Copycat Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper

I admit that back in my bachelor gotta-make-something-for-dinner-but-I-can’t-cook days I went through my share of boxes of Hamburger Helper. Easy to make and hearty, any flavor of Hamburger Helper would do. That’s why I just had to make this copycat version of the classic cheeseburger mix. Just as easy as the stuff out of the box and darn tasty too!
You can easily modify this recipe and make your own. Add jalapenos or a dash or two of cayenne pepper for a little kick. Swap Monterey Jack cheese for the cheddar. Use ground turkey instead of ground beef and add a pinch or two of dried sage. Your copycat cheeseburger Hamburger Helper doesn’t have to be exactly like the stuff out of the box, but it’s ok if it is!

Copycat Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6 servings
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cup elbow macaroni
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
  1. Crumble the ground beef into a large skillet over medium high heat and cook until done. Drain off any excess fat.
  2. Stir in the all but the cheese and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until the pasta is tender.
  3. Stir in the cheese until melted.
  4. Remove from heat, uncover and let rest 5 minutes before serving topped with additional cheese.

Copycat Buffalo Wild Wings Garlic Parmesan Wings

I love any restaurant, chain or not, that serves chicken wings. I have my favorites for sure, and Buffalo Wild Wings is one of them. BW3s Parmesan garlic wing sauce is to die for. It’s creamy, a little nutty thanks to the Parmesan cheese, and definitely packed with garlic. This copycat of the chain sauce is spot-on crazy good. I absolutely could not stop eating it. So much so that I made wings covered in the Parmesan garlic sauce two days in a row. Is that wrong?

I say without hesitation that you should double the amount of sauce. It’s not so much that you need to drown the wings in it, no. It’s because it’s good on sandwiches and subs too. Crazy garlicky good.

Also try my copycat of BW3s spicy garlic wing sauce.

I absolutely love chicken wings, cooked any way, with any sauce (or without). I love them so much that I created a free eCookbook that is full of my favorite wing recipes.

Copycat Buffalo Wild Wings Garlic Parmesan Wings
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8 servings
Note: Make the sauce a day ahead so that the flavors get time to 'get happy'.
  • 3-4 pounds chicken wings, flats and drumettes separated, tips discarded
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the sauce
  • 1 medium head garlic
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Place wings in a large resealable baggie or container.
  2. Add the oil, salt and pepper. Seal and toss to coat.
  3. Refrigerate for 4-8 hours.
  4. Cook wings as desired. Click here for our guide on cooking wings in a grill, smoker, deep fryer, oven, or a Char-Broil Big Easy.
  5. Toss wings with sauce before serving.
For the sauce
  1. Heat your oven to 350 F.
  2. Cut the bottom of the head of the garlic off. Drizzle with just a bit of oil then wrap in foil. Place in the oven for 30 minutes or until softened.
  3. Remove the garlic from the foil and let cool slightly. Squeeze the head to extract the garlic cloves. Transfer to a blender or small food chopper.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients.
  5. Pulse a few times until smooth and the garlic has been chopped.
  6. Refrigerate overnight before using.

Copycat Applebee’s Classic Patty Melt

Anita requested that I make patty melts for dinner. So, I made patty melts for dinner. But not just my usual patty melts. No, it was time to bring out the big guns – a copycat of Applebee’s Classic Patty Melt. This is what a patty melt should be. Griddled patties, sauteed onions, a delicious sauce and of course, cheese. And thick bread. You have to have thick bread or you’ll end up with sandwich sadness. No one wants to have their patty melt fall apart when they take a bite.
The sauce is best with a clove of roasted garlic mixed in. I roasted an entire head of garlic ahead of time. I squeezed out one clove for this recipe and saved the rest for something else. It really makes this Applebee’s Classic Patty Melt better than the rest, so don’t skip the effort.

Also check out my copycats of Steak’n Shakes Frisco Melt¬†and Applebee’s Clubhouse grill.

Copycat Applebee's Classic Patty Melt
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 servings
  • 2 (4 ounce) hamburger patties
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • Garlic powder, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 medium sweet onion, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 clove roasted garlic, smashed and minced
  • 1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 4 thick pieces Italian bread
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • 4 slices cheddar cheese
  1. Fire up a grill or heat a skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Season the burger with salt, pepper and garlic powder and cook until done.
  3. Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat and add the onion. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder and saute until softened.
  4. Combine the mayo, garlic and mustard and slather on one side of each slice of bread.
  5. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  6. Add the bread slices, mayonnaise mix side up, and swirl around to coat in the butter.
  7. Add one slice of Swiss to two of the bread slices, and one slice of cheddar to the other.
  8. Assemble sandwich by placing cooked patties on top of the two bread slices with Swiss, add the onions and then the top bread slices.

Copycat Church’s Fried Chicken Using the Vortex

I could make (and eat) ‘fried’ chicken using my Vortex BBQ all day long. It has never let me down. It has never been anything but easy. This copycat of Church’s fried chicken was no exception. Incredibly crunchy skin. Unbelievably moist and flavorful meat. And as easy as coating it, grilling it, eating it. Done.
There are no tricks or special handshakes that you need to know to get fried chicken right using the Vortex. And although a lot of sites say to rotate the lid every 15 minutes while cooking, I’ve not found that it makes a difference. I don’t over-crowd my grill and I make sure I have a super-hot fire. If you’ve found that rotating the lid is a requirement, let me know but so far, I’ve not had anything but success just keeping the lid right where it is. I also do not flip my chicken while it is cooking. Doing so will result in ‘batter loss’, a bad thing. Just keep it right where it is.

Also try my insanely-awesome proper pub fried chicken, another fantastic recipe for deliciously crispy tasty chicken cooked using the Vortex. You can also use off-the-shelf fried chicken coating to make spectacular chicken on the Vortex. Check out my Kentucky Kernel chicken too!

Copycat Church's Fried Chicken Using the Vortex
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-8 pieces
  • 4-8 pieces of chicken (I prefer bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs)
For the dry mixture
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 3 teaspoons seasoned salt
  • 2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup Bisquick
  • 1 envelope Italian dressing mix
  • 1 envelope onion soup mix
For the wet mixture
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup cold water
For a crispier coating
  • Vegetable oil
  1. Fire up your grill with the Vortex BBQ. Let the coals get good and hot.
  2. Combine all of the dry mixture ingredients in a pie plate.
  3. In another pie plate, whisk together the eggs and water.
  4. Working in batches, dip the chicken into the wet mixture, then into the dry mixture.
  5. One more time, dip the chicken into the wet mixture and then the dry mixture.
  6. Transfer chicken to your grill grate around the Vortex and cook until done, about 45 minutes.
  7. Lightly brush the chicken with oil the last 5 minutes of cooking to get a crispier skin.

Slow Cooker Copycat Snapple Tea

It’s summer. That means iced tea for me, and in particular, Snapple. This copycat of the fantastic bottled version hits the spot on a hot day for sure. Just toss a few ingredients into your slow cooker and in a few hours you get great tasting tea. I prefer peach- or lemon-flavored tea, but you can use any flavor you’d like.
For lower calorie, lower carb tea use artificial sweetener and any one of the sugar-free fruit flavors of Torani syrup. I’ve found that some syrup flavors can be hard to find locally but thankfully, shipping isn’t bad so I ordered a few bottles online. You don’t have to worry about the syrups expiring either, so don’t be afraid to try several different flavors in your teas.

Slow Cooker Copycat Snapple Tea
Recipe type: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3 quarts
  • 3 quarts water
  • 4 family-sized tea bags (I used Luzianne decaf)
  • 1 cup sugar (or sweetener)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon (bottled is ok)
  • 1/4 cup peach Torani syrup (you can use any flavor you like)
  1. Add all ingredients to a slow cooker.
  2. Cook on low 3 hours.
  3. Serve cold or over ice.

Copycat Firehouse Subs Battalion Chief Sub

I’ve never been to Firehouse Subs. So, I can’t really say for sure that this is a 100% copycat of their Battalion Chief sub (then again, I don’t see it on the menu any more). But I can say I thought this was a fantastic sandwich and if the rest of the menu at Firehouse Sub’s is anything like this, I need to get on over there and make up for lost time. Cheese, horseradish, roast beef and lettuce all on a nice toasted roll. Oh, and the surprise? Crunchy fried onions. Oh yeah.
I’m not as big a fan of horseradish as Anita is, even though it does go very, very well with roast beef. But, since finding The Mustard Man’s Simply Horsey mustard, I’ve become a bigger and bigger fan. Simply Horsey combines just the right amount of horseradish with creamy mustard and bit of mayonnaise. It has the perfect consistency for topping this copycat Firehouse Sub’s Battalion Chief sub.

Also checkout my copycat of one of my all-time favorite restaurant sandwiches, Subway’s Italian BMT.

Copycat Firehouse Subs Battalion Chief Sub
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • French rolls or baguettes
  • Spicy horseradish mayonnaise (if you can't find any, just mix a little prepared horseradish with mayonnaise)
  • French fried onions
  • Deli roast beef, sliced thin
  • Sharp cheddar cheese slices
  • Green leaf lettuce leaves
  1. Warm the bread as desired.
  2. Spread each bread halve with the horseradish mayonnaise.
  3. Sprinkle the bottom piece of bread with the fried onions (the mayonnaise will help the onions stick to the bread)
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and serve.

Copycat McDonald’s Cheddar Melt

“Bring it back!” “Bring it back!” That’s what a lot of folks are saying when they think about McDonald’s Cheddar Melt, which first came out around 2000, but it wasn’t available for long. But, so far, no luck. That’s when you have to step up and make it at home. And hey, to be honest.. it’s even better than I rememeber!

The real winning flavor on these McDonald’s Cheddar Melts is the onion and teriyaki mixture. It compliments the meaty burger and creamy cheddar sauce perfectly. I grilled my burgers because, well, that’s what I do, but you can also cook the burgers in the same pan that you cook the onions.
The cheese and onions are also perfect on hot dogs, so don’t be afraid to double or even triple the recipe. And hey, a dash or two of hot sauce isn’t a bad idea either. But don’t go crazy with it. You definitely do not want to hide the wonderful flavor of the toppings on these McDonald’s Cheddar Melts. Heck, you could just eat the cheese and onion with a spoon!

After enjoying a McDonald’s Cheddar Melt try a homemade Arch Deluxe. It’s crazy good too!

McDonald's Cheddar Melt
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
For the cheese sauce
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted. butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Pinch each Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the onions
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon teriyaki sauce (store-bought or use my homemade version, below)
For the burgers
  • 4 burger patties
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 hamburger buns
For the teriyaki sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup water, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 5 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
For the cheese sauce
  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan.
  2. Whisk in the flour until combined. Cook for 1-3 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. Whisk in the milk and continue whisking for 3 minutes to thicken.
  4. Stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Reduce heat to low until ready to use.
For the onions
  1. Add oil to a medium skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and saute until tender.
  3. Stir in the teriyaki sauce.
  4. Reduce heat to low until ready to use.
For the burger
  1. Season burgers well with salt and pepper. Fire up your grill for direct and indirect cooking. Optionally, you can cook the burgers in the same skillet as you cook the onions.
  2. Grill burgers to desired doneness.
  3. Toast buns if desired.
  4. Assemble burgers by placing patties on buns. Top with cheese sauce and onion mixture.
For the teriyaki sauce.(makes more than you'll need for the burgers)
  1. Place 3/4 cup water, ginger, garlic powder, brown sugar, and honey in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. In a small cup or bowl combine 1/4 cup of water and the cornstarch. Whisk the mixture into the saucepan.
  3. Heat until sauce is the desired thickness, about 3 minutes. If too thick whisk in a bit more water.

Copycat Jimmy John’s Avocado Sandwich Spread

Sometimes you just need a little reminder to step outside of your box of usual sandwich spreads and use something you might not think of. This copycat of the avocado sandwich spread from Jimmy John’s is essentially guacamole with a few twists thrown in. It’s fantastic on a sandwich and for that matter, equally as great as a dip for tortilla chips. That’s why I doubled the recipe. Sandwiches and chips. Lunch is done.
Every sandwich needs a little spiciness in my opinion. Which is why I was happy that this avocado sandwich spread includes a jalapeno. Now, granted, it’s a small jalapeno so you’re not going to get overwhelming heat. But you don’t want that kick to be front-and-center. Just there, in the back. Noticed but not overwhelming. This spread is excellent on my copycat of Jason’s Deli California Club sandwich.

Copycat Jimmy John's Avocado Sandwich Spread
Recipe type: Sauce
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded, chopped
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 Roma tomato, chopped
  • 2 medium avocados, peeled, pitted, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
  1. Place the jalapeno, onion, garlic and tomato into a blender or food processor. Process until smooth.
  2. Place avocado into a large bowl. Drizzle with the lime juice and smash with the back of a fork. Transfer to the blender.
  3. Add the salt and mustard to the blender and pulse until the mixture reaches the desired thickness.
  4. Slather on bread for sandwiches. If you do have any extra spread it makes for a great chip dip!