can (14 oz.) condensed milk (use less to make it less sweet)
tablespoons chocolate syrup
teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder
teaspoons vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients and mix until smooth.
Play around with the ingredient amounts to get the right taste for you.
You can serve immediately or store in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to a month.
Serving Size: 1 Serving
- Calories from Fat
% Daily Value
- Total Fat
- Saturated Fat
- Trans Fat
- Total Carbohydrate
- Dietary Fiber
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
0 Starch; 0 Fruit; 0 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Skim Milk; 0 Low-Fat Milk; 0 Milk; 0 Vegetable; 0 Very Lean Meat; 0 Lean Meat; 0 High-Fat Meat; 0 Fat;
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
More About This Recipe
- If there’s one thing we know about the Irish, it’s that they know how to have a good time! Case in point? This homemade Irish cream recipe that offers the perfect excuse to sneak a little whiskey into your coffee or hot chocolate. You can drink this as a mixed drink, pour it into a hot beverage, or down it like a shot. Irish coffee is a popular after-dinner drink at many restaurants, using Bailey’s Irish Cream, but this homemade recipe can be whipped up in minutes and then stored in your refrigerator for up to a month so you can indulge whenever the mood strikes. If you’re looking for a brilliant gift idea around the holidays, this Irish cream recipe makes for an easy gift. It requires very few ingredients, keeps in the fridge and is ready in only 15 minutes! To turn it into a gift, portion the cream into mason jars and tie a ribbon around it. If Irish cream is your thing, but isn’t a fan favorite amongst your friends, try another drink recipe.
Irish cream is a popular liqueur that is often served on its own over ice, mixed into cocktails, or featured in fun shooters for parties. It is made of Irish whiskey, cream, chocolate, and sugar and can also include other flavoring ingredients such as coffee and vanilla.
Irish creams range from pale brown to beige in color and between 15 percent and 20 percent alcohol by volume (30 to 40 proof). It is also a very affordable liqueur and you can often pick up a good bottle for less than $15. It's also quite fun to make your own Irish cream and makes a great homemade gift for the holidays.
As with any cream liqueur, Irish cream should be stored carefully. It is not a super-sensitive liqueur in that it needs to be refrigerated, but the cream and sugars can cause it to go bad.
- Finish an opened bottle within a year, if not much sooner.
- Do not expose open or unopened bottles to extreme heat or store it in a very warm location.
- Toss the bottle if you notice any changes in the liqueur, including smell, consistency, color, or taste.
There are also Irish cream flavored syrups available. These are non-alcoholic and can be used in coffee, cooking, mocktails, and for making a non-alcoholic, homemade Irish cream.
Typical Homemade Baileys Irish Cream Recipe
A homemade Baileys® or homemade Irish Cream recipe typically include sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream, chocolate syrup, and instant coffee all blended together with some Irish whiskey.
More natural versions will have you make your own sweetened condensed milk by reducing milk with a sweetener. While this works, it also means you’re stuck standing over your stove for nearly an hour waiting for milk to reduce.
Other versions call for eggs as a thickener, similar to making homemade eggnog. And while this method works, the texture of your end product has hints of custard that may or may not be to your liking.
This homemade Irish Cream recipe is much more simple than either of these methods, and the result is spot on in flavor and texture!
Homemade Irish Cream
Making your own homemade Irish cream is easy, fun and makes a great gift. It's delicious on the rocks or serve it with coffee and whipped cream for a decadent boozy dessert.
Why Make Homemade Irish Cream?
Why not? I mean, sure you can buy yourself a bottle of Bailey’s®, but making it yourself is easy, a lot more fun and you can adjust the flavor to suit your own tastes – if you wanted a stronger Irish cream, you could add more Irish whiskey to the mix if you preferred a little more chocolate, you could increase the chocolate sauce and the same goes for the coffee flavor. Making homemade Irish cream makes Irish cream your own.
What is in Irish Cream?
There are very few ingredients in homemade Irish cream, which makes this recipe especially easy. You’ll need some good Irish whisky, of course, and then some heavy cream, a can of sweetened condensed milk, chocolate sauce, pure vanilla extract and a little instant espresso powder. Oh – and it’s nice to have a blender too, although you can make this with a whisk if that’s what you have.
How to Make Homemade Irish Cream
The key to making homemade Irish cream is to combine all the ingredients except for the heavy cream. Blending all the ingredients together first without the cream allows you to really combine them without incorporating and holding air in the final product. The heavy cream, of course, would get whipped if you put it in the blender. Once the initial ingredients are nicely blended, slowly blend in the heavy cream and THAT’S IT! You’re done. Now just look for a pretty bottle to put the Irish cream in.
How Long will Homemade Irish Cream Last?
Once you’ve made your Irish cream, keep it refrigerated and it should stay good for 3 to 4 weeks.
How to Serve Irish Cream
You can serve Irish cream on the rocks or straight up in an aperitif glass. I think it’s pretty delicious either way. As the ice cubes melt, they will water down the liqueur a little – that might be want you want or what you don’t want, so you decide. You can also serve Irish cream in coffee and then topping the mix with some whipped cream. That makes a pretty spectacular after dinner coffee that can easily sub for dessert.
Irish Cream Desserts
Speaking of desserts, however, you might want to take your Irish cream one step farther and use it in a recipe to actually make dessert. These Irish Coffee Cupcakes are absolutely delicious and with your own homemade Irish cream, you can really brag about how you made the cupcakes from scratch!
Ingredients in Homemade Irish Cream
It doesn’t take many ingredients to make this at home, which is why I stopped buying it premade. It’s way more expensive than it needs to be. I can make it at home for a fraction of the cost or Bailey’s or another brand.
So you’ll need these things:
- heavy whipping cream
- unsweetened cocoa powder
- sweetened condensed milk
- vanilla extract
- Irish whiskey
You can find the quantities in the recipe at the bottom of this post. This makes a small batch that makes 2 1/2 cups. You could double the recipe if you need more.
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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.
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This unique blend of five ripe ground chili peppers of varying intensity wakes up practically any dish, adding awesome flavor and perfect—but not overwhelming—heat. The peppers included in the blend range from sweet (bell) to hot (habanero). The sweet hits your tongue first, then the hot creeps in.
Hell Flakes does NOT contain salt, vinegar, MSG or other ingredients found in liquid hot sauces—you get just pure chili flavor!
Hell Flakes is made from 100% natural chili peppers, which are a thermogenic, anti-inflammatory food. Capsaicin in the peppers helps to supercharge your metabolism so that you burn calories even after you've finished eating, and the peppers have an anti-inflammatory effect on your body to help give you relief from aches and pains.
Hell Flakes takes crushed red pepper flakes to the next level with smaller flakes and better flavor. Hell Flakes comes in a long-lasting flip-top shaker bottle to distribute the micro-flakes perfectly over your food.
Hell Flakes was developed by food hacker Todd Wilbur, host of Top Secret Recipe on CMT-TV, and author of 11 Top Secret Recipes cookbooks.
1.9-ounce shaker bottle. Money back guarantee. Kosher certified. Gluten-free.
Take advantage of our flat rate shipping: up to 2 bottles from just $3.21!
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.
This recipe makes the same size appetizer serving that you get in the restaurant. That's only 6 shrimp—enough for me, but what are you guys having? Thank goodness the remoulade sauce and the shrimp seasoning formulas yield enough for a bigger serving, so you can grill up to a pound of shrimp with this recipe. Find bags of frozen uncooked shrimp that have been peeled, but with the tails left on.
Try more of my copycat recipes from Outback here.
Just like the pro chefs use. A secret blend of herbs and spices that will make your homemade steaks taste like they came from a famous steakhouse chain. All-natural. Contains no MSG or preservatives. Great for anyone who likes a truly amazing steak.
Top Secret Steak Rub is created by Food Hacker Todd Wilbur who has spent the last 30 years reverse-engineering popular menu items at the most-loved restaurant chains across America. By identifying the herbs, spices and other ingredients that make great restaurant food taste so good, Todd created this custom Top Secret Steak Rub to help you make restaurant-style steaks at home. All it takes is just a few shakes. Then cook the steaks your favorite way.
7-ounce bottle. Money back guarantee. Kosher certified. Gluten-free.
This soup happens to be one of Chili's most raved-about items, and the subject of many a recipe search here on the site. Part of the secret in crafting your clone is the addition of masa harina—a corn flour that you'll find in your supermarket near the other flours, or where all the Mexican foodstuffs are stocked.
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.
This creamy green sauce is available at the salsa bar at each of the 389 El Pollo Loco outlets located throughout the western United States, and folks are going crazy over it. The problem is, you can only get it in small quantities at the restaurant, and once you taste a little there you're going to want a lot more of it at home. Use a food processor to mix this one up (everything but the cilantro and onion goes in there) and prepare for a delicious, spicy concoction that you can pour over your favorite homemade Mexican-style dishes, from taco salads to fajitas. Big props go out to Pancho Ochoa, who opened his first roadside chicken stand in Guasave, Mexico in 1975. Today Pancho's El Pollo Loco is the number one quick-service, flame-broiled chicken chain in America.
In 1880s France, oranges were quite rare and exotic. When Louis Alexandre Marnier-Lopostolle traveled to the Caribbean in search of ingredients, he came back with bitter oranges to combine with his family's fine cognac. Other orange-flavored liqueurs such as triple sec and curacao are mixed with a neutral alcohol base. Grand Marnier took it to the next level with a more complex flavor that makes it today's top-selling French liqueur.
Now you too can combine cognac with a real orange to make a home version of the tasty—and pricey—stuff. By using an inexpensive cognac that costs around 18 to 20 dollars a bottle, you can create a clone cousin of the real thing that normally sells for around 30 bucks a bottle. All you need, in addition to the cognac, is some sugar, an orange, and a little patience to wait at least 2 weeks.
Try more of my copycat cocktail and liquor recipes here.
Here's a dish from a rapidly growing Chinese food chain that should satisfy anyone who loves the famous marinated bourbon chicken found in food courts across America. The sauce is the whole thing here, and it's quick to make right on your own stove-top. Just fire up the barbecue or indoor grill for the chicken and whip up a little white rice to serve on the side. Panda Express - now 370 restaurants strong - is the fastest-growing Asian food chain in the world. You'll find these tasty little quick-service food outlets in supermarkets, casinos, sports arenas, college campuses, and malls across the country passing out free samples for the asking.
Menu Description: "Chili made with select cuts of tender pork and beef, pinto beans, Piranha Pale Ale and topped with melted jack and Cheddar cheeses, sour cream and green onions."
There's nothing that warms the soul like a hot bowl of spicy chili. And since BJ's is a brewery, the 54-unit chain adds an ingredient that makes a steamy bowl of red even better: beer! The Piranha Pale Ale that's poured into the chili pot is very similar to Bass Pale Ale, so that's what's called for here in our BJ's Pale Ale Chili recipe clone. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale also works well. Toss everything into the pot over the heat, and in about 90 minutes you'll have enough chili for eight hungry mouths. Serve up the chili in bowls, or more impressively, in the center of hollowed-out sourdough loaves. Nice.
Menu Description: "Marinated chicken breast topped with fiery kung pao sauce, mandarin oranges and pineapple pico de gallo."
This Friday's low-fat creation does not skimp on flavor. A marinade, a spicy sauce, and a fresh salsa all pitch in for some big-time taste bud satisfaction. Sprinkle mandarin orange sections over the top if you've got em, and you will completely re-create the look and taste of this healthy entree clone.
Menu Description: "Our most popular chicken dish! Sauteed chicken breast topped with fresh asparagus and melted mozzarella cheese, covered with fresh mushroom madeira sauce. Served with mashed potatoes."
What makes this Cheesecake Factory's "most popular chicken dish" is the sweet madeira wine reduction sauce spooned over the top. Man, I could slurp that stuff straight from a glass. It's that good. And—get this—it's easy. Even though the real stuff appears to include veal stock, we can concoct a great knockoff using canned beef stock. Get sliced mozzarella cheese from your deli section and be sure to pound the chicken breasts very thin using plastic wrap to cover each one before you get medieval on it. Also, in typical Cheesecake Factory style, their entrée is huge, including two chicken fillets and a giant pile of mashed potatoes on the side. This Cheesecake Factory Chicken Madeira recipe makes a total of four chicken fillets, which divides into two servings if you're at the restaurant. At home though, this is probably the perfect amount for a tribe of four.
Check out more of my copycat Cheesecake Factory recipes here.
Menu Description: "Tender, crispy wild gulf shrimp tossed in a creamy, spicy sauce."
Bonefish Grill proudly refers to this appetizer as the "house specialty." And why not, it's an attractive dish with bang-up flavor, especially if you like your food on the spicy side. The heat in this Bang Bang Shrimp recipe comes from the secret sauce blend that's flavored with chili garlic sauce, also known as sambal. You can find this bright red sauce where the Asian foods in your market—and while you're there, pick up some rice vinegar. Once the sauce is made, you coat the shrimp in a simple seasoned breading, fry them to a nice golden brown, toss them gently in the sauce, and then serve them up on a bed of mixed greens to hungry folks who, hopefully, have a cool drink nearby to mellow the sting.
You might also like my recipes for Bonefish Grill's Saucy Shrimp and Citrus Herb Vinaigrette.
Dave Thomas, Wendy's late founder, started serving this chili in 1969, the year the first Wendy's opened its doors. Over the years the recipe has changed a bit, but this Wendy's copycat chili recipe is a great version of the one served in the early 90s. Try topping it with some chopped onion and Cheddar cheese, just as you can request in the restaurant.
Now, on to the Wendy's Hot Chili Seasoning copycat recipe.
Menu Description: "12 oz. ribeye steak seasoned with Cajun spices and topped with roasted herb jus and spicy Cajun butter."
Three secret formulas must be hacked before we can consider this dish a complete culinary carbon copy of Chili's signature Cajun Ribeye. The Cajun seasoning, the herb jus and the Cajun butter comprise the flavorful hat trick that earns this dish its signature-item status. We'll make each component from scratch and everything is pretty easy. Sprinkle the seasoning on the steak before it's grilled, and then add the jus and herb butter just before serving. That's it. Rustle up some ribeyes from your favorite butcher, and fire up the grill. Once you've assembled these three simple secret recipes below, you're just minutes away from an impressive, flavor-filled steak.
The easy-melting, individually-wrapped Kraft Cheddar Singles are a perfect secret ingredient for this Panera Bread broccoli cheddar soup recipe that's served at this top soup stop. In this clone, fresh broccoli is first steamed, then diced into little bits before you combine it with chicken broth, half-and-half, shredded carrot, and onion. Now you're just 30 minutes away from soup spoon go-time.
Click here for more of my copycat Panera Bread recipes.
Menu Description: "The one and only! The style we invented over 30 years ago they're breaded by hand, tossed in your choice of wing sauce and served by your favorite Hooters girl."
When I first hacked this recipe back in 1997 for the book Top Secret Restaurant Recipes, Hooters wings looked different than they do today. The chain used to leave the pointy end of the wing attached to the middle piece, or “flat,” which, frankly, is unnecessary because there is very little meat on the tip segment. Today the chain serves wings like everyone else, with drumettes and flats completely separated, and delivered by waitresses in the same bright orange shorts as when the chain started in 1983.
One thing that wasn't available to me back then was the opportunity to examine the chain’s packaging for the lists of ingredients on signature items like sauces and breading. Today, since they sell these items as retail products, I can take advantage of labeling laws that require ingredients to be clearly listed and see what really goes into these recipes. Using that new information, I’ve made a few small tweaks to improve my recipe from over 20 years ago, including two versions of the kickass wing sauce—medium and hot—for your wing-devouring pleasure.
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.
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).
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.
One of the most-loved treats at the Maggiano's Little Italy restaurant chain are the crescent-shaped lemon cookies served at the end of your meal. The cookies are soft, chewy, and coated with a bright lemon icing, and it’s impossible to eat just one.
Well, now you can eat as many as you like because this knockoff recipe makes five dozen lemony taste-alike cookies. And you won’t have to worry about getting a crescent cookie cutter to get the shapes right. First, cut out a circle using a round 2-inch biscuit cutter, then use the cutter to slice a chunk out of the round, making a crescent.
You might also like my copycat recipe for Maggiano's Beef Tenderloin Medallions.
I’m not sure why Einstein Bros. claims there are just four cheeses in the new Twice-Baked Hash Brown when the ingredients clearly list six kinds of cheese, plus cream cheese. Regardless, the shredded Asiago, Romano, Parmesan, provolone, and mozzarella listed there can be found combined in an “Italian Blend” at many supermarkets, making for an easy start to our home clone. And don’t just be thinking about breakfast for these cheesy potatoes. They work great as a side for any meal.
In the detailed description of the new item, Einstein Bros. claims the hash browns contain two kinds of schmears, which is true, but a little misleading because one of them is just plain cream cheese. The other is onion-and-chive cream cheese, which we can make from scratch. We’ll combine those two shmears into one blend by doubling the cream cheese added to our onion-and-chive schmear formula.
Mix everything together and load the ingredients into a standard 12-cup muffin pan with circles of parchment paper cut out to fit into the bottom of the 12 cups. Without these parchment circles, the hash browns may stick and break when they’re released. You can also use paper muffin cups, if you don’t mind the less crispy, ridged sides.
Bake them the first time for 30 minutes, then cool and store. Now you have a dozen servings of cheesy hash brown potatoes that are easy to finish off by baking them a second time until crispy. They are great served with breakfast, or for dinner as your starchy side alongside beef, chicken, lamb, and many other savory entrees.
You can also make homemade Einstein Bros bagels, sandwiches, and shmears. See if I hacked your favorites here.
When Matt and Ivan Perkins tasted the food at Smitty's Pancake House in Seattle, they were smitten. Soon they had purchased the rights to William Smith's recipes, which had been perfected at his renowned restaurant that opened just after the end of World War II. In 1958, the brothers opened their own Smitty's restaurants in Cincinnati, Ohio, and eventually changed the name from Smitty's to Perkins.
If you've never tried potato pancakes from Perkins, or any restaurant, now's the time with this copycat recipe. I've given you the option to make the potatoes with frozen hash brown potatoes or with fresh potatoes you shred by hand. It's up to you. Use maple syrup on these hotcakes, or go for a little butter and powdered sugar on top.
Try more of my breakfast copycat recipes here.
Using his grandfather’s old recipes for sausage and smoked meats, Jack Link created his first kippered beef sticks in Wisconsin in 1986, and they quickly became a popular snack throughout the state. But that wasn’t enough for Jack, so he invested in a packaging machine to expand into other markets, and eventually—with the help of a successful Sasquatch-themed marketing campaign—Jack Link’s became the #1 jerky brand in the country.
Beef jerky is usually made in a dehydrator designed to circulate air around the food at a low temperature. The temperature for drying beef jerky in a dehydrator is typically 130 to 140 degrees, which is a lower temperature than you can reach with a conventional home oven. But that doesn’t mean we can’t use our home oven to make a perfectly acceptable beef jerky hack that tastes like Jack’s. And even though Jack uses a smoker for his beef jerky, you won’t need one to give your jerky a similar smoky flavor.
The pineapple juice in the marinade is an important part of the taste, but its primary contribution is a unique enzyme that helps break down the proteins in the tough cut of meat to tenderize it. Soy sauce and beef bouillon contribute to the umami savoriness of the jerky, and liquid hickory smoke is used in this hack as a quick way to add the smoky flavor.
The marinating takes 24 hours and the oven drying takes between 6 to 8 hours, so get the sliced beef into the bath in the morning and you’ll be munching on jerky by dinnertime the next day. And to help you out, I'm including step photos.
Find more cool recipes for your favorite snacks here.
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.
Crafting a clone of Olive Garden’s signature Lasagna Classico became the perfect opportunity to create a beautiful multi-layered lasagna hack recipe that uses up the whole box of lasagna noodles and fills the baking pan all the way to the top. This Top Secret Recipe makes a lasagna that tips the scale at nearly 10 pounds and will feed hungry mouths for days, with every delicious layer copied directly from the carefully dissected Olive Garden original.
I found a few credible bits of intel in a video of an Olive Garden chef demonstrating what he claims is the real formula on a midday news show, but the recipe was abbreviated for TV and the chef left out some crucial information. One ingredient he conspicuously left out of the recipe is the secret layer of Cheddar cheese located near the middle of the stack. I wasn’t expecting to find Cheddar in lasagna, but when I carefully separated the layers from several servings of the original dish, there was the golden melted cheesy goodness in every slice.
This clone recipe will make enough for 8 big portions, but if you make slightly smaller slices this is easily enough food to fill twelve lasagna-loving bellies. If you like lasagna, you're going to love this version.
Browse my other Olive Garden clone recipes here.
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.
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.
Menu Description: "Stir-fried with chives and bean sprouts."
Chefs at P. F. Chang's China Bistro cook most dishes in heavy woks over extremely high heat with flames nipping at their noses. The special stove is designed so that the tall fires work at the back end of the wok, away from the chef. The well-ventilated stove is built with a steady stream of running water nearby to thin sauces and rinse the woks after each dish is prepared. Since we don't have those blaster stoves at home, I've had to tweak the recipe for standard kitchen equipment. A gas stove and a wok will give you the best results, but this recipe can be knocked-off just as well with a large saute pan, if that's all you've got. Things are moving fast in P.F. Chang's kitchens. The chefs are well-trained, but they eyeball measurements for sauces with a ladle, so each wok-prepared dish is going to come out a little different. Considering this, I figured the best way to get a good clone would be to order the dish several times. I averaged the flavors by combining several batches of sauce into one large bowl, and then copied that. The shrimp is lightly breaded—they use potato starch, but cornstarch is a good substitute—and flash fried in oil. Strain the shrimp out of the oil, add it back to the pan with the sauce, and you've got yourself a clone.
I've copied a ton of famous dishes from P.F. Chang's. See if I hacked your favorite here.
Menu Description: "Smoked chicken, black beans, corn, jalapeno Jack cheese, red peppers and spinach wrapped inside a crispy flour tortilla. We serve it with our avocado-ranch dipping sauce."
Chili's was the first chain to popularize the Southwestern-style eggroll, but as with any successful menu item, clones have been popping up on other major chains' appetizer menus over the past several years. Even though it's more like a small chimichanga than an eggroll, this appetizer is a fabulous creation with monster flavor. A flour tortilla is stuffed with a spicy blend of corn, green onions, black beans, spinach, jalapeno peppers, Monterey Jack cheese and spices then it's deep-fried. Slice the fried rolls diagonally, dunk the wedges into a creamy avocado ranch sauce, and you've done your taste buds a solid. Make these several hours before you plan to serve them so that they can freeze before frying (it's a great dish to make a day ahead of a party or event). This freezing step will help the outside fry to a golden brown, but the eggrolls will stay folded, and oil won't seep in. Assembling the eggrolls takes a little time, so if you like these, I suggest making a double batch. Since you'll be freezing them, you'll have extra on hand in the freezer ready to cook with just a little additional effort.
Elaine: "Do you need anything?"
Kramer: "Oh, a hot bowl of Mulligatawny would hit the spot."
Kramer: "Yeah, it's an Indian soup. Simmered to perfection by one of the great soup artisans in the modern era."
Elaine: "Oh. Who, the Soup Nazi?"
Kramer: "He's not a Nazi. He just happens to be a little eccentric. You know, most geniuses are."
Kramer was right. Al Yeganeh—otherwise known as The Soup Nazi from the Seinfeld episode that aired in 1995—is a master at the soup kettle. His popular soup creations have inspired many inferior copycats in the Big Apple, including The Soup Nutsy, which was only ten blocks away from Al's original location on 55 th Street. Yeganeh's mastery shows when he combines unusual ingredients to create unique and delicious flavors in his much-raved-about soups. In this one, you might be surprised to discover pistachios and cashews among the many vegetables. It's a combination that works.
I took a trip to New York and tasted about a dozen of the Soup Nazi's original creations. This one, the Indian Mulligatawny, was high on my list of favorites. After each daily trip to Soup Nazi headquarters (Soup Kitchen International), I immediately headed back to the hotel and poured samples of the soups into labeled, sealed containers, which were then chilled for the trip back home. Back in the lab, portions of the soup were rinsed through a sieve so that ingredients could be identified. I recreated four of Al's best-selling soups after that trip, including this one, which will need to simmer for 3 to 4 hours, or until the soup reduces. The soup will darken as the flavors intensify, the potatoes will begin to fall apart to thicken the soup, and the nuts will soften. If you follow these directions, you should end up with a clone that would fool even Cosmo Kramer himself.
Update 2/6/18 : The recipe can be improved by doubling the curry (to 2 teaspoons) and reducing the water by half (to 8 cups). Cook the soup for half the recommended time or until it's your desired thickness.
Check out my other Soup Nazi copycat recipes here.
There's no chocolate in it. Or coffee. Or Coca-Cola. The ingredient rumors for the Skyline Chili secret recipe are plentiful on the Internet, but anyone can purchase cans of Skyline chili from the company and find the ingredients listed right on the label: beef, water, tomato paste, dried torula yeast, salt, spices, cornstarch, and natural flavors. You can trust that if chocolate were included in the secret recipe, the label would reflect it—important information for people with a chocolate allergy. All it takes to recreate the unique flavor of Skyline is a special blend of easy-to-find spices plus beef broth and a few other not-so-unusual ingredients. Let the chili simmer for an hour or so, then serve it up on its own or in one of the traditional Cincinnati-style serving suggestions (the "ways" they call 'em) with the chili poured over spaghetti noodles, topped with grated Cheddar cheese and other good stuff:
3-Way: Pour chili over cooked spaghetti noodles and top with grated Cheddar cheese.
4-Way: Add a couple teaspoons of grated onion before adding the cheese.
5-Way: Add cooked red beans over the onions before adding the cheese.
If you're a fan of this hearty dish, you may also like my clone recipes for other popular soups and chilis here.
Menu Description: "Shredded napa cabbage, chilled grilled chicken breast, julienne cucumbers, edamame, crispy wontons, peanuts, cilantro, julienne carrots, red cabbage and scallions tossed with a lime-cilantro dressing. Topped with crispy rice sticks and Thai peanut dressing."
You can plan ahead for this amazing salad clone by first grilling the chicken and chilling it, then preparing the cilantro-lime dressing and the peanut sauce in advance. The menu description says that the salad is topped with "crispy rice sticks," but they look to me like crispy bean threads, cooked in a flash when dropped into hot oil for a few seconds. The crispy wontons are made from frying thinly sliced wonton wrappers in the same hot oil. For the edamame (soybeans), look in the frozen food section, and if they're still in their pods, be sure to take them out before measuring and tossing them into the salad. Once you've got everything chilled and chopped, building each dish is a breeze, and you'll have four huge dinner-size salads that will each be enough for an entire meal.
I've cloned a ton of dishes from California Pizza Kitchen. See if I hacked your favorites here.
Every brand of hummus I've tried over the years has been just so-so in taste and texture, until I discovered Sabra. Now this ultra-smooth hummus—which has been rated number one in a blind taste test—is the only hummus in my fridge, unless I've made this clone. Hummus is an awesome snack as a dip for vegetables or pita chips, since it's rich in protein, soluble fiber, potassium, and Vitamin E. The secret to duplicating Sabra's smooth and creamy quality is to let your food processor work the stuff over for a solid 10 minutes. Also, when getting your Sabra hummus ingredients ready, don't use all of the liquid from the can of garbanzo beans or the hummus will end up too runny. Strain off the liquid first, then measure only 1/2 cup back into the food processor. Sabra uses canola and/or soybean oil, but you may think olive oil tastes better. Look for a jar of sesame tahini in the aisle where all the international foods are parked, and while you're there find the citric acid, which may also go by the name "sour salt." The clone below will not have the proper acidic bite without this secret ingredient, and citric acid also works as a preservative to help the leftover hummus stay fresh and tasty.
If you like McDonald's Big Mac Sauce, you'll love Todd Wilbur's McDonald's-inspired special burger sauce.
Created by food hacker Todd Wilbur, this sauce is inspired by the special sauce McDonald's uses on their world-famous hamburgers.
Use it on your own burgers, sandwiches and wraps.
Ingredients: Soybean oil, cucumbers, sugar, water, white distilled vinegar, eggs, salt, mustard seed, corn syrup, onions, natural flavors, spices, Xanthan gum, garlic, turmeric, lemon juice, pimento, soy protein, preservatives, paprika, citric acid, annatto, Autolyzed yeast, sunflower oil.
Nutritional facts: Serving size 1 tbsp. Servings per container 20. Amount per serving: Calories 70, Total Fat 7g, Saturated Fat 1g, Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 5mg, Sodium 125mg, Total Carbohydrate 2g, Dietary fiber 0g, Sugars 1g, Protein 0g.
If you like Zaxby's Chicken Finger Sauce, you'll love this.
Created by food hacker Todd Wilbur, this sauce is inspired by the delicious secret chicken finger dipping sauce from Zaxby's.
Use it on chicken fingers, fried shrimp and breaded chicken breast sandwiches.
Ingredients: Soybean oil, white distilled vinegar, water, tomato concentrate, eggs, high fructose corn syrup, salt, corn syrup, spices, lemon juice, mustard seed, garlic, molasses, onions, paprika, sugar, citric acid, celery seed, Xanthan gum, preservatives, anchovy extract, autolyzed yeast, natural flavors, tamarind extract, caramel color, sunflower oil.
Nutrition Facts: Serving Size 1 tbsp. Servings per Container 20. Amount per Serving: Calories 70, Total Fat 7g, Cholesterol 5mg, Sodium 180mg, Total Carbohydrate 1g, Dietary Fiber 0g, Sugars 1g, Protein 0g.
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.
This super simple Chili's salsa recipe can be made in a pinch with a can of diced tomatoes, some canned jalapeños, fresh lime juice, onion, spices, and a food processor or blender. Plus you can easily double the recipe by sending in a larger 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes, and simply doubling up on all the other ingredients. Use this versatile salsa as a dip for tortilla chips or plop it down onto any dish that needs flavor assistance—from eggs to taco salads to wraps to fish. You can adjust the Chili's salsa recipe heat level to suit your taste by tweaking the amount of canned jalapeños in the mix.
Now, what's for dinner? Check out some copycat entrees from your favorite restaurants here.
Menu Description: "Roasted garlic and Parmesan sauce with Italian herbs."
Buffalo Wild Wings had a record day on Super Bowl Sunday 2007 when the chain sold 3.4 million wings! One year later the chain announced the opening of its 500 th store. As the biggest buffalo wing chain in the country continues to grow, so does its selection of delicious sauces. Creamy, and slightly spicy, this Parmesan Garlic Sauce is one of several new sauces BWW added to its menu. Our Top Secret clone starts by roasting a few peeled garlic cloves in your oven. Add mayo and Parmesan cheese to the soft, roasted garlic, plus some corn syrup, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and an assortment of dried herbs and you've got yourself an addictive sauce that's as good on finger food as it is on a salad. Bake up some breaded chicken nuggets or fry up some wings, then simply toss 'em in some of this delicious sauce and serve.
Just like the pro chefs use. A secret blend that will make your homemade fish taste like it came from a famous seafood chain. All-natural. Contains no MSG or preservatives. Great for anyone who loves fish. And it's especially amazing on salmon.
Top Secret Fish Rub is created by Food Hacker Todd Wilbur who has spent the last 30 years reverse-engineering popular menu items at the most-loved restaurant chains across America. By identifying the herbs, spices and other ingredients that make great restaurant food taste so good, Todd created this custom Top Secret Fish Rub to help you make restaurant-style fish at home. All it takes is just a few shakes. Then cook the fish your favorite way.
5.3-ounce bottle. Money back guarantee. Kosher certified. Gluten-free.
If you didn’t know this salad came from Chick-fil-A you could easily be fooled into thinking it was a much more expensive salad from a casual chain like T.G.I. Friday’s or Chili’s. The bed of greens is built with crisp romaine, green leaf, and red leaf lettuce, and without a speck of tasteless iceberg in sight. On top of that are ingredients you don’t associate with fast food, like grilled corn, black beans, roasted peppers, spicy chili lime pepitas, and crunchy tortilla chips. Everything works great together, and now I can show you how to make all of it for a spot-on home hack.
Chick-fil-A knows chicken, so of course the spicy chicken served on top of the salad is delicious. We can easily clone it by marinating chicken fillets in a special spicy brine for a few hours to infuse it with flavor and juiciness, then grilling it, chilling it, and slicing it thin.
The biggest star of the salad is the secret recipe that kitchen cloners have requested most: the creamy salsa dressing. To make your own version roast some peppers, mix those with the other ingredients in a blender until the dressing is smooth and creamy, and you’ll get a bright, spicy dressing that’s perfect for this salad, or any other home-crafted salads in your future.
Hungry for more Chick-Fil-A? Find my clones for their famous chicken sandwich, mac & cheese, and more here.
Half of a 750 ml. bottle of Jameson’s Irish whiskey (or any Irish whiskey you like)
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk…see the link in Kel’s comment below)
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbls. chocolate syrup
2 tsp. instant espresso
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
Gather together your ingredients.
Put the condensed milk in your blender.
Crack the eggs into a small bowl.
Fish out any little bits of shell, if there are any. Then add the eggs to the blender.
Toss in the instant espresso powder.
Add the vanilla and almond extracts.
Cap your blender and process ’til smooth. The condensed milk is pretty thick. It may take a minute or two for it to distribute completely.
You want it to be uniform in color and consistency, like this:
Cap your blender again and blend well.
Set a strainer over a bowl and pour the liqueur through it. (Just in case there were any bits of egg or espresso that didn’t blend completely.)
Set a funnel in the mouth of your bottle.
Ladle the liqueur into the funnel to fill the bottle.
Cap and pop into the fridge. If you’re giving it as a gift, tie a little label on it (along with a “made-on” date and a “use-by” date that’s 30 days out.)
Serve straight up or shake up in your favorite cocktail. Your liqueur will keep for about a month in the fridge.
The Process: Making Homemade Condensed Milk, Real Food Style
Wikipedia told me that condensed milk really is what it sounds: just milk that has had a great deal of its water content boiled away, just as you might condense chicken stock. Quite a bit of sugar is also added, which helps to preserve the final product. I also learned that evaporated milk is very similar to condensed milk in that it is milk condensed down to about half its original volume.
Because evaporated milk has no sweetener added, it is not as shelf stable and requires more processing than condensed milk. However, if you’re not trying to avoid the BPA in canned goods and simply wish to use your own less refined sweetener and perhaps less of it, you could always just add about 1/2-2/3 cup sugar to a can of evaporated milk, and voila! Sweetened condensed milk.
Although tempting, I chose to go real food all the way.
My goal was to reduce the volume of the milk by about half, although after two hours of a gentle simmer, I decided 1/3 was good enough. I started with 1 1/2 cups of whole milk, added 1/2 cup of organic cane sugar from Wholesome Sweeteners, and stirred to combine every 10 minutes or so. I kept the fire going very, very low (very low!) because I have a tendency to forget things on the stove, especially over such a long time, and I didn’t want to take a chance of scalding the stuff.
After two hours, I got the mixture down to about a cup total, which was good enough for me. It was noticeably thicker, although not nearly the consistency of a can of sweetened condensed milk. If I had followed the proper ratio of ingredients, I should have used 2/3 cup sugar, but I chose to cut it down a little.
While still warm, I whisked in 3 Tbs. butter and 1 tsp. vanilla.
If you happen to totally forget and it boils off too much, just keep going. Get it down to a fourth of its original volume, and you’ve got dulce de leche!
Irish Cream Whiskey Recipe
Irish cream isn't always considered the most sophisticated spirit, but there's no shame in the occasional after-dinner tipple of the sweet, creamy stuff, especially when you make it yourself. That's right&mdashfresh Irish cream is easily within your reach and endlessly adaptable, too.
Angela Waterhouse, who grew up in Dublin and tends bar at Stone Park Cafe in Brooklyn, has made all kinds of Irish creams&mdashomitting the coffee flavor and adding raspberry liqueur for Valentine's Day or swapping in limoncello for a Mother's Day cocktail. For St. Patrick's Day, she'll drop in a bit of mint and a touch more chocolate to keep things festive.
"I tend to use Tullamore Dew whiskey, which has a lovely softness to it," she says. And though homemade Irish creams make lovely gifts, "cut back on the condensed milk if you're using it right away," Waterhouse advises, which, frankly, you will be after tasting it.
To complete your St. Patrick's Day celebration, make our recipes for corned beef and cabbage.
What is Irish cream?
Irish cream is a cream-based liqueur that can be enjoyed on its own, or mixed in cocktails, coffee, or used in desserts. Typically made with Irish whiskey, the drink is lightly sweetened and also contains hints of coffee, chocolate, and vanilla flavors.
It has been made popular mostly in the form of Baileys Irish Cream, a well known store-bought brand. I’m a big fan of all of their flavors, and I use it a lot in baking, so our liquor cabinet is never without a bottle.
Well…guess what? Your homemade Baileys will blow that 2-year shelf life stuff out of the water. Plus, it’s ridiculously quick and easy to make. You don’t even need any special blender or strainer – a bowl and a whisk will do the job as well as any high-powered small kitchen appliance.
Join us all week in celebrating the 2018 Winter Olympics – with food! Here are today’s recipes, and I’ll be coming at you with more of my own on Wednesday (USA!) and Friday (France!), as well!
OH! Do NOT forget to stop by my Instagram to join our big fat Loop Giveaway! We’ve got so many fun foodie prizes, you’re not gonna want to miss it!