Traditional recipes

Coca-Cola Recipe May Be Revealed and More News

Coca-Cola Recipe May Be Revealed and More News

In today's Media Mix, restaurants aren't really healthy at all, plus 'The Taste' gets renewed

The Daily Meal brings you the biggest news from the food world.

Coca-Cola Recipe on Sale: A treasure hunter claims to have found an old Coca-Cola recipe and is now auctioning it off for $5 miillion. Coca-Cola isn't even bothering to look at it, because the real one is still safe, the company says. [Gawker]

Restaurants Worse Than Fast Food: Think going to a mom-and-pop restaurant is healthier than going to a fast-food joint? Restaurants still have more than 1,300 calories a plate, but you may be saving on the preservatives. [NYDN]

Does Lowering Salt Help? A new study questions whether lowering salt intake is actually beneficial. [Boston Herald]

'The Taste' Renewed: The Anthony Bourdain and Nigella Lawson cooking competition is renewed, to the surprise of many. [Eater]


Coca-Cola Secret Recipe Revealed?: 'This American Life' Says It Hid In Plain Sight

It might be one of the most closely guarded secrets in the soft drink industry.

But the cat might be out of the bag.

On "This American Life" this weekend, Ira Glass broadcasted what he believes to be the original recipe to "merchandise 7X," the super secret ingredient in Coca-Cola. One of the world's most closely guarded trade secrets, many myths surround the ingredient, including the idea that only two people at any given time actually know the formula.

Glass claims that "This American Live" found the recipe published in a newspaper in Coke's very own hometown -- on page 2B of the February 18, 1979, Atlanta-Journal Constitution. Apparently, a local columnist had stumbled across it in an old book of recipes, which was handwritten by a pharmacist decades earlier.

While it sounds like a weird place to find such a thing, Coca-Cola was invented by a pharmacist, and was initially sold at pharmacies and soda fountains. The book containing the recipes had been passed down by pharmacists for years.

Apparently, John Pemberton, the inventor of Coke was very close to the original author of the 130-year-old-book, who copied the recipe and recorded it in its pages.

The recipe:
Fluid extract of Coca: 3 drams USP,
Citric acid: 3 oz,
Caffeine: 1 oz,
Sugar: 30 (unclear quantity),
Water: 2.5 gal,
Lime juice: 2 pints, 1 quart,
Vanilla: 1 oz,
Caramel: 1.5 oz or more for color

The secret 7X flavor (use 2 oz of flavor to 5 gals syrup):
Alcohol: 8 oz
Orange oil: 20 drops
Lemon oil: 30 drops
Nutmeg oil: 10 drops
Coriander: 5 drops
Neroli: 10 drops
Cinnamon: 10 drops

But is it real? During the "This American Life" segment, one Coke historian says it very well could be, though the soft-drink maker denies it.

For the whole "This American Life" broadcast, visit their site (which has periodically been down), or check out their Facebook page, where it's also embeded.


Coca-Cola keeps its 127-year-old recipe locked in a vault

Atlanta: Coca-Cola keeps the recipe for its 127-year-old soda inside a steel vault that is bathed in red security lights. Several cameras monitor the area to make sure the formula stays a secret.

But in one of the many signs that the surveillance is as much about theatre as reality, the images that pop up on video screens are of smiling tourists waving at themselves.

"It's a little bit for show," concedes a guard at the World of Coca-Cola museum in downtown Atlanta, where the vault is revealed at the end of an exhibit in a puff of smoke.

The ability to push a quaint narrative about a product's origins and fuel a sense of nostalgia can help drive billions of dollars in sales. That's invaluable at a time when food makers face greater competition from smaller players and cheaper supermarket store brands that appeal to cash-strapped Americans.

It's why companies such as Coca-Cola and Twinkies' owner Hostess play up the notion that their recipes are sacred, unchanging documents that need to be closely guarded. As it turns out, some recipes have changed over time, while others may not have. Either way, they all stick to the same script that their formulas have remained the same.

John Ruff, who formerly headed research and development at Kraft Foods, said companies often recalibrate ingredients for various reasons, including new regulations, fluctuations in commodity costs and other issues that impact mass food production.

"It's almost this mythological thing, the secret formula," said the president of the Institute of Food Technologists, which studies the science of food. "I would be amazed if formulas (for big brands) haven't changed."

This summer, the Twinkies cream-filled cakes many Americans grew up snacking on, made a comeback after being off shelves for about nine months following the bankruptcy of Hostess Brands. At the time, the new owners promised the spongy yellow cakes would taste just like people remember.

A representative for Hostess, Hannah Arnold, said in an email that Twinkies today are "remarkably close to the original recipe," noting that the first three ingredients are still enriched flour, water and sugar.

Yet a box of Twinkies now lists more than 25 ingredients and has a shelf-life of 45 days, almost three weeks longer than the 26 days from just a year ago. That suggests the ingredients have been tinkered with, to say the least, since they were created in 1930.

"When Twinkies first came out they were largely made from fresh ingredients," notes Steve Ettlinger, author of "Twinkie, Deconstructed," which traced the roots of the cake's many modern-day industrial ingredients.


Coke's Original Recipe Reportedly Found: Was It More, Or Less, Healthy? And Was There Really Cocaine In It?

Big news today. Coca-cola's original recipe, under wraps since 1886, was revealed -- uncovered by "This American Life," which reported the recipe had been hiding in plain sight since the 1970's in an Atlanta-Journal Constitution article.

Among the items believed to be on the original ingredient list are fluid extract of coca (more on that later) and one ounce of caffeine. (Nowadays, the FDA caps caffeine for sodas at 71 mg per 12 ounces.) Also crucial to the mix were the ingredients behind the secret 7X flavor-formula, which Salon reports made up the "drink's backbone." Those includes things like orange, nutmeg, lemon, coriander, neroli and cinnamon oils and 8 ounces of alcohol.

This essentially means that if the recipe is indeed the original, many of the ingredients (read: caffeine) that make Coke less-than-healthy now were always there. But notably missing was the oft-scorned high fructose corn syrup, which had not yet been developed.

Also different in the original recipe was the presence of the namesake 'coca' in Coca-Cola, which is part of cocaine. So yes, cocaine -- in some form -- was an original ingredient on Coca-Cola.

Nowadays, there's a plant in New Jersey where manufacturers remove the cocaine from the coca leaf, something that's been done since 1903, the year that Coca-Cola nixed cocaine from its recipe.

Interestingly, the coca leaf is now being sold in South America as a serious health food. According to Salon, coca is "packed with nutrients and aids in oxygen absorption."

So without all of that bad-for-you HFCS, and with all that good-for-you coca, was the original Coca-Cola a veritable health drink? Hardly. The original recipe called for a whopping 30 pounds (. ) of sugar.


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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They're the world's most famous French fries, responsible for one-third of all U.S. French fry sales, and many say they're the best. These fried spud strips are so popular that Burger King even changed its own recipe to better compete with the secret formula from Mickey D's. One-quarter of all meals served today in American restaurants come with fries a fact that thrills restaurateurs since fries are the most profitable menu item in the food industry. Proper preparation steps were developed by McDonald's to minimize in-store preparation time, while producing a fry that is soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. This clone requires a two-step frying process to replicate the same qualities: the fries are par-fried, frozen, then fried once more to crispy just before serving. Be sure to use a slicer to cut the fries for a consistent thickness (1/4-inch is perfect) and for a cooking result that will make them just like the real thing. As for the rumor that you must soak the fries in sugar water to help them turn golden brown, I also found that not to be necessary. If the potatoes have properly developed they contain enough sugar on their own to make a good clone with great color.

Now, how about a Big Mac or Quarter Pounder to go with those fries? Click here for a list of all my McDonald's copycat recipes.

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.

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.

Anyone who loves Olive Garden is probably also a big fan of the bottomless basket of warm, garlicky breadsticks served before each meal at the huge Italian casual chain. My guess is that the breadsticks are proofed, and then sent to each restaurant where they are baked until golden brown, brushed with butter and sprinkled with garlic salt. Getting the bread just right for a good Olive Garden breadstick recipe was tricky—I tried several different amounts of yeast in all-purpose flour, but then settled on bread flour to give these breadsticks the same chewy bite as the originals. The two-stage rising process is also a crucial step in this much requested homemade Olive Garden breadstick recipe. Also check out our Olive Garden Italian salad dressing recipe.

Jerrico, Inc., the parent company for Long John Silver's Seafood Shoppes, got its start in 1929 as a six-stool hamburger stand called the White Tavern Shoppe. Jerrico was started by a man named Jerome Lederer, who watched Long John Silver's thirteen units dwindle in the shadow of World War II to just three units. Then, with determination, he began rebuilding. In 1946 Jerome launched a new restaurant called Jerry's and it was a booming success, with growth across the country. Then he took a chance on what would be his most successful venture in 1969, with the opening of the first Long John Silver's Fish 'n' Chips. The name was inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. In 1991 there were 1,450 Long John Silver Seafood Shoppes in thirty-seven states, Canada, and Singapore, with annual sales of more than $781 million. That means the company holds about 65 percent of the $1.2 billion quick-service seafood business.

Nougat is an important ingredient in the 3 Musketeers Bar, as well as in many other candy bars created by Mars. Nougat is made by mixing a hot sugar syrup with whipped egg whites until the solution cools and stiffens, creating a frappe. Other ingredients may be added to the nougat during this process to give it different flavors. In this recipe, you'll add chocolate chips to create a dark, chocolaty nougat.

But the 3 Musketeers Bar wasn't always filled with just a chocolate nougat. In fact, when the candy bar was created back in 1932, it was actually three pieces with three flavors: vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate. After World War II, the product was changed to a single chocolate bar because that was the favorite flavor, and customers wanted more of it. Thankfully they didn't change the name to 1 Musketeer.

You'll need a heavy-duty electric mixer for this recipe.

Check out more of my candy bar clone recipes here.

Menu Description: "Delicate white cake and lemon cream filling with a vanilla crumb topping."

To make this clone easy I've designed the recipe with white cake mix. I picked Betty Crocker brand, but any white cake mix you find will do. Just know that each brand (Duncan Hines, Pillsbury, etc.) requires slightly different measurements of additional ingredients (oil, eggs). Follow the directions on the box for mixing the batter, then pour it into 2 greased 9-inch cake pans and bake until done. The filling recipe is a no-brainer and the crumb topping is quick. When your Olive Garden lemon cream cake recipe is assembled, stick it in the fridge for a few hours, and soon you'll be ready to serve 12 slices of the hacked signature dessert.

Even though this clone recipe duplicates the tiny bite-size versions of the candy, you're free to make yours any size you like. The technique here is a tweaking of the previous secret formula that was featured in Low-Fat Top Secret Recipes, and it includes several upgrades. I found that more cocoa, plus the addition of salt and butter to the mix improved the flavor. I also found that bringing your sweet bubbling mixture to the firm ball stage 250 degrees F (you do have a candy thermometer, right?), and then stretching and pulling the candy like taffy (fun!) as it cools, will give you a finished product more like the real deal.

In December of 1996, Hershey Foods snagged the U.S. operations of Leaf Brands for a pretty penny. This added several well known candies to Hershey's already impressive roster, including Good & Plenty, Jolly Rancher, Milk Duds, Whoppers, Heath, and this delicious peanut roll, which we can finally clone at home. The center is sort of a white fudge that we can make by combining a few ingredients on the stove, then getting the mixture up to just the right temperature using a candy thermometer (you've got one, right?). Once cool, this candy center is coated with a thin layer of caramel, then quickly rolled over roasted peanuts. Looks just like the real thing! This recipe will make eight candy bars. But it's up to you to make the dental appointment.

Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

In early 1985, restaurateur Rich Komen felt there was a specialty niche in convenience-food service just waiting to be filled. His idea was to create an efficient outlet that could serve freshly made cinnamon rolls in shopping malls throughout the country. It took nine months for Komen and his staff to develop a cinnamon roll recipe he knew customers would consider the "freshest, gooiest, and most mouthwatering cinnamon roll ever tasted." The concept was tested for the first time in Seattle's Sea-Tac mall later that year, with workers mixing, proofing, rolling, and baking the rolls in full view of customers. Now, more than 626 outlets later, Cinnabon has become the fastest-growing cinnamon roll bakery in the world.

At his candy factory In York, Pennsylvania, in the late 1930s, Henry C. Kessler first concocted this minty confection. The York Cone Company was originally established to make ice cream cones, but by the end of World War II the peppermint patty had become so popular that the company discontinued all other products. In 1972 the company was sold to Peter Paul, manufacturers of Almond Joy and Mounds. Cadbury USA purchased the firm in 1978, and in 1988 the York Peppermint Pattie became the property of Hershey USA.

Other chocolate-covered peppermints were manufactured before the York Peppermint Pattie came on the market, but Kessler's version was firm and crisp, while the competition was soft and gummy. One former employee and York resident remembered the final test the patty went through before it left the factory. "It was a snap test. If the candy didn't break clean in the middle, it was a second." For years, seconds were sold to visitors at the plant for fifty cents a pound.

I've created a ton of famous candy recipes. See if I hacked your favorites here.

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.

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.

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).

If those cute little cookie peddlers aren't posted outside the market, it may be tough to get your hands on these—the most popular cookies sold by the Girl Scouts every spring. One out of every four boxes of cookies sold by the girls is Thin Mints. This hack Girl Scout cookie thin mint recipe uses an improved version of the chocolate wafers created for the Oreo cookie clone in the second TSR book More Top Secret Recipes. That recipe creates 108 cookie wafers, so when you're done dipping, you'll have the equivalent of three boxes of the Girl Scout Cookies favorite. That's why you bought those extra cookie sheets, right? You could, of course, reduce this thin mint recipe by baking only one-third of the cookie dough for the wafers and then reducing the coating ingredients by one-third, giving you a total of 36 cookies. But that may not be enough to last you until next spring.

Click here for more of your favorite Girl Scout Cookies.

Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

Update 11/16/17 : You can make an even better clone using a chocolate product that wasn't available when I created this recipe. Rather than using the semi-sweet chocolate chips combined with shortening and peppermint for coating the cookies, use Ghirardelli Dark Melting Wafers. You will need 2 10-ounce bags of the chips, mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract (and no shortening). Melt the chocolate the same way, and dip the cookies as instructed.

If you start making black bean soup in the morning using other recipes out there, you're lucky to be slurping soup by lunchtime. That's because most recipes require dry beans that have to re-hydrate for at least a couple hours, and many recipes say "overnight." But, you know, tomorrow is just too far away when you're craving soup right now. So, for this often requested clone recipe, I sped up the process by incorporating canned black beans, rather than the dry ones. That way, once you get all the veggies chopped, you'll be souped up in just about an hour. Friday's version of this soup has a slightly smoky flavor that's easily duplicated here with just a little bit of concentrated liquid smoke flavoring found in most supermarkets. Just be sure to get the kind that says "hickory flavor."

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).

One of the most protected, discussed, and sought-after secret recipes in the food world is KFC's Original Recipe Fried Chicken. Long ago I published my first hack of the famous formula, but the recipe, which was based on research from "Big Secrets" author William Poundstone, includes only salt, pepper, MSG, and flour in the breading, and not the blend of eleven herbs and spices we have all heard about. The fried chicken made with my first recipe is good in a pinch, but it really needs several more ingredients to be a true clone. That is why, over twenty years later, I was happy to get another crack at the secret when we shot the pilot episode for my CMT TV series Top Secret Recipe. In the show, I visited KFC headquarters, talked to friends of Harlan Sanders who had seen the actual recipe, and even checked out the Corbin, Kentucky, kitchen where Harland Sanders first developed his chicken recipe. During that four-day shoot I was able to gather enough clues about the secret eleven herbs and spices to craft this new recipe—one that I believe is the closest match to the Colonel's secret fried chicken that anyone has ever revealed.

The talented chefs at Benihana cook food on hibachi grills with flair and charisma, treating the preparation like a tiny stage show. They juggle salt and pepper shakers, trim food with lightning speed, and flip the shrimp and mushrooms perfectly onto serving plates or into their tall chef's hat.

One of the side dishes that everyone seems to love is the fried rice. At Benihana this dish is prepared by chefs with precooked rice on open hibachi grills, and is ordered a la cart to complement any Benihana entree, including Hibachi Steak and Chicken. I like when the rice is thrown onto the hot hibachi grill and seems to come alive as it sizzles and dances around like a bunch of little jumping beans. Okay, so I'm easily amused.

This Benihana Japanese fried rice recipe will go well with just about any Japanese entree and can be partially prepared ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator until the rest of the meal is close to done.

As he worked long, hard days at a shipyard in Hingham, Massachusetts, during World War II, William Rosenberg was struck with an idea for a new kind of food service. As soon as the war ended, Rosenberg started Industrial Luncheon Services, a company that delivered fresh meals and snacks to factory workers. When Rosenberg realized that most of his business was in coffee and donuts, he quit offering his original service. He found an old awning store and converted it into a coffee-and-donut shop called The Open Kettle. This name was soon changed to the more familiar Dunkin' Donuts, and between 1950 and 1955 five more shops opened and thrived. The company later spread beyond the Boston area and has become the largest coffee-and-donut chain in the world.

Today, Dunkin' Donuts offers fifty-two varieties of donuts in each shop, but the most popular have always been the plain glazed and chocolate-glazed yeast donuts.

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.

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.

The real Dole Whip is a non-dairy dessert that includes artificial flavoring, a small amount of real pineapple juice, and more gums than a candy store. Everything in this Hawaiian ice cream is combined in a powdered form including the pineapple juice in 4.4-pound bags that are sold to soft-serve machine operators at fairs, sporting events, and amusement parks. On the back of the Dole Whip mix are instructions to dissolve the powder in 2 gallons of cold tap water, then immediately pour the syrup into a soft serve machine and hit the switch.

Up until now, almost all recipes that claim to reproduce Dole Whip—including one shared by Disneyland during the coronavirus outbreak—include ice cream, to make what is supposed to be a "non-dairy" dessert one that is quite full of dairy. The results you get from these recipes may be tasty, but they are nothing like Dole Whip because Dole Whip is sorbet and sorbet isn't made with ice cream.

One thing that makes Dole Whip special is its creamy consistency, which may lead some people to believe it has dairy in it. Dole Whip creates this thickness with the assistance of six different natural gums and gels: cellulose gum, xanthan gum, locust bean gum, guar gum, karaya gum, and pectin. In addition, there is a small amount of coconut fat solids in the mix to help simulate the fat found in dairy.

For this hack, I limited the gels to two that are easy to find: unflavored gelatin and pectin. When these two ingredients are heated, then cooled, they form a gel similar to what’s in the real Dole Whip, and the result is a thick-and-creamy consistency. Another trick often used to help thicken sorbets is the use of viscous corn syrup to replace much of the sugar. Corn syrup will give the sorbet body and it helps tone down the acidic pineapple juice.

But the best part of this Dole Whip copycat recipe, unlike the real thing, is that it contains all-natural ingredients and it's mostly made of real Dole pineapple juice, plus a little tangerine juice to round out the flavor and enrich the color. This homemade Dole Whip is ridiculously easy to make (you'll need an ice cream maker) and fans of the real thing will love it. Plus, now you can have this DIY Dole Whip whenever you want—no amusement park required.

Click here for more hacks of delicious desserts and sweet treats.

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.

The first Auntie Anne's pretzel store opened in 1988 in the heart of pretzel country—a Pennsylvanian Amish farmers' market. Over 500 stores later, Auntie Anne's is one of the most requested secret clone recipes around, especially on the internet. Many of the copycat Auntie Anne's soft pretzel recipes passed around the Web require bread flour, and some use honey as a sweetener. But by studying the Auntie Anne's home pretzel-making kit in the secret underground laboratory, I've discovered a better solution for re-creating the delicious mall treats than any clone recipe out there. For the best quality dough, you just need all-purpose flour. And powdered sugar works great to perfectly sweeten the dough. Now you just have to decide if you want to make the more traditional salted pretzels, or the sweet cinnamon sugar-coated kind. Decisions, decisions.

The automated process for creating Krispy Kreme doughnuts, developed in the 1950's, took the company many years to perfect. When you drive by your local Krispy Kreme store between 5:00 and 11:00 each day (both a.m. and p.m.) and see the "Hot Doughnuts Now" sign lit up, inside the store custom-made stainless steel machines are rolling. Doughnut batter is extruded into little doughnut shapes that ride up and down through a temperature and humidity controlled booth to activate the yeast. This creates the perfect amount of air in the dough that will yield a tender and fluffy finished product. When the doughnuts are perfectly puffed up, they're gently dumped into a moat of hot vegetable shortening where they float on one side until golden brown, and then the machine flips them over to cook the other side. When the doughnuts finish frying, they ride up a mesh conveyor belt and through a ribbon of white sugar glaze. If you're lucky enough to taste one of these doughnuts just as it comes around the corner from the glazing, you're in for a real treat—the warm circle of sweet doughy goodness practically melts in your mouth. It's this secret process that helped Krispy Kreme become the fastest-growing doughnut chain in the country.

As you can guess, the main ingredient in a Krispy Kreme doughnut is wheat flour, but there is also some added gluten, soy flour, malted barley flour, and modified food starch plus egg yolk, non-fat milk, flavoring, and yeast. I suspect a low-gluten flour, like cake flour, is probably used in the original mix to make the doughnuts tender, and then the manufacturer adds the additional gluten to give the doughnuts the perfect framework for rising. I tested many combinations of cake flour and wheat gluten, but found that the best texture resulted from cake flour combined with all-purpose flour. I also tried adding a little soy flour to the mix, but the soy gave the dough a strange taste and it didn't benefit the texture of the dough in any way. I excluded the malted barley flour and modified food starch from the Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut recipe since these are difficult ingredients to find. These exclusions didn't seem to matter because the real secret in making these doughnuts look and taste like the original lies primarily in careful handling of the dough.

The Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut recipe dough will be very sticky when first mixed together, and you should be careful not to over mix it or you will build up some tough gluten strands, and that will result in chewy doughnuts. You don't even need to touch the dough until it is finished with the first rising stage. After the dough rises for 30 to 45 minutes it will become easier to handle, but you will still need to flour your hands. Also, be sure to generously flour the surface you are working on when you gently roll out the dough for cutting. When each doughnut shape is cut from the dough, place it onto a small square of wax paper that has been lightly dusted with flour. Using wax paper will allow you to easily transport the doughnuts (after they rise) from the baking sheet to the hot shortening without deflating the dough. As long as you don't fry them too long—1 minute per side should be enough—you will have tender homemade doughnuts that will satisfy even the biggest Krispy Kreme fanatics.


Coca Cola's secret recipe revealed?

While it is rumoured to be kept under 24-hour surveillance in Atlanta — all that security might have gone to waste to protect Coca Cola’s secret recipe, now that reports say the formula might have been revealed.

Coca Cola's secret recipe revealed? Back to video

reports that radio program

believes it has discovered the ingredients and measurements in the soft drink’s classified mixture, after analyzing a photo found in a February 1979 edition of the

. And the recipe actually involves words you can pronounce. However, their findings have not been verified.


Food's Five Biggest Secret Recipes, and How They Are Kept Safe

Corporate security expert Bo Dietl (l.) watches as Roger Eaton, president of KFC USA, places Colonel Harland Sanders' handwritten Original Recipe into KFC headquarters' newly modernized vault in April, 2009. (AP)

This February, National Public Radio’s “This American Life” program claimed to have uncovered Coca-Cola’s legendary original formula, publishing it online for the world to see. The recipe is one of the most closely-guarded in the food and drink industry, and has been kept secret for one hundred and twenty-five years.

Unfortunately for NPR, the recipe wasn’t the real thing - or so the beverage behemoth says.

NPR isn’t the first to “reveal” Coke’s secret and it won’t be the last. According to a joint-study released by the antivirus software specialist McAfee and technology services provider, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), hackers are shifting away from stealing personal information and towards targeting trade secrets and marketing plans. Intellectual property will be the nourishment that feeds the new underground economy.

With that in mind, here’s how vaults, safes, seeming transparency, and a talking dog make America’s top five secret recipes impervious to cyber attacks.

Bucking the paperless trend, Colonel Harlan Sanders’ Original Recipe eleven herbs and spices are inscribed in pencil on a yellowed piece of paper inside a Louisville, Kentucky safe, says KFC spokesman Rick Maynard. The safe lies inside a state-of-the-art vault that is surrounded by motion detectors, cameras and guards. Ninjas, too? Maynard won’t say.

Each supplier produces a different recipe component. A computer at a separate supplier blends the ingredients so no single supplier knows the whole recipe. And even if someone got the recipe, says Maynard, without the right proportions, cooking process time and temperature, “it’ll be fried chicken but it won’t be KFC.”

McDonald’s French Fries

The secret to McDonald’s fries, one of the few foods that please both toddlers and four-star chefs, is that there is no secret. So says Michael Butkus, McDonald’s Senior Director of Strategic Sourcing. It’s about the potato seed (high-starch russets), the farms, farmers, irrigation, handling and processing and the global standardization of that process designed to ensure that its fries everywhere taste the same. McDonald’s restaurants finish them “only with good, old-fashioned salt in a specific grind,” and serve them hot. That’s it, he says.

Not quite. Like KFC, Butkus won’t comment on frying temperature, duration, oil type, or freezing. McDonald’s par-fries their potatoes then freezes them, tossing them frozen into the fryer. Belgians, who invented French Fries, have always fried-twice but they don’t freeze-and-fry. Asked whether freezing is part of the secret, Butkus waxes poetic about potato-growing practices. You do the math.

North Carolina pharmacist Caleb Bradham (b. 1867) is forever linked to Hollywood legend, Joan “No Wire Hangars” Crawford simply by a tonic he invented in 1898. Brad’s Drink was later renamed Pepsi-Cola and Crawford ended up on its board after the death of her husband, Pepsi CEO and Chairman, Alfred Steele. Pharmacists of Bradham’s generation often concocted drinks with purported health benefits to sell at their soda fountains. Drinks began to be bottled in the 1890s.

Queries made by this writer about the recipe’s whereabouts were met with “we don’t talk about that” and “I can’t tell you anything,” by Emily-Post-Meets-The-French-Resistance spokesperson, Andrea Foote. “The best way to keep a secret” she says good-naturedly, “is to keep it to yourself.” PepsiCo says only that they “feel fortunate” to have developed proprietary recipes that consumers love. That’s like saying that people who win hundred-million dollar lotteries “feel fortunate” to have won.

Canning has been Bush Brothers & Company’s forte since 1904. If it could be put in a can - sauerkraut, spaghetti, etc. - they put it in a can. In 1969 the brothers Bush went to toe-to-toe with the big boys of beans, Campbell’s, Heinz and B&M, armed only with a recipe created by the founder’s daughter-in-law, Kathleen.

“Jay Bush knows the recipe,” says spokesman, Mike Morris. “He’s shared it with Duke, but we don’t make Duke unavailable for interviews.” Duke is the family dog who in commercials always threatens to spill the beans. A replica of the recipe book, sans recipe, is on view at their Chestnut Hill, Tennessee visitor’s center, says Morris.

Other than brown sugar and double-cured bacon, their spice blend makes the beans unique and, just like at KFC, no single supplier knows all the components. “We all take our own safeguards,” says Morris. “But I don’t think there a whole lot of international espionage out there to figure out how to make baked beans.”

“Revealing” Coke’s secret recipe has become a time-honored tradition occurring every two or three years says company archivist, Phil Mooney. “Someone turns up with ‘the formula’ passed down to him by a contemporary of Pemberton’s.” Pharmacist John Pemberton invented Coca-Cola on May 8, 1886, flavoring it with coca leaves and bitter, highly-caffeinated kola nuts. Pre-Coke drinks had fruit- or plant-based (i.e. root beer) profiles. Pemberton sold his formula for $2500 in 1887, dying a year later. In 1886, Pemberton sold nine Cokes a day. Today, the company founded on his recipe today sells 1.7 billion drinks every 24 hours.

The recipe lies in a vault in a downtown Atlanta SunTrust Bank vault and only two executives at a time have access to it. Mooney demurs when asked if anyone’s ever come close to uncovering the formula. Even if they had the ingredients, he says, they wouldn’t know the proportions or process. If ingredients don’t matter, when asked if he’d confirm whether Coke contains neroli, coriander and nutmeg oils, he responds, “It’s really quite amazing, isn’t it?” It’s a non sequitur that ensures that Coke will continue to benefit from the mystique that secrets tend to confer.

One person who claims to have cracked both the Coke and KFC formulas is recipe cloner, Todd Wilbur. He’s published his results in a series of ten best-selling “Top Secret Recipe” books. He says the companies don’t mind what he does: “Just because you make it at home doesn’t mean you’re not going to get it any more. They’re in the convenience business. I’m not.” Wilbur reverse-engineers recipes by isolating ingredients and components. He works backwards from the final product until he achieves taste parity. Try his versions of Coke and KFC Extra Crispy below and judge for yourself.

Recipes taken from Todd Wilbur's Top Secret Recipes, and Even More Top Secret Recipes courtesy of Plume books.

This Coke recipe, because of the old-fashioned technique of adding the syrup to soda water, creates a clone of Coke as it would taste coming out of a fountain machine, which is usually not as fizzy as the bottled stuff. But if you add some ice to a glass of bottled Coke, and then some to this cloned version, the bubbles will settle down and you’ll discover how close the two are.


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!

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.

In early 1985, restaurateur Rich Komen felt there was a specialty niche in convenience-food service just waiting to be filled. His idea was to create an efficient outlet that could serve freshly made cinnamon rolls in shopping malls throughout the country. It took nine months for Komen and his staff to develop a cinnamon roll recipe he knew customers would consider the "freshest, gooiest, and most mouthwatering cinnamon roll ever tasted." The concept was tested for the first time in Seattle's Sea-Tac mall later that year, with workers mixing, proofing, rolling, and baking the rolls in full view of customers. Now, more than 626 outlets later, Cinnabon has become the fastest-growing cinnamon roll bakery in the world.

Order an entree from America's largest seafood restaurant chain and you'll get a basket of some of the planet's tastiest garlic-cheese biscuits served up on the side. For many years this recipe has been the most-searched-for clone recipe on the Internet, according to Red Lobster. As a result, several versions are floating around, including one that was at one time printed right on the box of Bisquick baking mix.

The problem with making biscuits using Bisquick is that if you follow the directions from the box you don't end up with a very fluffy or flakey finished product, since most of the fat in the recipe comes from the shortening that's included in the mix. On its own, room temperature shortening does a poor job creating the light, airy texture you want from good biscuits, and it contributes little in the way of flavor. So, we'll invite some cold butter along on the trip -- with grated Cheddar cheese and a little garlic powder. Now you'll be well on your way to delicious Cheddar Bay. Wherever that is.

In 1995 pediatric nurse Lindsay Frucci discovered a way to make chewy, fudgy brownies without any of fat. Today you can find her brownie mix boxes in thousands of grocery stores and specialty markets throughout the country. All you have to do is add some nonfat vanilla yogurt to the dry mix and bake. The brownies that emerge from your oven are good, but the mix can be pricey. One box of No Pudge! Fat Free Fudge Brownie Mix will set you back around four bucks, which seems like a lot when you consider that boxes of regular brownie mix from larger brands such as Pillsbury or Duncan Hines contain similar ingredients but sell for roughly half that. So I spent a week burning through gobs of cocoa, sugar, and flour in hopes of discovering an easy way to re-create that tasty mix at a fraction of the cost of even the cheapest brownie mix on the market. After much trial and error I finally nailed it.

I tried many batches with Hershey's and Nestle's cocoa, but eventually decided the best widely available unsweetened cocoa powder for the task is the stuff made by Ghirardelli. Before you assemble this clone recipe, you'll also want to track down baker's sugar, which is a superfine sugar, and some powdered egg whites (health foods stores or cake decorating suppliers carry this). Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl, and when you're ready to make the brownies, simply mix in 2/3 cup of nonfat vanilla yogurt, just like with the real thing. In 34 baking minutes (same as regular minutes, but they seem much longer) you'll have one plate of amazing fat-free chocolate brownies ready to eat.

Click here for more famous cookie and brownie copycat recipes.

Although the drink is 99 percent sugar water, that other 1 percent is the key to the drink's unique taste. The tangy citrus flavors, from lime juice, citrus oils, and citric acid (today the citric acid has been replaced with phosphoric acid), was used by pharmacist John Pemberton to overcome the inherent unpleasant bitterness of cocaine and caffeine. Even after removing the cocaine from the drink, it was still necessary to conceal the ghastly flavor of kola nut and coca leaf extract from the taste buds with the sweet, tangy syrup.

To make an accurate clone of Coca-Cola at home, I started with the medicinal ingredient, probably just as John did. But rather than harvesting kola nuts, we have the luxury of access to caffeine pills found in any grocery store or pharmacy. One such brand is Vivarin, but it is yellow in color with a thick coating and it tastes much too bitter. NoDoz, however, is white and less bitter, with a thinner coating. Each NoDoz tablet contains 200 milligrams of caffeine, and a 12-ounce serving Coke has 46 milligrams in it. So, if we use 8 NoDoz tablets that have been crushed into powder with a mortar and pestle (or in a bowl using the back of a spoon) we get 44 milligrams of caffeine in a 12-ounce serving, or 36 milligrams in each of the 10-ounce servings we make with this recipe.

Finding and adding the caffeine is the easy part. You'll probably have more trouble obtaining Coke's crucial flavoring ingredient: cassia oil. I was hoping to leave such a hard-to-get ingredient out of this recipe, but I found it impossible. The unique flavor of the Coke absolutely requires the inclusion of this Vietnamese cinnamon oil (usually sold for aromatherapy), but only a very small amount. You'll find the cassia oil in a health food store (I used the brand Oshadhi), along with the lemon oil and orange oil. The yield of this recipe had to be cranked up to 44 10-ounce servings since these oils are so strong—just one drop is all you'll need. Find them in bottles that allow you to measure exactly one drop if you can. If the oils don't come in such a bottle, buy eyedroppers at a drug store. Before you leave the health food store, don't forget the citric acid.

This recipe, because of the old-fashioned technique of adding the syrup to soda water, creates a clone of Coke as it would taste coming out of a fountain machine. That Coke is usually not as fizzy as the bottled stuff. But if you add some ice to a glass of bottled Coke, and them some of this cloned version, the bubbles will settle down and you'll discover how close the two are. You can keep the syrup in a sealed container in the fridge until you are ready to mix each drink with soda water.

Because subtle differences in flavor can affect the finished product, be sure to measure your ingredients very carefully. Use the flat top edge of a butter knife to scrape away the excess sugar and citric acid from the top of the measuring cup and teaspoon, and don't estimate on any of the liquid ingredients.

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.

You've got a hankerin' for pancakes or biscuits, but the recipe calls for Bisquick, and you're plum out. Not to worry. Now you can make a clone of the popular baking mix at home with just four simple ingredients. Store-bought Bisquick includes shortening, salt, flour, and leavening, so that's exactly what we need to duplicate it perfectly at home. This recipe makes about 6 cups of the stuff, which, just like the real thing, you can keep sealed up in a container in your pantry until it's flapjack time. When that time comes, just add milk and eggs for pancakes or waffles, or only milk if it's biscuits you want. You'll find all those recipes below in the "Tidbits."

Here's a quick clone for one of the best-selling thousand island dressings around. Use this one on salads or on burgers such as the In-N-Out Double-Double clone as a homemade "special sauce." It's easy, it's tasty, it's cheap and it can be made low-fat by using low-fat mayo. Enjoy.

Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

So here's the challenge with this clone recipe: get the right ratios for nearly 20 different spices, and come up with a way to get the same lemony tang that makes the real Mrs. Dash the tasty salt-free seasoning blend we've come to know and love over the years. Sure, we could use powdered citric acid, or sour salt. But then we still need to figure out the "lemon juice solids" part. Ah, but wait, there's citric acid and lemon juice solids in Kool-Aid unsweetened lemonade drink mix. It's perfect! Add a little of that drink powder to the spice blend and we have a clone that in a taste test could fool even Mr. Dash.

Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

One of the most protected, discussed, and sought-after secret recipes in the food world is KFC's Original Recipe Fried Chicken. Long ago I published my first hack of the famous formula, but the recipe, which was based on research from "Big Secrets" author William Poundstone, includes only salt, pepper, MSG, and flour in the breading, and not the blend of eleven herbs and spices we have all heard about. The fried chicken made with my first recipe is good in a pinch, but it really needs several more ingredients to be a true clone. That is why, over twenty years later, I was happy to get another crack at the secret when we shot the pilot episode for my CMT TV series Top Secret Recipe. In the show, I visited KFC headquarters, talked to friends of Harlan Sanders who had seen the actual recipe, and even checked out the Corbin, Kentucky, kitchen where Harland Sanders first developed his chicken recipe. During that four-day shoot I was able to gather enough clues about the secret eleven herbs and spices to craft this new recipe—one that I believe is the closest match to the Colonel's secret fried chicken that anyone has ever revealed.

Three things make Costco Blueberry Muffins special: they’re huge, they’re moist, and berries are bursting out of the top of each one. Now your home muffins can be just as special using a similar recipe and freshly unlocked tricks from our favorite big-box store.

Obviously, you get huge muffins by using a huge muffin pan, so you’ll need a jumbo or “Texas-size” muffin pan if you want your muffins the same size as the originals. You can certainly make standard muffins with this batter in a standard-size muffin pan, but in this case, bigger is definitely better.

To get muffins that are moist you’ll need oil. I noticed many muffin recipes use butter, but I found it made the muffins taste more like butter cake or pound cake than true muffins. Looking at the ingredients listed on the package of Kirkland muffins, you won’t find any butter in there. Just oil. For this hack, some of that oil comes from margarine (for a mild butter flavor and thicker batter), and the rest is vegetable oil.

As for the blueberries, if you add them straight into the batter the juice frozen on the outside of the berries will streak your batter blue, so be sure to rinse the berries before you add them. And to make your muffins look as irresistible as those at Costco, we’ll use another one of their tasty tricks: press 4 blueberries into the batter in each cup just before the pan goes into the oven so that every baked muffin is sure to have several tantalizing berries popping out of the top.

The problem with adding sauce to fried food is that the wet sauce makes the crunchy fried food not so crunchy. Panda Express manages to keep the crispy beef in Beijing Beef crispy even though it may be sitting for over 20 minutes in the sauce on its way to a hungry you. My early attempts at hacking my favorite dish at the massive Chinese food chain all resulted in gummy, soggy beef pieces that were more like flat dumplings than the delicious, crunchy strips of joy they were meant to be.

Then finally, on one batch, I decided to fry the coated beef for much longer than I intuitively felt it should be cooked, resulting in dark browning on the cornstarch coating and an even darker piece of meat beneath it. I anticipated a beef jerky experience, but when I took a bite, I found it to be delicious! It wasn’t tough and chewy as I expected it to be. And when this seemingly overcooked beef was stirred into the sauce, it stayed crispy until served, just like the real thing.

Now, with the soggy beef problem solved, we’ve finally got a good hack for this famous sweet-and-spicy dish.

One of two pasta dishes currently on the pizza giant’s menu, the Meaty Marinara Pasta was first introduced in a 2008 April Fool’s publicity stunt when Pizza Hut claimed it was changing its name to “Pasta Hut.” No one fell for the prank but they did fall for the pasta, and that's why the Tuscani Creamy Chicken Alfredo Pasta and Meaty Marinara Pasta have been on the menu ever since. The sauce is the big secret here it's simple and classic, but customized to produce a marinara with that distinct Pizza Hut taste. And the recipe will make more than enough pasta to go around.

The hack is an easy one. After browning the seasoned beef you add it to the sauce, simmer the sauce until thick, then spread it over one pound of rotini pasta in a baking dish in two layers so that every bite is filled with flavor. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella over the top and melt it until golden brown under your broiler. Boom! No one can resist. You rule.

This simple and inexpensive meal will feed eight, and leftovers keep well in the fridge for a couple of days.

Also check out my clone recipe for Pizza Hut Tuscani Creamy Chicken Alfredo Pasta.

In November 2020, Taco Bell said “adios” to several classic items from their menu including Mexican Pizza—one of my long-time favorites—and anything with shredded chicken in it including the chicken soft taco. But teary goodbyes from fans of the tasty spiced chicken can be avoided if we have a good (and easy) recipe to craft a duplicate at home. Since the fast Mexican chain announced the changes several months in advance, I had time to work up a good hack before the tacos were gone forever.

After cooking the chicken several ways I settled on poaching the fillets in chicken broth, which kept them moist and added great umami flavor. When the chicken cooled, I shredded it, and added it to a sauce seasoned with spices and lime juice, and flavored with Knorr tomato chicken bouillon.

As the sauce thickens it will reduce and infuse the chicken with flavor, then it’s ready for you to use on tacos, burritos, salads, or whatever. And don't forget the hot sauce!

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.

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).

Menu Description: “This fresh-baked pull-apart bread is topped with caramelized butter, brown sugar and cinnamon, baked to a golden brown finish and then topped with vanilla bean ice cream.”

BJ’s signature dessert, and probably its most famous single menu item, is the Pizookie, which is a cookie baked in a small pizza pan, served hot with ice cream on top. But the cookie in the pan isn’t always a cookie. Sometimes it’s a brownie, or in the case of this recent variation on the famous dessert, freshly-baked monkey bread.

Just as in the restaurant, the monkey bread in this clone isn’t originally baked in the 6-inch cake pans (or pizza pans) it’s served in. The monkey bread is baked ahead of time in a larger pan, then the sections of bread are placed into the smaller serving pans, with the gooey side up, and they’re warmed up just before serving.

Great monkey bread needs to be made from scratch, and it’s not hard. Many of the most popular recipes for monkey bread you’ll see are made with instant biscuits in a tube. This is an easier solution to be sure, but monkey bread made with quick dough—dough that’s chemically leavened with baking powder—rather than with hardier yeast dough just doesn’t match up to what you get at the restaurant.

Rather than making the monkey bread in a Bundt cake pan as most traditional recipes call for, we’ll make this one in a single layer in an 8-inch cake pan or deep-dish pizza pan. When the bread is cool, it’s broken up and transferred to two smaller cake pans, warmed up, topped with ice cream, and served.

Make it a complete meal and try my clone recipes for Bj's Avocado Egg Rolls and famous chili.

My favorite new Denny’s pancakes are these tasty whole-grain-filled buttermilk flapjacks, peppered with healthy flax seeds. At the base of the formula is my hack for Denny’s buttermilk pancakes, and to that I’ve added whole wheat flour, a little flax seed, and a hot cereal blend with nine different grains in it. Okay, mine had ten grains in it, but who’s counting?

Regardless of how many grains are in the cereal blend you use, I find it best to give the grains a quick soak to soften them up before making the pancakes. Just let the cereal and flax seeds rest for a bit in the liquid before mixing them into the dry ingredients.

Find more cool breakfast copycat recipes here.

Hellmann’s—or Best Foods as the company is known west of the Rockies—recently debuted this new ketchup for customers looking to avoid high fructose corn syrup, refined sugar, and artificial ingredients. The label lists only six ingredients: tomato puree, honey, white wine vinegar, salt, onion powder, and spices. It wasn’t immediately clear what the “spices” referred to until I wiped a wide smear of the ketchup across a white plate, making the blacks specks of fine grind pepper clearly stand out. After that it was just a matter of getting the ratios right.

If you're a fan of the original Heinz Ketchup, check out my clone recipe here.

If those cute little cookie peddlers aren't posted outside the market, it may be tough to get your hands on these—the most popular cookies sold by the Girl Scouts every spring. One out of every four boxes of cookies sold by the girls is Thin Mints. This hack Girl Scout cookie thin mint recipe uses an improved version of the chocolate wafers created for the Oreo cookie clone in the second TSR book More Top Secret Recipes. That recipe creates 108 cookie wafers, so when you're done dipping, you'll have the equivalent of three boxes of the Girl Scout Cookies favorite. That's why you bought those extra cookie sheets, right? You could, of course, reduce this thin mint recipe by baking only one-third of the cookie dough for the wafers and then reducing the coating ingredients by one-third, giving you a total of 36 cookies. But that may not be enough to last you until next spring.

Click here for more of your favorite Girl Scout Cookies.

Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

Update 11/16/17 : You can make an even better clone using a chocolate product that wasn't available when I created this recipe. Rather than using the semi-sweet chocolate chips combined with shortening and peppermint for coating the cookies, use Ghirardelli Dark Melting Wafers. You will need 2 10-ounce bags of the chips, mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract (and no shortening). Melt the chocolate the same way, and dip the cookies as instructed.

The real Dole Whip is a non-dairy dessert that includes artificial flavoring, a small amount of real pineapple juice, and more gums than a candy store. Everything in this Hawaiian ice cream is combined in a powdered form including the pineapple juice in 4.4-pound bags that are sold to soft-serve machine operators at fairs, sporting events, and amusement parks. On the back of the Dole Whip mix are instructions to dissolve the powder in 2 gallons of cold tap water, then immediately pour the syrup into a soft serve machine and hit the switch.

Up until now, almost all recipes that claim to reproduce Dole Whip—including one shared by Disneyland during the coronavirus outbreak—include ice cream, to make what is supposed to be a "non-dairy" dessert one that is quite full of dairy. The results you get from these recipes may be tasty, but they are nothing like Dole Whip because Dole Whip is sorbet and sorbet isn't made with ice cream.

One thing that makes Dole Whip special is its creamy consistency, which may lead some people to believe it has dairy in it. Dole Whip creates this thickness with the assistance of six different natural gums and gels: cellulose gum, xanthan gum, locust bean gum, guar gum, karaya gum, and pectin. In addition, there is a small amount of coconut fat solids in the mix to help simulate the fat found in dairy.

For this hack, I limited the gels to two that are easy to find: unflavored gelatin and pectin. When these two ingredients are heated, then cooled, they form a gel similar to what’s in the real Dole Whip, and the result is a thick-and-creamy consistency. Another trick often used to help thicken sorbets is the use of viscous corn syrup to replace much of the sugar. Corn syrup will give the sorbet body and it helps tone down the acidic pineapple juice.

But the best part of this Dole Whip copycat recipe, unlike the real thing, is that it contains all-natural ingredients and it's mostly made of real Dole pineapple juice, plus a little tangerine juice to round out the flavor and enrich the color. This homemade Dole Whip is ridiculously easy to make (you'll need an ice cream maker) and fans of the real thing will love it. Plus, now you can have this DIY Dole Whip whenever you want—no amusement park required.

Click here for more hacks of delicious desserts and sweet treats.

Menu Description: "Two fresh breakfast favorites are even better together with our buttermilk pancakes swirled with cinnamon-brown sugar."

This new Cheesecake Factory brunch item packs everything you love about cinnamon rolls into an extra-wide stack of pancakes, including buttery icing on top. To make pancakes that are caramel brown on their faces and super spongy with lots of air pockets, you’ll need a tablespoon of baking soda in the batter. When the alkaline baking soda collides with the acidic buttermilk, the batter will instantly puff up, making pancakes that are extra light and airy, and very dark on their surface, like pretzels.

The batter here makes plain buttermilk pancakes until the secret cinnamon filling is swirled over the top of the batter when it's poured into the pan. The combination of brown sugar, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and butter will melt into the pancake, making it look and taste like a sweet, buttery cinnamon roll. Hopefully you have a big griddle or very large skillet to cook these on. The original pancakes are 7 to 8 inches across, so you’ll need a big cooking surface if you want to cook more than one at a time. Or you could just make smaller pancakes.

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).

It is true that ranch dressing was invented at Hidden Valley Ranch near Santa Barbara, California, by a real salad-wranglin' rancher. In the 50s and 60s Steve Henson and his wife, Gayle, shared their 120-acre dude ranch with University of California at Santa Barbara students and other festive partiers for rousing weekend shindigs. The dozens of guests were served steak dinners and delicious salads topped with Steve's special blend of herbs, spices, mayonnaise, and buttermilk. As word got out about the fabulous dressing, more guests were showing up at the ranch and walking home with complimentary take-home jars filled with the stuff. Eventually, Steve figured he could make a little cash on the side by packaging the dressing as a dry mix and selling it through the mail. At first he was filling envelopes himself, but within a few months, Steve had to hire twelve more people to help with the packaging. Soon Steve had a multi-million dollar business on his hands with a product that for ten years he had been giving away for free.

Find all of your favorite salad dressing copycat recipes here.

It may not be listed on the menu, but this is Applebee's most ladled soup each and every day. Just be sure you have some oven-safe soup bowls on hand before you jump into this clone, since you're going to pop the dish under the broiler to brown and melt the cheese on top. Under the gooey melted provolone of the original version you get from Applebee's is a unique round crouton that's made from bread that looks like a hamburger bun. So that's what we'll use for our clone. The round shape of the bread is perfect for topping this Applebee's French onion soup recipe.

Menu Description: "Bury your sweet tooth with smooth Kahlua, creamy vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and rich Hershey's chocolate syrup."

Sure, there's a little Kahlua in there, but this famous Applebee's drink is more dessert than cocktail, really. And the presentation will make you look like a pro because you spiral the chocolate syrup around the inside of the glass before adding the drink. This Applebee's mudslide copycat recipe looks cool and its easy to do. even after you've had a couple. Grab a straw and prepare to crave another when this one's gone. No wonder this drink also comes in a larger size.

Menu Description: "Made from scratch in our kitchens using fresh Grade A Fancy Russet potatoes, fresh chopped onion, natural Colby cheese and spices. Baked fresh all day long."

In the late sixties Dan Evins was a Shell Oil "jobber" looking for a new way to market gasoline. He wanted to create a special place that would arouse curiosity, and would pull travelers off the highways. In 1969 he opened the first Cracker Barrel just off Interstate 40 in Lebanon, Tennessee, offering gas, country-style food, and a selection of antiques for sale. Today there are over 529 stores in 41 states, with each restaurant still designed as a country rest stop and gift store. In fact, those stores which carry an average of 4,500 different items apiece have made Cracker Barrel the largest retailer of American-made finished crafts in the United States.

Those who know Cracker Barrel love the restaurant for its delicious home-style breakfasts. This casserole, made with hash brown-sliced potatoes, Colby cheese, milk, beef broth, and spices is served with many of the classic breakfast dishes at the restaurant. The recipe here is designed for a skillet that is also safe to put in the oven (so no plastic handles). If you don't have one of those, you can easily transfer the casserole to a baking dish after it is done cooking on the stove.

Love Cracker Barrel? Check out my other clone recipes here.

When Johnny Carrabba and his uncle Damian Mandola opened the first Carrabba's restaurant in 1986, they used a collection of their own traditional family recipes to craft a terrific Italian menu. You'll even find the names of friends and family in several of those dishes including Pollo Rosa Maria, Chicken Bryan, Scampi Damian and Insalata Johnny Rocco. Now you can easily recreate the taste of the delicious dressing that's tossed into the salad that's served before each Carrabba's entree. And you need only six ingredients. For the grated Parmesan cheese, go ahead and use the stuff made by Kraft that comes in the green shaker canisters. And if you don't have any buttermilk, you can substitute regular milk. Since it's so thick, this dressing is best when tossed into your salad before serving it, just like the real thing.

Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outback makes their sauces and salad dressings from scratch every day following master formulas in a corporate cookbook. Now you've got a secret recipe of your own that will duplicate the taste of their hugely popular house honey mustard recipe. You'll need just three basic ingredients and only about two minutes of free time for this Outback honey mustard dressing recipe.

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.

It was in the 1960s that deliveryman Vinnie Gruppuso got hooked on the pudding being made at one of the delis in Brooklyn where he delivered bread. Vinnie struck up a deal with that deli—called Cozy Shack—to sell the pudding to other customers on his route, and the product soon outsold his other delivery items. Eventually Vinnie scrapped up enough money to purchase the deli's pudding operation, he changed the "C" in the name to a "K," and today Kozy Shack is the number one manufacturer of rice pudding in North America. As with the original secret formula, six basic ingredients are all that go into this clone of the company's top-seller. But you'll also need a cooking thermometer and a large pot with at least a 10-inch diameter. A pot this wide helps the mixture to reduce faster. Keep your eye on the temperature and be sure to stir the pudding often. When the mixture begins to thicken, pop the pudding into your fridge for several hours where it will continue to thicken to the creamy consistency of the real thing as it cools.

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: "Crispy breaded chicken breast topped with sweet and spicy ginger-citrus sauce. Served with spicy-cool wasabi-ranch dressing for dipping."

So you're into boneless wings but you need a break from the traditional cayenne flavor of the Buffalo style. If fresh ginger-laced sweet-and-sour sauce sounds seducing, here is a variation worth snacking on. Along with the secret sauce recipe here is an easy way to fabricate a carbon copy of Chili's great wasabi-ranch dipping sauce just by adding a few ingredients to Hidden Valley Ranch dressing. I suggest adding one drop of green food coloring to the sauce to give it the same green tint of the original. The wasabi powder won't add much color, so this is the trick. You can find the dry powdered form of wasabi horseradish in the supermarket aisle with the other Asian foods.

Check out my other recipes for Chili's famous dishes here.

Sliced chicken breast, romaine lettuce, pico de gallo, tortilla strips, and cotija cheese make up El Pollo Loco's Caesar Salad, but it is the fantastic creamy cilantro dressing recipe that gets the raves. Simply combine these basic ingredients in a blender and you'll soon have more than one cup of the delicious dressing cloned and ready to pour over any of your home salad creations.

You can also make El Pollo Loco Flame Broiled Chicken, pinto beans, Spanish rice and more. Find my copycat recipes here.

Menu Description: "Spicy, shredded beef, braised with our own chipotle adobo, cumin, cloves, garlic and oregano."

The original Mexican dish barbacoa was traditionally prepared by cooking almost any kind of meat goat, fish, chicken, or cow cheek meat, to name just a few, in a pit covered with leaves over low heat for many hours, until tender. When the dish made its way into the United States via Texas the word transformed into "barbecue" and the preparation changed to incorporate above-ground techniques such as smoking and grilling. The good news is that we can recreate the beef barbacoa that Chipotle has made popular on its ginormous burritos without digging any holes in our backyard or tracking down a local source for fresh cow faces. After braising about 30 pounds of chuck roasts, I finally discovered the perfect clone with a taste-alike adobo sauce that fills your roast with flavor as it slowly cooks to a fork-tender delicacy on your stovetop over 5 to 6 hours. Part of the secret for great adobo sauce is toasting whole cumin seeds and cloves and then grinding them in a coffee grinder (measure the spices after grinding them). Since the braising process takes so long, start early in the day and get ready for a big dinner, because I've also included clones here for Chipotle's pico de gallo, pinto beans, and delicious cilantro-lime rice to make your burritos complete. You can add your choice of cheese, plus guacamole and sour cream for a super-deluxe clone version.

Here's a way to make plenty of hot sauce that tastes just like the stuff people are pouring over the tacos at Taco Bell. If you like it even hotter, check out my recipes for Taco Bell Diablo Sauce, Fire Border Sauce, and Lava Sauce.

Now that you've got your sauce, whatcha gonna slather it on? Find all your favorite Taco Bell copycat recipes here.

The number two Mexican fast food chain nicely duplicates the delicious fish tacos you'd find in coastal towns south of the border: two corn tortillas wrapped around a fried halibut fillet that's topped with cabbage, fresh salsa, and a creamy "secret sauce." It's practically impossible to eat just one—they're that good. And, thanks to the availability of breaded frozen fish sticks in just about every market, a home clone is stupidly simple. If you can't find crispy halibut sticks in your local store, the more common breaded pollock will work just fine here. You can also use frozen fish portions that are grilled if you're not into the breaded (fried) stuff. The real recipe at Del Taco comes with two thin corn tortillas, but sometimes the only available corn tortillas in consumer markets are the thicker ones. If that's the case, you'll need just one per taco.

How about a cold margarita to wash down those tacos? Find your favorite famous drink recipes here.

Menu Description: "The classic Italian dessert. A layer of creamy custard set atop espresso-soaked ladyfingers."

In Italian, tiramisu means "pick me up" or "cheer me up." And when you taste the delicious combination of mascarpone cheese (sometimes referred to as Italian cream cheese), cream cheese, ladyfingers, espresso and Kahlua it will be hard not to smile. So get out your double boiler for the egg yolks (a metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water will also do) and get some ladyfingers (ladyfingers are miniature cakes about the size of two fingers side-by-side). You can either make your own espresso, use extra strong coffee as a substitute, or, next time you're at Starbucks, order up a quadruple shot of espresso to go.

For years Taco Bell customers had only the "mild" and "hot" varieties of free taco sauce blister packs to choose from to kick up their fistful of tacos. That is, until a recent addition to the hot sauce selection bumped the heat-o-meter up a few notches. True chili heads might find this sauce mild when compared with the glut of extreme pepper sauces on the market today, but it's definitely a recipe that improves on the Mexican fast-food chain's original hot sauce formula.

Make those famous Taco Bell tacos, Chalupas, and more here.

Here's a clone for the instant dressing mix you buy in the .7-ounce packets. When added to vinegar, water, and oil, you get one of the best-tasting instant salad dressings around. But what if you can't find the stuff, or it is no longer sold in your area, as I've heard is the case in some cities? Or maybe you just want to save a little money by making your own? Use the recipe below to make as much dry mix as you want, and save it for when you need instant salad satisfaction. I've used McCormick lemon pepper in the recipe here because it contains lemon juice solids that help duplicate the taste of the sodium citrate and citric acid in the real thing. The dry pectin, which can be found near the canning supplies in your supermarket, is used as a thickener, much like the xanthan gum in the original product.

Find more of my delicious salad dressing copycat recipes here.

One day in France in 1756, when Duke de Richelieu's chef couldn't find any cream for a sauce made with eggs and cream, he substituted oil. The thick emulsion that formed after a vigorous beating became one of the basic sauces for our modern cuisine. A version of this simple culinary breakthrough was an important ingredient for Richard Hellmann's salads in the deli he opened in New York City in 1905. When Richard started selling his mayonnaise by the jar at the deli, the bottles flew out the door. Before long Hellmann's creamy mayonnaise dominated in the eastern United States, while another company, Best Foods, was having incredible sales success with mayonnaise west of the Rockies. In 1932 Best Foods bought Hellmann's, and today the two brands split the country: Best Foods is sold west of the Rockies and Hellmann's can be found to the east. Nowadays the two mayonnaise recipes are nearly identical, although some people claim that Best Foods mayonnaise is a little tangier.

In this clone recipe you'll be creating an emulsion by whisking a stream of oil into a beaten egg yolk. The solution will begin to magically thicken and change color, and before you know it you'll be looking at a bowl of beautiful, off-white, fresh mayonnaise. I've found the best way to add the oil to the egg yolk a little bit at a time while whisking is to pour the oil into a plastic squirt bottle like the kind used for ketchup or mustard. This will allow you to whisk continuously with one hand while squirting oil with the other. You can also use a measuring cup with a spout and pour the oil in a thin stream.

Here's a great one for the holidays, or anytime you want, really. It's a mint chocolate brownie with peppermint buttercream frosting on top and creamy chocolate frosting on top of that. And to simplify the cloning process, we start with a common fudge brownie mix. By changing the required ingredients listed on the brownie mix box and modifying some steps, we can improve on the finished product. Rather than oil, use a stick of melted butter in your brownies for a richer, better flavor. And cook the brownies at a slightly lower temperature so that they come out moist and chewy. Since this recipe is for peppermint brownies, add just a bit of peppermint extract to the batter. The peppermint brownies from Starbucks have red and white frosting drizzled lightly across the top. To duplicate this easily you can buy premade red and white colored frostings that come in little cans with tips included.

Check out my other Starbucks copycat recipes here.

Menu Description: "Dare to indulge with a white chocolate and walnut blondie under a scoop of ice cream and chopped walnuts. Served warm and topped at your table with a rich, sizzling maple butter sauce."

For Applebee's regulars, this dessert is a hands-down favorite. In a hot skillet comes a delicious slice of white chocolate and walnut cake—it's similar to a brownie in texture topped with a scoop of ice cream and warm maple butter sauce bubbling as it hits the pan. Commence with the salivating. To recreate this pile of pleasure at home you start by making the cake from scratch. For the white chocolate, get a couple of 4-ounce bars or one 8-ounce bar and chop it into chunks. White chocolate chunks work best in this Applebee's blondie copycat recipe, but you can certainly use white chocolate chips in a pinch. While the blondie cake is baking, whip up the sauce—it will be fluffy at first. When you're ready to serve the dessert, zap the sauce in the microwave until it's hot and creamy. Arrange the decadence in a hot skillet and serve it sizzling to happy, drooling mouths.

This charismatic cheesecake is a specialty at the world's largest Benihana restaurant located in the Hilton hotel and casino in Las Vegas. Check it out: The lightly orange-flavored, fluffed-up cream cheese sits on layer of soft white cake, the edge is frosted and coated with crunchy hazelnut crumbs, and the top is covered with wedges of mandarin oranges in an orange-flavored gelatin. Every element of this top secret kitchen clone is made from scratch, and the finished product is well worth the work you put in. For the cake layer, we whip up just enough of a simple white cake batter to fit into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. The cheese layer in our clone is created with a special custom combination of gelatin, Dream Whip and cream cheese so that no baking is required to firm it up. You could, of course, use a store-bought white frosting for the edge of the cake, but since you only need a small amount of frosting, the clone recipe here makes it cheaper. The hazelnuts are candied with sugar and reduced to crumbs in a food processor. You can find a 1/2-cup bag of chopped hazelnuts in most supermarkets that are perfect for this. And two 15-ounce cans of mandarin orange wedges is just the right amount for garnishing the top. Just be sure to save 1/2-cup of the liquid from the cans of orange wedges to create the gel that holds the topping in place.

Menu Description: "Our creamy cheesecake with chunks of white chocolate and swirls of imported seedless raspberries throughout. Baked in a chocolate crust and finished with white chocolate shavings and whipped cream."

Heres how to recreate a home version of the cheesecake that many claim is the best they've ever had. Raspberry preserves are the secret ingredient that is swirled into the cream cheese that's poured into a crumbled chocolate cookie crust. Yum. No wonder this cheesecake is the number one pick from the chain's massive list of cheesecake choices.

Exclusive signed copy. It's no longer necessary to stand in line for a table at T.G.I. Friday's or Red Lobster, Olive Garden or Outback. You can make the menu items you love right at home—with ingredients from your local supermarket. Included in this book are some of the best-kept restaurant secrets that let you eat in with the great taste of eating out!

In this unique cookbook Todd Wilbur re-creates more than 100 signature dishes from America's most popular chain restaurants—including such hot theme eateries as the Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood.

Wilbur's easy-to-make knock-offs, the product of years of research, are indiscernible from the originals—and the most ingenious way we know of to cut down on the cost of eating out. But watch out, once you start cooking, people may start calling for reservations at your dinner table!


Coke Isn't The Only One With a Secret

Even still, Glass's find is tantalizing, prompting an examination of what other secret corporate recipes -- edible and otherwise -- remain uncracked codes. A brief rundown:

Big Mac Special Sauce, McDonald's. The Big Mac sauce didn't become ubiquitously known until 1975, when a canny advertiser incorporated the phrase "special sauce" into the iconic burger's jingle. (All together now: "Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce cheese . ") The spread, which bears a striking resemblance to Thousand Island dressing, is delivered to McDonald's restaurants in sealed canisters designed by Sealright.

KFC Chicken. After being locked in a safe for nearly seven decades, the Colonel's original handwritten recipe of 11 herbs and spices was temporarily relocated to a more secure location, transported in an armored car. It is alleged that only two KFC executives know the entirety of Colonel Harland Sanders' finger-lickin' recipe. Components of the mix are assembled at different locations to ensure security.

Mrs. Fields Cookies. It has become the stuff of urban legend: In the late 1980s, a chain mail started circulating, purporting to contain the secret recipe for Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookies, purchased for $250. Debbi Fields actually posted a reply in all of her stores: "Mrs. Fields recipe has never been sold. . Mrs. Fields recipe is a delicious trade secret."

Similar mail schemes have bedeviled Waldorf-Astoria hotel's red velvet cake and Neiman Marcus' own chocolate chip cookies.

Twinkies. As Steve Ettlinger watched his daughters gleefully munch on Hostess Twinkies one day, he decided to read the ingredients. Horrified by the mumbo jumbo he saw on the packaging, he decided to decode the ingredients. The result -- "Twinkie, Deconstructed" -- chronicles Ettlinger's journey to discover the source of every listed ingredient.

According to Ettlinger, Interstate Bakeries Corp., which makes Twinkies, didn't exactly cooperate with his research.

Krispy Kreme Donuts. The Winston-Salem, N.C., doughnut company sued the operators of one of its own stores last year on a claim that they deviated from the top-secret recipe when they ran out of the ingredients. "Only a very limited number of Krispy Kreme employees have access to the recipe," which is kept in a safe at the company's headquarters, the company claimed in its suit.

The famous confectioner got its start in 1937 when Vernon Rudolph bought a secret yeast-raised doughnut recipe from a French chef in New Orleans.

WD-40. What makes the super-lubricant so lubricated? It has long been a closely guarded trade secret. Indeed, the product has never been patented in order to avoid having to completely disclose its ingredients.

Developed in 1953 by Norm Larsen, founder of the Rocket Chemical Co., San Diego, Calif., WD-40 was originally designed to repel water and prevent corrosion. He perfected his secret formula, which is locked away in a bank vault, on his 40th attempt.

Taco Bell's Beef. This is one secret that was never intended to get out. A California woman sued Taco Bell earlier this year, claiming its taco filling is only 35 percent ground beef. The rest, she alleges in her class action suit, consists of edible padding: binders, extenders, preservatives, additives and other non-meat ingredients.

Taco Bell claims its filling is 88 percent ground beef. Even so . what's the other 12?


Coca Cola Secrets: 7 Things You Never Knew About Coke's Recipe

No matter who you are, you probably remember begging your parents for a glass of Coca-Cola as a child and still crave the fizzy sweetness of it as an adult.

Coca-Cola, one of the world’s most famous drinks, is turning 128 on March 29. The drink was originally created in Atlanta, Georgia by a pharmacist named John Pemberton in 1886 on approximately this date (though its birthday is celebrated on May 8, the date it was first served in a restaurant). In an effort to gain success, Pemberton created several concoctions before coming up with Coca-Cola’s legendary recipe.

Since then, the drink has grown in popularity and is now sold in more than 200 countries. What started as an experiment is now one of the largest corporations in the world, worth an estimated $173 billion, according to Forbes.

The company’s success, however, hasn’t come without controversy, largely surrounding their top secret recipe. While we all know it’s not the healthiest drink in the world, rumours allege that the recipe itself contains harmful acids and extracts from meats.

Here is the truth about some of the craziest rumours surrounding the soft drink’s recipe.