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Shake Shack's Special Sauce

Shake Shack's Special Sauce


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Now home burgers can be special, too

Mike Coppola/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

If you're a fan of Shake Shack's sauce (and who isn't?), try this recipe at home to replicate the chain's flavors.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 4 Tablespoons chopped dill pickles
  • 1/2 Teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

In a food processor fitted with a sharp blade, combine all of the ingredients and process until smooth.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Nutritional Facts

Servings4

Calories Per Serving205

Folate equivalent (total)1µgN/A


Shake Shack Burger Recipe (Mouthwatering Secret Sauce)

This shake shack burger recipe is the perfect combo of ground beef, American cheese, special sauce, and everything else you want from a mouthwateringly juicy cheeseburger.

Shake Shack Burger Sauce Recipe

At the core of every great burger lies a great sauce – so let’s start there! Here are the ingredients you will need:

  • 1/2 Cup Mayo
  • 1 Tablespoon Ketchup
  • 1 Tablespoon Yellow Mustard
  • 4 slices Kosher Dill Pickle
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

Put these in a food processor until you get the right consistency.

Shake Shack Beef Patties

Next up, the patty. Shake shack keeps it simple with fresh ingredients. Their blend is a trade secret. You can emulate it pretty closely by using the following beef cuts.

Form the ground beef into quarter pound portions, and hit each one with some kosher salt and black pepper. Time to move on to the grill!

Grilling Your Burgers

Fire up your flat top grill, and spread some vegetable oil on it.

Place the quarter pound of beef on top, and let it sear for 40 seconds. Then grab a sturdy, heavy duty spatula and use it to flatten the meat into a patty. Hit that side with another layer of salt & pepper.

When flipping the patty, use a sharp spatula to get underneath it so it doesn’t fall apart. After flipping, place a slice of american cheese on top.

Assembling Your Shake Shack Burger

Give the buns a quick toast, before putting everything together. Spread some sauce on the top bun, followed by some green leaf lettuce and tomato slices.

Place the patty with molten cheese on the bottom bun. Then bring the two halves together, and voila! Your very own Shake Shack burger!


How to make Shake Shack’s ShackSauce at home

It is colossally difficult to run a profitable restaurant, much less build a brand successful enough to open a second, a third, a 20th location. Which is to say, if you have your sights set on becoming the next Ray Kroc or Dave Thomas, the odds are overwhelmingly not in your favor. It makes the success of Shake Shack , which began as a kiosk in New York’s Madison Square Park in 2004 and now has 100-plus locations worldwide, that much more staggering to comprehend.

At heart, Shake Shack serves burgers, fries, hot dogs, and milkshakes. But its combination of fine-dining-quality ingredient sourcing (its beef patty is a proprietary blend from famed butcher Pat LaFrieda), the financial backing of New York restaurateur Danny Meyer, and the buzz-generating visuals of absurdly long lunch lines helped launch the brand into the stratosphere.

In their new book, Shake Shack: Recipes & Stories , Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti and culinary director Mark Rosati share their shack-to-empire story and offer tips on replicating Shake Shack menu items at home. I actually don’t think you can ever fully replicate a SmokeShack burger or Shack Attack Concrete at home, since so much is incumbent on procuring ingredients from specific purveyors. After you buy the Rick’s Picks relish and Vienna Beef hot dogs and double-grind the necessary brisket, chuck, and short rib to make its beef patties, you’re probably better off spending the $7 to have Shake Shack make it for you. Still, as a way of pulling back the curtain to reveal the restaurant’s method for success, the book is an entertaining read (there’s a particularly promising recipe for fried ale-marinated shallots).

Perhaps the most practical recipe from the book is its homemade version for ShackSauce. What follows is the recipe for that all-purpose, dip-with-anything awesome sauce, which is spread atop Shake Shack’s burgers. The key to this sauce’s effectiveness is its versatility, and it’s versatile because it’s, frankly, difficult to describe. At least with McDonald’s Secret Sauce you can say it’s Thousand Island dressing or that Arby’s Horsey Sauce is a horseradish mayo. But with ShackSauce, it tastes like… I guess, sauce? More specifically, a savory pinkish slather that goes well with salty foods? I’ll put it this way: If I have a plain piece of meat or french fry and this sauce is within arm’s reach, there will be dipping.


Shake Shack Revealed The Recipe For Its Cheese Sauce So You Can Put It On Everything

Many restaurants are releasing their iconic recipes to the public, although some are still extra secretive about their sauces. McDonald's Big Mac sauce and Chick-fil-A sauce are some of the industry's best-kept secrets, but Shake Shack has no problem offering up their cheese sauce that would go great with, well, just about anything!

Our new cooking-along series, Shake Shack at Your Shack, is here! In our first episode, our Culinary Director is teaching you how to make our classic cheese sauce at home. Trust us. you&rsquoll want to drizzle this fan favorite on everything! #ShakeShack #AtYourShack pic.twitter.com/yNqmRdXMOI

&mdash SHAKE SHACK (@shakeshack) May 11, 2020

The burger chain posted a video tutorial on its Twitter and Facebook platforms that shows a step-by-step tutorial of making the sauce. To recreate it entirely, you'll need American cheese, cheddar cheese, canola oil, white wine vinegar, jalapeño, onion, salt, peppercorns, heavy cream, and white wine.

Like most of the copycat recipes that have been coming out, there can always be some substitution and improvisation done here and there if you don't already have the ingredients laying around your house. For this recipe, it seems like the main ingredients were the cheeses, cream, vinegar, and onion.

If you're using the full ingredient list, you'll start off by greasing a pan with canola oil, then sautéing onions, jalapeño, peppercorns, and salt. Once the onions are translucent, you'll add in white wine vinegar and white wine, wait for that to reduce down, add in the heavy cream, turn off the heat, and let all those ingredients steep together for about 30 minutes.

From there, you'll strain the cream to separate it from the solid ingredients, put it back into the pan and bring it up to a light boil before whisking in the cheeses. The finished product is that creamy cheese sauce you love to dip your crinkle fries in with your Shake Shack meal, so looks like I'll be putting this on everything for the next few weeks. Don't mind me!


The Shackburger is the fattiest, freshest meat

The most essential element of Shake Shack's Shackburger is, of course, the meat itself. Shake Shack uses only the best beef, sourced from Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors. According to Mark Rosati, culinary director of the burger chain, the most important factor in meat selection is the fat content. As Samin Nosrat writes in her book, Salt Fat Acid Heat, fat imparts flavor into any dish, so it is an important factor in developing meat with a robust taste.

"We're looking for good fat content," Rosati said in an instructional video for Business Insider. "For us that's somewhere around 20/80. 20 percent fat to 80 percent lean. If you really want something amazing, go a little higher — go about 22 percent fat."

According to Epicurious, Shake Shack's exact ratio is kept a secret, as is the specific cut of meat from which the Shackburger is formed. But Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti confirmed on TODAY Food that his company's burgers are "no hormone, no antibiotic, whole muscle . 100 percent beef" (via YouTube).


Reviews

Delicious and easy to make

The only complaint is that I didn’t make more. This is restaurant style sauce and so yummy. For the pickle juice I just used whole dill and it turned out perfect. My boyfriend LOVED it. Thank you!

I made it as written and everyone loved it. It added a nice flavor to our burgers and I will make it again! It’s easy to make, the spicy pickle juice was easy to find and we all felt it jazzed up a plain cheeseburger. It keeps well too.

Hello! I'm from Brazil and it's not easy to find pickle juice around here! Can I substitute cucumber rilish?

This is a very easy, tasty recipe. I used just regular pickle juice, and doubled the recipe. I will more than double the recipe next time. Great on sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, veggie dips.

All major pickle making companies offer Hot and Spicy pickles. or at least most!

Easy to make, tasty and a very nice accompaniment to burgers. Used it for our health-conscious turkey burgers last night and this sauce put it over the top. We always have Bubbies pickles in our fridge so the brine type of spicy pickle juice is what I used, and believe the recipe author was referencing something similar (as opposed to the vinegar-based). Also, didn't have anything but smooth dijon mustard and I think that worked well. We followed the suggestion for the Shake Shack style buttered potato buns and, well, it's no wonder they've done almost $100M in domestic sales. (See Epicurious article for the Shake Shack story.) We rarely use ground beef for obvious reasons so I developed a winning taste profile for mostly bland ground dark turkey. To 2 lbs of ground dark turkey, I add 1 small minced red onion (about 2" in diameter), minced portobello mushroom (about 1 cup adds moisture to keep burger from drying out), 3 tblsps of minced FRESH oregano, S P to taste. Mix carefully, shape, chill, enjoy.

This sounds so yummy for burgers. I do believe this means the pickle juice from the jar of pickles. I always save the pickle juice & add it to sauces & tuna or chicken salads.


Preparation

For our salt & pepper mix:

In a small bowl, mix the kosher salt with the pepper burgers as they cook. Set aside.

For the not quite our ShackSauce:

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and stir to combine. Set aside.

For the ShackBurger:

Heat a cast-iron griddle over medium-low heat until warm. Meanwhile, open the hamburger buns and brush the insides with the melted butter. A soft brush is helpful here. Place the buns buttered side down on the griddle and toast until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer buns to a plate. Spoon the sauce onto the top bun. Add a piece of the lettuce and two slices of tomato.

Increase the heat to medium and heat the griddle until hot, 2 to 3 minutes.

Evenly sprinkle a pinch of our salt & pepper mix on top of each puck of meat.

Place the pucks on the griddle, seasoned side down. Using a large, sturdy metal spatula, firmly smash each puck into a 1/3-inch thick round patty. Pressing down on the spatula with another stiff spatula helps flatten the burger quickly. Evenly sprinkle another big pinch of our salt & pepper mix.

Cook the burgers, resisting the urge to move them, until the edges beneath are brown and crisp, and juices on the surface are bubbling hot, about 2½ minutes. Slide one of the spatulas beneath the burger to release it from the griddle and scrape up the caramelized browned crust. Use the other spatula to steady the burger and keep it from sliding. Flip the burgers. Put the cheese on top and cook the burgers 1 minute longer for medium. Cook more or less depending on your preference.


Strawberry & Cream Croissant French Toast For Your Weekend Brunch

Those with a creative eye know firsthand that inspiration is all around us. Whether you're energized by the earth tones of nature, a color-filled walk through a local farmer's market, or even by a quick scroll through Instagram, you never know what might spark a new creative project.

In the spirit of inspiring your next masterpiece, we're excited to partner with Bounty to fuel the next generation of artists and designers forward by launching a national design competition. We're calling on graphic designers to apply for a chance to see their work featured on a new Brit + Co and Bounty paper towel collection, set to launch in 2022.

Aside from the incredible exposure of having your illustrations on paper towels that'll be in stores across America next year, you'll also receive $5,000 for your art a scholarship for Selfmade, our 10-week entrepreneurship accelerator to take your design career to the next level (valued at $2,000) and a stand alone feature on Brit + Co spotlighting your artistry as a creator.

The Creatively You Design Competition launches Friday, May 21, 2021 and will be accepting submissions through Monday, June 7, 2021.

APPLY NOW

Who Should Apply: Women-identifying graphic designers and illustrators. (Due to medium limitations, we're not currently accepting design submissions from photographers or painters.)

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How To Enter: Apply here, where you'll be asked to submit 2x original design files you own the rights to for consideration. Acceptable file formats include: .PNG, .JPG, .GIF, .SVG, .PSD, and .TIFF. Max file size 5GB. We'll also ask about your design inspiration and your personal info so we can keep in touch.

Artist Selection Process: Panelists from Brit + Co and P&G Bounty's creative teams will judge the submissions and select 50 finalists on June 11, 2021 who will receive a Selfmade scholarship for our summer 2021 session. Then, up to 8 artists will be selected from the finalists and notified on June 18, 2021. The chosen designers will be announced publicly in 2022 ahead of the product launch.

For any outstanding contest Qs, please see our main competition page. Good luck & happy creating!


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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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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

Braised and shredded pork shoulder is a staple of Mexican cuisine that Chipotle prepares with a simple blend of flavors, and a surprising ingredient you may not have expected: juniper berries. Once you track those down (they’re easy to find online), the berries are combined with thyme and bay leaves in a braising liquid that will transform your own pork roast into an easily shreddable thing of beauty in under 3 hours. Then you can use your freshly cloned carnitas on tacos, in burritos, or in a bowl over rice and beans just like they do in the restaurant.

When picking your pork roast, try to find one without too much fat. If your roast has a thick cap of fat on it, trim off the excess. You want some fat in your braising liquid, but if the cap of fat is too thick, it may not fully render down and you’ll get chunks of fat in the shred.

It’s often assumed that the pork butt is from the rear end of the pig, even though cuts from the back region already have a name: ham. The pork butt, also known as a Boston butt, is cut from the other end, the upper shoulder of the pig. It’s called a “butt” because in pre-Revolutionary War New England the roasts were stored and transported in barrels called “butts”, and the confusing name stuck.

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.

“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.

Over a century ago, Detroit, Michigan became the Coney Island chili dog capital of the world, even though Coney Island is nowhere near there. Greek immigrants who entered the U.S. through Ellis Island adapted a recipe for the hot dogs they ate while visiting Coney Island, New York, on their way to the Midwest. When they settled in southern Michigan, many opened restaurants to sell their clones of the food they ate when they first got to America, turning New York-style Coney Dogs into a Midwest phenomenon.

Two of the most famous Coney Island restaurants in Detroit are Lafayette Coney Island and its next-door neighbor, American Coney Island. The two buildings were originally one building with a single restaurant inside, built by brothers Gus and Bill Keros in 1915. But somewhere along the way the brothers had a falling out and split the restaurant in half, right down the middle, and it stayed that way. Today, the two Coney Island restaurants are under different ownership, but they still remain next-door rivals.

I decided the best Coney dog to hack is from American Coney Island, not only because of the restaurant’s deep history, but also because I was able to order the chili dogs shipped to my house in a kit. That’s always good news, since shipped foods must list ingredients, and I get to see exactly what’s in the chili. Built the traditional way, a typical Detroit Coney Island chili dog features a natural-casing hot dog in a soft white bun, smothered in chili sauce, drizzled with mustard, and topped with a pile of diced sweet onion. The kit came with everything I needed, including the tub of chili with clearly-labeled ingredients that I was counting on.

With the help of that information, I was able to create a thick, flavorful chili sauce that you can use on your favorite hot dogs to make a delicious clone. Crushed soda crackers thicken the chili, and extra beef fat adds a smooth quality that mimics the famous 100-year-old recipe.

The chili must simmer for four hours to properly tenderize the meat, so plan your Coney dog cloning adventure accordingly.

And now if you're craving French fries, try my Mcdonald's Fries copycat recipe here.

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.

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.

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.

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 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).

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).

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.

What started as a single food cart in Madison Square Park in New York City in 2000 has become one of America's fastest-growing food chains. In 2014, Shake Shack filed for its initial public offering of stock, and shares rose by 147 percent on the first day of trading. The chain’s success can be attributed to a simple menu of great food that makes any bad day better, including juicy flat-grilled burgers, thick shakes, and creamy frozen custard.

Custard is made just like ice cream with many of the same ingredients, except custard has egg yolks in it for extra richness. Also, custards are made in ice cream machines with paddles that move slowly so minimal air is mixed in. Home ice cream makers work great for custard, and will churn out a thick, creamy finished product. Using the right ratio of cream to milk and just enough egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla, you can now make an identical hack of Shake Shack’s custard, which is great on its own or topped with syrups, fruit, and candy bits.

And don’t forget that custards taste best when they’re fresh. Shake Shack serves the custard within a couple of hours of making it, so consume your copycat custard as quickly as you can after it’s churned.

Find out how to duplicate the chain's famous Vanilla Milkshake by just adding milk using the recipe here, and re-create the juicy Shake Shake Burger with my hack here.

Menu Description: “Two lightly fried parmesan-breaded chicken breasts are smothered with Olive Garden’s homemade marinara sauce and melted Italian cheeses. We serve our Chicken Parmigiana with a side of spaghetti for dinner.”

Chicken parmigiana is a forever favorite, and it’s not a difficult dish to whip up at home. But for it to taste like the Olive Garden signature entree, we’ll need to take some very specific steps.

Olive Garden’s chicken is salty and moist all the way through, so we must first start by brining the chicken. Give yourself an extra hour for this important marinating step. The marinara sauce used on the chicken is an Olive Garden specialty and no bottled sauce compares, so we’ll make our own from scratch using canned crushed tomatoes and the formula below.

While the sauce cooks, filling your house with its intoxicating aroma, the chicken is breaded and browned. When the marinara is done, top the chicken with the sauce and mozzarella and stick it under your hot broiler until bubbling.

Hopefully, everyone at your house is hungry, because the Olive Garden dinner portion is two chicken fillets, and this recipe will yield a total of four 2-piece servings. Add a small serving of spaghetti on the side, topped with more of the delicious sauce, and you'll have a perfect match to the restaurant plate.

Can't get enough Olive Garden? Click here for more of my copycat recipes.

As you can probably guess, KFC's Extra Crispy Tenders are chicken tenderloins coated with the same delicious breading as KFC’s Extra Crispy Chicken. These tenders come in servings of two, three, six, or twelve, with your choice of dipping sauces on the side including buffalo, barbecue, and the new Finger Lickin' Good Sauce.

To duplicate these chicken fingers at home we’ll resort to a similar prep technique to the one used for the Extra Crispy Chicken: the chicken is brined for 2 hours to give it more flavor and juiciness, then the tenders are double-breaded for an extra-crunchy coating.

An important secret revealed in this breading recipe is the use of a specific type of ground black pepper. For the best clone you want to use Tellicherry black pepper, which is premium black pepper ground from mature peppercorns that have had time to develop more flavor. The unique aftertaste of KFC chicken is attributed to this special spice, so it’s worth the time to track it down.

Tellicherry black pepper costs a little more than the younger, more common black pepper, but if you want a good clone of the famous crispy fried chicken, it’s an essential ingredient. Be sure to grind the pepper fine before adding it.

Korean chicken is famous for its extra crispy coating, and Bonchon’s recipe—especially the wings—is one of the best in the world. That chain's famous formula is why there are now over 340 Bonchon outlets in nine countries, including over one hundred in the US and more planned to open here in the near future.

The biggest challenge when recreating Korean chicken wings is finding the perfect magical mixture for the batter that fries to a golden brown, and with tender crispiness that stays crunchy long after the wings have been brushed with the flavorful glaze.

I knew that a traditional double-frying technique would help create the crunchy coating we needed, but it would take some trial-and-error to determine the best time splits. The wings are par-fried, rested, then fried again until done, but just how long to give each stage was yet to be determined since every recipe I found for Korean chicken used different times and temps. Some recipes even changed the temperature between frying steps, but I found those made the recipe too difficult to manage when frying multiple batches.

I eventually settled on 350 degrees F with most of the frying done up front in the par-fry stage. A three-ingredient batter is all that’s needed for crispy golden-brown wings, and the soy garlic sauce is an easy hack that’s made quickly in your microwave oven. The spicy version is made by adding Korean red chili paste (gochujang) and Korean red pepper powder (gochugaru) to the soy garlic recipe. You can find these ingredients at Asian markets or online, and if you like your wings spicy you'll want to add these perky ingredients.

Click here for more delicious appetizer recipes.

There are many acceptable ways to formulate good queso, but to make this specific queso the ingredients must be correct, and most copycat recipes seem to get it wrong. A few recipes get one of the peppers and two of the cheeses right, but pretty much every recipe out there is a bit of a mess that I will now save you from.

Quesos can be made with a variety of cheeses that include queso fresco, asadero, and Muenster, but this particular queso includes a cheese you probably didn’t expect: Swiss. That cheese is slow to melt, so we’ll shred it first, along with the Jack. And you won't need to gum up the queso with flour or cornstarch by making a roux because the white American cheese in the mix contains sodium citrate or sodium phosphate—additives that help the cheese melt smoothly and stay that way.

Authors of recipes that call for tomatoes in this dish haven’t looked closely. Those are red bell peppers and they are roasted, peeled, and seeded along with the poblano and jalapenos before they are diced and added to the cheese sauce. The sauce cooks on low heat, never bubbling, so that it stays smooth and creamy.

When done, the queso might seem thin in the pan, but it will thicken as it cools to a perfect consistency for dipping tortilla chips, or as a topping for tacos and burrito bowls.

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

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

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

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

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

Like at Wendy’s, where unsold and broken burger patties provide the beef for their famous chili, Chick-fil-A gets the chicken for this delicious noodle soup by chopping up the leftover chicken used on their grilled chicken sandwiches. But grilling isn’t the first step to take when whipping up a home hack of this famous soup. First, you must brine the chicken to fill it with flavor and keep it juicy like the real thing. A couple of hours later, when the brining is done, it’s grilling go-time.

The pasta shape Chick-fil-A uses in their soup is an uncommon one, and you might have a hard time finding it at your local market. It’s called mafalda corta (upper right in the photo), which is a miniature version of the ruffled-edge malfadine pasta used in my hack for Olive Garden Beef Bolognese. It also goes by the name “mini lasagna.” If you can’t find mafalda corta (I found it online), you can instead use your favorite small fancy pasta here, such as farfalle, rotini, fusilli, or whatever looks good at the store.

Looking to make the popular Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich or their Mac & Cheese? Click here for more of my Chick-fil-A clone recipes.

There’s one copycat recipe for these famous biscuits that’s posted and shared more than any other, and it’s downright awful. The dough is formulated with self-rising flour, baking powder, powdered sugar, shortening, and buttermilk, and many complain that the recipe creates dough that’s much too loose and the resulting biscuits are a complete disaster. Yet there the recipe remains on blogs and boards all over the interweb for unsuspecting home cloners such as yourself to waste time on. But that won’t happen anymore, because I have made a good copycat Bojangles' buttermilk biscuits recipe that works the way it should, guaranteeing you’ll get amazing golden buttermilk biscuits that look and taste just like a trained Bojangles’ pro made them.

In addition to the obvious overuse of buttermilk, the popular recipe I found online has many problems. The author gets it right when calling for self-rising flour, which is flour containing salt and a leavening agent (aka baking powder), but why would the copycat Bojangles biscuit recipe be designed to use self-rising flour and then add additional leaving? Well, it probably wouldn’t. Biscuits are job number 1 for self-rising flour, and the leavening in there is measured for that use, so there’s no need to add more. If you were planning to add your own leavening, you’d probably start with all-purpose flour, which has no leavening in it. And let's just be clear: baking powder tastes gross, so we want to add as little as possible, not more than necessary.

It’s also important to handle the dough the same way that workers at Bojangles’ do. They make biscuits there every 20 minutes and there are plenty of YouTube videos showing the preparation technique. In a nutshell, the dough is mixed by hand (in the restaurant they use their hands because the quantity is so large, but for this recipe use a mixing spoon), then it’s folded over a few times on a floured countertop before it’s rolled out. This gentle handling of the dough prevents the gluten in the flour from toughening and adds layers, so your biscuits come out of the oven tender and flakey.

For the best results, find White Lily flour. This self-rising flour is low in gluten and makes unbelievably fluffy biscuits. If you use another self-rising brand, you’ll still get great biscuits, but the gluten level will likely be higher, the biscuits will be tougher, and you’ll probably need more buttermilk. Head down to the Tidbits below for details on that.

And I noticed another thing most copycat Bojangles biscuit recipes get wrong. For biscuits that are beautifully golden brown on the top and bottom, you’ll want to bake them on a silicone baking mat (or parchment paper) at 500 degrees F. Yes, 500 degrees. That may seem hot, but this high temp works well with self-rising flour, and in 12 to 15 minutes the biscuits will be perfectly browned.

Counterintuitively, it’s the lower temperatures that end up burning the biscuits, while the higher temperature cooks them just right. At lower temps the biscuits must stay in the oven longer to cook through, which exposes the surfaces to more heat, and they end up too dark on the outside, especially the bottom. For even better results, if you have a convection setting on your oven, use that and set the temp to 475 degrees F. Your biscuits will look like they came straight from the drive-thru.


How to Make Copycat Shake Shack Sauce

If you enjoy mayo or a cream-based sauce on your burger then you will love this copycat shake shack sauce. It is rich, creamy, savory, tangy, and oh so delicious. We enjoy adding a pinch of cayenne pepper for a bit of kick to this sauce but feel free to season to your preference.

Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix them together with a fork or whisk. It’s that simple.

Copycat Shake Shack Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp pickle brine
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch of cayenne (optional)


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