I am definitely not one of those that thinks everything needs to be made from scratch. But that being said, I do enjoy the challenge and reward of making something that is a good copycat of something I can buy in my grocery store. Like this copycat Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce. I was making a big ole batch of smoked pork when I realized I didn’t have a sauce on hand. Well, in no time at all I whipped this great sauce together. It has the right consistency, just like the ‘real’ stuff. And it has that (nearly) same great flavor.
The great thing about making your own copycat Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce is that you can customize it for your tastes. Want it a bit more smokey? Add a tad bit (a very small tad bit) of liquid smoke. Maybe (like me) you want a bit of spiciness? Add more cayenne pepper or a few (long) shakes of hot sauce. Thinner? Stir in some water. Thicker? Don’t add as much water. Make it your own. I did.
These copycat KFC potato wedges could easily be the most dangerous side dish ever made. There’s no way you could make too many of these. There’s no way you’d ever have any leftovers. They are absolutely divinely yummy. Crunchy on the outside. Creamy on the inside. Absolutely packed with flavor.
Trust me, serving ketchup or any other dipping sauce with these copycat KFC potato wedges is just about a waste of time. They’re delicious right off the plate, nothing added. They are by far my favorite potato side, and that’s saying a lot because up until now I dreamed about baked potatoes almost nightly. Well, they’ve been replaced with these wedges. Sorry, bakers.
I am a big huge fan of vinegary bean salads. My mom’s recipe is one of my all-time favorites. This copycat of the bean salad you used to be able to get at KFC is just as good as mom’s, if not better. It’s dangerously similar, but with a twist: green bell pepper. Well, you could’ve knocked me down with a feather. How was I to know how much that lil old bell pepper would add to this salad?
This recipe for a copycat KFC bean salad makes a decent-sized batch. Good enough for a family get-together. And it’ll hold up in the heat for a bit too. But it won’t last anyways, because everyone is going to love it. I sure did.
There’s a Max and Erma’s restaurant right next door to the Premium Outlet Mall in Edinburgh, Indiana. We make it a point to stop by for lunch or dinner there whenever we can. Plus, you get to sit while you eat and after a few hours at the mall, you need that. Nine times out of ten I order the Santa Fe chicken salad. It’s a huge salad, with just the right toppings, and really, really good chicken. And when I’m not at the outlet mall, I can make a pretty darned good copycat of the same salad at home without a lot of fuss.
You can substitute chicken tenders for the chicken breast if you wish. I like my chicken a bit spicy so I load up on the hot sauce. Feel free to adjust to your taste. The chicken itself is outstanding.
To get the fancy dressing swirls on my copycat Max and Erma’s Santa Fe chicken salad I put some Ranch in a squeeze bottle with three nozzles and go to town on it. Hey, it’s fun.
Divide lettuce between two large plates. Add the chicken, cheeses, tomatoes, and tortilla strips.
Drizzle with Ranch dressing and serve.
For the fried chicken
Cut the chicken into small bite-sized pieces or strips, as desired. Transfer to a bowl or pie pan.
Stir in the buttermilk and hot sauce. Let marinate for 15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes.
Combine the flour, salt, black pepper, chipotle chile powder, oregano and cumin and place into another pie pan.
Heat 2" of oil to 350 F in a deep fryer or Dutch oven.
Working in batches, remove chicken from the buttermilk. Shake off the excess and then coat well in the flour mixture. Return the chicken pieces to the buttermilk and turn to coat. Shake off the excess and again coat in the flour mixture.
Fry 4-5 minutes per side until golden brown, turning once.
Remove to a wire rack or paper towel-lined to cool slightly and drain.
My fast food dining days are pretty much behind me. Oh I might stop and grab something every once-in-a-while, specially if I’m traveling. I still crave some of my fast food favorites, but now I’m more a make-it-at-home kinda guy. So that’s how we ended up here, with a copycat of my favorite chain burger, the Burger King Whopper (although truth be told, McDonald’s Quarter Pounder and BigMac are close behind on the list!).
I like to cook my copycat Burger King Whoppers on a flat top griddle on my grill. I get the griddle hot, screaming hot, first. That gives me that little char, that little crunch around the edges. And of course cooking on the grill gives you that char-grilled flavor just like at the restaurant!
If you don’t have a grill cook the burgers in a hot skillet!
This is how to fry up some shrimp. The perfect batter, with the perfect consistency and flavor. Not too light and not too heavy. And perfectly crunchy. And the best part of this copycat Chili’s crispy shrimp? You can still taste the shrimp. Don’t mess with perfection, follow the recipe as it is and you’ll (very) soon be enjoying fantastic shrimp.
The first time I made a copycat Chili’s crispy shrimp, Anita took one bite and immediately said that I don’t need to fry shrimp in any other way. Ever again. She also told me to not change anything about it. I tend to do that. You know. A little tweak here. A little something more or less there. Nope, not with these shrimp.
What’s better than onions on a burger? Why, onion straws of course! And what’s better than ketchup on a burger? Why, Campfire sauce of course! Put the two on a hot-off-the-grill patty with good ole American cheese and you don’t have to call me twice for dinner. This copycat of Red Robin’s Haystack Tavern burger is mighty good stuff. Now, when you order it at the restaurant you usually get a double. I made mine a single. In hindsight I’m not sure why because one patty was great, but two would’ve been better!
You might have a bit of the Campfire left after you make your copycat Red Robin Haystack Tavern burgers. That’s a good thing. Slather it on sandwiches. Dip some fries in it. Put it on hot dogs.
I recommend making a few extra onion straws. Half of them won’t last long enough to make it to the burgers. Oh, and they’re great dipped in the Campfire sauce too!
Who doesn’t love a BLT sandwich? It screams summer, with ripe tomatoes and crunchy lettuce. Add avocado and you get a copycat of Red Robin’s BLTA. That’s bacon, lettuce, tomato and of course… avocado! The addition of avocado really takes the classic sandwich to a new, wonderful, place. And serving it on a sweet, pillowy croissant is the way to go.
If you’re missing a little heat in your copycat Red Robin BLTA, mix a teaspoon or two of adobo sauce in with the mayonnaise. You don’t want to go crazy with it, but a little spiciness will offset the sweet bread and avocado perfectly. It also adds a bit more smokiness, helping that wonderful bacon smoke along a bit.
I’m a big fan of battered fried fish. Add in some fries, a side of tartar sauce, and give me a bottle of malt vinegar and I’m one happy guy. This copycat of Captain D’s batter dipped fish checks all my boxes. Slightly crunchy. Tasty. Oh, and easy. Crazy easy. This is just like the great fish you can get at the restaurant.
I use a little FryDaddy when I cook my copycat Captain D’s batter dipped fish. It’s perfect for small pieces of fish and it heats the oil to the perfect temperature. But for larger pieces or when making dinner for more than just a few people, I use a Dutch oven or a bigger deep fryer.
No matter what you use to cook your fish, make sure that you don’t overcook it. The fish will dry out and not be good at all. Also make sure you get the oil temperature high enough. Low temperatures won’t cook the fish correctly. Low oil temperature will also saturate the fish with oil. That’s not good either.
2poundscod filletscut into bite-sized chunks if desired
Heat 3" of oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl add the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and cayenne. Whisk to combine.
Slowly whisk in the water. You want a pancake-like batter. If it's too thick add a bit (a very small bit!) more water and whisk.
Rinse and pat the fish dry. I prefer to cut mine into bite-sized pieces.
Working in batches, add the fish to the batter and turn to coat completely. Transfer to the oil and deep fry 3-4 minutes, turning once, until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. If desired, sprinkle the fish with salt.
Note: If you like to cut your fish into bite-sized pieces before frying, you might need more batter to fully coat them. I usually double the batter ingredients just to make sure I have enough.
I ate my share of Manwich Sloppy Joes as a kid. I was quite sure I never ate enough of them. Well, I can certainly make up for lost time (and meals) now by making this copycat Manwich Sloppy Joes at home. And you know what? It’s even better than I remember. Perfect thick tomato-y sauce. Just a hint of onion and green bell pepper. And the light tang of mustard. And messy. The messier the better!
I do not add garnish to my copycat Manwich Sloppy Joes. Nothing. Nada. No pickles. Skip the extra mustard. And no cheese. Nothing needs to come between me and my Sloppy Joes.
If you think of Sloppy Joes as ‘kid food’ this will change your mind.