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    If you like sweet with a little bit of heat, and if you like salmon, then this hack from Outback is the copycat recipe for you. Grilled salmon is brushed with the restaurant's top secret Firecracker Sauce and then it's topped with simple-to-make mango salsa. Those fabulous formulas are all here, and I’ll also show you how to cook the salmon the same way the restaurant does for a perfectly awesome kitchen clone.

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    In-N-Out Burger's delicious shakes are made with real ice cream, and that's a good thing,  but this vanilla shake has a unique taste that's more than just straight vanilla—I sense a hint of buttery caramel. Riffing on that idea I came up with an easy hack for these tasty shakes using a blend of French vanilla ice cream and whole milk, along with a simple secret ingredient: caramel topping. Spooning just 1 tablespoon of Smucker’s caramel topping into the blender before mixing it all up produced a vanilla shake remarkably similar to the one that’s been served at In-N-Out Burger since 1975.

    Unfortunately, a milkshake produced with a home blender is thinner than a restaurant milkshake made with a milkshake machine. To fix that, after mixing your shake in the blender, place the blender in your freezer for a bit until the shake firms up, then mix it once again, spoon it into a tall glass, and serve it with a wide straw.

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    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 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 recipe I found 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 Bojangles’ recipe be designed to use self-rising flour and then add additional leaving? Well, it wouldn’t. Biscuits are job #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. And let's just be clear: baking powder tastes gross, so you 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 (because their dough 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 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. Seems 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, and 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, use the convection setting on your oven, if you have that. Set the temp to 475 degrees F. and your biscuits will look they came straight from the drive-thru.

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    McDonald's refreshing smoothie is easy to knock off at home in a blender with fresh bananas and boxed frozen strawberries that come in syrup. Thaw out those strawberries before adding them and include some of the syrup when measuring. This McDonald's strawberry banana smoothie recipe makes 2 medium drinks so you can share, or one really big drink for a very hot and thirsty you.

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    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.

    The recipe here makes four single hamburgers, but feel free to stack up as many patties as you can handle.

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    Panera’s top soup pick in the summer is a creamy vegetarian chowder that’s full of flavor and very simple to duplicate 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 ingredients posted online by Panera Bread and noticed there is no broth in the soup, which means every copycat recipe I found online is wrong. I didn’t want to make the same mistake in my recipe, but without the broth this soup would be severely lacking in flavor, 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 true 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 provides 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 the 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 pepper, tomatoes, cilantro, and other tasty things, no broth is required. Just add water and a little patience. 

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    It may look like it's all chocolate, but Wendy's founder Dave Thomas thought that a purely chocolate frozen dairy dessert would overpower his burger and fries, so he mixed chocolate with vanilla to create his signature ultra-thick shake, and in 1969, the Frosty was born.

    My first crack at this iconic treat was revealed in a copycat recipe published 25 years ago that called for mixing milk with Nestle Quik and vanilla ice cream in a blender. Tasty? Sure it was. But the finished product was too runny, and the flavor wasn't perfect. That's why I recently holed myself up in the lab and created a formula that you now churn in a home ice cream maker until thick and creamy, and it tastes just like the real thing. Unlike my previous recipe which relied on pre-made ice cream and a drink mix, the scratch ingredients I used here allowed me to make small adjustments in flavor for a better match, and an ice cream maker is the perfect way to produce a thick, creamy consistency. So far, this is the best hack I've come up with to duplicate the treat that tests have shown is up to twice as thick as other famous desserts in a cup, including Dairy Queen's Blizzard and McDonald's McFlurry. 

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    In the Bush’s Beans commercials, Duke, the family Golden Retriever, wants to sell the secret family recipe, but the Bush family always stops him. The dog is based on the Bush family’s real-life Golden Retriever, and the campaign, which began in 1995, made Bush’s the big dog of the canned baked beans market practically overnight, and their formula is now considered one of the top 10 biggest recipe secrets in the U.S.

    The Bush Brothers & Company had been canning a variety of fruits and vegetables for over 60 years when, in 1969, the company created canned baked beans using a cherished recipe from a family matriarch. Sales jumped from ten thousand cases in the first year to over one hundred thousand cases in 1970. And just one year later sales hit a million cases. Today Bush’s makes over 80 percent of the canned baked beans sold in the U.S., and the secret family recipe remains a secret. Despite Duke’s attempts. A replica of the original recipe book—without the original recipe in it (drats!)—is on display at the company's visitor center in Chestnut Hill, Tennessee.

    I chose to hack the “Country Style” version of Bush’s Beans because I don’t think the original flavor has enough, uh, flavor. Country Style is similar to Original, but richer, with more brown sugar. The recipe starts by soaking dry small white beans in a brine overnight. The salt in the water helps to soften the skins, but don’t go over 14 hours or the skins may begin to fall off.

    My first versions tasted great but lacked the deep brown color of the original created by the addition of caramel coloring, which can be hard to find. But a more common ingredient called Kitchen Bouquet did the trick here, adding a rich brown tone that perfectly matches the color of the real thing.

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    Hellmann’s—or Best Foods as the company is known west of the Rockies—recently debuted this new ketchup for customers looking to avoid high fructose corn syrup, refined sugar, and artificial ingredients. The label lists only six ingredients: tomato puree, honey, white wine vinegar, salt, onion powder, and spices. It wasn’t immediately clear what the “spices” referred to until I wiped a wide smear of the ketchup across a white plate, making the blacks specks of fine grind pepper clearly stand out. After that it was just a matter of getting the ratios right.

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    Here's how to build a cheeseburger in crispy spring roll dough and make the secret 4-ingredient dipping sauce, for a perfect hack of one of Cheesecake Factory’s newest appetizers. I found the best solution for a good clone was to first cook two 4-ounce Angus patties—with 15% fat so the beef stays juicy—in a saute pan until browned. I then grilled some onion in the same pan, and mixed it into the crumbled patties, with ketchup, and diced American cheese. 

    I tried several different wrappers and found the thinnest wrappers to work the best. Try to find wrappers that say “super thin” on them. Thicker dough wrappers will blister when fried, which is not how the restaurant version looks, although the thicker wrappers still make tasty spring rolls. Rice paper wrappers will give you a chewier, less crispy bite, but are a good option if you're interested in a gluten-free version. If you go with rice paper, you won’t need the cornstarch solution to seal them. Just dipping the wrapper in a little water makes the rice paper pliable and naturally sticky.

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