cup extra virgin olive oil
(28-ounce) can San Marzano (or other Italian) tomatoes, either whole or crushed
(12-ounce) can tomato paste
tablespoon dried oregano
teaspoon dried hot pepper flakes
tablespoon dried parsley
Coarse chop or process celery, onion, green pepper, carrot and 1/2 the garlic.
In stock pot, heat olive oil to medium high and then add chopped vegetables. Cook until brown around edges.
Add all remaining ingredients, except reserved garlic, and simmer, covered, for one hour.
With 15 minutes to go, add the reserved garlic.
Jollof Spaghetti (Spaghetti jollof recipe)
Jollof spaghetti is spaghetti cooked in tomato sauce and spices just like one would cook jollof rice but using spaghetti instead. Some people also call it spaghetti jollof or Jollof pasta.
Ingredient Notes, Tips, and Substitutions
1) Ricotta – A Gift From the Ancients. One of the oldest cheeses in the world, ricotta has been produced in Italy since around 2500 BC. While we tend to think of ricotta purely as that creamy cheese that melts beautifully in things like stuffed shells and lasagna, ricotta also comes in smoked, aged, salted, and baked varieties. Produced from whey, ricotta is made from a variety of milks, including from sheep, goats, and Italian water buffalos. However, in the US, ricotta is produced almost exclusively from cow’s milk. This naturally results in Italian ricotta being both naturally sweeter and somewhat less moist than its American counterpart.
2) Fresh Oregano vs Dried – and Possible Substitutions. In an unusual twist, dried oregano is generally preferred in the kitchen over its fresh counterpart – although there are exceptions. The one word you’ll likely always come across when reading about fresh oregano is ‘pungent,’ and occasionally ‘intrusive.’ Fresh oregano has a tendency to steal the limelight. For this reason, it’s at home in recipes with ‘powerful’ ingredients, or where other fresh ingredients are present. Things like Greek salads, whole roasted fish, grilled lamb, heavy sauces, or in herbal mixes for use in stuffing pork shoulders. In other words, recipes that aren’t ‘gentle’ or ‘light.’ For virtually all other uses, dried oregano is preferable, since the drying process mellows it dramatically – which is almost the polar opposite of what happens with other dried herbs, where the drying process has a tendency to ‘concentrate’ rather than mellow the herbs’ most prominent qualities.
Substitution: Dried basil or thyme at a 1-to-1 ratio.
3) Sugar in Sauce – The ‘Why’ Behind the ‘Sweet.’ Like salt, sugar is a ‘blurring’ or ‘melding’ agent. That simply means that sugar helps to ‘bind’ flavors together. In recipes like red sauces, chilis, or stews, where you have a medley of different flavors coming together, some of which actually contrast quite sharply, you need ‘something’ to help ‘blur’ or ‘meld’ those ingredients together. The primary item for doing this is salt, but sugar also has a very similar effect. However, unlike salt, sugar also ‘mutes’ or ‘blunts’ acidity – despite being somewhat acidic itself (chemically speaking). That said, unlike the ‘saltiness’ of salt, which can come through quite powerfully, the ‘sweetness’ added by sugar is much milder and harder to detect, especially when used in very small quantities. Thus, sugar serves two purposes inside of today’s recipe, melding together flavors and blunting acidity, while itself being a nearly ‘invisible’ ingredient.
4) The Lemon – Fresh is a Must in this Recipe. The lemon in today’s sauce is acting as additional acid, as opposed to additional flavor. You need fresh lemon for this, not only because we want the rind, but also because bottled lemon juice simply isn’t as flavorful, lacking the full ‘zest’ or ‘brightness’ of fresh lemon juice, since the juice begins breaking down chemically almost as soon as it leaves the lemon. Beyond that, the juice’s flavor is often times further diluted with preservatives. As a result, if you want the full flavor and balance intended in today’s recipe, use fresh lemon juice.
Substitutions: If you don’t have fresh lemon on hand, simply add in a few tablespoons of a dry white wine.
Tipsy-Tip: To kick the recipe up a few notches, add in the white wine anyway.
- ▢ 16 ounces spaghetti
- ▢ 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ▢ 1 medium yellow onion , finely chopped
- ▢ 1 tablespoon minced garlic , about 4-5 cloves
- ▢ 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ▢ 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
- ▢ 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- ▢ Coarse kosher salt to taste
- ▢ Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ▢ ¼ cup fresh basil leaves , torn
Tips for customizing
- Use whatever pasta shape you have on hand such as penne or rigatoni
- Substitute the crushed tomatoes with diced tomatoes
- Adjust the heat in this dish by adding more or less crushed red pepper flakes
- Serve with a salad or top with grilled veggies for extra nutrients
- Add plant based meatballs or my eggplant meatballs for extra protein
Adding This Fridge Staple to Sauce Will Make Your Pasta Dishes Taste So Much Better
Whether you love a hearty marinara or a creamy Alfredo, sauce is a key component in any pasta dish — but a common mistake can cause the ingredients to not bind together well enough for the tastiest bites. Luckily, all it takes is a simple restaurant trick of adding some butter while the sauce is still in the pot to make it cling to the pasta better.
We’re all probably familiar with the cooking tip of using leftover pasta water to help thicken our sauce. The starchy water allows things to blend much easier and adds some extra saltiness to keep the dish well-seasoned (no wonder it’s considered liquid gold!). However, according to Cook’s Illustrated, we should also be adding a small amount of butter during this mixing step to prevent the sauce from separating and to help create a glossy finish.
This is all thanks to its high fat to water ratio (80 percent butterfat to 16-18 percent water) which creates a more stable emulsion when added to sauces. For the best results, it’s important to make sure the butter is fridge-cold because it’ll gradually melt into sauce and dissolve the butterfat. If it were room temperature, it would cause the sauce to “break” and not come together as easily.
The experts at MyRecipes recommend stirring in a half a tablespoon of butter into the pasta and sauce mixture to start, then gradually adding more cubes. How much butter you add will depend on how thick you want it to be, but it shouldn’t be more than two tablespoons — otherwise you’ll end up with a very greasy sauce.
For this cooking tip, the butter’s job is to act as an additional binding agent for the pasta and sauce to come together more cohesively without overpowering the dish. A little can go a long way!
Andrew Carmellini, chef and author of Urban Italian (Buy on Amazon, $25.30), shares his tips for properly saucing pasta with Chowhound. Before you strain the pasta, reserve about one to two cups of pasta water and set it aside. Then add the pasta to the pot where your sauce is cooking. He suggests spooning a ladleful of the starchy cooking liquid over the pasta then letting it cook over a gentle flame for one minute before turning off the heat.
Next, start adding in some of the knobs of cold butter. Give this mixture a toss with a wooden spoon or tongs and adjust as needed: If the sauce is too thick, add more of the water if it’s not coming together, another cube of butter might be needed (but remember that two tablespoon rule of thumb!).
He also chose to drizzle in some olive oil and sprinkle freshly grated parmesan cheese to add extra creaminess to the dish. Any fresh herbs like chopped basil or parsley should go in right before serving so that they don’t wilt too much. To get more of Chef Andrew’s pasta expertise, watch the video below:
When preparing this sauce, remember to take into account the cooking time when throwing the pasta into a pot of boiling water: it must be ready at the same time as the guanciale, so that it can be dressed immediately.
12 oz spaghetti, 4 egg yolks, 1 1/2 oz Pecorino Romano cheese, 3/4 oz Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, 5 1/4 oz guanciale, salt, pepper
In a dry pan, brown the sliced pork cheek and remove the rind. Then mix the egg yolks with the pecorino and parmigiano cheese and dilute it a little with around 1/4 cup of water. Mix with a whisk so that the yolks become creamy. Season with salt and pepper. Drain the pasta al dente, without straining too much (alternatively, keep some cooking water to the side), and put it back in the pot immediately add the guanciale and its melted fat. Stir well. Pour the egg yolk mixture over the spaghetti and stir, so that it just begins to solidify without clumping. Serve immediately, adding more pecorino cheese to taste and freshly ground pepper.
1 celery rib, 3 carrots, 1 onion, 8 1/2 oz minced pork, 1 quart ready-made meat stock, 8 3/4 oz minced beef, a glass of milk (optional), 1 grating of nutmeg, extra-virgin olive oil, a glass of red wine, tomato paste, a bay leaf
Clean and chop the vegetables, then brown them in a pan with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Once golden, add the minced beef and pork. After a few minutes wet with a glass of red wine, then add the nutmeg and tomato paste. Let cook, adding some meat broth from time to time. Slowly simmer for a few hours. Once off the heat, add a bay leaf. For a richer version, add a glass of milk as well to round out the taste. If you prefer a thinner, more abundant sauce you can also add tomato passata. Drain the spaghetti and dress with the meat ragù. Once you’ve finished your spaghetti, don’t forget to clean your plate with a piece of bread!
Why You Should Make Your Own Tomato Sauce
There are plenty of excellent reasons to make your own tomato sauce at home – for one, it’s absolutely delicious! It will also help you use up the onslaught of tomatoes that you have in your garden each summer and fall.
But homemade spaghetti sauce is worth the effort for other reasons, too. For one, it can be cheaper. Sure, you have to factor in your time, but growing your own tomatoes can really save you some money if you like having a consistent abundance of fresh produce at all times.
Plus, it’s healthier. Store-bought tomato sauce is often loaded with preservatives, sugar, and salt – something you really don’t need more of in your life.
When you make your own homemade spaghetti sauce, you can accurately control for all of these in your own kitchen. You can also add your own spices or herbs to give your sauce that perfect flavor you love and cherish.
How to prepare tomato sauce spaghetti?
When the sauce is ready, turn off the stove and add a handful of grated parmesan, mix well for the cheese to melt it. It is a trick you will, later on, thank me for.
At this point, you just have to cook the pasta in abundant boiling salted water according to the package instructions. Just remember to cook the pasta al dente. This is how it will soak in the marinara sauce and will get the fabulous taste.
Next, drain the spaghetti al dente directly into the sauce and stir for a few moments on the flame to mix everything. Your spaghetti with tomatoes are ready, you just carefully place a portion of spaghetti in a deep bowl or spaghetti dish and garnish with fresh basil and some extra parmesan at your taste. Enjoy!
If you are a pasta lover, don’t miss other delectable pasta recipes:
40 Dump Recipes
No pre-cooking. Just dump the ingredients and go about your day. For a busy mom like myself, that&rsquos my kind of recipe! One of my favorite dump recipes is my homemade spaghetti sauce. You can either make it as directed, or just throw all the ingredients in a pot and cook it.
I&rsquove tried many dump recipes&hellip and some are ok, some are flat-out awful, but if you do it right, some are pretty amazing. So I&rsquove compiled a list of my favorite dump recipes. Trust me &ndash these all fall to the side of &ldquopretty amazing&rdquo.
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Okay &ndash back to the dump recipes. I split these up by the type of meat, so you can easily find what you&rsquore looking for depending on what ingredients you have. Without further ado &ndash Here we go!
Beef Dump Recipes
Texas Roadhouse Pot Roast &ndash this is the absolute best pot roast you will ever have. And this isn&rsquot just me saying that, I&rsquove gotten literally hundreds of emails using that exact phrase! It&rsquos so good.
Slow Cooker Korean Beef Tacos &ndash This might be the ultimate sweet, savory, a little spicy, super rich meal. My neighbor just made it for the first time a couple weeks ago. He came up to me and said, &ldquoLauren. Those Korean Beef Tacos. Holy Cow. They&rsquove changed my life.&rdquo And I&rsquom pretty sure that he meant it in a good way.
Slow Cooker Shredded Black Bean Chili &ndash Looking for a chili that&rsquos a bit different from your standard hamburger based chili with kidney beans? This one is outstanding. In fact&hellip now that I&rsquom writing this, I think I have all the ingredients for this dump recipe in my kitchen&hellip I guess I just figured out dinner for tonight! YUM!
Ropa Vieja &ndash Don&rsquot be scared off by the name! This cuban dish is absolutely PACKED with flavor. Shredded beef in a tomato base with cumin, peppers, onions, peas&hellip serve it over rice and watch your family devour this!
Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef &ndash Inspired by my favorite dish at PF Changs, this version uses a chuck roast, and is SUPER EASY and tastes amazing. When this is in my crock pot, I am literally salivating all day. It&rsquos one of my favorite dump recipes!
Slow Cooker Balsamic & Honey Pot Roast &ndash I LOVE pot roast, and this recipe is such an awesome take on it. It&rsquos so different from the Texas Roadhouse Pot Roast above, but it&rsquos just as flavorful. Sweet, savory, and everything you need from a good pot roast.
Cuban Beef Sandwiches, Food Truck Style &ndash Have you ever gotten a sandwich at a food truck that was just so perfectly packed with flavor? And you couldn&rsquot even put your finger on what made it taste so good? You will fee that way with this recipe. Serve with mayo and avocado and that&rsquos all she wrote! No one will ever believe that it was one of your simple and easy dump recipes!
Slow Cooker Beef Ragu &ndash I absolutely LOVE the chuck roast. And I also love red sauce over pasta. And when you combine the two, amazing things happen. This beef ragu sauce is fantastic.
Spicy BBQ Sirloin Steak &ndash This one is awesome because you can either throw all the ingredients in the slow cooker like a dump recipe, or you can separate them and grill the steak (there&rsquos instructions for both). To be honest, I&rsquove tried this both ways, and I kinda like it in the slow cooker better. Serve it over mashed potatoes and the sauce becomes an amazing gravy!
Hamburger Dump Recipes
Hamburger can work GREAT in the slow cooker. You can use it loose, or prepared as meatballs or a meatloaf. I&rsquove got great examples of these below.
Slow Cooker Swedish Meatballs &ndash Oh man. This dump recipe&hellip it is creamy, perfectly seasoned, and filling. This is my kind of meal when the weather is cold.
Slow Cooker Meat Sauce &ndash I love me some pasta sauce. And when meat cooks in it, its just makes it taste that much better. This is one of the true dump recipes in the sense that you dump the ingredients, and literally do nothing. You might have to break up the hamburger a bit, but that&rsquos super easy.
Slow Cooker BBQ Meatloaf &ndash Meatloaf in a slow cooker? Yup. Ok, so maybe this one isn&rsquot quite a &ldquodump&rdquo recipe as much as some of the others. After you &ldquodump&rdquo the ingredients in a bowl, it has the added step of mixing them together with your hands and making a loaf to stick in the crockpot. The flavors are outstanding in this meatloaf!
Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs &ndash This is the absolute PERFECT meatball recipe. This is the meal that when I ask my kids &ldquowhat should have for dinner?&rdquo they answer &ldquospaghetti and meatballs. &rdquo Every time. Don&rsquot be afraid of just tossing the meatballs in the slow cooker raw. It works. Trust me.
Slow Cooker Chili &ndash Who doesn&rsquot love chili? And it&rsquos even better when it&rsquos so easy to put together. This dump recipe version of chili is seasoned just perfect!
Chicken Breast Dump Recipes
Before I get to the recipes, as a general rule, chicken breast seems to work best in the slow cooker when it cooks for 3-4 hours on high. You can definitely cook it longer, but it kinda shreds a bit too much.
Here are my absolute favorite chicken breast dump recipes.
White Chicken Chili &ndash yup &ndash I&rsquom starting with this one. It&rsquos just fantastic. My friends rave about this recipe. The texture, flavors and seasoning are just perfect. Serve with tortilla chips, sour cream, cilantro, maybe some avocado &ndash whatever you want!
Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken &ndash I LOVE this one. A little bit sweet, a little bit spicy, and a great texture. I usually get seconds (or thirds) when I make this for dinner!
Slow Cooker Spinach and Artichoke Chicken &ndash I got the inspiration for this from an amazing spinach and artichoke dip recipe. I thought, what if I added chicken, and served it over pasta? Welp&hellip the results were even better than I had envisioned. One of my favs.
Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan &ndash Trust me, this one works. The key to a good chicken parm is the chicken, a salty crunchy crust, melty cheese and an amazing sauce. This has all of that! To get the crunch, you just gotta do a 5 minute step at the end.
Slow Cooker Zesty Orange Chicken &ndash Just like the name says, it&rsquos very zesty. It gets the orange flavor from some orange juice concentrate. And after adding some garlic, ginger and sugar, this tastes just like something you&rsquod get for chinese takeout!
Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Pie &ndash This has all the creaminess and richness of that perfect filling of a chicken pot pie that you&rsquod envision. And it&rsquos super easy to make prepare because you will just use a bag of frozen mixed vegetables &ndash which are already chopped to the perfect size! Serve it with some biscuits and enjoy.
Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos &ndash These chicken tacos couldn&rsquot be easier. Chicken breast, spices, and just a little bit of water. Close the lid, and a few hours later just serve them up in taco shells and top as you normally would. My kids prefer these to the tacos made with ground beef!
Slow Cooker Creamy Chicken Stew &ndash This recipe blew me away the first time I made it! It was also the first time I used a roux as a thickener once the recipe was completed. SOOO good.
Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken &ndash Just as the recipe would have you believe, this one is sweet and garlic-y! What&rsquos not to love? It&rsquos so good over rice.
Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Casserole &ndash I don&rsquot know what&rsquos gotten into this recipe, but it&rsquos been pinned like almost 100,000 times. I mean I do understand why, cause it&rsquos amazing. This one takes a tip from the chicken parmesan above and uses a crunchy breadcrumb topping to get that perfect texture! One of my favorite dump recipes!
Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken &ndash The creamy and tart sauce is what makes this recipe. I mean the chicken is good too, but with the creamy sauce on top? Holy cow. Serve this with either rice or pasta. Yum!
Slow Cooker Creamy Garlic Chicken &ndash It&rsquos like comfort food that you didn&rsquot have to do any work to prepare. It is heavy on the garlic, but that&rsquos one of the things that makes this so good!
Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy Pineapple Chicken &ndash I&rsquove got a few Asian inspired ones on this list, and this recipe is among the best! If you want to up the heat, add more red pepper flakes! But be careful, they tend to become more pronounced as they cook in the slow cooker&hellip one of the spicier dump recipes on this list!
Chicken Thighs Dump Recipes
Chicken thighs are my favorite way to prepare chicken in the slow cooker&hellip especially for dump recipes. Unlike chicken breasts, the dark meat doesn&rsquot dry out. It stays moist and tender. But make sure to take the skin off first, or buy them skinless in the store. No one likes chicken skin in the slow cooker!
Slow Cooker Lemon Awesome Chicken &ndash It was so hard to come up with a name for this recipe. It was creamy, lemony and just AWESOME. So that&rsquos what I named it. I think you&rsquoll agree! This one is best served over rice &ndash it soaks up all the yummy sauce.
Slow Cooker Asian BBQ Fusion Chicken &ndash Of all the dump recipes on this post, this is in my top 5. The ingredients are all over the place &ndash ginger, BBQ sauce, garlic, soy sauce, tomato sauce&hellip it&rsquos kinda nuts but, oh man do these flavors work well together! Trust me. Just make it.
Slow Cooker Verde Chicken &ndash Verde means green. So this one is kinda green. It&rsquos from the tomatillo salsa. That&rsquos also one of the reasons this is so easy. Chicken, salsa, cilantro, and a few spices. That&rsquos it. So much flavor in this one.
Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup &ndash So I just made this 2 nights ago. I got the inspiration for this recipe from a chicken tortilla soup that they serve at Ruby Tuesday that I love. This version is actually better!
Caribbean Citrus Chicken &ndash I absolutely love the flavors in this dump recipe! It calls for just drumsticks, but you can use skinless chicken thighs as well. Citrus from lime juice and orange juice plus garlic and onions make this recipe super tasty!
Slow Cooker Paprika BBQ Chicken &ndash when I was creating this recipe, I wasn&rsquot sure how it would turn out. Loads of paprika, plus a bit of BBQ sauce to add some sweetness. After you add the sour cream in at the end, this dish just is just out of this world good! One of my favorites.
Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup &ndash No need to make a stock from scratch to get an amazing homemade Chicken noodle soup. The chicken thighs do all the work for you as they cook in the slow cooker. It&rsquos crazy that a dump recipe can produce such an awesome chicken noodle soup, but it does!
Pork Dump Recipes
Pork works GREAT in dump recipes. The list below has recipes that use both pork loin, and pork shoulder. Both work great in the slow cooker&hellip and also have their pros and cons. Overall, I like recipes using the pork shoulder better. Because of the fat content in the pork, the meat is much more tender and juicy. But the drawback is that you have to take out the meat after it&rsquos done cooking to remove the excess pieces of fat. A step that&rsquos worth it in my opinion.
Pork loin works great too! It&rsquos not as juicy as a shoulder when it cooks in the slow cooker, but it&rsquos WAY easier. Once it&rsquos done cooking, either shred it or slice it. Either way, these recipes are delicious.
Slow Cooker Pork Loin with Basil Cream Sauce &ndash I haven&rsquot really mixed the flavors of basil with pork and cream before. I usually use basil in just red sauces&hellip but it shines here. Big time. The sauce in this dump recipe is so good.
Apple Cinnamon Pork Loin &ndash If it&rsquos fall weather outside, then you need to make this right now. This is just one of those perfect sweet and savory dishes that works so well over mashed potatoes. You&rsquoll love this.
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas &ndash Right here, this recipe is one of the top 5 on this list. Orange juice, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, garlic &ndash c&rsquomon there&rsquos some BOLD flavors in here!
Crockpot Pulled Pork &ndash This recipe has been pinned over a MILLION times. While I do prefer a smoked pulled pork, this slow cooker version comes pretty close. And since it&rsquos a dump recipe, it&rsquos WAY easier!
Slow Cooker Ribs &ndash The flavor profile of these ribs are pretty similar to the pulled pork above. Just a great BBQ flavor. In my opinion, ribs just work perfect when they are cooked on high for 4 hours. This way, they are tender, but not to the point where they just fall completely off the bone when you pick them up.
Chili Lime Pork Loin &ndash Similar to the BBQ sirloin steak, this one can be grilled or cooked in the slow cooker. The cumin, chili, and lime juice are so perfect in this. Slice it up and serve it with any kind of potato!
But before we get to that &ndash I gotta share this with you. I&rsquove never done this before&hellip but I&rsquom offering a bundled deal on all of my meal plans! If you&rsquove never checked these out before, these might just change your life! You can check out my meal plans HERE. But this bundled deal can only be purchased below.
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!
Save $12 vs. monthly
Includes eight (8) 79¢ recipes of your choice each month!
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.
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.
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.
A recipe for Portuguese sweet bread inspired the soft rolls that became a big hit at Robert Tiara's Bakery & Restaurant in Honolulu, Hawaii in the 1950s. It wasn’t long before Robert changed the name of his thriving business to King’s Hawaiian, and in 1977 the company opened its first bakery on the mainland, in Torrance, California, to make the now-famous island sweet rolls sold in stores across the U.S.
King’s Hawaiian Rolls are similar to Texas Roadhouse Rolls in that they are both pillowy, sweet white rolls, so it made sense to dig out my Texas Roadhouse Rolls clone recipe and use it as a starting point. These new rolls had to be slightly softer and sweeter, so I made some adjustments and added a little egg for color. And by baking the dough in a high-rimmed baking pan with 24 dough balls placed snugly together, I ended up with beautiful rolls that rose nicely to the occasion, forming a tear-apart loaf just like the original, but with clean ingredients, and without the dough conditioners found in the packaged rolls.
Use these fluffy sweet rolls for sandwiches, sliders, or simply warmed up and slathered with soft European butter.
This recipe was our #3 most popular in 2020. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes for the year: Rao's Homemade Marinara Sauce (#1), Olive Garden Lasagna Classico (#2), Pei Wei Better Orange Chicken (#4), Chipotle Mexican Grill Carnitas (#5).
A popular staple of any Chinese chain is the fried rice so it better be good, and the version served at Panda Express most certainly is. Here's an easy hack when you need a stress-free, low-cost side for your entrées. But I do suggest that you cook the white rice several hours or even a day or two before you plan to make the finished dish. I found that the cooked rice called for in this recipe works best when it's cold.
As for a shortcut, bagged frozen peas and carrots will save you from the hassle of petite-dicing carrots since the carrots in those bags are the perfect size to produce an identical clone. And they're already cooked.
Now, how about some Honey Walnut Shrimp, or Beijing Beef to go with that rice? Find all my Panda Express copycat recipes here.
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.
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 Southern-themed chain famous for its gift shops filled with made-in-America products and delicious homestyle food is also known to have a particularly good meatloaf. This dish ranks high in popularity, right up there with the Chicken ‘n Dumplins and the Hash Brown Casserole, so a good hack is long overdue.
Making meatloaf is easy. What’s hard is making it taste like the meatloaf at Cracker Barrel which is tender and juicy, and flavored with onion, green pepper, and tomato. I sought to turn out a moist and tender loaf of meat, and one that’s not dry and tough, but my first attempts were much too dense. I wasn’t happy about that, but my dog was thrilled.
After playing around with the eggs-to-breadcrumbs-to-milk ratios and being careful to use gentle hands when combining everything and pressing it into the loaf pan, the final batch was a winner and I get to pass it along to you.
It's best to use a meatloaf pan here which has an insert that lets the fat drip to the bottom, away from the meat. A regular loaf pan will still work, but you’ll want to pour off the fat in the pan before slicing.
Satisfy your Cracker Barrel cravings with more of my copycat recipes here.
To get their Extra Crispy Chicken so crispy KFC breads the chicken two times. This double breading gives the chicken its ultra craggy exterior and extra crunch, which is a different texture than the less crispy Original Recipe Chicken that’s breaded just once and pressure fried.
As with my KFC Original Recipe hack, we must first brine the chicken to give it flavor and moisture all the way through, like the real thing, then the chicken is double breaded and deep fried until golden brown. KFC uses small chickens which cook faster, but small chickens can be hard to find. If your chicken parts are on the large side, they may not cook all the way through in the 12 to 15 minutes of frying I’m specifying here. To be sure your chicken is cooked, start frying with the thickest pieces, like the breasts, then park them in a 300-degree oven while you finish with the smaller pieces. This will keep the chicken warm and crispy, and more importantly, ensure that they are cooked perfectly all the way through.
On my CMT show Top Secret Recipe I chatted with Winston Shelton, a long-time friend of KFC founder Harland Sanders. Winston saw the Colonel's handwritten secret recipe for the Original Recipe chicken, and he told me one of the secret ingredients is Tellicherry black pepper. It's a more expensive, better-tasting black pepper that comes from the Malabar coast in India, and you should use it here if you can find it. Winston pulled me aside and whispered this secret to me when he thought we were off-camera, but our microphones and very alert cameramen caught the whole thing, and we aired it.
I first published this hack in Even More Top Secret Recipes, but recently applied some newly acquired secrets and tips to make this much-improved version of one of the most familiar fried chicken recipes in the world.
This recipe was our #2 most popular in 2019. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes of the year: Texas Roadhouse Rolls (#1), Olive Garden Braised Beef Bolognese (#3), Pizzeria Uno Chicago Deep Dish Pizza (#4), Bush's Country Style Baked Beans (#5).
In the 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).
A requirement of any visit to Chicago is eating at least one slice of deep dish pizza in the city that perfected it. Deep dish pizza quickly became a Chicago staple after Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo opened the first Pizzeria Uno in 1943 and served a hearty new style of pizza constructed in a high-rimmed cake pan. The yeast crust was tender and flakey, like a pastry, and the cheese was layered under the sauce so that it wouldn’t burn in a hot oven for the long cooking time.
While researching a home hack of this now-iconic recipe, I discovered an unexpected technique that I hadn’t seen in other deep dish recipes. Employees told me the pizza crusts are partially cooked each morning to cut down on the wait time for customers. Before the restaurant opens each day, cooks press the dough into a pan and then sprinkle it with a little shredded cheese. The shells are then partially baked and set aside. Later, when an order comes in, the pizza is built into one of the par-baked crusts and finished off. This way customers get their food faster, and the tables turn over quicker.
Copying that delicious, flakey crust was the task that took me the longest. After two weeks of baking, I finally settled on a formula that was a mash-up of yeast dough and pie crust and made a perfectly tender deep dish crust, with great flavor that exactly mimicked the original. If you like Uno, you will love this.
Regarding the cheese: be sure your cheese is at room temperature, not cold, or it may not melt all the way through. Also, it’s best if you buy cheese by the block and shred it yourself. Pre-shredded cheese is dusted with cornstarch so that the shreds don’t stick together in the bag, and it won’t melt as smoothly as cheese you shred by hand.
This recipe will make enough sauce for two pizzas. I just thought you should know that in case you get the urge to make another deep dish after this one disappears.
This recipe was our #4 most popular in 2019. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes of the year: Texas Roadhouse Rolls (#1) KFC Extra Crispy Fried Chicken (#2), Olive Garden Braised Beef Bolognese (#3), Bush's Country Style Baked Beans (#5).
Over the years I've hacked a bunch of items from Chili's menu, including their Fajitas, Baby Back Ribs, Salsa, Chili Queso, Southwestern Eggrolls, Chicken Crispers, Boneless Wings, and more, but it wasn’t until recently that I got the chance to work on a hack for the chain’s award-winning Original Chili. Why it took so long, I have no idea.
The chili served at Chili’s is a Texas-style con carne recipe, which traditionally means no beans and no tomato. You won’t find any beans in this recipe or chunks of tomato, but their chili does have a tomato base to boost flavor, so I’m adding that into the mix by including one 6-ounce can of tomato paste. As it turns out, that small can is just the right amount.
The preparation technique is simple: brown the beef, drain off the fat, then add some of the fat back to the empty pan to sauté the onions and peppers in. When those are done, you add the beef back to the pan along with the remaining ingredients and simmer for 1½ hours. That will be just long enough to braise the beef and tenderize it, and to thicken the chili to a perfect consistency.
When the chili’s done, top each serving with a cheddar/pepper Jack blend, and some crispy tortilla bits. Then pass out the spoons.
Check here more of my Chili's copycat recipes.
“Don’t call them fries,” says KFC about its popular side made with sliced, skin-on russet potatoes. What sets these potatoes apart from all the others is the secret breading made with a similar seasoning blend to the one used for Colonel's Original Recipe Fried Chicken. To achieve the proper crispiness, the potatoes are par-fried, frozen, then fried again until golden brown.
One important ingredient that completes the flavor is MSG. Monosodium glutamate is a food additive derived from glutamic acid, which is an important amino acid found in abundance in nature, food, and in you right now. Over the last 60 years of study and use, MSG has not only been found harmless in normal amounts, but tests have shown glutamate to be a chemical messenger that benefits gut health, immunity, and brain functions such as memory and learning. In addition to all of that, it imparts a unique savoriness that enhances flavors in other ingredients and makes your food taste amazing. Using MSG in your food is, literally, smart cooking.
Another important ingredient is ground Tellicherry black pepper, a select black pepper from India. Winston Shelton, a friend of Harland Sanders who invented the first high-volume pressure fryers for KFC, confirmed this. Shelton recalled seeing the ingredient when Sanders showed him the secret formula for the fried chicken seasoning he had scribbled on a piece of paper.
While we were shooting the first episode of my TV Show, Top Secret Recipe, Winston pulled me aside and whispered to me that Tellicherry pepper is crucial to creating the unique KFC aftertaste. It was a great tip, and fortunately, we caught that moment on camera and you can see it in the show. Later, I conducted a side-by-side taste test with common black pepper and Tellicherry black pepper and discovered Winston was right. If you want the best taste for your clone you'll need Tellicherry pepper, which you can find online and in some food stores. Be sure to grind it fine before using it.
For this recipe, just two russet potatoes are all it takes to make the equivalent of a large serving of fried potato wedges, which will be enough for at least four people.
Get more of my KFC copycat recipes here.
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.
For many years this entree has been a top menu choice at Maggiano's, the 54-unit Italian chain from Brinker, the same company that operates Chili’s Grill & Bar. The $30 restaurant dish consists of three 2½-ounce tenderloin steaks, swimming in a fantastic balsamic cream sauce with sliced portobello mushrooms—but a home version of the signature dish is only seven easy steps away, and it won't hit you in the wallet as hard as the pricey original.
Cracking this dish required a perfect hack of the sauce, and that came quickly after obtaining some very reliable information from my incredibly helpful server/informant at a Las Vegas Maggiano’s. Let’s call him Skippy.
According to Skippy, the balsamic cream sauce is as simple as mixing a sweet balsamic glaze with the chain’s creamy alfredo sauce. So, I first got a sample of Maggiano’s alfredo sauce and figured out how to replicate it. Once that was done, I measured increments of balsamic glaze into the alfredo sauce until the color and flavor matched the original. The rest of the recipe was easy.
This recipe will make two servings of the dish and includes preparation for the tenderloins and sauce. If you’d like to complete the dish the way it’s served at the restaurant (as in the photo), add some garlic mashed potatoes on the side, using my hack for Olive Garden Garlic Mashed Potatoes.
Menu Description: “Two lightly fried parmesan-breaded chicken breasts are smothered with Olive Garden’s homemade marinara sauce and melted Italian cheeses. We serve our Chicken Parmigiana with a side of spaghetti for dinner.”
Chicken parmigiana is a forever favorite, and it’s not a difficult dish to whip up at home. But for it to taste like the Olive Garden signature entree, we’ll need to take some very specific steps.
Olive Garden’s chicken is salty and moist all the way through, so we must first start by brining the chicken. Give yourself an extra hour for this important marinating step. The marinara sauce used on the chicken is an Olive Garden specialty and no bottled sauce compares, so we’ll make our own from scratch using canned crushed tomatoes and the formula below.
While the sauce cooks, filling your house with its intoxicating aroma, the chicken is breaded and browned. When the marinara is done, top the chicken with the sauce and mozzarella and stick it under your hot broiler until bubbling.
Hopefully, everyone at your house is hungry, because the Olive Garden dinner portion is two chicken fillets, and this recipe will yield a total of four 2-piece servings. Add a small serving of spaghetti on the side, topped with more of the delicious sauce, and you'll have a perfect match to the restaurant plate.
Can't get enough Olive Garden? Click here for more of my copycat recipes.
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.
Menu Description: “Creamy potato soup topped with melted cheese, bacon, and green onions.”
It’s not called baked potato soup because the potatoes in it are baked. It’s called baked potato soup because it’s topped with shredded cheese, bacon, and green onion, and it tastes like a baked potato. Other hacky hacks for this recipe miss that point and add over an hour to the preparation process by preheating an oven and baking the potatoes, all while hungry stomachs are growling on the sidelines. My version skips that part by adding the raw potatoes directly into the pot with the other ingredients, where they cook in 20 minutes, and the soup is ready to eat in less time than other recipes take just to get the potatoes done.
Also, other clones add way too much flour to thicken the soup—¾ cup! Sure, flour is good at thickening, but it doesn’t add any flavor, so I found a better way. I ended up using just a little flour to make the roux, then later thickening the soup mostly with dehydrated potato flakes, which are usually used to make quick mashed potatoes. The flakes not only do a great job of thickening the soup, but they also add more delicious potato flavor to the pot.
Top your finished soup with shredded cheese, crumbled bacon, and green onion, and every spoonful will taste like a fully loaded baked potato.
Finish off your meal with a famous entrée from Outback like Alice Springs Chicken, or Toowoomba Steak.
Over a century ago, Detroit, Michigan became the Coney Island chili dog capital of the world, even though Coney Island is nowhere near there. Greek immigrants who entered the U.S. through Ellis Island adapted a recipe for the hot dogs they ate while visiting Coney Island, New York, on their way to the Midwest. When they settled in southern Michigan, many opened restaurants to sell their clones of the food they ate when they first got to America, turning New York-style Coney Dogs into a Midwest phenomenon.
Two of the most famous Coney Island restaurants in Detroit are Lafayette Coney Island and its next-door neighbor, American Coney Island. The two buildings were originally one building with a single restaurant inside, built by brothers Gus and Bill Keros in 1915. But somewhere along the way the brothers had a falling out and split the restaurant in half, right down the middle, and it stayed that way. Today, the two Coney Island restaurants are under different ownership, but they still remain next-door rivals.
I decided the best Coney dog to hack is from American Coney Island, not only because of the restaurant’s deep history, but also because I was able to order the chili dogs shipped to my house in a kit. That’s always good news, since shipped foods must list ingredients, and I get to see exactly what’s in the chili. Built the traditional way, a typical Detroit Coney Island chili dog features a natural-casing hot dog in a soft white bun, smothered in chili sauce, drizzled with mustard, and topped with a pile of diced sweet onion. The kit came with everything I needed, including the tub of chili with clearly-labeled ingredients that I was counting on.
With the help of that information, I was able to create a thick, flavorful chili sauce that you can use on your favorite hot dogs to make a delicious clone. Crushed soda crackers thicken the chili, and extra beef fat adds a smooth quality that mimics the famous 100-year-old recipe.
The chili must simmer for four hours to properly tenderize the meat, so plan your Coney dog cloning adventure accordingly.
And now if you're craving French fries, try my Mcdonald's Fries copycat recipe here.
Braised Beef Pasta Menu Description: “Slow-simmered meat sauce with tender braised beef and Italian sausage, tossed with ruffled pappardelle pasta and a touch of alfredo sauce—just like Nonna’s recipe.”
It’s a mistake to assume that a recipe posted to a restaurant chain’s website is the real recipe for the food served there. I’ve found this to be the case with many Olive Garden recipes, and this one is no exception. A widely circulated recipe that claims to duplicate the chain’s classic Bolognese actually originated on Olive Garden’s own website, and if you make that recipe you’ll be disappointed when the final product doesn’t even come close to the real deal. I won’t get into all the specifics of the things wrong with that recipe (too much wine, save some of that for drinking!), but at first glance it’s easy to see that a few important ingredients found in traditional Bolognese sauces are conspicuously missing, including milk, basil, lemon, and nutmeg.
I incorporated all those missing ingredients into this new hack recipe, tweaked a few other things, and then tested several methods of braising the beef so that it comes out perfectly tender: covered, uncovered, and a combo. The technique I settled on was cooking the sauce covered for 2 hours, then uncovered for 1 additional hour so that the sauce reduces and the beef transforms into a fork-flakeable flavor bomb. Yes, it comes from Olive Garden, but this Bolognese is better than any I’ve had at restaurants that charge twice as much, like Rao’s where the meat is ground, not braised, and they hit you up for $30.
As a side note, Olive Garden’s menu says the dish comes with ruffled pappardelle pasta, but it’s actually mafaldine, a narrower noodle with curly edges (shown in the top right corner of the photo). Pappardelle, which is the traditional pasta to serve with Bolognese, is a very wide noodle with straight edges, and it’s more familiar than mafaldine, so perhaps that’s why the menu fudges this fact. In the end, it doesn’t really matter which pasta you choose. Just know that a wide noodle works best. Even fettuccine is good here.
For the little bit of alfredo sauce spooned into the middle of the dish I went with a premade bottled sauce to save time. You can also make this from scratch if you like (I’ve got a great hack for Olive Garden’s Alfredo Sauce), but it’s such a small amount that premade sauce in either a chilled tub from the deli section or in a bottle off the shelf works great here.
This recipe was our #3 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), Pizzeria Uno Chicago Deep Dish Pizza (#4), Bush's Country Style Baked Beans (#5).
And browse my other Olive Garden clone recipes here.
There are many acceptable ways to formulate good queso, but to make this specific queso the ingredients must be correct, and most copycat recipes seem to get it wrong. A few recipes get one of the peppers and two of the cheeses right, but pretty much every recipe out there is a bit of a mess that I will now save you from.
Quesos can be made with a variety of cheeses that include queso fresco, asadero, and Muenster, but this particular queso includes a cheese you probably didn’t expect: Swiss. That cheese is slow to melt, so we’ll shred it first, along with the Jack. And you won't need to gum up the queso with flour or cornstarch by making a roux because the white American cheese in the mix contains sodium citrate or sodium phosphate—additives that help the cheese melt smoothly and stay that way.
Authors of recipes that call for tomatoes in this dish haven’t looked closely. Those are red bell peppers and they are roasted, peeled, and seeded along with the poblano and jalapenos before they are diced and added to the cheese sauce. The sauce cooks on low heat, never bubbling, so that it stays smooth and creamy.
When done, the queso might seem thin in the pan, but it will thicken as it cools to a perfect consistency for dipping tortilla chips, or as a topping for tacos and burrito bowls.
In the Summer of 2020, to the dismay of many fans, KFC stopped selling the famous potato wedges that had been on the menu for decades and replaced them with battered French fries.
Like the wedges, these fries are coated with a flavorful batter, but the seasoning used on the fries is a different blend than what was used on the wedges. Are these new fries better than the classic wedges? That depends. Some may prefer the rare treat of fast food skin-on wedges, while others may prefer the crispiness of these new fries. Some don’t care and just want a clone, so here you go.
The hack here is simplified by using par-fried French fries found in the freezer section of your store. After coating the fries with this clone of the seasoned breading, spray them with water, then fry them for 3 to 4 minutes. That’s it. Be sure to have a clean squirt bottle filled with water to transform the breading into a thin batter giving your finished product the same crispy coating as the original.
KFC’s new fries are coated with a blend that includes onion, celery, and carrot powder. It’s easy to find onion powder in most supermarkets, but I had to go online to find celery and carrot juice powders. The blend of vegetable powders adds great flavor, but if you want to omit the celery and carrot powders and just use onion powder, the recipe will still make delicious copycat fries.
Click here for my KFC Original Chicken recipe or search for your favorites here.
The talented chefs at Benihana cook food on hibachi grills with flair and charisma, treating the preparation like a tiny stage show. They juggle salt and pepper shakers, trim food with lightning speed, and flip the shrimp and mushrooms perfectly onto serving plates or into their tall chef's hat.
One of the side dishes that everyone seems to love is the fried rice. At Benihana this dish is prepared by chefs with precooked rice on open hibachi grills, and is ordered a la cart to complement any Benihana entree, including Hibachi Steak and Chicken. I like when the rice is thrown onto the hot hibachi grill and seems to come alive as it sizzles and dances around like a bunch of little jumping beans. Okay, so I'm easily amused.
This Benihana Japanese fried rice recipe will go well with just about any Japanese entree and can be partially prepared ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator until the rest of the meal is close to done.
Popeyes offers two sides with rice: the ultra-popular Red Beans and Rice, which I previously cloned here, and this rice made Cajun-style with ground beef and spices.
The real recipe at the chain most likely includes chicken gizzard, but that ingredient is not always easy to find outside of buying a whole uncooked chicken that includes a bag of giblets tucked inside. So I set out to design a recipe without that ingredient and the results were great.
The secret to the fabulous taste, after all, is not found in the gizzard, but in the flavors contributed by the “holy trinity” of green pepper, onion, and celery salt accentuated by the ground thyme and oregano.
If you’re making rice tonight, bump it up to something special with just a little extra work for delicious results.
Can't get enough Popeyes? Find all of my recipes here.
I’m not sure why Einstein Bros. claims there are just four cheeses in the new Twice-Baked Hash Brown when the ingredients clearly list six kinds of cheese, plus cream cheese. Regardless, the shredded Asiago, Romano, Parmesan, provolone, and mozzarella listed there can be found combined in an “Italian Blend” at many supermarkets, making for an easy start to our home clone. And don’t just be thinking about breakfast for these cheesy potatoes. They work great as a side for any meal.
In the detailed description of the new item, Einstein Bros. claims the hash browns contain two kinds of schmears, which is true, but a little misleading because one of them is just plain cream cheese. The other is onion-and-chive cream cheese, which we can make from scratch. We’ll combine those two shmears into one blend by doubling the cream cheese added to our onion-and-chive schmear formula.
Mix everything together and load the ingredients into a standard 12-cup muffin pan with circles of parchment paper cut out to fit into the bottom of the 12 cups. Without these parchment circles, the hash browns may stick and break when they’re released. You can also use paper muffin cups, if you don’t mind the less crispy, ridged sides.
Bake them the first time for 30 minutes, then cool and store. Now you have a dozen servings of cheesy hash brown potatoes that are easy to finish off by baking them a second time until crispy. They are great served with breakfast, or for dinner as your starchy side alongside beef, chicken, lamb, and many other savory entrees.
You can also make homemade Einstein Bros bagels, sandwiches, and shmears. See if I hacked your favorites here.
Since Panera Bread makes all its ingredients known, it's not hard to find out that there’s no chicken broth in the original recipe, yet every copycat recipe I located online calls for chicken broth, as well as other ingredients clearly not found in Panera's version. Unlike those other recipes, this hack uses the same or similar ingredients to those listed on the company’s website.
One of the ingredients in the soup, according to the posted list, is yeast extract. This tasty ingredient adds an MSG-like savoriness to Panera’s soup, and we can duplicate it by using nutritional yeast—often called "nooch"—now found in many stores, including Whole Foods. A little bit of nooch will provide the umami deliciousness that replaces chicken broth or bouillon.
Panera keeps its soup gluten-free by thickening it with a combination of rice flour and cornstarch, rather than wheat flour. I’ve included those ingredients as well so that your clone is similarly gluten-free. Use the steps below and in about an hour you’ll have 8 servings of a soup that is a culinary doppelganger to Panera Bread's all-time favorite soup, and at a mere fraction of the cost.
Menu Description: “Creamy marsala wine sauce with mushrooms over grilled chicken breasts, stuffed with Italian cheeses and sundried tomatoes. Served with garlic mashed potatoes.”
This recipe includes a marsala sauce that even marsala sauce haters will like. My wife is one of those haters, but when she tried this sauce, her eyes lit up and she begged for more. That’s great, now I won’t have to eat alone.
Not only is Olive Garden's delicious marsala sauce hacked here (and it’s easy to make), you’ll also get the copycat hack for the chain's awesome Italian cheese stuffing that goes between the two pan-cooked chicken fillets. Build it, sauce it, serve it. The presentation is awesome, and the flavor will soothe your soul.
Try this dish paired with my recent clone of Olive Garden’s Garlic Mashed Potatoes for the complete O.G. Stuffed Chicken Marsala experience.
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.
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.