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Have you ever successfully recreated a fast food or chain food item at home?

This thought came to my mind while reading the thread about discontinued favorite fast food items. My favorite that no longer exists is the triple decker pizza hut pizza.

There are numerous websites devoted to recreating the taste/flavor/texture/look of a fast food item. Not to mention the series of books "Top Secret Recipes" by Todd Wilburn, of which I have several and enjoy reading. In fact, there IS a recipe for the triple decker pizza hut pizza in "Top Secret Restaurant Recipes" which I've owned for years.... but have yet to try.

The only one I've tried is the Shoney's Country Fried Steak from Wilburn's book. And it was a huge success. (However, i can't say it tasted like Shoney's.... as we don't have those where I live. But my dad loved it.... and he rarely compliments any type of food).

I'm curious if anyone else has tried these, particularly the triple decker pizza..... and if so, how did it come out?

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  1. I made the french toast from IHOP from that Top Secret Recipe book. Like you, I never had the real IHOP french toast, but it was pretty good. I know ppl who've made the avocado egg rolls from Cheesecake Factory and they said they were great.

    1. Yeah...my wife likes the Chicken Parmesan at Buca. I pretty much nailed it on the first try by luck. It so happens that our local grocery store carries a garlic lovers' spaghetti sauce and that, with some chopped fresh roma tomatoes is almost identical in flavor and consistency to Buca's dish.

      1. The Chick-Fil-A sandwich knockoff from one of the Top Secret Recipes books is very good and pretty much indistinguishable from the original. (I seem to recall, though, that there was some sort of misprint about the amount of salt in the edition I had — I'm sure it's since been corrected.)

        1. I've made the TGI Friday's Jack Daniels glaze/sauce and it is delicious, although it has a lengthy ingedient list and takes hours to simmer down. I got the recipe from Top Secret Recipes.

          I also made the KFC Coleslaw with low-fat mayo and it tasted like I remembered it. Got to chop the cabbage, not slice it.

          2 Replies
          1. re: NJFoodie

            My mom loves that TGIF Jack Daniels glaze. All the TGIF's around here recently closed or burnt down(really...two closed and one completely burnt to the ground during dinner service).

            Anyway, she'd be thrilled if I showed up with some for her(she used to buy big cups of it to take home and freeze). I"ve seen the Top Secret recipe but haven't tried it yet. Is it really a pretty close replica?

            1. re: ziggylu

              Yes, it is. I must admit it is a lot of waiting, roasting the garlic and all, but soooo.... worth it! ( I did once make it with fresh unroasted garlic and it was still very good, but not quite the same. If you have the time, make the original recipe. )

          2. kfc cole slaw (hits the spot-- and yes, must chop cabbage finely!)

            carrabbas spice mix (for olive oil dipping) http://www.recipelink.com/mf/14/21788
            I make a good size recipe, without adding the wet ingredients, give to friends, and keep the rest handy in the pantry to mix up with the oil....

            hidden valley ranch dressing mix:
            (this dressing is so easy to make, and is great just drizzled over cold iceberg lettuce, fresh juicy summer tomatoes, and farm-fresh crispy cukes!) i also keep extra dry mix in the cabinet, ready to blend up as needed.

            13 Replies
            1. re: alkapal

              I like recreating a lot of this stuff and even trying to improve on it, a bit. I always wondered what the point of making salad dressing is, though, since I don't think you can make it for less money? Just curious.

              1. re: jwagnerdsm

                The reason is, it tastes better then bottled.

                1. re: michele cindy

                  And you can make a small amount so you don't end up tossing an entire bottle, when you are the only salad eater in a household.

                  1. re: michele cindy

                    Than you aren't replicating it, you are improving it. I'm not suggesting that's a bad thing, I was just curious.

                    1. re: jwagnerdsm

                      well, hidden valley originally was not bottled, but a spice blend to which buttermilk and mayo is added. the hidden valley people still do the dry mix. nothing beats making it fresh -- without the gums and additives in the bottles.

                      and, it is less expensive to make your own -- another benefit!

                      1. re: alkapal

                        I remember back in the days when Hidden Valley came with a plastic bottle to mix it in, along with the spice blend. Or am I dreaming this? Or is that still available?

                        1. re: danhole

                          you mean like the seven seas bottle to mix up dressing? i don't recall that, but we always mixed it up (in the '70s) in a mayo jar.

                          1. re: danhole

                            You aren't dreaming it. It was a big plastic cup with a cap that has a spout with a cover. Just like ones from Tupperware. I still have one. Green top and writing.
                            Don't know if they're still available. Nothing beat the Hidden Valley made from the packet.
                            I mostly use the shaker now for mixing Margaritas.

                            1. re: danhole

                              HV calls it a cruet (I think) and I still see them.

                                1. re: Bobfrmia

                                  The one I have is not as high-tec. I got it within the past 5 years at my local grocery store when I bought several envelopes of dressing mix. I don't think I ever used the dressing mix but the cruet has come in handy.

                                2. re: southernitalian

                                  Thanks! That's the word - cruet! I couldn't put my finger on it for anything. Thought I had lost my mind. Now I have to see if they are still around.

                                  1. re: danhole

                                    Just for the record, I'm pretty sure it was neither Hidden Valley nor Seven Seas that gave you a "Cruet" to mix up their Dressing mix in -- it was (and still is) Good Seasons.

                    2. cook's illustrated's "original drive-in burger" (the virtues of which i've been extolling for weeks now) is the best homemade big mac you'll ever eat. the patty is so tender. you'll feel like such a dope for eating dense homemade hamburgers up to the time you finally try their method.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: beelzebozo

                        Since I don't subscribe to CI, could you share what the secret is?

                        1. re: danhole

                          absolutely. the trick is that the forming of the patties is extremely loose; in fact, calling it "forming" patties is a bit of a stretch. essentially, they take two different cuts of meat (flap meat and short ribs, iirc) and cut them into cubes, which are placed on a baking sheet and frozen for about 45 minutes, until they're firm around the edges and still soft in the middle.

                          this meat is then processed in short pulses in the food processor until coarsely ground--it should look more chunky than store bought ground beef. dump the meat onto parchment paper lined on the baking sheet, and form it into loose piles and gently pat them into patties WITHOUT picking them up. they should be, as i said, just chunky, loose-looking, and craggy around the edges. you can pat down the tops to help the burger coalesce a bit more, but don't overdo it! this the real key to the recipe: the looseness of the patties.

                          refrigerate the patties for about fifteen minutes. you can make the "secret sauce" now--they do--if you're going for that big mac flavor. you then just season the patties, use a spatula to slide them into a frying pan, ~3 minutes per side. serve on a toasted bun.

                          seriously, best hamburger i've ever eaten. the outside gets crisp, and the loose structure of the burger keeps it tender and lets juices penetrate the surface. it's so much better than the dense burgers i've been eating my whole life.

                      2. I've tried to make the Jack In The Box Taco, it comes out pretty close, but not close enough for me. I got the recipe from one of those copycat sites. In one, you need to add a jar of veal baby food to the meat. Not sure how they determined that is needed for the JITB taco flavor, but it seems to work.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: michele cindy

                          my mind is now boggling at the concept of veal baby food.

                          1. re: Firegoat

                            I'm actually gagging at the thought.

                          2. re: michele cindy

                            Its not baby food! Try cooking the"hamburger" made out of tofu, put that and the american cheese inside the corn taco, close it fry it in hot oil, then when its done, throw in some lettuce. That's it.

                            1. re: chef chicklet

                              What kind of tofu? Do you mean like morning star crumbles? How do you season it? I'll give it a go.

                              1. re: michele cindy

                                Yes that works, you can use your own mix of spices; new mexico or ca ground chili, garlic powder and dried onion, to get the jack in the box taste. I'm not able to give exact amounts as I am heavy handed, but say for 1lb, use 2 T chili powder, 1 T garlic, 1 T dried onion. Then add once the meat is cooked, construct the taco and fry.Then add the cheese, and the shredded lettuce with a little of their taco sauce.

                                Now, ask me about my Rubio salsa knock off. If you follow my instructions, it's the bomb!

                                This weekend was the "gut" truck taco. I nailed that. But then I guess to appreciate that fete, you'd have to of experienced it first hand!

                                1. re: chef chicklet

                                  oh I forgot to add, that when you fill the corn tortilla with the meat, use a toothpick to hold it shut while frying.. then take it out and slip in the cheese, lettuce, and sauce.

                          3. The marinade for the Bourbon Street Steak from Steak 'n Ale. I found the recipe from some website where a chef from S 'n A posted it and it is dead on. Very good and my steaks are better than theirs in the first place. And it is an easy marinade, too.

                            The alfredo sauce for Olive Garden, which my daughter could eat like soup! I tried one from a copycat site and it was awful, but then I found it, in a roundabout way, on the Olive Garden website, and it is the same, but it doesn't keep. You have to use it right away, and it doesn't reheat well.

                            I have the recipe for the Jack Daniels glaze, but haven't tried it yet. As far as Jack in the Box tacos . . . veal baby food? Didn't need to know that! I'll just go there to get my fix ;-)

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: danhole

                              I don't think they use it in their real recipe, it had been in a copycat version I saw years ago. I tried it in the meat mixture, and I really have no clue if it did anything or not. I am so jealous that you can go to a JITB!! :( you are a very lucky person. OTOH - do you like White Castles? I do, and I am very fortunate to have one near me. Well kinda, at least when I get a better handle on my cholesterol... for now I am still tortured.

                              1. re: michele cindy

                                Now the shoe is on the other foot. There are no White Castles near me, unless you go to the freezer section of the grocery store! There is not even one restaurant in the state of Texas. But we have tons of JITB's.

                            2. i'm finding this thread frustrating, as posters are talking about recipes, but not linking them! ;-) now, i'm hungry for dani's steak and ale steak!

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: alkapal

                                http://www.topsecretrecipes.com/home.asp have some of the recipes from Todd Wilbur's books available for free.
                                I got a few of his books from a remainder bookstore (I think I have seen them on amazon's bargain books & bookcloseout.com too).
                                I have made the Wendy's Chili, KFC gravy & the Otis Spunkmeyer muffins. All very good, but I never ate Otis Spunkmeyer products before to compare.

                                1. re: gnomatic

                                  thanks for the secret recipes link.

                              2. Can anyone recreate Red Lobster's biscuits?

                                3 Replies
                                  1. re: katroberts

                                    All you need is a pouch of bisquick garlic and cheese biscuit mix. Its basically the same thing.

                                    1. re: Calipoutine

                                      Absolutey true,they do taste just like them~

                                  2. My ex wife did KFC chicken according to some secret recipe book.
                                    It was a good news, bad news thing.
                                    Good news, it was somewhat close.
                                    Bad news, KFC sucks, and so did this.
                                    The only thing I've had from a chain I want to duplicate, is Papa Murphy's garlic pizza sauce. I'm getting close.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Bobfrmia

                                      The garlic pizza sounds good, can you share your recipe?

                                      1. re: michele cindy

                                        Hi, MC. I'm going to post this, just as soon as I can find the key ingredient I used. Strangely, I know it by sight, not name.

                                      2. re: Bobfrmia

                                        Try Bob's Ranch Dressing with pre-chopped or minced (bottled) garlic. Used to work there.

                                      3. The Taco Bell double-decker taco gets recreated in my kitchen quite often.

                                        1. I've been going to recipes.robbiehaf.com for years now, and her copycat recipes are excellent. I make the Hooters wings and the zuppa toscana on a pretty regular basis. They're not identical to the originals, but pretty close, and in the case of the soup, my husband likes mine better than Olive Garden's. I've also made the baked potato soup from Top Secret Recipes...if you're going to give this one a shot, switch the amounts for the instant mashed potatoes and the half & half, or it comes out way too thick.

                                            1. re: chef chicklet

                                              Forgot also, make Chilis' Chicken Enchilada Soup.

                                              1. re: chef chicklet

                                                I love your photo chef. Got a link for the recipe? thnx.

                                                1. re: mcel215

                                                  Thank you mcel215. if you mean the recipe for Rubio's hottest hot sauce, I'd posted on Chowhound a few years ago.

                                                  Some people have been successful, some not. I don't know what the differences are, but you might have to adjust the salt to your palate. Be sure to char the chili flakes, if you don't you won't get that smokey flavor. It keeps well in fridge, although I can't keep around it's a favorite here.


                                              2. The first Top Secret Recipes book has a recipe for the Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip from Olive Garden, which I've never had, but the recipe is absolutely delicious and not all that bad for you (we used lower-fat cream cheese and you can't tell the difference).

                                                1. I have two of the TSRR books, and just checked another one out from the public library (most libraries of moderate size will have a cookbook section with those books). I've used some of the salad dressing recipes or drink recipes, mostly.
                                                  At home, we make a copycat of the CiCi's spinach alfredo pizza using homemade pizza crust, Ragu Garlic Parmesan cheese sauce, frozen chopped spinach, and mozzarella cheese. Roll the dough out, top it with sauce, spinach and cheese, back at 500 for about 7-8 minutes. Tastes pretty close, even when we mess it up by adding mushrooms and diced peppers and chicken, etc.
                                                  But some of those clone recipes are more labor intensive than making it up on my own and hoping for the best.

                                                  1. I made the Reese's Cups from TSP, and it turned out well. Or I should say the tasted just like them. Looks took too much time and patience!

                                                    1. Does anyone remember Orange Julius? Put together orange juice and an envelope of Carnation Instant Breakfast vanilla flavor. Whirl in blender. Add some vanilla ice cream for a thick shake.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: NJP

                                                        I used to replicate the Orange Julius by taking oj, ice, and egg whites blend until thick and creamy. It tasted just like it.

                                                      2. My latest "taste-alike" discovery is the enchilada sauce (in a bottle) at Trader Joe's. It's a different formulation than they had a year or so ago and it's a ringer for the red sauce Taco Bell puts in their bean burritos. You can make your own with some doctored up canned refrieds, shredded cheddar, diced yellow onion and the sauce. Same taste, without the guilt.

                                                        1. I've made a Taco Bell Bellbeefer - Bellburger (a sloppy joe with taco flavorings), Mexican restaurant sweet corn cakes, Chinese restaurant lemon chicken, kung pao chicken, spicy orange chicken, fried rice and hot and sour soup.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: Antilope

                                                            antilope, would you please share your kung pao and hot & sour soup recipes?

                                                            i haven't re-read this thread from the beginning, but i have in the past. does anyone have a good copycat for p.f. chang's szechuan beef?

                                                              1. re: Antilope

                                                                thank you very much, antilope. i look forward to trying them both. I also copied your fried rice recipe, as mr. alka gets a hankering for lobster fried rice.

                                                            1. I made Chi-chi's Seafood Nachos using the Chi-chi's Seafood Enchilada recipe. I think that I had to tweak it a bit but it tasted exactly the same.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: dmjordan

                                                                I have a book called "Everything Restaurant Recipes" by Betty Bopp. I have made Red Lobster Chedder Bay Bisquits, Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana Soup, Olive Garden Minestrone, Boston Market Meatloaf, Chipotle Steak Barbacoa. All have been quite good, especially the Zuppa Toscana soup- I've never tried it the real thing at Olive Garden though so I can't say how accurate it is.

                                                                I used to have a recipe for Orange Julius and it tasted like the real thing.

                                                                1. re: SteveRB

                                                                  The Orange Julius recipe I used to make was oj and egg whites blended until frothy. I suppose you can use a pasteurized egg white substance these days, but back then I just used the real thing. Came out tasty. Needed crushed ice too.