THE MOST TRUSTED COPYCAT RECIPES
THE MOST TRUSTED COPYCAT RECIPES
Applebee's Tequila Lime Chicken Reduced-Fat

Applebee's Tequila Lime Chicken Reduced-Fat

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This item has been a huge best-seller since it was first added to Applebee's menu in 1993 as promotional summer chow. The original version of this chicken dish is topped with an oil-based Mexi-ranch dressing, plus a melted cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese blend, making it every shade of tasty, yet brutal on the midriff. This lighter version of the original recipe cuts the fat in half. You'll need only a small amount of tequila to make this taste like the original—we're not making a margarita here! I learned the hard way that if you add more than the seemingly minuscule 1/4 teaspoon of tequila to your chicken, it'll taste like it just got back from a bachelor party in Tijuana. 

Nutrition Facts
Serving size–1 entree
Total servings–4
Calories per serving–495 (Original–580)
Fat per serving–15g (Original–30g)

Source: Low Fat Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

Get This

Marinade
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon mesquite liquid smoke flavoring
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon tequila
  •   
  • 4 skinless chicken breast fillets
Fat-Free Mexi-Ranch Dressing
  • 1/4 cup fat-free mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat milk
  • 2 tablespoon water
  • 2 teaspoons minced tomato
  • 1 teaspoon minced canned jalapeno slices (nacho rings)
  • 1 teaspoon minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco pepper sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried dillweed
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
  • Pinch garlic powder
  • Pinch ground black pepper
_main
  • 1 cup reduced-fat shredded Cheddar/Monterey Jack cheese blend
  • 2 cups crumbled baked corn tortilla chips
Do This

1. Prepare the marinade by combining the ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the chicken to the bowl, cover, and chill for 2 to 3 hours.

2. Make the Mexi-ranch dressing by combining all of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well until smooth, then cover the dressing and chill it until needed.

3. When you are ready to prepare the entree, preheat the oven to high broil. Also preheat your barbecue grill to high heat. When the barbie is hot, grill the marinated chicken breasts for 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until they're cooked al the way through.

4. Arrange the cooked chicken in a baking pan. Spread a layer of Mexi-ranch dressing over each piece of chicken, followed by 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese blend. Broil the chicken for 1 to 2 minutes, or just until the cheese melts.

5. Spread a bed of 1/2 cup of the crumbled tortilla chips on each of 4 plates. Slide a chicken breast onto the crumbled chips on each plate, and serve with your choice of rice and pico de gallo or salsa.

Serves 4 as an entrée.

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    A great chicken piccata doesn’t have to be complicated, and this fantastic take on the lemony dish from the Cheesecake Factory is a perfect example.

    Since the sauce is the key to the great taste of this entrée, I made sure to get a sample on the side for later analysis when I requested my to-go order from the restaurant. While waiting, I asked the server what was in the sauce and she listed some obvious ingredients—lemon, wine, butter, cream—and then she mentioned garlic and shallots. When I got home, I rinsed the sauce through a mesh strainer to discover how much garlic and shallot were in the sauce, but there was no physical evidence of either solid ingredient left behind in the strainer.

    I made a batch of the sauce without garlic and shallot, and it tasted flat. So on the next batch, I added the garlic and shallot back in, then strained out the solid ingredients after they contributed their goodness to the sauce. The result was noticeably better.

    After adding mushrooms and capers to the new lemon sauce, I spooned it over sautéed chicken cutlets and was rewarded with a fantastic homemade version of this amazing dish, which you can now copy at home using my Cheesecake Factory Chicken Piccata recipe below.

    Check out more of my copycat Cheesecake Factory recipes here.

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  • Score: 4.50 (votes: 2)
    Rao's Traditional Meatballs

    Tweaking a classic recipe with a few special prep tricks leaked to me by a server was the key to developing this spot-on hack for the famous meatballs from the iconic 125-year-old Italian dining room. With just two locations in the U.S. (Los Angeles and New York), sinking your fork into a fresh meatball at the restaurant requires quite a trip for most people, but my Rao's Traditional Meatballs recipe, refined through multiple batches, will make you a meatball master in your own kitchen, producing ten 5½-ounce meatballs that look and taste like the real thing.

    Fortunately, I could squeeze in a reservation at the Las Vegas Rao’s location a few weeks before it closed its doors forever at Caesar’s Palace in late November 2021. While there, I made sure to ask my server for any information about the recipe, and was informed about the secret two-step process described in this hack to create giant meatballs that are cooked through, but so moist that they practically crumble when cut with a fork.

    Rao’s has shared a meatball recipe in the past, but don’t be fooled. That recipe produces decent meatballs, but they are not the same as what’s served in the restaurant. If you want to make meatballs that taste like the classic original, use my Rao's meatballs recipe below.

    And when they're done, top the meatballs with your favorite marinara or use my hack here to re-create Rao’s famous sauce.

    This recipe was our #1 most popular in 2022. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes for the year: Chipotle Pollo Asado (#2), Wendy's Seasoned Potatoes (#3), Cheesecake Factory Spicy Cashew Chicken (#4), McDonald's Chicken McNuggets (#5).

    Check out this list of our most popular recipes of all-time.

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  • Score: 4.67 (votes: 6)
    Panda Express Chow Mein

    I got lucky on the day I picked up a box of chow mein from this huge Chinese chain because they had just run out. This meant that I could watch from the sidelines as they whipped up a fresh batch in a giant wok over a high flame in the completely visible kitchen, and I was able to take plenty of mental notes. The whole dish took just a few minutes for the enthusiastic chef to prepare, and before I knew it I was out the door with a huge box of hot chow mein ready for hacking. 

    Just like the real Panda Express Chow Mein, the beauty in this re-creation is its simplicity. There are only seven ingredients, and the prep work is low-impact. I used dry chow mein noodles (also called Chinese stir fry noodles) which are easy to find and cheap, and dark soy sauce to get that great caramel color. And if you don’t have a wok for this, a large skillet with sloped sides for tossing will work just fine.

    This recipe was our #1 most popular in 2021. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes for the year: Qdoba 3-Cheese Queso (#2), Panda Express Fried Rice (#3), Outback Baked Potato Soup (#4), Chipotle Carne Asada (#5).

    Check out this list of our most popular recipes of all-time.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Panda Express Fried Rice

    A popular staple of any Chinese chain is fried rice, so it better be good, and the version served at Panda Express most certainly is. Here's my easy Panda Express Fried Rice recipe for when you need a stress-free, low-cost side for your entrées. But I do suggest that you cook the white rice several hours or even a day or two before you plan to make the finished dish. I found that the cooked rice called for in this recipe works best when it's cold. 

    As for a shortcut, bagged frozen peas and carrots will save you from the hassle of petite-dicing carrots since the carrots in those bags are the perfect size to produce an identical clone. And they're already cooked. 

    This recipe was our #3 most popular in 2021. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes for the year: Panda Express Chow Mein (#1), Qdoba 3-Cheese Queso (#2), Outback Baked Potato Soup (#4), Chipotle Carne Asada (#5).

    Check out this list of our most popular recipes of all-time.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 2)
    Cracker Barrel Meatloaf

    The Southern-themed chain famous for its gift shops filled with made-in-America products and delicious homestyle food is also known to have a particularly good meatloaf. This dish ranks high in popularity, right up there with the Chicken ‘n Dumplins and the Hash Brown Casserole, so a good Cracker Barrel Meatloaf copycat recipe is long overdue.

    Making meatloaf is easy. What’s hard is making it taste like the meatloaf at Cracker Barrel which is tender and juicy, and flavored with onion, green pepper, and tomato. I sought to turn out a moist and tender loaf of meat, and one that’s not dry and tough, but my first attempts were much too dense. I wasn’t happy about that, but my dog was thrilled.

    After playing around with the eggs-to-breadcrumbs-to-milk ratios and being careful to use gentle hands when combining everything and pressing it into the loaf pan, the final batch was a winner and I get to pass it along to you.    

    It's best to use a meatloaf pan here which has an insert that lets the fat drip to the bottom, away from the meat. A regular loaf pan will still work, but you’ll want to pour off the fat in the pan before slicing. 

    Satisfy your Cracker Barrel cravings with more of my copycat recipes here.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 5)
    Maggiano's Beef Tenderloin Medallions

    For many years this entrée has been a top menu choice at Maggiano's, the 54-unit Italian chain from Brinker, the same company that operates Chili’s Grill & Bar. The $30 restaurant dish consists of three 2½-ounce tenderloin steaks, swimming in a fantastic balsamic cream sauce with sliced portabello mushrooms—but a home version is only six easy steps away, and it won't hit you in the wallet as hard as the pricey original.

    Cracking this dish required a perfect hack of the balsamic cream sauce, and that came quickly after obtaining some very reliable information from my incredibly helpful server/informant at a Las Vegas Maggiano’s. Let’s call him Skippy.

    According to Skippy, the balsamic cream sauce is as simple as mixing a sweet balsamic glaze with the chain’s creamy Alfredo sauce. So, I first got a sample of Maggiano’s Alfredo sauce and figured out how to replicate it. Once that was done, I measured increments of balsamic glaze into the Alfredo sauce until the color and flavor matched the original. The rest of the recipe was easy.

    My recipe will make two servings and includes preparation for the tenderloins and sauce. If you’d like to complete the dish the way it’s served at the restaurant (as in the photo), add some garlic mashed potatoes on the side, using my hack for Olive Garden Garlic Mashed Potatoes.   

    Try my Maggiano's Beef Tenderloin Medallions copycat recipe below, find more of my Maggiano's copycat recipes here.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 6)
    Olive Garden Braised Beef Bolognese

    Braised Beef Pasta Menu Description: “Slow-simmered meat sauce with tender braised beef and Italian sausage, tossed with ruffled pappardelle pasta and a touch of alfredo sauce—just like Nonna’s recipe.”

    It’s a mistake to assume that a recipe posted to a restaurant chain’s website is the real recipe for the food served there. I’ve found this to be the case with many Olive Garden recipes, and this one is no exception. A widely circulated recipe that claims to duplicate the chain’s classic Bolognese actually originated on Olive Garden’s own website, and if you make that recipe you’ll be disappointed when the final product doesn’t even come close to the real deal. I won’t get into all the specifics of the things wrong with that recipe (too much wine, save some of that for drinking!), but at first glance it’s easy to see that a few important ingredients found in traditional Bolognese sauces are conspicuously missing, including milk, basil, lemon, and nutmeg.

    I incorporated all those missing ingredients into my Olive Garden Braised Beef Bolognese copycat recipe, tweaked a few other things, and then tested several methods of braising the beef so that it comes out perfectly tender: covered, uncovered, and a combo. The technique I settled on was cooking the sauce covered for 2 hours, then uncovered for 1 additional hour so that the sauce reduces and the beef transforms into a fork-flakeable flavor bomb. Yes, it comes from Olive Garden, but this Bolognese is better than any I’ve had at restaurants that charge twice as much, like Rao’s where the meat is ground, not braised, and they hit you up for $30.  

    As a side note, Olive Garden’s menu says the dish comes with ruffled pappardelle pasta, but it’s actually mafaldine, a narrower noodle with curly edges (shown in the top right corner of the photo). Pappardelle, which is the traditional pasta to serve with Bolognese, is a very wide noodle with straight edges, and it’s more familiar than mafaldine, so perhaps that’s why the menu fudges this fact. In the end, it doesn’t really matter which pasta you choose. Just know that a wide noodle works best. Even fettuccine is good here.

    For the little bit of Alfredo sauce spooned into the middle of the dish, I went with a premade bottled sauce to save time. You can also make this from scratch if you like (I’ve got a great hack for Olive Garden’s Alfredo Sauce), but it’s such a small amount that premade sauce in either a chilled tub from the deli section or in a bottle off the shelf works great here.

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

    Check out this list of our most popular recipes of all-time.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 3)
    Famous Dave's Smoked Salmon Spread

    Menu Description: "Our own hickory-smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers and chipotle peppers makes this a spread worth swimming upstream for. Served with fire-grilled flatbread."

    Famous Dave's is famous for making pork ribs so good you forget you're wearing the embarrassing bib. But before you get your face smeared with BBQ sauce, you may want to kick off your meal with this popular choice from the chain's appetizer column. 

    For my Famous Dave's smoked salmon spread recipe, start with 4 ounces of the best smoked salmon you can find. It should be very smoky if you want to duplicate the same taste of the original. If you can't find salmon that's smoky enough, I found that adding a little hickory liquid smoke to the mix works perfectly to flavor the spread so that it tastes like Dave's version. You'll end up with twice the amount of spread as the original, which makes this a great appetizer for a small party. You can even prepare the flatbread ahead of time, then wrap it up in foil and reheat it in the oven before serving.

    Did I make you crave ribs? Try my clone recipes for Chili's Baby Back Ribs, Roadhouse Grill Baby Back Ribs, or Tony Roma's World Famous Ribs.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur. 

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  • Score: 4.80 (votes: 5)
    BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse Avocado Egg Rolls

    Menu Description: "Crispy golden wontons wrap a tantalizing blend of avocados, cream cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, red onions, cilantro, pine nuts, chipotle peppers and spices. Served with a sweet tamarind sauce."

    Avocado egg rolls or spring rolls seem to be increasing in popularity as an appetizer at casual chains, but they are a bit more of a high maintenance menu item than, say, southwestern egg rolls, or other spring roll variations. Since avocados are quick to oxidize and turn brown, these rolls must be made and served within a 2 to 12-hour timeframe. Also, cooks must be careful not to over fry the egg rolls or the avocado inside will become too hot, turn brown, and taste pretty gross. So, if you're planning to serve these later in the day, make them in the morning and let them chill out in your fridge until it's time to fry them up. You can also make the tamarind sauce early in the day and park it in the fridge. You'll need a little tamarind paste for this sauce, which can be found at Whole Foods or specialty stores. If you don't want to clone the sauce as served in the restaurant, you can always use your favorite sweet and/or spicy bottled dipping sauces. Creamy southwestern-style dipping sauces are also awesome on these. 

    Try my BJ's avocado egg rolls copycat recipe below, and find of your favorite BJ's recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.
     

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Outback Steakhouse Victoria's Crowned Filet

    Tonight, don't settle for steaks that are served straight off the grill. Instead, blow everyone away when you serve up grilled beef tenderloin filets that have been "crowned" with buttery horseradish breadcrumbs. This presentation looks and tastes great, but the best part: it's really freakin' easy. The crust is prepared ahead of time by combining the ingredients and forming the mixture into crust "pucks" that are chilled until firm. Then, when the steaks come off the grill, you top each one with a crust, and broil until bubbling. Now, sit back and watch as your feeders flip when they take the first bite. That's right, tonight you rule.

    Try my Outback Steakhouse Victoria's Crowned Filet copycat recipe below, and check out more of my Outback recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.87 (votes: 15)
    LongHorn Steakhouse Prairie Dust

    Peruse a menu at one of the 270-unit LongHorn Steakhouses located throughout the eastern half of the U.S. and you'll find this seasoning blend on battered onion petals, spicy fried shrimp, pork chops, and steaks. 

    Combine eight common ingredients in the comfort of your home with my LongHorn Steakhouse Prairie Dust copycat recipe, and you'll have quickly cloned a versatile seasoned salt that can be added to everything that needs flavor, from steaks to chicken to seafood. It's also good sprinkled over eggs, burgers, even popcorn.

    Try my LongHorn Steakhouse Firecracker Chicken Wraps copycat recipe here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.14 (votes: 14)
    Max & Erma's Tortilla Soup

    After years of fielding requests to clone the delicious signature soup from this 100-unit chain, I was finally able to secure a couple carry-out samples from Max & Erma's at the Cleveland airport while I was there on a biz trip. Wrapped in a bundle of napkins and tucked into a carry-on bag, my samples arrived home in Vegas still warm and ready for analysis. 

    For my Max & Erma's Tortilla Soup recipe, you'll need some white and dark fillets of chicken and a half pound hunk of cheese to shred. It's all that Cheddar cheese that makes this tortilla soup so good. And you'll definitely want to shred your own, since the pre-shredded stuff—while also more expensive—just doesn't melt as well in the chicken broth as cheese that's been shredded just before it goes into the pot. 

    Update 2/8/17: This recipe may work better if you first make a sauce with the cheese before adding it to the soup. After step #2, combine 2 tablespoons of butter with 2 tablespoons of flour in a medium saucepan. Whisk in 1 cup of milk until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove it from the heat and stir in the cheese until it's melted. Keep the cheese sauce warm over low heat until you need it. Reduce the cornstarch to 1 tablespoon and dissolve it into the chicken broth in a large saucepan. Add the chicken, sautéed vegetables, and remaining ingredients for the soup (except the cheese sauce) and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in the cheese sauce and simmer the soup for another 10 minutes while you bounce to step #4.

    Find more of your favorite famous soup recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 10)
    T.G.I. Friday's Crispy Green Bean Fries

    Menu Description: "Crunchy and crisp battered green beans with a cool creamy Cucumber-Wasabi Ranch dip."

    T.G.I. Friday's new finger food offering might just make you forget about French fries. At least for a little while. Flavorful green beans are coated with tasty breadcrumbs, then fried to a golden brown, and served with a side of creamy wasabi dipping sauce. This item has quickly become the top seller on the chain's new appetizer menu, as Friday's becomes the first major casual restaurant to introduce a dish that has been popular for several years at upscale chains.

    Creating a home version isn't just a matter of breading and frying fresh green beans. My first attempts using a breading technique employed for perfect onion rings produced beautiful looking fried beans, but they were undercooked and had an overwhelming green bean flavor that was absent from the Friday's version. So, I had to figure out a good way to get the green bean-ness out of there. 

    After a few tests that included steaming, baking, and boiling, I finally settled on blanching the beans in a flavorful broth. The secret technique, which you'll find here in my T.G.I. Friday's Crispy Green Bean Fries recipe below, tenderizes the beans while injecting pleasant flavor that closely resembles the Friday's favorite.

    Click here for more T.G.I. Friday's copycat recipes.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 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: 4.39 (votes: 54)
    Maid-Rite Loose Meat Sandwich

    It's been an Iowa tradition since 1926, and today this sandwich has a huge cult following. It's similar to a traditional hamburger, but the ground beef is not formed into a patty. Instead, the lightly seasoned meat lies uncompressed on a white bun, dressed with mustard, minced onion, and dill pickles. Since the meat is loose, the sandwich is always served with a spoon for scooping up the ground beef that will inevitably fall out.

    When this clone recipe for Maid-Rite was originally posted on our website several years ago, it elicited more e-mail than any recipe in the site's history. Numerous Midwesterners were keyboard-ready to insist that the clone was far from accurate without the inclusion of a few bizarre ingredients, the most common of which was Coca-Cola. One letter states: "You evidently have not ever had a Maid-Rite. The secret to the Maid-Rite is coke syrup. Without it you cannot come close to the taste." Another e-mail reads: "Having lived in the Midwest all of my life and knowing not only the owners of a Maid-Rite restaurant but also many people who worked there, I can tell you that one of the things you left out of your recipe is Coca-Cola. Not a lot, just enough to keep the meat moist."

    On the flip side, I received comments such as this one from an Iowa fan who lived near Don Taylor's original Maid-Rite franchise: "The secret to the best Maid-Rite is the whole beef. Don had a butcher shop in his basement where he cut and ground all his beef. Some people still swear they added seasoning, but that is just not true. Not even pepper."

    Back in my lab, no matter how hard I examined the meat in the original product—which was shipped to me in dry ice directly from Don Taylor's original store in Marshalltown, Iowa—I could not detect Coca-Cola. There's no sweetness to the meat at all, although the buns themselves seem to include some sugar. When the buns are chewed with the meat, the sandwich does taste mildly sweet. I finally decided that Coca-Cola syrup is not part of the recipe. If it is added to the meat in the Maid-Rite stores, it's an insignificant amount that does not have any noticeable effect on the flavor.

    Also, the texture is important, so adding plenty of liquid to the simmering meat is crucial. My Maid Rite sandwich copycat recipe requires 1 cup of water in addition to 1/4 cup of beef broth. By simmering the ground beef in this liquid for a couple of hours, the meat will tenderize and become infused with a little flavor, just like the real thing.

    When the liquid is gone, form the ground beef into a 1/2 cup measuring scoop, dump it onto the bottom of a plain hamburger bun, then add your choice of mustard, onions, and pickles. Adding ketchup is up to you, although it's not an ingredient found in Maid-Rite stores. Many say that back in the early days "hobos" would swipe the ketchup and mix it with water to make tomato soup. Free ketchup was nixed from the restaurants way back then, and the custom has been in place ever since.

    Just think of all the famous sandwiches you can make at home. I've hacked the Popeye's Chicken Sandwich, McDonald's Big Mac, Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich, and many more. See if I've duplicated your favorite here.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked 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: 5.00 (votes: 6)
    Grand Marnier Liqueur

    In 1880s France, oranges were quite rare and exotic. When Louis Alexandre Marnier-Lopostolle traveled to the Caribbean in search of ingredients, he came back with bitter oranges to combine with his family's fine cognac. Other orange-flavored liqueurs such as triple sec and curacao are mixed with a neutral alcohol base. Grand Marnier took it to the next level with a more complex flavor that makes it today's top-selling French liqueur.

    Now you too can combine cognac with a real orange to make a home version of the tasty—and pricey—stuff. By using an inexpensive cognac that costs around 18 to 20 dollars a bottle, you can create a clone cousin of the real thing that normally sells for around 30 bucks a bottle. 

    All you need for my Grand Marnier Liqueur copycat recipe is cognac, some sugar, an orange, and a little patience.

    Try more of my copycat cocktail and liquor recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes: Sodas, Smoothies, Spirits & Shakes 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: 5.00 (votes: 14)
    Carrabba's Chicken Marsala

    Menu Description: "Fire-roasted chicken breast topped with mushrooms, prosciutto and our Florio Marsala wine sauce."

    To create my Carrabba's Chicken Marsala recipe, I ordered the dish to go, with the sauce on the side, so that I could separately analyze each component. After some trial and error in the underground lab, I found that re-creating the secret sauce from scratch is easy enough with a couple small cans of sliced mushrooms, a bit of prosciutto, some Marsala wine, shallots, garlic and a few other good things. 

    Cooking the chicken requires a very hot grill. The restaurant chain grills chicken breasts over a blazing real wood fire, so crank your grill up high enough to get the flames nipping at your cluckers (not a euphemism). If your grill has a lid, keep it open, so you can watch for nasty flare-ups.

    Click here for more of your favorite dishes from Carrabba's.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Benihana Japanese Onion Soup

    Menu Description: "It takes half a day to make this perfect combination of onion, celery, carrot and garlic."

    Before a skilled chef appears tableside to perform his culinary prestidigitation on the hot hibachi grill at Benihana, you're treated to a tasty bowl of chicken broth-based soup with fried onions, sliced mushrooms and green onions floating cheerfully on top. 

    The restaurant menu claims this soup takes a half a day to make, but we can make homemade Benihana Japanese Onion Soup it in a fraction of that time using canned chicken broth (I use Swanson brand). This soup works great as a prelude to your favorite Asian dishes or other Benihana clones since it's so light and won't fill up anyone before the main course. I've included a simple technique here for making the breaded fried onions from scratch (for the most accurate clone), but you can skip that step by substituting French's canned French Fried Onions that are sold in most markets.

    Try my Benihana Japanese Onion Soup recipe below, and complete the Benihana experience with more of my recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.16 (votes: 19)
    Panera Bread French Onion Soup

    The biggest difference I find with this copycat Panera french onion soup formula versus other onion soup recipes is the inclusion of a small, almost undetectable, bit of tomato sauce. But rather than opening up a whole can of tomato sauce to use just 1 tablespoon in this home kitchen copy, I found that a squirt of ketchup works perfectly. Panera Bread also makes their soup with just a bit of heat, so we'll add a little Tabasco pepper sauce to the pot to wake everything up. The croutons on top of the soup appear to be made from the chain's focaccia bread that has been buttered, cubed, and toasted until crispy, but you can use any bread you may have on hand. As for the cheese on top, the menu says it's Asiago-Parmesan, but the cheese I tasted was more Asiago than Parmesan, so you'll need to use only Asiago cheese (that's been shaved using a potato peeler) for a great clone.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.80 (votes: 5)
    Joe's Crab Shack Blue Crab Dip

    The number one appetizer on Joe's menu is called Blue Crab Dip, but you don't need blue crab to clone it. You don't even need to use fresh crab. For my Joe's Crab Shack Blue Crab Dip recipe below, I used some delicious lump crabmeat from Phillip's Seafood that comes in 16-ounce cans (you may find it at Costco, Sam's Club, Walmart, and Vons) and the dip turned out great. You could also use the crabmeat that comes in 6-ounce cans found at practically every supermarket—you'll need two of them. Just be sure to get the kind that includes leg meat, and don't forget to drain off the liquid before you toss it in.

    Try more of my Joe's Crab Shack copycat recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Top Secret Recipes Unlocked

    Out of stock. Available for purchase on Amazon.com.

    The original clone recipe king has done it again. For the last thirty years Todd Wilbur has been creating amazing culinary carbon copies of all your favorite brand-name foods using his special techniques.

    In Todd Wilbur's Top Secret Recipes Unlocked, his 9th cookbook, the Clone Ranger brings you over 100 new kitchen clones! Todd reveals key ingredients and the secret-yet-simple steps for duplicating famous foods from Starbucks, McDonald's, Panera Bread, Subway, Burger King, Mrs. Fields, Taco Bell, Orange Julius, Boston Market, Popeyes, Sonic Drive-In, KFC, and many more.

    Every recipe is created from scratch in Todd's top secret test kitchen, so you know you're getting the best original clone recipes on the planet!

    Limited Supply! Only available as part of a Hack Pack or Set of 10 of Todd Wilbur's best-selling cookbooks.

    Other books you may like: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3, and Top Secret Recipes Step-by-Step.

    Contents
    Arby's Horsey Sauce
    Baja Fresh Salsa Baja
    Bisquick Original All-Purpose Baking Mix
    Boston Market Butternut Squash
    Boston Market Garlic Dill New Potatoes
    Boston Market Sweet Potato Casserole
    Budweiser Chelada
    Burger King Onion Rings
    Burger King Zesty Onion Ring Dipping Sauce
    Carl's Jr. The Six Dollar Burger
    Carnegie Deli Classic New York City Cheesecake
    Chex Mix Bold Party Blend
    Chick-fil-A Honey Roasted BBQ Sauce
    Chick-fil-A Carrot & Raisin Salad
    Chipotle Mexican Grill Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette
    Chipotle Mexican Grill Barbacoa Burrito
    Cliff & Buster Coconut Macaroons
    Cocoa-Cole Blak
    Crunch 'N Munch Buttery Toffee Popcorn with Peanuts
    Dairy Queen MooLatte
    Del Taco Crispy Fish Taco
    Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Yellow Cake Mix
    Dunkin' Donuts Coffee Coolatta
    Einstein Bros. Bagels Santa Fe Egg Sandwich
    El Pollo Loco Avocado Salsa
    El Pollo Loco BBQ Baked Beans
    El Pollo Loco Creamy Cilantro Dressing
    Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookies
    Fritos Hot Bean Dip
    Hellman's/Best Foods Mayonnaise
    Hidden Valley The Original Ranch Dressing
    Jack in the Box Pumpkin Pie Shake
    Jacquin's Peppermint Schnapps
    Jason's Deli Creamy Liqueur Fruit Dipping  Sauce
    Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sausage--Regular
    Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sausage--Maple
    Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sausage--Hot
    KFC Cajun Honey Wings
    KFC  Chicken Pot Pie
    Kozy Shack Rice Pudding
    Kraft Miracle Whip
    Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Doughnuts
    Lawry's Red Pepper Seasoned Salt (made with Tabasco)
    Lipton Brisk Iced Tea
    Lipton Diet Green Tea with Citrus
    Lincoln Snacks Poppycock
    Maid-Rite Loose Meat Sandwich
    M&M/Mars Munch Bar
    Mauna Loa Kona Coffee Glazed Macadamias
    McDonald's Sweet Tea
    McDonald's Vanilla Iced Coffee
    McDonald's Cinnamon Melts
    McDonald's Fruit & Walnut Salad
    McDonald's Tangy Honey Mustard
    McDonald's Lobster Sandwich
    Mrs. Fields Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies
    Mrs. Fields Pumpkin Harvest Cookies
    No Pudge! Original Fat Free Fudge Brownie Mix
    Nuts 4 Nuts Candied Nuts
    Old Bay Seasoning
    Orange Julius Banana Julius
    Orange Julius Strawberry-Banana Classic Smoothie
    Pal's Sauceburger
    Panera Bread Broccoli Cheddar Soup
    Panera B read Cranberry Walnut Bagel
    Panera Bread French Onion Soup
    Panera Bread Spinach Artichoke Baked Egg Soufflé
    Pepperidge Farm Soft Baked Snickerdoodle Cookies
    Popeyes  Buttermilk Biscuits
    Popeyes Cajun Gravy
    Popeyes Cajun Sparkle
    Popeyes Red Beans and Rice --Improved
    Ragu Pasta Sauce--Meat
    Ragu Pasta Sauce--Tomato, Basil, and Italian Cheese
    Rondele Garlic & Herbs Cheese Spread
    Sabra Classic Hummus
    Skyline Chili
    Sonic Drive-In Peanut Butter Shake
    Sonic Drive-In Peanut Butter Fudge Shake
    Sonic Drive-In Strawberry Cheesecake Shake
    Sonic Drive-In Sonic Burger
    Sonic Drive-In Hickory Burger
    Sonic Drive-In Jalapeno Burger
    The Soup Nazi's Crab Bisque
    The Soup Nazi's Cream of Sweet Potato Soup
    The Soup Nazi's Indian Mulligatawny
    The Soup Nazi's Mexican Chicken Chili
    Spatini Spaghetti Sauce Mix
    Starbucks Caramel Macchiato
    Starbucks Frappuccino (Bottle Version)
    Starbucks Gingerbread Latte
    Starbucks Hot Chocolate
    Starbucks Mocha Coconut Frappuccino
    Starbucks Carrot Cake
    Starbucks Classic Coffee Cake
    Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bar
    Starbucks Lemon Loaf
    Starbucks Maple Oat Nut Scone
    Starbucks Peppermint Brownie
    Starbucks Pumpkin Bread
    Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin
    Starbucks Pumpkin Scone
    Starbucks Vanilla Almond Biscotti
    Stouffer's Macaroni & Cheese
    Subway Bourbon Street Glaze
    Subway Chipotle Southwest Sauce
    Subway Sweet Onion Sauce
    Taco Bell Baja Sauce
    Taco Bell Chicken Quesadilla
    Taco Bell Mild Border Sauce
    Wendy's Garden Sensations Mandarin Chicken Salad
    Wendy's Wild Mountain Bacon Cheeseburger
    Weight Watchers Smart Ones Banana Muffins
    Yonah Schimmel Low-Fat New York City Knish

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 2)
    Chipotle Chipotle-Honey Vinaigrette

    Steve Ellis used his Culinary Institute of America training to develop a simple menu for the first Chipotle Mexican Grill he opened in 1993 near the University of Denver. Today Chipotle has grown to more than 700 units, and the chain continues to serve a relatively limited selection (compared to other Mexican chains) of burritos, tacos, and salads that are made-to-order, with unprocessed and hormone-free ingredients. 

    Just as when ordering a burrito or taco, you get to choose the meat, beans, salsa, and cheese that will top your romaine lettuce salad. The finishing touch is an amazing house dressing that's made fresh every day. It's sweet, it's tangy, it's smoky, and it's packing some heat. It's also a quick recipe to duplicate with just a blender and a dozen common ingredients, including ground chipotle chile, which you can usually find near the ground cayenne. After you whip up my Chipotle Mexican Grill Chipotle-Honey Vinaigrette recipe below, let it chill out in the fridge for an hour or two. If you do, you'll have a perfect flavor match and enough dressing for at least 10 salads.

    Now, how about making Chipotle's famous barbacoa, carnitas, carne asada or pollo asado? Find all of those recipes and more here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.30 (votes: 23)
    Panera Bread Broccoli Cheddar Soup

    The easy-melting, individually-wrapped Kraft Cheddar Singles are the perfect secret ingredient to copy this cheesy broccoli cheddar soup served at this top soup stop. In my Panera Bread Broccoli Cheddar Soup copycat recipe, fresh broccoli is first steamed, then diced into little bits before you combine it with chicken broth, half-and-half, shredded carrot, and onion. Now you're just 30 minutes away from soup spoon go-time.

    Click here for more of my copycat Panera Bread recipes.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked 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 copycat recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.

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