May is both National Hamburger Month and National Barbecue Month. Never wanting to miss an opportunity to stir up a food turf war, I asked the staff: When hosting a backyard summer cookout, which is it: Hamburger? or Barbecue?
Eating healthy should still be delicious.
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Hamburgers took it home in an almost-clean sweep. (Only one person voted for BBQ.)
Editors even shared a few of their favorite recipes and toppings.
"Jalapeño cream cheese has a special place in my heart as a topping." -- Dréa Zacharenko, Designer
"I'm a burger guy from way back. I love grinding my own, from a mix of skirt and ribeye. They come out super juicy and flavorful. Once you grind your own burgers, you'll never go back to store-bought ground beef." -- Tim Cebula, Senior Food Editor
"Burgers, hands down. Tomato, onion, Dijon. Maybe some cheese, maybe not. But it has to be on a toasted bun. This is crucial. The burger is (hopefully) going to be juicy. Same for the tomato. You need a toasted bun to avoid a soggy mess." -- Phillip Rhodes, Executive Managing Editor
So which is preferred in your home: Hamburger or BBQ?
75 Easy Dinner Ideas Everyone in Your Family Will Devour
Just remember: Less time cooking means more time eating.
There's nothing we love more than saving new recipes in the hopes of churning out creative, exciting family meals. In reality, we tend to produce the same handful of meals recycled week after week. Ugh! If you're stuck in this type of cooking rut, check out these easy dinner ideas that home chefs of any cooking level can master with little to no fuss. With outside-the-box pasta recipes and delicious chicken dishes included, these dinners are guaranteed to make everyone at the table sing your praises.
Whether you're cooking for young, picky eaters or you're looking for some creative 30 minute meals, these dinner ideas cover a wide range of palates. If you're looking for recipes that are just as easy as they are imaginative, you definitely need shrimp and grits, crispy chicken Florentine, or turkey taco skillet in your life. There are also several dishes that you can put together quickly and leave to bake. For these, check out the chicken Alfredo stuffed shells or chicken enchiladas.
While you could always opt for Crock-Pot or Instant Pot recipes for easy dinner recipes, check out these ideas that are just as simple, but don't require any special kitchen gadgets. If you're really pressed on time, Ree Drummond's 16-minute meals are a great go-to!
Light brioche burger buns
Do you know what this is? This is It. This is the hamburger bun recipe I’d been obsessing, dreaming and fretting over when I had my Incident back in May, which was namely that I’d spent a ridiculous amount of time and ingredients fighting a no-good recipe with a decidedly average finish. Since then, my frustration has faded somewhat, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that perhaps they weren’t the end of the world, they just weren’t the thing I was looking for: they were more of a limp white bread bun — the kind so easily purchased at a store under any generic brand, it made little sense to eek them out at home — and I wanted something a little more moist and rich. I wanted something better, the kind of thing that you knew you weren’t going to get in any plastic bag.
In the six weeks since, I have waded through nearly 100 burger bun recipes, all submitted by you kind folks with promises that they’d be better. I saw white bread buns and challah buns and whole wheat sourdough buns and you-name-it buns and, gah, I barely knew where to begin. And then, just as I was halfway through the early steps of a totally different hamburger bun recipe that, if all goes well, will be a wonderful, unusual complement to these, I dropped that effort completely in the pursuit of the Light Brioche Buns run in the New York Times article this week on the elements of a perfect burger.
My hunch that they were onto something grand was duly rewarded. These buns are plush and mildly sweet and slightly buttery think of them as halfway between a high-quality white bread and a decadent brioche. When you pick them up, they feel heavy for their size and when you lightly toast their edges — a must, says both the New York Times and yours truly — before building your perfect burger dreams upon it, they sing. You’ll sing. Seriously, I had a Moment with these yesterday, part relief that the recipe I’d been looking for was indeed out there and — bonus! — not laden with an excess of steps or labor and part a deep sigh, because they’re splendid, and I can’t wait to give them a proper spin on the grill tomorrow. If they make it that long.
Previously: I’ve been posting up a storm this week, but promise to stop now. Check out the Watermelon Lemonade I’m drinking right this very second or an avalanche of July 4th slaw and sides ideas if you’re just catching up now.
Light Brioche Burger Buns
Adapted from Comme Ça restaurant in Los Angeles, via the New York Times
Go! Make these! What are you waiting for?
Makes 8 4 to 5-inch burger buns
3 tablespoons warm milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Sesame seeds (optional)
1. In a glass measuring cup, combine one cup warm water, the milk, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about five minutes. Meanwhile, beat one egg.
2. In a large bowl, whisk flours with salt. Add butter and rub into flour between your fingers, making crumbs. Using a dough scraper, stir in yeast mixture and beaten egg until a dough forms. Scrape dough onto clean, well-floured counter and knead, scooping dough up, slapping it on counter and turning it, until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. The dough will be on the sticky side so it can be a bit messy, but keep in mind that the more flour you knead in, the tougher the buns will get. Try to leave them tackier than you would a round loaf.
3. Shape dough into a ball and return it to bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, one to two hours. (In my freaky, warm apartment this only took an hour.)
4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using dough scraper, divide dough into 8 equal parts. Gently roll each into a ball and arrange two to three inches apart on baking sheet. Cover loosely with a piece of plastic wrap lightly coated in nonstick spray and let buns rise in a warm place for one to two hours. (Again, this only took one hour in my apartment and I suspect, you’ll also only need an hour for a second rise.)
5. Set a large shallow pan of water on oven floor. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in center. Beat remaining egg with one tablespoon water and brush some on top of buns. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using. Bake, turning sheet halfway through baking, until tops are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
I'm Todd Wilbur, Chronic Food Hacker
For 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.
Includes eight (8) 79¢ recipes of your choice each month!
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The talented chefs at Benihana cook food on hibachi grills with flair and charisma, treating the preparation like a tiny stage show. They juggle salt and pepper shakers, trim food with lightning speed, and flip the shrimp and mushrooms perfectly onto serving plates or into their tall chef's hat.
One of the side dishes that everyone seems to love is the fried rice. At Benihana this dish is prepared by chefs with precooked rice on open hibachi grills, and is ordered a la cart to complement any Benihana entree, including Hibachi Steak and Chicken. I like when the rice is thrown onto the hot hibachi grill and seems to come alive as it sizzles and dances around like a bunch of little jumping beans. Okay, so I'm easily amused.
This Benihana Japanese fried rice recipe will go well with just about any Japanese entree and can be partially prepared ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator until the rest of the meal is close to done.
Popeyes Famous Fried Chicken and Biscuits has become the third-largest quick-service chicken chain in the world in the twenty-two years since its first store opened in New Orleans in 1972. (KFC has the number-one slot, followed by Church's Chicken). Since then, the chain has grown to 813 units, with many of them overseas in Germany, Japan, Jamaica, Honduras, Guam, and Korea.
Cayenne pepper and white pepper bring the heat to this crispy fried chicken hack.
Did you like this recipe? Get your hands on my secret recipe for Popeyes Chicken Sandwich and other Popeyes dishes here.
Jerrico, Inc., the parent company for Long John Silver's Seafood Shoppes, got its start in 1929 as a six-stool hamburger stand called the White Tavern Shoppe. Jerrico was started by a man named Jerome Lederer, who watched Long John Silver's thirteen units dwindle in the shadow of World War II to just three units. Then, with determination, he began rebuilding. In 1946 Jerome launched a new restaurant called Jerry's and it was a booming success, with growth across the country. Then he took a chance on what would be his most successful venture in 1969, with the opening of the first Long John Silver's Fish 'n' Chips. The name was inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. In 1991 there were 1,450 Long John Silver Seafood Shoppes in thirty-seven states, Canada, and Singapore, with annual sales of more than $781 million. That means the company holds about 65 percent of the $1.2 billion quick-service seafood business.
Before he became America's sausage king, Jimmy Dean was known for crooning the country hit "Big Bad John." That song came out in 1962 and sold more than 8 million copies. His singing success launched a television career on ABC with The Jimmy Dean Show, where Roy Clark, Patsy Cline, and Roger Miller got their big breaks. The TV exposure led to acting roles for Jimmy, as a regular on Daniel Boone, and in feature films, including his debut in the James Bond flick Diamonds are Forever. Realizing that steady income from an acting and singing career can be undependable, Jimmy invested his show-biz money in a hog farm. In 1968 the Jimmy Dean Meat Company developed the special recipe for sausage that has now become a household name. Today the company is part of the Sara Lee Corporation, and Jimmy retired as company spokesman in 2004.
This clone recipe re-creates three varieties of the famous roll sausage that you form into patties and cook in a skillet. Use ground pork found at the supermarket—make it lean pork if you like—or grind some up yourself if you have a meat grinder.
Check out more of my famous breakfast food clone recipes here.
I never thought dinner rolls were something I could get excited about until I got my hand into the breadbasket at Texas Roadhouse. The rolls are fresh out of the oven and they hit the table when you do, so there’s no waiting to tear into a magnificently gooey sweet roll topped with soft cinnamon butter. The first bite you take will make you think of a fresh cinnamon roll, and then you can’t stop eating it. And when the first roll’s gone, you are powerless to resist grabbing for just one more. But it’s never just one more. It’s two or three more, plus a few extra to take home for tomorrow.
Discovering the secret to making rolls at home that taste as good as the real ones involved making numerous batches of dough, each one sweeter than the last (sweetened with sugar, not honey—I checked), until a very sticky batch, proofed for 2 hours, produced exactly what I was looking for. You can make the dough with a stand mixer or a handheld one, the only difference being that you must knead the dough by hand without a stand mixer. When working with the dough add a little bit of flour at a time to keep it from sticking, and just know that the dough will be less sticky and more workable after the first rise.
Roll the dough out and measure it as specified here, and after a final proofing and a quick bake—plus a generous brushing of butter on the tops—you will produce dinner rolls that look and taste just like the best rolls I’ve had at any famous American dinner chain.
Menu Description: "Here they are in all their lip-smacking, award-winning glory: Buffalo, New York-style chicken wings spun in your favorite signature sauce."
Since Buffalo, New York was too far away, Jim Disbrow and Scott Lowery satisfied their overwhelming craving in 1981 by opening a spicy chicken wing restaurant close to home in Kent, Ohio. With signature sauces and a festive atmosphere, the chain has now evolved from a college campus sports bar with wings to a family restaurant with over 300 units. While frying chicken wings is no real secret—simply drop them in hot shortening for about 10 minutes—the delicious spicy sauces make the wings special. There are 12 varieties of sauce available to coat your crispy chicken parts at the chain, and I'm presenting clones for the more traditional flavors. These sauces are very thick, almost like dressing or dip, so we'll use an emulsifying technique that will ensure a creamy final product where the oil won't separate from the other ingredients. Here is the chicken wing cooking and coating technique, followed by clones for the most popular sauces: Spicy Garlic, Medium and Hot. The sauce recipes might look the same at first, but each has slight variations make your sauce hotter or milder by adjusting the level of cayenne pepper. You can find Frank's pepper sauce by the other hot sauces in your market. If you can't find that brand, you can also use Crystal Louisiana hot sauce.
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 Chicken that’s breaded just once and pressure fried.
As with my KFC Original Recipe hack, 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 the 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 this hack in Even More Top Secret Recipes, but recently applied some newly acquired secrets and tips to make this much-improved version of one of the most familiar fried chicken recipes in the world.
This recipe 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).
In the early 90's Boston Chicken was rockin' it. The home meal replacement chain's stock was soaring and the lines were filled with hungry customers waiting to sink their teeth into a serving of the chain's delicious rotisserie chicken. So successful was the chain with chicken, that the company quickly decided it was time to introduce other entree selections, the first of which was a delicious barbecue sauce-covered ground sirloin meatloaf. But offering the other entrees presented the company with a dilemma: what to do about the name. The bigwigs decided it was time to change the name to Boston Market, to reflect a wider menu. That meant replacing signs on hundreds of units and retooling the marketing campaigns. That name change, plus rapid expansion of the chain and growth of other similar home-style meal concepts sent the company into a tailspin. By 1988, Boston Market's goose was cooked, and the company filed for bankruptcy. Soon McDonald's stepped in to purchase the company, with the idea of closing many of the stores for good, and slapping Golden Arches on the rest. But that plan was scrapped when, after selling many of the under-performing Boston Markets, the chain began to fly once again. Within a year of the acquisition Boston Market was profitable, and those meals with the home-cooked taste are still being served at over 700 Boston Market restaurants across the country.
How about some of those famous Boston Market side-dishes to go with your copycat meatloaf recipe? I've cloned all the best ones here.
El Pollo Loco, or "The Crazy Chicken," has been growing like mad since it crossed over the border into the United States from Mexico. Francisco Ochoa unknowingly started a food phenomenon internacional in 1975 when he took a family recipe for chicken marinade and opened a small roadside restaurante in Gusave, Mexico. He soon had 90 stores in 20 cities throughout Mexico. The first El Pollo Loco in the United States opened in Los Angeles in December 1980 and was an immediate success. It was only three years later that Ochoa got the attention of bigwigs at Dennys, Inc., who offered him $11.3 million for his U.S. operations. Ochoa took the deal, and El Pollo Loco grew from 17 to more than 200 outlets over the following decade.
Re-create the whole El Pollo Loco experience at home with my copycat recipes for avocado salsa, pinto beans, Spanish rice, and bbq black beans.
They're the world's most famous French fries, responsible for one-third of all U.S. French fry sales, and many say they're the best. These fried spud strips are so popular that Burger King even changed its own recipe to better compete with the secret formula from Mickey D's. One-quarter of all meals served today in American restaurants come with fries a fact that thrills restaurateurs since fries are the most profitable menu item in the food industry. Proper preparation steps were developed by McDonald's to minimize in-store preparation time, while producing a fry that is soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. This clone requires a two-step frying process to replicate the same qualities: the fries are par-fried, frozen, then fried once more to crispy just before serving. Be sure to use a slicer to cut the fries for a consistent thickness (1/4-inch is perfect) and for a cooking result that will make them just like the real thing. As for the rumor that you must soak the fries in sugar water to help them turn golden brown, I also found that not to be necessary. If the potatoes have properly developed they contain enough sugar on their own to make a good clone with great color.
Now, how about a Big Mac or Quarter Pounder to go with those fries? Click here for a list of all my McDonald's copycat recipes.
Nicknamed "Sliders" and "Gut Bombers," these famous tiny burgers were one of the earliest fast-food creations. It all started in 1921 when E.W. Ingram borrowed $700 to open a hamburger stand in Wichita, Kansas. Ingram chose the name White Castle because "white" signified purity and cleanliness, while "castle" represented strength. permanence, and stability. White Castle lived up to its name, maintaining that permanence and stability by growing steadily over the years to a total of 380 restaurants.
Ingram's inspiration was the development of steam-grilling, a unique process that helped the burgers retain moisture. The secret is grilling the meat over a small pile of onions that give off steam as they cook. Five holes in each mini-burger help to ensure that the meat is completely cooked without having to flip the patties. Today customers can buy these burgers "by the sack" at the outlets, or pick them up in the freezer section of most grocery stores, but hey, making them at home is fun!
Now, how about some fries and a milkshake to complete the meal.
One of the most protected, discussed, and sought-after secret recipes in the food world is KFC's Original Recipe Fried Chicken. Long ago I published my first hack of the famous formula, but the recipe, which was based on research from "Big Secrets" author William Poundstone, includes only salt, pepper, MSG, and flour in the breading, and not the blend of eleven herbs and spices we have all heard about. The fried chicken made with my first recipe is good in a pinch, but it really needs several more ingredients to be a true clone. That is why, over twenty years later, I was happy to get another crack at the secret when we shot the pilot episode for my CMT TV series Top Secret Recipe. In the show, I visited KFC headquarters, talked to friends of Harlan Sanders who had seen the actual recipe, and even checked out the Corbin, Kentucky, kitchen where Harland Sanders first developed his chicken recipe. During that four-day shoot I was able to gather enough clues about the secret eleven herbs and spices to craft this new recipe—one that I believe is the closest match to the Colonel's secret fried chicken that anyone has ever revealed.
I’m not sure when it happened, but it appears Taco Bell recently changed its seasoned beef recipe. I hacked the recipe several years ago for the book TSR Step-by-Step, and I recall the recipe had much more oat filler, so that’s how I cloned it. Taco Bell came under fire in 2011 for the significant amount of oats in the recipe that the chain was listing as “spices,” and after that, Taco Bell was more transparent about ingredients. But somewhere along the way it appears the company tweaked the recipe to include less filler and more flavor, so I decided I had to create a new Top Secret Recipe for the beef.
This recipe makes a duplicate of the beef currently served at Taco Bell. If you want to turn it into a Chalupa—which the restaurant makes by deep frying the flatbread used for Gorditas—the instructions are here. But you can also use this new, improved beef hack for anything you’re copying, whether it's tacos, burritos, Enchiritos, Mexican Pizzas, or a big pile of nachos.
The secret ingredient in our hack is Knorr tomato bouillon. This flavor powder adds many ingredients found in the original recipe and provides the umami savoriness that’s required for a spot-on clone of the famous seasoned ground beef. To get the right flavor, you need to find "Knorr Tomato Bouillon with Chicken Flavor" powder, in a jar. Not the bouillon cubes.
Smother your creation in mild, hot or diablo sauce. Try all my Taco Bell copycat recipes here.
Samuel Bath Thomas immigrated from England to New York City and opened his first bakery there in 1880. That is where Thomas created skillet bread that would one day become the famous muffins known for their craggy texture when split in half. This hack for Thomas’ English Muffins uses a special kneading process to give the muffins the "nooks and crannies" they are famous for, making craters in the finished bread to better hold on to melted butter and jam.
I have seen several recipes that claim to re-create these muffins, but none produce the large air pockets that a proper clone requires, in addition to great flavor and a perfectly cooked interior. To ensure proper nooks and crannies and muffins that are cooked all the way through, I've included some important steps.
The dough you'll make here is like a ciabatta dough in that it is very wet. So rather than kneading the dough, you stretch and fold it over several times on a well-oiled surface. Then, when the portioned-out dough has proofed on baking sheets for another 1½ to 2 hours, you par-bake the muffins.
After baking, the muffins are cooked on a griddle or in a pan until dark brown on both sides, then they must cool. This is the hardest part. The muffins will be too soft to open for at least four hours, and now you have to fight off the temptation to eat one. It’s hard, I know. The muffins smell great and you’ve waited all this time, but resist for now and your patience will be rewarded.
When the muffins have had their rest, split them with a fork and toast them as you would any English muffin.
Check out all my top secret recipes for famous bread here.
In early 1985, restaurateur Rich Komen felt there was a specialty niche in convenience-food service just waiting to be filled. His idea was to create an efficient outlet that could serve freshly made cinnamon rolls in shopping malls throughout the country. It took nine months for Komen and his staff to develop a cinnamon roll recipe he knew customers would consider the "freshest, gooiest, and most mouthwatering cinnamon roll ever tasted." The concept was tested for the first time in Seattle's Sea-Tac mall later that year, with workers mixing, proofing, rolling, and baking the rolls in full view of customers. Now, more than 626 outlets later, Cinnabon has become the fastest-growing cinnamon roll bakery in the world.
By sneaking around to the back of a HoneyBaked Ham store I witnessed the glazing process through an open door. The hams are delivered to each of the 300 HoneyBaked outlets already smoked, but without the glaze. It is only when the ham gets to your local HoneyBaked store that a special machine thin-slices the tender meat in a spiral fashion around the bone. Then, one at a time, each ham is then coated with the glaze—a blend that is similar to what might be used to make pumpkin pie. This sweet coating is then caramelized with a blowtorch by hand until the glaze bubbles and melts, turning golden brown. If needed, more of the coating is added, and the blowtorch is fired up until the glaze is just right. It's this careful process that turns the same size ham that costs 20 dollars in a supermarket into one that customers gladly shell out 3 to 4 times as much to share during the holiday season.
For this HoneyBaked Ham glaze copycat recipe, we will re-create the glaze that you can apply to a smoked/cooked bone-in ham of your choice. Look for a ham that is pre-sliced. Otherwise you'll have to slice it yourself with a sharp knife, then the glaze will be applied. To get the coating just right you must use a blowtorch. Get the kind that is used for creme brulee from almost any kitchen supply store. They're usually pretty cheap. And don't worry—I didn't leave out an ingredient. No honey is necessary to re-create this flavorful glaze.
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. Their confidential baked beans formula is considered one of the top 10 biggest recipe secrets in the U.S.
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 10 thousand cases in the first year to over 100 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 top food secret, despite Duke’s attempts. A replica of the original recipe book—without the original recipe in it (drat!)—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 soak them for more than 14 hours or the skins may begin to fall off.
My first versions tasted great but lacked the deep brown color of the real Bush’s beans, which include caramel coloring—an ingredient that can be hard to find on its own. I eventually discovered that the “browning” sauce, Kitchen Bouquet, will add the dark caramel color needed to our home version of the beans so that they’ll look just like the real thing.
This recipe was our #5 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), Olive Garden Braised Beef Bolognese (#3), Pizzeria Uno Chicago Deep Dish Pizza (#4).
“Don’t call them fries,” says KFC about its popular side made with sliced, skin-on russet potatoes. What sets these potatoes apart from all the others is the secret breading made with a similar seasoning blend to the one used for Colonel's Original Recipe Fried Chicken. To achieve the proper crispiness, the potatoes are par-fried, frozen, then fried again until golden brown.
One important ingredient that completes the flavor is MSG. Monosodium glutamate is a food additive derived from glutamic acid, which is an important amino acid found in abundance in nature, food, and in you right now. Over the last 60 years of study and use, MSG has not only been found harmless in normal amounts, but tests have shown glutamate to be a chemical messenger that benefits gut health, immunity, and brain functions such as memory and learning. In addition to all of that, it imparts a unique savoriness that enhances flavors in other ingredients and makes your food taste amazing. Using MSG in your food is, literally, smart cooking.
Another important ingredient is ground Tellicherry black pepper, a select black pepper from India. Winston Shelton, a friend of Harland Sanders who invented the first high-volume pressure fryers for KFC, confirmed this. Shelton recalled seeing the ingredient when Sanders showed him the secret formula for the fried chicken seasoning he had scribbled on a piece of paper.
While we were shooting the first episode of my TV Show, Top Secret Recipe, Winston pulled me aside and whispered to me that Tellicherry pepper is crucial to creating the unique KFC aftertaste. It was a great tip, and fortunately, we caught that moment on camera and you can see it in the show. Later, I conducted a side-by-side taste test with common black pepper and Tellicherry black pepper and discovered Winston was right. If you want the best taste for your clone you'll need Tellicherry pepper, which you can find online and in some food stores. Be sure to grind it fine before using it.
For this recipe, just two russet potatoes are all it takes to make the equivalent of a large serving of fried potato wedges, which will be enough for at least four people.
Get more of my KFC copycat recipes here.
A good chicken pot pie has perfectly flakey crust and the right ratio of light and dark meat chicken and vegetables swimming in a deliciously creamy white sauce. KFC serves up a pie that totally fits the bill, and now I'm going to show you how to make the same thing at home from scratch. You'll want to start this recipe a couple hours before you plan to bake the pies, since the dough for the crust should chill awhile and the chicken needs to soak in the brine. When it comes time for baking, use small pie tins, ramekins, or Pyrex baking dishes (custard dishes) that hold 1 1/2 cups. The recipe will then yield exactly 4 pot pies. If your baking dishes are smaller, there should still be enough dough here to make crust for up to 6 pot pies. And don't forget to brush egg whites over the top of the pies before you pop them into the oven to get the same shiny crust as the original.
Menu Description: "Nearly world-famous. Often imitated, hardly ever duplicated."
"Hooters is to chicken wings what McDonald's is to hamburgers," claims promotional material from the company. True, the six fun-loving Midwestern businessmen who started Hooters in Clearwater, Florida, on April Fool's Day in 1983 chose a classic recipe for chicken wings as their signature item. But while some might say it's the buffalo wings that are their favorite feature of the restaurant, others say it's the restaurant chain's trademark Hooters girls—waitresses casually attired in bright orange short-shorts and skin tight T-shirts.
Today there are over 375 Hooters across the United States serving more than 200 tons of chicken wings every week. The original dish can be ordered in 10-, 20-, or 50-piece servings or if you want to splurge, there's the "Gourmet Chicken Wing Dinner" featuring 20 wings and a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne, for only $125. To further enhance the Hooters experience when you serve these messy wings, throw a whole roll of paper towels on the table, rather than napkins, as they do in the restaurants.
The real version of this chili sauce comes to each Wienerschnitzel unit as concentrated brown goo in big 6-pound, 12-ounce cans. After adding 64 ounces of water and 15 chopped hamburger patties the stuff is transformed into the familiar thick and spicy chili sauce dolloped over hot dogs and French fries at America's largest hot dog chain. The proper proportion of spices, tomato paste, and meat is crucial but the real challenge in hacking this recipe is finding a common grocery store equivalent for modified food starch that's used in the real chili sauce as a thickener. After a couple days in the underground lab with Starbucks lattes on intravenous drip, I came out, squinting at the bright sunshine, with a solution to the chili conundrum. This secret combination of cornstarch and Wondra flour and plenty of salt and chili powder makes a chili sauce that says nothing but "Wienerschnitzel" all over it.
For many years this entree 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 portobello mushrooms—but a home version of the signature dish is only seven 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 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.
This recipe will make two servings of the dish 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.
Getting a table at the 123-year-old original Rao’s restaurant in New York City is next to impossible. The tables are “owned” by regulars who schedule their meals months in advance, so every table is full every night, and that’s the way it’s been for the last 38 years. The only way an outsider would get to taste the restaurant’s fresh marinara sauce is to be invited by a regular.
If that isn’t in the stars for you, you could buy a bottle of the sauce at your local market (if they even have it). It won't be fresh, and it's likely to be the most expensive sauce in the store, but it still has that great Rao's taste. An even better solution is to copy the sauce for yourself using this new and very easy hack.
The current co-owner of Rao’s, Frank Pellegrino Jr., told Bon Appetit in 2015 that the famous marinara sauce was created by his grandmother many years ago, and the sauce you buy in stores is the same recipe served in his restaurants. The ingredients are common, but correctly choosing the main ingredient—tomatoes—is important. Try to find San Marzano-style whole canned tomatoes, preferably from Italy. They are a little more expensive than typical canned tomatoes, but they will give you some great sauce.
After 30 minutes of cooking, you’ll end up with about the same amount of sauce as in a large jar of the real thing. Your version will likely be just a little bit brighter and better than the bottled stuff, thanks to the fresh ingredients. But now you can eat it anytime you want, with no reservations, at a table you own.
You might also like my #1 recipe of 2019, Texas Roadhouse Rolls.
A requirement of any visit to Chicago is eating at least one slice of deep dish pizza in the city that perfected it. Deep dish pizza quickly became a Chicago staple after Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo opened the first Pizzeria Uno in 1943 and served a hearty new style of pizza constructed in a high-rimmed cake pan. The yeast crust was tender and flakey, like a pastry, and the cheese was layered under the sauce so that it wouldn’t burn in a hot oven for the long cooking time.
While researching a home hack of this now-iconic recipe, I discovered an unexpected technique that I hadn’t seen in other deep dish recipes. Employees told me the pizza crusts are partially cooked each morning to cut down on the wait time for customers. Before the restaurant opens each day, cooks press the dough into a pan and then sprinkle it with a little shredded cheese. The shells are then partially baked and set aside. Later, when an order comes in, the pizza is built into one of the par-baked crusts and finished off. This way customers get their food faster, and the tables turn over quicker.
Copying that delicious, flakey crust was the task that took me the longest. After two weeks of baking, I finally settled on a formula that was a mash-up of yeast dough and pie crust and made a perfectly tender deep dish crust, with great flavor that exactly mimicked the original. If you like Uno, you will love this.
Regarding the cheese: be sure your cheese is at room temperature, not cold, or it may not melt all the way through. Also, it’s best if you buy cheese by the block and shred it yourself. Pre-shredded cheese is dusted with cornstarch so that the shreds don’t stick together in the bag, and it won’t melt as smoothly as cheese you shred by hand.
This recipe will make enough sauce for two pizzas. I just thought you should know that in case you get the urge to make another deep dish after this one disappears.
This recipe was our #4 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), Olive Garden Braised Beef Bolognese (#3), Bush's Country Style Baked Beans (#5).
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 I 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 churn in a home ice cream maker until thick and creamy, and it now tastes just like the real thing.
Unlike my previous recipe, which relied on premade 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.
You've got a hankerin' for pancakes or biscuits, but the recipe calls for Bisquick, and you're plum out. Not to worry. Now you can make a clone of the popular baking mix at home with just four simple ingredients. Store-bought Bisquick includes shortening, salt, flour, and leavening, so that's exactly what we need to duplicate it perfectly at home. This recipe makes about 6 cups of the stuff, which, just like the real thing, you can keep sealed up in a container in your pantry until it's flapjack time. When that time comes, just add milk and eggs for pancakes or waffles, or only milk if it's biscuits you want. You'll find all those recipes below in the "Tidbits."
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.
A recipe for Portuguese sweet bread inspired the soft rolls that became a big hit at Robert Tiara's Bakery & Restaurant in Honolulu, Hawaii in the 1950s. It wasn’t long before Robert changed the name of his thriving business to King’s Hawaiian, and in 1977 the company opened its first bakery on the mainland, in Torrance, California, to make the now-famous island sweet rolls sold in stores across the U.S.
King’s Hawaiian Rolls are similar to Texas Roadhouse Rolls in that they are both pillowy, sweet white rolls, so it made sense to dig out my Texas Roadhouse Rolls clone recipe and use it as a starting point. These new rolls had to be slightly softer and sweeter, so I made some adjustments and added a little egg for color. And by baking the dough in a high-rimmed baking pan with 24 dough balls placed snugly together, I ended up with beautiful rolls that rose nicely to the occasion, forming a tear-apart loaf just like the original, but with clean ingredients, and without the dough conditioners found in the packaged rolls.
Use these fluffy sweet rolls for sandwiches, sliders, or simply warmed up and slathered with soft European butter.
This recipe was our #3 most popular in 2020. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes for the year: Rao's Homemade Marinara Sauce (#1), Olive Garden Lasagna Classico (#2), Pei Wei Better Orange Chicken (#4), Chipotle Mexican Grill Carnitas (#5).
A popular staple of any Chinese chain is the fried rice so it better be good, and the version served at Panda Express most certainly is. Here's an easy hack 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.
Now, how about some Honey Walnut Shrimp, or Beijing Beef to go with that rice? Find all my Panda Express copycat recipes here.
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.
You've got the soup recipe, how about creating your own bottomless Olive Garden House Salad and Breadsticks? Find more of my Olive Garden clone recipes here!
This clone recipe may be for the whole hamburger, but anybody who knows about Tommy's goes there because they love the chili that's on the burger—and that's the part of this clone they seek. Turns out it's an old chili con carne recipe created back in 1946 by Tommy's founder, Tommy Koulax, for his first hamburger stand on the corner of Beverly and Rampart Boulevards in Los Angeles. By adding the right combination of water and flour and broth and spices to the meat we can create a thick, tomato-less chili sauce worthy of the gajillions of southern California college students that make late-night Tommy's runs a four-year habit. And if you don't live near one of the two dozen Tommy's outlets, you can still get a gallon of Tommy's famous chili shipped to you. But I hope you really like the stuff, because you'll shell out around 70 bucks for the dry ice packaging and overnight shipping. And don't expect to see the ingredients on the label (drat!) since the chili comes packed in a gallon-size mustard jug.
What is it about Stouffer's Macaroni & Cheese that makes it the number one choice for true mac & cheese maniacs? It's probably the simple recipe that includes wholesome ingredients like skim milk and real Cheddar cheese, without any preservatives or unpronounceable chemicals. The basic Stouffer's Mac and Cheese ingredients are great for kitchen cloners who want an easy fix that doesn't require much shopping. I found the recipe to work best as an exact duplicate of the actual product: a frozen dish that you heat up later in the oven. This way you'll get slightly browned macaroni & cheese that looks like it posed for the nicely lit photo on the Stouffer's box. Since you'll only need about 3/4 cup of uncooked elbow macaroni for each recipe, you can make several 4-person servings with just one 16-ounce box of macaroni, and then keep them all in the freezer until the days when your troops have their mac & cheese attacks. Be sure to use freshly shredded Cheddar cheese here, since it melts much better than pre-shredded cheese (and it's cheaper). Use a whisk to stir the sauce often as it thickens, so that you get a smooth—not lumpy or grainy—finished product.
If you're still hungry, check out my copycat recipes for famous entrées here.
It may not be listed on the menu, but this is Applebee's most ladled soup each and every day. Just be sure you have some oven-safe soup bowls on hand before you jump into this clone, since you're going to pop the dish under the broiler to brown and melt the cheese on top. Under the gooey melted provolone of the original version you get from Applebee's is a unique round crouton that's made from bread that looks like a hamburger bun. So that's what we'll use for our clone. The round shape of the bread is perfect for topping this Applebee's French onion soup recipe.
To copy Taco Bell's most famous burrito at home you first must assemble the meaty foundation of many of the chain's top-selling products: the spiced ground beef. Toss it and seven other tasty ingredients into a large flour tortilla and fold using the same technique as taught to new recruits to the chain. Add your favorite hot sauce for a bit of heat, or clone a Taco Bell hot sauce, such as the Taco Bell Fire Border Sauce with the clone recipe here.
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 clone 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.
Several puzzles had to be solved to make this burger a satisfying hack of the signature sandwich from the rapidly expanding New York chain. First, our burger must include a spot-on facsimile of the secret ShackSauce. I got a sample of the sauce from one of our Las Vegas Shake Shacks and determined the seven common ingredients, including pickle juice, to combine for a great clone.
Second, the burger must be made with a special ground mix of four different cuts of beef and the patties need to be cooked the right way. I tested many combinations of meat until I landed on a flavorful blend of chuck, brisket, skirt steak, and short ribs. If you don't have a meat grinder at home, you can have your butcher grind these for you. At the restaurant, the ground beef blend is formed into ¼-pound pucks that are smashed onto the grill with a metal press. Grab a strong spatula and heat up a heavy skillet.
And third, you'll need some soft, buttered and toasted potato buns to hold it all together. Shake Shack uses Martin's rolls, which are not cut all the way through, allowing the buns to be hinged open for loading. If you can’t find Martin’s, any soft potato rolls will do.
Use these secrets and follow the easy steps below and soon you’ll be biting into a perfect re-creation of the famous cheeseburger that helped this chain grow from a single food cart in New York City to over 162 stores.
Menu Description: "Made from scratch in our kitchens using fresh Grade A Fancy Russet potatoes, fresh chopped onion, natural Colby cheese and spices. Baked fresh all day long."
In the late sixties Dan Evins was a Shell Oil "jobber" looking for a new way to market gasoline. He wanted to create a special place that would arouse curiosity, and would pull travelers off the highways. In 1969 he opened the first Cracker Barrel just off Interstate 40 in Lebanon, Tennessee, offering gas, country-style food, and a selection of antiques for sale. Today there are over 529 stores in 41 states, with each restaurant still designed as a country rest stop and gift store. In fact, those stores which carry an average of 4,500 different items apiece have made Cracker Barrel the largest retailer of American-made finished crafts in the United States.
Those who know Cracker Barrel love the restaurant for its delicious home-style breakfasts. This casserole, made with hash brown-sliced potatoes, Colby cheese, milk, beef broth, and spices is served with many of the classic breakfast dishes at the restaurant. The recipe here is designed for a skillet that is also safe to put in the oven (so no plastic handles). If you don't have one of those, you can easily transfer the casserole to a baking dish after it is done cooking on the stove.
Love Cracker Barrel? Check out my other clone recipes here.
Menu Description: "Spicy, shredded beef, braised with our own chipotle adobo, cumin, cloves, garlic and oregano."
The original Mexican dish barbacoa was traditionally prepared by cooking almost any kind of meat goat, fish, chicken, or cow cheek meat, to name just a few, in a pit covered with leaves over low heat for many hours, until tender. When the dish made its way into the United States via Texas the word transformed into "barbecue" and the preparation changed to incorporate above-ground techniques such as smoking and grilling. The good news is that we can recreate the beef barbacoa that Chipotle has made popular on its ginormous burritos without digging any holes in our backyard or tracking down a local source for fresh cow faces. After braising about 30 pounds of chuck roasts, I finally discovered the perfect Chipotle Mexican Grill barbacoa burrito copycat recipe with a taste-alike adobo sauce that fills your roast with flavor as it slowly cooks to a fork-tender delicacy on your stovetop over 5 to 6 hours. Part of the secret for great adobo sauce is toasting whole cumin seeds and cloves and then grinding them in a coffee grinder (measure the spices after grinding them). Since the braising process takes so long, start early in the day and get ready for a big dinner, because I've also included clones here for Chipotle's pico de gallo, pinto beans, and delicious cilantro-lime rice to make your burritos complete. You can add your choice of cheese, plus guacamole and sour cream for a super-deluxe clone version. If you prefer chicken burritos, head on over to my clone recipe for Qdoba Grilled Adobo Chicken.
Menu Description: "Our famous Original cheesecake recipe! Creamy and light, baked in a graham cracker crust. Our most popular cheesecake!"
Oscar and Evelyn Overton's wholesale cheesecake company was successful quickly after it first started selling creamy cheesecakes like this clone to restaurant chains in the early 1970's. When some restaurants balked at the prices the company was charging for high-end desserts, Oscar and Evelyn's son David decided it was time to open his own restaurant, offering a wide variety of quality meal choices in huge portions, and, of course, the famous cheesecakes for dessert. Today the chain has over 87 stores across the country, and consistently ranks number one on the list of highest grossing single stores for a U.S. restaurant chain.
Baking your cheesecakes in a water bath is part of the secret to producing beautiful cheesecakes at home with a texture similar to those sold in the restaurant. The water surrounds your cheesecake to keep it moist as it cooks, and the moisture helps prevent ugly cracking. You'll start the oven very hot for just a short time, then crank it down to finish. I also suggest lining your cheesecake pan with parchment paper to help get the thing out of the pan when it's done without a hassle.
This recipe is so easy, even a 2-year old can make it. Check out the video.
More amazing Cheesecake Factory copycat recipes here.
Menu Description: "Chicken breast tenderloins sauteed with bell peppers, roasted garlic and onions in a garlic cream sauce over angel hair."
This dish is a big favorite of Olive Garden regulars. Chicken tenderloins are lightly breaded and sauteed along with colorful bell peppers and chopped red onion. Angel hair pasta is tossed into the pan along with a healthy dose of fresh scampi sauce. The sauce is really the star, so you might think about doubling the recipe. If you're cooking for two, you can prepare this dish for the table in one large skillet, saving the remaining ingredients for another meal. If you're making all four servings at once, you need two skillets. If you can't find fresh chicken tenderloins (the tender part of the chicken breast), you can usually find bags of them in the freezer section.
Find more delicious recipes for Olive Garden's most famous dishes here.
Menu Description: "Our award-winning Baby Back Ribs are slow-roasted, then basted with Jim Beam Bourbon BBQ Sauce and finished on our Mesquite grill."
When your crew bites into these baby backs they'll savor meat so tender and juicy that it slides right off the bone. The slow braising cooks the ribs to perfection, while the quick grilling adds the finishing char and smoky flavor. But the most important component to any decent rack of ribs is a sauce that's filled with flavor, and this version of Roadhouse Grill's award-wining sauce is good stuff. I ordered the ribs naked (without sauce) so that I could see if there was any detectable rub added before cooking and I didn't find anything other than salt and a lot of coarse black pepper. So that's the way I designed the recipe, and it works.
Now, how about a copycat Roadhouse Grill Roadhouse Rita to wash down those ribs.
Here’s a hack that might help when you feel like doing something special with those steaks in the fridge. Or maybe you have salmon fillets in there? Doesn’t matter, this recipe works great on both. And it also makes a great pasta sauce.
The secret Toowoomba sauce is a variation on alfredo sauce that Outback served over pasta at one time. These days the sauce is only used to top steak and salmon at the restaurant, but you can also use it on just about any type of pasta.
In my early batches of the sauce, I noticed that if the shrimp are added at the beginning they get too tough. To solve that problem, I sautéed the seasoned shrimp separately, then added them closer to the end, and they came out perfect.
Spoon this clone of the Toowoomba sauce over grilled tenderloin filets (or salmon filets) for an easy way to elevate your entrée. This recipe will make enough for four servings.
If you love Outback Steakhouse, check out my other clone recipes here.
This 220-unit downscaled version of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro targets the lunch crowd with a smaller menu that features bento boxes, bowls, and small plates. The bestseller on the menu is this orange chicken, which I have to say is pretty damn good orange chicken. Obviously, a clone is needed for this one, stat.
The name “Wei Better Orange Chicken” is a competitive callout to Panda Express's signature orange chicken, which is made with pre-breaded and frozen chicken. Pei Wei claims its orange chicken is prepared each day from scratch with chicken that is never frozen, so we’ll craft our clone the same way. But rather than assemble the dish in a wok over a high-flame fast stove like they do at the restaurant, we’ll prepare the sauce and chicken separately, then toss them with fresh orange wedges just before serving.
By the way, this dish goes very well with white or brown rice, so don’t forget to make some.
This delicious crispy chicken in a citrusy sweet-and-sour chicken is the most popular dish at the huge Chinese take-out chain. Panda Express cooks all of its food in woks. If you don't have one of those, you can use a heavy skillet or a large saute pan.
In the Summer of 2020, to the dismay of many fans, KFC stopped selling the famous potato wedges that had been on the menu for decades and replaced them with battered French fries.
Like the wedges, these fries are coated with a flavorful batter, but the seasoning used on the fries is a different blend than what was used on the wedges. Are these new fries better than the classic wedges? That depends. Some may prefer the rare treat of fast food skin-on wedges, while others may prefer the crispiness of these new fries. Some don’t care and just want a clone, so here you go.
The hack here is simplified by using par-fried French fries found in the freezer section of your store. After coating the fries with this clone of the seasoned breading, spray them with water, then fry them for 3 to 4 minutes. That’s it. Be sure to have a clean squirt bottle filled with water to transform the breading into a thin batter giving your finished product the same crispy coating as the original.
KFC’s new fries are coated with a blend that includes onion, celery, and carrot powder. It’s easy to find onion powder in most supermarkets, but I had to go online to find celery and carrot juice powders. The blend of vegetable powders adds great flavor, but if you want to omit the celery and carrot powders and just use onion powder, the recipe will still make delicious copycat fries.
Click here for my KFC Original Chicken recipe or search for your favorites here.
One hot summer day in 1946 Dave Barham was inspired to dip a hot dog into his mother's cornbread batter, then deep fry it to a golden brown. Dave soon found a quaint Santa Monica, California location near the beach to sell his new creation with mustard on the side and a tall glass of ice-cold lemonade. Be sure you find the shorter turkey hot dogs, not "bun-length". In this case, size does matter. Snag some of the disposable wood chopsticks from a local Chinese or Japanese restaurant next time you're there and start dipping.
Now, how about a tall glass of Hot Dog On A Stick Lemonade?
Update 5/3/17: If your hot dogs are browning too fast, turn the temperature of the oil down to 350 degrees. And rather than using chopsticks, thick round skewer sticks (corn dog skewers) found in houseware stores and online will work much better.
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 clone 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.
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. This clone 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 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.
Best Gluten-Free Hamburger Roll Recipes, Plus Hot Dog Roll and Sandwich Roll Recipes
Focaccia Rolls from The Gluten & Dairy Free Bakehouse(because this site is no longer active, I have linked to the recipe via the Wayback Machine internet archive)
gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free, vegetarian
Kylie shares her son’s endorsement of these rolls as well as her description:
“Ethan loves these rolls! They’re sturdy without being crumbly and are soft and moist. The sprinkling of sea salt and Italian herbs on top gives a great burst of flavour too. As Ethan is always hungry (like every teenage boy), I’ve made them a decent size so that he can fit as many fillings as he likes in there!”
Focaccia Rolls from The Gluten & Dairy Free Bakehouse
gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, with refined sugar-free option
These “whole wheat-like” buns were born out of Jeanine’s sudden desire to eat a Sloppy Joe on a bun. She said that being able to top her bun with the “messy, beefy mixture” was “grand”! She uses deep dish mini pot pie pans . By the way, Jeanine is also the author of the excellent resource/cookbook The Everything Guide to Living Gluten Free .
- “WOW! These are awesome. I only made a single recipe as you never know about GF recipes, but I will double it in the future. They refrigerate and freeze well. Toasted or not, you can’t lose.”
- “Oh joy, oh joy, oh joy these were GOOD. My husband who was at work while I baked them, couldn’t believe that they were: A. gluten free B. this good C. homemade”
Gluten-Free Hamburger Buns
gluten free, vegetarian, with dairy-free option
Angela says of her recipe (shown as hot dog buns): “You can shape them any way you would like, of course, so they are perfect for gluten free hamburgers, BLT’s or chicken sandwiches.”
Gluten-Free Hot Dog Buns from Angela’s Kitchen
Gluten-Free Hamburger and Gluten-Free Hot Dog Buns from Let Them Eat Gluten-Free Cake
Gluten-Free Hamburger Buns from Gluten-Free Gobsmacked
Kate says: “These are great buns and are still tender the next couple days. They are firm enough to split and toast on the grill too. Now that’s what I call a BUN!” She uses muffin rings to make her buns. But as she notes, cleaned and washed tuna cans with the top and bottom lids removed also work great. Just be very careful with those cut edges!
Hamburger Buns from Gluten-Free Gobsmacked
gluten free, with dairy-free options
Celeste states that she’s sharing a “gluten free hamburger bun that is soft, fluffy, and won’t fall apart. It’s also incredibly easy to make and I’ll walk you through every step with pictures.”
Gluten-Free Hamburger Buns from Life After Wheat
Gluten-Free Hamburger Buns from Skinny GF Chef
gluten free, vegetarian, with refined sugar-free option
Ali says: “Life is so much better when you have gluten-free hamburger buns and these come out great every time!”
- “In 6 years of being gluten free, I have never made a bun that I could take out the next day, eat it without warming it up, and have it taste just as fresh as the day before. This is a fantastic recipe that I will be sharing with many people. THANK YOU!”
- “Thank you Ali for this amazing recipe. I have been eating GF for 4 months now and I have tried many different bread and biscuit recipes and none of them have even come close to resembling regular bread. I decided to try your recipe for our hamburgers tonight and the buns came out perfect and tasted even better than regular store bought buns. You have restored my faith that I can still enjoy bread and eat GF. I can’t thank you enough. I will be making these buns regularly.”
Gluten-Free Hamburger Buns from Skinny GF Chef
Gluten-Free Hot Dog or Hamburger Buns from Faithfully Gluten Free
gluten free, refined sugar free, vegetarian
Gluten-Free Hamburger Buns
gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free, vegetarian
Megan says: “These buns are best when used the day you make them, but they are still good the following day too. The day after baking they are still soft, not rock hard like some gluten free bread recipes.” She makes her own molds by forming aluminum foil around small bowls that she has on hand. One of her readers had success letting the buns rise in the muffin tin and then dumping them out onto a greased cookie sheet before baking.
- “These are the best buns I have ever made in the last 6 years my husband has had Celiac. I have tried lots of gluten free breads and this is the best ever. My husband said they were excellent. Thank you so much. This is a real keeper.”
- “Phenomenal! My boyfriend who is not gluten free (by choice anyway, he still eats my cooking) loved them too.”
Gluten-Free Hamburger Buns from Allergy Free Alaska
gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian
Linda says: “This bread is easy to bake, it tastes good, and it is moist.” She uses English Muffin rings plus homemade aluminum foil rings because she always makes more buns than she has rings. Check out Linda’s ebook, How to Be Gluten Free: 10 Steps to a Gluten-Free Life . Whether you’re new to gluten-free living or a veteran, it offers terrific guidance.
- “I made these yesterday after work and they turned out delicious.”
- “I have made these 4 times now and am making them again today. This has become our daily bread. These are good for everything I have found. We have enjoyed them for burgers, sandwiches, and even toasted at breakfast with some jam. It is just a really good bread in general.”
Jeanne says you can use a hamburger bun pan (which is not always called a hamburger bun pan), a large muffin top pan , or English muffin rings. Jeanne is also the author of the acclaimed cookbooks Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays and Gluten-Free Wish List . It’s really great for using all year long. Why relegate such delicious treats to the holidays only?
- “I’ve never made bread…Ever. This was the first time and they came out perfect! Soft, tasty and like regular bread. Now I feel like I’m not missing out…Yay! The only thing I did differently was using Jules gluten free flour.”
- “I made the burger buns today and they were amazing.”
Gluten-Free Hamburger Bun from Art of Gluten-Free Baking
gluten free, with dairy-free, vegan options
Jules says: “If you think great-tasting, easy-to-make, gluten-free hamburger and hot dog buns are impossible, prepare to be surprised! You can make them any size or shape you want, really. From Kaiser Roll size to sliders — when you make ‘em yourself, you can make ‘em just the way you want!” The key ingredient is gluten-free ale or non-alcoholic sparkling water, ginger ale, or club soda. One reader used hard cider. Jules’ latest book is Free for All Cooking and she also was responsible for the Gluten-Free Baking chapter of renowned celiac expert Dr. Alessio Fasano’s book, Gluten Freedom.
- “I tried the light and airy buns today. There were 4 gluten-free people here and they loved them and thought the name was appropriate. So much better than the dense commercial buns.”
- “Jules, this recipe is great using Woodchuck Hard Cider (which is gluten free) instead of the beer/ginger ale! You should have smelled my kitchen while these baked. I went with the flax seed alternative over egg again.”
Hamburger Buns from GF Jules
Pete and Kelli say: “We landed on a recipe that yields a moist roll with great crumb, and that doesn’t fall apart as you eat it. And in our opinion it’s the perfect amount of bread to hold your burger—we hate when a bun is so big that you feel like you’re chewing on a bakery and can’t find the burger and fixin’s buried in there somewhere.” They used a hamburger bun pan . See reader reviews for an alternative to using a pan—i.e., the “canning ring hack.” By the way, you’ll want to check out Pete and Kelli’s latest cookbook, Gluten-Free Family Favorites: The 75 Go-To Recipes You Need to Feed Kids and Adults All Day, Every Day !
- “This is my 2nd batch of these, we really like them. We use them for sandwiches. I didn’t have a pan to cook them in so did some googling and found a post where a lady took wide mouth canning jar rings and laid them on a baking sheet with parchment paper spray with cooking spray and put the dough in the rings … they turn out perfect.”
- “I made these the other day and was very impressed! You are spot on about them being the perfect amount of bread. I was a bit skeptical when I saw the picture–they seemed thin–but I was proved wrong. Love how they hold up with some messier sandwiches. Also, I liked how they defrosted and tasted after the first day. Another winner! I also used the canning ring hack. Worked perfectly.”
Hamburger Potato Rolls from No Gluten, No Problem
gluten free, vegetarian, with dairy-free option
Celeste says that she tweaked her “hamburger bun recipe slightly to make a light and fluffy hot dog bun that holds together through the last bite.”
Gluten-Free Hot Dog Rolls from Life After Wheat
gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian
Lynn says she uses this same recipe for Hamburger Buns. For hamburger buns, you scoop out a larger amount of dough, of course, and you might have to bake them slightly longer than directed. Note that Lynn is also the author of The Gluten-Free Baking Mix Cookbook , which many have found to be a great gluten-free cookbook.
- “OMGOSH. Thank YOU. I made these last night for the family and it was a BIG hit! I have had a craving for fluffy bread for the past year since going gluten free from intolerance, and these are Amazing! I didn’t think it was possible to have a Light and Fluffy, bread recipe!”
- “I made these today and they are Amazing! I’ve searched for a roll recipe for my Celiac son for the holidays … these are perfect! I think I might sub olive oil and add a little rosemary for a different flavor for Thanksgiving. Thank you so much!”
Sandwich Rolls from Fork and Beans
gluten free, dairy free, egg free, vegan
Cara used her Sandwich Rolls to make vegan meatball subs. “Today just feels like the perfect time to reconnect with something that I love so very much as a means to soothe and comfort me. And meatball sub sandwiches can be quite the comfort food…” Be sure to check out Cara’s cookbook, Decadent Gluten-Free Vegan Baking: Delicious, Gluten-, Egg- and Dairy-Free Treats and Sweet s .
Sandwich Roll from Fork and Beans
gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free, vegetarian
Reader review: “I’ve made this recipe at least 10 times. I double it and it makes 6 buns. The real difference is using Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel Sesame Seasoning instead of just plain sesame seeds, it adds a saltiness and garlic kick. I love this recipe because I like the fact that the buns are thinner but also more dense, so they hold together well … I take tall Mason jars and put all the dry ingredients (excluding yeast, obviously) in them so I don’t have to measure that part out every time. I have free formed them and they’re fine, but I also found 5-ounce ramekins (set of six) on Amazon, they’re perfect for these buns and other dishes.”
Gluten-Free Skinny Buns from Go Dairy Free
Soft Gluten-Free Hamburger Buns from Petite Allergy Treats
gluten free, with dairy-free, vegan option
Laura says: “I can’t tell you just how good these are. They are soft and springy. They don’t fall apart with slicing. They don’t disintegrate into a pile of crumbs in your mouth. These will even last up to a week, without drying out!”
Soft Hamburger Buns from Petite Allergy Treats
When can babies eat.
Peanut butter? 6 Months
Though peanut protein used to be discouraged until toddler or preschool years, we now know that feeding it to babies around 6 months may actually help reduce the risk of allergies (if you have a family history of food allergies or your baby has eczema, talk to your pediatrician before introducing it). But never give sticky globs of peanut butter to a baby—that&aposs a choking risk. Instead, stir a bit of peanut butter or peanut butter powder into breastmilk, yogurt, purees, or baby cereal until smooth. Older babies can have strips of toast with thin smears of PB.
Eggs? 6 months*
Eggs are packed with good nutrition for babies, including protein and vitamins D, A, E, and K. Smash cooked egg yolk into purees for younger babies. You can also offer your baby pieces of scrambled eggs right away if you&aposre doing baby-led weaning—just make sure you&aposre offering up small pieces to avoid choking. And serve the whole egg, including the yolk, which contains fat your baby needs right now.
Yogurt? 6 Months
Yogurt contains cultures that break down the lactose and protein, making it easier to digest. So it&aposs perfectly fine as a first food. Choose plain, unflavored, whole-milk yogurt. Babies need the fat for brain development (but don&apost need added sugars). Serve straight up or blend into veggie or fruit purees.
Spices and seasonings? 6 months
Babies who are exposed to a lot of different flavors may be more receptive to trying new foods when they&aposre older. Feel free to add some flavor to first foods, like a shake of cinnamon on yogurt or some rosemary to a meat puree.
Meat? 6 Months
Meat used to be saved until later, but those recommendations have changed. The new advice: Serve it anytime after your baby starts eating solids. Be sure to cook and puree it well to start. Meat is a rich source of iron, a mineral babies need starting at six months.
Fish? 6 months*
Even though it&aposs one of the Big 8 allergens, fish is safe to introduce to your baby in the first year. Cook it well (checking for any tiny bones!), then blend it into purees with breast milk or formula. Older babies can have pieces of well-cooked fish. Fish, especially salmon, contains healthy fats that are good for your baby&aposs brain.
Avocado? 6 months
With their creamy texture and heart-healthy fats, avocados are an ideal first food. Mash very well and mix with breastmilk or formula to get a thin consistency at first. If you&aposre doing baby-led weaning, offer your baby a long spear to hold. Older babies eating finger foods can self-feed dices of very ripe avocado.
Strawberries? 6 months
You can include them in first purees plain or swirled into yogurt or cereal. Then offer small pieces of berries as finger foods as your baby masters chewing as finger foods. Strawberries are rich in vitamin C and fiber.
Cheerios? 8-10 months
Most babies start eating finger foods around 8 to 10 months, about the same time they start practicing and mastering their "pincer grasp"—the ability to use the pointer finger and the thumb to pick something up. Be sure to buy plain cereal for babies, not flavored and sweetened.
Corn? Age 1
Though purees that include corn are fine in the first year, whole corn kernels (even cooked) are considered a choking hazard until age 1, so hold off on those.
Milk? Age 1*
Your baby can&apost digest straight-up milk until age one (though yogurt is OK from 6 months on). Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, choose full-fat milk, which contains fat necessary for brain development happening now.
Honey? After Age 1
Honey contains spores that can cause botulism in a new baby&aposs still-developing digestive tract. So never give honey to a baby younger than 1 year.
*Important to note: If you have a family history of food allergies or your baby has eczema, talk to your pediatrician about introducing common food allergens.
Place ground turkey in a medium-size bowl. Add salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, ricotta cheese, bread crumbs, and mustard.
Using your hands, mix until well blended.
Divide meat mixture into 4 equal portions. Lightly toss one portion from hand to hand to form a ball, then lightly flatten ball with fingertips into a 3/4-inch-thick patty with a slight depression in the center (this prevents the burgers from puffing up when cooked). Repeat with remaining portions.
Heat a large, heavy, ovenproof skillet over medium heat until very hot, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the oil to the pan and swirl to coat the bottom. Add the burgers and cook over medium heat without moving the burgers until the bottom side of each is dark golden brown and crusted, 3 to 4 minutes.
Turn the burgers over continue to cook until the bottom side is light brown but not yet crusted, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer the pan to the oven and continue cooking for 7 to 8 minutes, or until burgers are completely cooked (an instant-read thermometer inserted from the side of the burger into the center should register 160°F).
Remove the turkey burgers from the pan and serve immediately.
"Love this recipe for an easy tzatziki. I don’t salt my cucumber, instead I grate and squeeze them in a dish towel to remove all the liquid. I just mix everything in one bowl and refrigerate for a while. Easy to adjust this to taste.""Love this recipe. Simple and delicious. I like to cook up the bacon first then caramelize the onion before adding them to the Crock Pot. This recipe is easy to alter and make your own. It's one of my go-to soups for the chillier months."
"I served these to my friends as dessert when they came over for lunch and everyone loved them! I even got a text from one of them saying they couldn’t stop thinking about these bars. Definitely winners in my books! The lemon flavor is present but the acidity isn’t too strong thanks to the addition of the tea."
Boy, Cooking Light loves hamburgers! - Recipes
A few weekends ago we were all watching Cook's Country together (yes, my 5-year-old loves to watch cooking shows. It warms my heart). They were making something called Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers and they looked mouthwateringly good.
For some reason that episode was on at least 3 or 4 more times within a two-week span and I finally told SP I had to make them. So, he picked up some ground beef at the store and I planned to make them one Saturday for dinner. Then we had a ridiculously huge lunch and couldn't stand the thought of eating again. The ground beef went into the freezer, where it was promptly forgotten. I finally remembered that I wanted to make the recipe and put the burgers on the menu two nights ago. They were so good I had to blog them immediately.
I thought these would be more complicated but it's actually a very easy recipe. All you need to do is plan ahead enough to let the onions sit in the colander. SP said they tasted like a McDonald's hamburger only a million times better. Baby Girl had the mini burger in the center of the picture above, sans onions because she isn't a fan. They even reheated well the next day.
Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers
As seen on Cook's Country
1 large onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1 lb ground beef
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4-8 slices American cheese
Mayo, mustard and pickles, for serving
4 hamburger buns, toasted
Combine the onion slices and 1 teaspoon of salt in a bowl and toss to combine. Transfer the onions to a colander and let sit for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. Transfer the onions to a clean dish towel, gather the edges together and squeeze out as much liquid as you can from the onions. Do this over the sink or a large bowl since the onions will have quite a bit of liquid in them.
Divide the onions into 4 separate mounds on a rimmed baking sheet. Form the beef into 4 lightly packed balls. Place the beef balls on top of the onion mounds and flatten the beef firmly (use your palm) so the onion adheres to the beef. The patties should measure 4 inches in diameter. Season the beef generously with salt and pepper.
Melt the butter with the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Using a large spatula, transfer the patties to the skillet, onion side down. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until the onions turn a deep golden brown and begin to crisp around the edges. Flip the burgers, then increase the heat to high and cook until well browned on the second side, about 2 minutes.
Add 1 or 2 slices of cheese to each burger and allow to melt. Add mayo, mustard and pickles to the top buns, then place each burger on a bottom buns. Serve immediately.