liquid smoke in the oil gives the chicken a smoky flavor as if it had been cooked on an open flame barbecue grill.

    The grilled chicken at KFC is probably cooked on ribbed metal plates in specially designed convection ovens to get those grill marks. I duplicated that process using an oven-safe grill pan, searing the chicken first on the stovetop to add the grill marks, then cooking the chicken through in the oven. If you don't have a grill pan or a grill plate, you can just sear the chicken in any large oven safe saute pan. If you have a convection function on your oven you should definitely use it, but the recipe will still work in a standard oven with the temperature set just a little bit higher. After baking the chicken for 20 minutes on each side, you're ready to dive into your own 8-piece bucket of delicious indoor grilled chicken that's as tasty as the fried stuff, but without all the fat.

    Check out the video demonstration of this recipe.

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

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  • Score: 4.75 (votes: 8)
    Cracker Barrel Coleslaw

    Similar to cloning the coleslaw at KFC, the secret technique for duplicating Cracker Barrel's delicious coleslaw starts with slicing the cabbage into very small pieces. A mandoline works great for this, or use whatever slicing contraption you have. Slice the heads of green and red cabbage on the thinnest setting, and then chop those strips into small bits. The carrot can be shredded using a cheese grater. Mix it all up and then let the coleslaw chill out for several hours so the mixture can get its flavor on and ends up tasting just like Cracker Barrel's famous dish. An overnight chill is even sweeter.

    Try more of my Cracker Barrel recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 3)
    Outback Steakhouse Mashed Sweet Potatoes

    This special side may not always be on the menu at your local Outback Steakhouse. If it's not, use tmy Outback Steakhouse sweet potato copycat recipe to satisfy your craving. The butter, sugar and spices added to the baked and mashed sweet potatoes make this dish great with salmon, chicken, turkey, and pork; and it rocks as a holiday feast side. It's so sweet and rich that it could double as pie filling. And just check out the amazing finishing touch: pecans, corn flakes and oats mixed with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon for a streusel-like crunchy topping, that you'll want to eat by the spoonful.

    Find more incredible copycat recipes for famous side dishes here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

     

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  • Score: 4.96 (votes: 23)
    BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse Parmesan Crusted Chicken Breast

    Menu Description: "Our marinated chicken breast coated with Parmesan cheese and crunchy panko breadcrumbs, lightly pounded and pan fried to a golden brown. Served with white cheddar mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli and topped with a lemon Chardonnay butter sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil and Parmesan cheese." 

    This re-creation lays out a great way to prepare that 4-pack of chicken breasts you dropped into your shopping cart. While you're at the market, head down the aisle where the Asian foods are parked and pick up some Japanese breadcrumbs, also called "panko" breadcrumbs. Combining these coarse breadcrumbs with shredded Parmesan cheese makes a crispy breading for the chicken that doesn't even need a sauce to taste good. Still, the lemony Chardonnay butter sauce used at the restaurant is cloned here too, so you'll have the complete flavor experience. You'll want to plan ahead a bit for this dish since the chicken fillets will need to marinate in the brine solution for 2 to 3 hours. This dish goes great with the clone recipe for BJ's White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.54 (votes: 13)
    El Pollo Loco BBQ Black Beans

    If you like traditional BBQ beans, you've got to love El Pollo Loco's sweet-and-spicy variation with black beans. The light smokiness in this clone comes from bacon fat, then cayenne pepper and green chiles give the beans a Southwestern flavor that's perfect on burritos or as a delicious side. 

    The prep for my El Pollo Loco BBQ black beans recipe is a breezer, since you conveniently combine two 15-ounce cans of black beans with the other secret ingredients in a saucepan and just let it simmer for an hour or so. When the beans are soft and the mixture is thick, on with the eating.

    Find more famous El Pollo Loco recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 4)
    Chili's Firecracker Tilapia

    Menu Description: "A grilled tilapia fillet brushed with a sweet and spicy glaze and garnished with red chili tapenade, cilantro and sesame seeds." 

    Here's a great way to prepare that next batch of fresh fish fillets when you're contemplating a new taste. If you and your diners love spicy food this is the perfect clone, since the top secret glaze and tapenade recipes I've included here both come packing heat. You can make the sauces several hours—or even days—ahead of time, and then when you're ready to eat, the fish will cook up in less than 10 minutes. Chili's calls this "grilled" tilapia on the menu, but don't expect to find grill marks on the fish. It appears the restaurant uses a flat griddle or saute pan to cook the fish, since the tender tilapia would fall through the grate on a barbecue grill. Don't limit this recipe to tilapia. The intense glaze and tapenade will perk up a variety of fish fillets, from sea bass to salmon.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.86 (votes: 14)
    Bonefish Grill Citrus Herb Vinaigrette

    There a are few decent bottled salad dressings out there, but there's nothing on the shelf that compares in taste to this homemade version of the house salad dressing from Bonefish Grill. Not only that, it's a heck of a lot cheaper to make your own vinaigrette from scratch. And check out the easy steps in my Bonefish Grill Citrus Herb Vinaigrette recipe: Mix everything together in a bowl, microwave for 1 minute, whisk to emulsify, then chill. If you're a salad lover, this is the clone for you. 

    You might also like my recipe for Bonefish Grill Bang Bang Shrimp.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.29 (votes: 7)
    Starbucks Pumpkin Bread

    A thick slice of moist pumpkin bread Starbucks-style is the perfect companion for your morning cup of Joe. Many other pumpkin bread recipes produce sad, squatty loaves—but not this clone. 

    Use my custom Starbucks Pumpkin Bread recipe below that makes enough batter to fill up a medium loaf pan. And when the bread is done, you'll slice the moist loaf into eight thick slices of goodness that perfectly mimic the look and flavor of the real thing, right down to the chopped pumpkin seeds on top.

    Craving your favorite Starbucks coffee drink? Click here for all of my Starbucks copycat recipes.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 7)
    Applebee's Apple Walnut Chicken Salad

    Menu Description: "A masterwork of flavors. Grilled, marinated chicken breast crowns this fresh mix of delectable greens, crisp apples, rich crumbled blue cheese and sweet candied walnuts. Tossed in our tangy balsamic vinaigrette."

    Sometimes I feel like a C.S.I. To re-create this salad, I ordered several to-go and then sat down with a magnifying glass and carefully picked out each of the bits and pieces and separated them into smaller bowls. Sure, this was tedious work, but it made it easy to measure out each ingredient for the most accurate Applebee's Apple Walnut Chicken Salad recipe. 

    Next, I cooked a ton of chicken, each with different versions of the marinade, until I found the one that worked. The smoky marinade for the chicken here is basically a brine that adds just the right amount of saltiness and flavor through osmosis, so be sure not to let the chicken soak longer than specified. Of course, the lead performer in any salad is the dressing, since it is responsible for much of what you taste. The tangy balsamic vinaigrette is delicious with honey, Dijon mustard, garlic, and tarragon in there. You can make an easy emulsion out of it with a hand mixer. The best part is that you'll end up with leftover vinaigrette that you can use to make a couple more meal-size salads, and then some. Case closed.

    Find more of my salad knock-off recipes here. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.71 (votes: 7)
    Outback Steakhouse Outback Rack of Lamb

    Menu Description: "A 14-ounce rack of New Zealand lamb served with a Cabernet sauce."

    Next time you make lamb, try this seasoning and sauce and make lamb the Outback way. The original racks are small, so if you find a 24- to 28-ounce rack of lamb, you'll get 2 servings with my Outback Rack of Lamb recipe. Be sure to trim off most of the extra fat before you sear the lamb. And after the searing, don't wash out that skillet! You want those flavorful little bits (fond) in there to make the incredible Cabernet sauce that is served alongside the lamb for dipping, dousing, and drenching.

    Start your meal off with Outback's famous Bushman Bread, and Blue Cheese Chopped Salad. Find all of my Outback Steakhouse copycat recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.60 (votes: 5)
    Hard Rock Cafe Tupelo Style Chicken

    The world's most famous theme restaurant pays tribute to the birthplace of Elvis Presley with this chicken finger appetizer dish, and two great mustard-based dipping sauces. I was a fan of the original version of this appetizer served around ten years ago before they changed the name to Tupelo Chicken Tenders and replaced the apricot dipping sauce with hickory barbecue sauce. With this recipe you can now re-create the classic original version.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.84 (votes: 37)
    Hard Rock Cafe Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

    Give this simple soup clone a shot and you'll never again want to eat chicken soup from a can. I designed this recipe to be easy, requiring chicken fillets rather than a whole chicken, and you won't need to create a stock from scratch. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 11)
    York Peppermint Pattie

    At his candy factory In York, Pennsylvania, in the late 1930s, Henry C. Kessler first concocted this minty confection. The York Cone Company was originally established to make ice cream cones, but by the end of World War II the peppermint patty had become so popular that the company discontinued all other products. In 1972 the company was sold to Peter Paul, manufacturers of Almond Joy and Mounds. Cadbury USA purchased the firm in 1978, and in 1988 the York Peppermint Pattie became the property of Hershey USA.

    Other chocolate-covered peppermints were manufactured before the York Peppermint Pattie came on the market, but Kessler's version was firm and crisp, while the competition was soft and gummy. One former employee and York resident remembered the final test the patty went through before it left the factory. "It was a snap test. If the candy didn't break clean in the middle, it was a second." For years, seconds were sold to visitors at the plant for fifty cents a pound.

    Try my York Peppermint Pattie recipe below, and find more of my famous candy recipes here

    Source: More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.89 (votes: 44)
    Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana Soup

    For two years after the first Olive Garden restaurant opened in 1982, operators were still tweaking the restaurant's physical appearance and the food that was served. Even the tomato sauce was changed as many as 25 times. It's that sort of dedication that creates fabulous dishes like this popular soup. It blends the flavors of potatoes, kale, and Italian sausage in a slightly spicy chicken and cream broth. 

    Try my Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana copycat recipe below along with your own bottomless Olive Garden House Salad and Breadsticks. Find more of my Olive Garden clone recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Margaritaville Jamaica Mistaica Wings

    Menu Description: "Come back to Jamaica! Our wings tossed in habanero-honey wing sauce with cucumber sticks and house-made mango ranch dipping sauce."

    Chicken wings. Everyone loves the flavorful non-functioning chicken parts. When they're good, they're real good. And these Jamaica Mistaica wings from Jimmy Buffet's chain of island-themed restaurants are some of the best. The preparation is no big secret: Fry the wings, add the sauce. It's that habanero honey sauce recipe that makes these so good. Add to that an easy-to-make mango ranch dipping sauce, and you're off on a non-stop cruise to chicken wing paradise. Margaritaville serves 10 wings at the restaurant, but these top secret sauces will be enough for 30 Jamaica Mistaica wings.

    You might also like my copycat recipes for Margaritaville Key Lime Pie and Volcano Nachos.
     
    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.50 (votes: 2)
    Chili's Lettuce Wraps

    Menu Description: "Grilled Asian-spiced chicken w/carrots, water chestnuts, green onions & almonds. Served with crisp Bibb lettuce and sesame-ginger & peanut sauces for dipping."

    Chili's take on the appetizer made popular at P. F. Chang's Asian Bistro got diners across the country wrapping lettuce around chopped chicken. Now you can bring Chili's version of the Asian tacos home along with the mega-addictive sesame-ginger and peanut dipping sauces with my recipe for Chili's lettuce wraps.

    After you make the sauces and prepare the chicken, assemble the wraps by arranging some sliced chicken into the center of a leaf of butter lettuce, sprinkle on some shredded carrot, perhaps a few crunchy bean threads, add a little dipping sauce, and open wide.

    Find more of your favorite Chili's copycat recipes here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 3.75 (votes: 4)
    Burger King Zesty Onion Ring Sauce

    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 my Burger King Onion Rings recipe a try, whip up some of my copycat Burger King Zesty Onion Ring 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: 5.00 (votes: 2)
    Del Taco Crispy Fish Taco

    The number two Mexican fast food chain nicely duplicates the delicious fish tacos you'd find in coastal towns south of the border: two corn tortillas wrapped around a fried halibut fillet that's topped with cabbage, fresh salsa, and a creamy "secret sauce." It's practically impossible to eat just one—they're that good. And, thanks to the availability of breaded frozen fish sticks in just about every market, a home version of Del Taco Crispy Fish Tacos is stupidly simple. If you can't find crispy halibut sticks in your local store, the more common breaded pollock will work just fine here. You can also use frozen fish portions that are grilled if you're not into the breaded (fried) stuff. The real recipe at Del Taco comes with two thin corn tortillas, but sometimes the only available corn tortillas in consumer markets are the thicker ones. If that's the case, you'll need just one per taco.

    How about a cold margarita to wash down those tacos? Find your favorite famous drink recipes here

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.82 (votes: 17)
    Top Secret Steak Rub

    Just like the pro chefs use. A secret blend of herbs and spices that will make your homemade steaks taste like they came from a famous steakhouse chain. All-natural. Contains no MSG or preservatives. Great for anyone who likes a truly amazing steak.

    Top Secret Steak Rub is created by Food Hacker Todd Wilbur who has spent the last 30 years reverse-engineering popular menu items at the most-loved restaurant chains across America. By identifying the herbs, spices and other ingredients that make great restaurant food taste so good, Todd created this custom Top Secret Steak Rub to help you make restaurant-style steaks at home. All it takes is just a few shakes. Then cook the steaks your favorite way. Our Top Secret Steak Rub is also great on hamburger patties, vegetables, French fries, and popcorn!

    Buy up to 5 bottles to ship for one low price!

    7-ounce bottle. Money back guarantee. Kosher certified. Gluten-free.

    You may also like our Top Secret Chicken Rub, and Top Secret Fish Rub.

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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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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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