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!

Copycat Long John Silver’s Hush Puppies

Making a copycat of Long John Silver’s hush puppies was the crowning moment in my efforts to duplicate my childhood memories of eating at the fast food restaurant. I’ve made the fish. I’ve made the fries. And I’ve made the chicken planks. And now, I’ve made the hush puppies. And what fantastic hush puppies they are. The perfect texture and the perfect corn flavor. Get out the ketchup because it’s time for some hush puppy dunkin’!
People often tell that the origin of the name ‘hush puppies’ can be traced back to hunters and fishermen who would toss the fried cornmeal to their dogs to stop them from barking. But, if you have a few minutes, I recommend the article The Real History of Hushpuppies by Robert Moss over on Serious Eats. It’s a great read.

No matter why they’re called hush puppies, this copycat of Long John Silver’s treats is fantastic.

Copycat Long John Silver's Hush Puppies
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6 Servings
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • Canola oil, for frying
  1. In a small bowl whisk together the milk and egg.
  2. In a large bowl combine the remaining ingredients except for the oil.
  3. Whisk in the milk and egg mixture. You want the batter to be somewhat thick. If too thin add more cornmeal.
  4. Heat a few inches of oil to 375 F in a deep fryer or Dutch oven.
  5. Working on batches, drop batter into the hot oil. I used a 1/2 tablespoon measuring spoon. If you want smaller hush puppies use a teaspoon measuring spoon.
  6. Fry until golden brown, flipping after the bottom is brown.
  7. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate or cooling rack.
  8. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce (ketchup!).

Copycat Royal Red Robin Burger

I’ve been in a sort of burger ‘rut’ lately, making your standard griddle burgers. Now, they are great, and I will keep making them, but I decided I’d better up my game a bit. So I made a copycat of the Royal Red Robin burger, which I’ve had a few times at Red Robin and have always enjoyed. This copycat is spot-on. It’s a pretty standard burger, but topped with a fried egg. A fried egg can make all the difference in the world to a burger. As does mayonnaise. I wish I’d known that a long, long time ago.
Red Robin has a lot of great burgers. For a limited time, years ago, they offered the Mount Vesuvius Burger, which is crazy good and crazy big.  But for a simple, flavor-packed burger, the Royal Red Robin burger is the way to go. Just try to not bust your egg like I did!

For something totally different, top your Royal Red Robin Burger with ketchup leather instead of just a few squirts of the red stuff from a bottle.

Copycat Royal Red Robin Burger
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 slices American cheese
  • 4 eggs, cooked over-medium
  • Ketchup
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked, halved
  • 4 this slices tomatoes
  • Iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • Mayonnaise
  • 4 hamburger buns, toasted
  1. Divide beef into 4 equally sized patties. Season with salt and pepper and cook as desired. I prefer mine cooked over high heat on a griddle so they get a bit of a crust to them.
  2. Place cheese on bun bottoms.
  3. Add the burger, egg, ketchup, bacon halves, tomato, and lettuce.
  4. Slather top bun with mayonnaise and serve.

Copycat Hooters Asian Wings

This copycat of the Asian wings from Hooters is beyond incredible. These are easily my favorite Asian-flavored wings. I could not possibly eat too many of them. I quickly regretted not making a bigger batch as they disappeared in minutes. The sauce is the boss here. It’s a bit sweet with a bit of soy flavor. Reduced to a thick glaze, the sauce is almost candy-like in texture. And like candy, it’s impossible to resist.
These copycat Hooters Asian wings are not spicy in any way, shape, or form. I’m usually a ‘hot’ hot wings guy, but these opened my eyes to wings with a sweeter inspiration. If you want your wings to have some kick, add dried red pepper flake or cayenne to the sauce as you reduce it down. I would not add hot sauce as it would change the color of the sauce.

Serve these wings with my copycat of Hooter’s fried pickles.

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 Hooters Asian Wings
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8 servings
  • 3-4 pounds chicken wings, flats and drumettes separated, tips discarded
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste (don't be shy with the pepper)
For the Asian sauce
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger (or use 1 teaspoon dried ginger)
  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 1 hour.
  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 (start cooking when you start the wings)
  1. Combine ingredients in a sauce pan.
  2. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and continue simmering, stirring often, until the sauce forms a thick glaze, about 30 minutes.