One of the most frustrating things people find when they are on a healthy eating regime or a specific diet plan is that so many meals when you eat out are completely off-limits.
Whether it’s the ingredients, the way it’s prepared, or the sauce it’s in, it can be disheartening not to be able to enjoy your favorite meal out.
It can also include cravings for foods like a Big Mac or Taco Bell. We know we shouldn’t eat them, but they just taste so good.
Cooking them at home usually makes them a lot healthier, but if not, there are usually a few simple substitutions you can make to improve their health value hugely. For example - Non-fat milk instead of cream, baking or sauteeing instead of deep frying.
It also saves you a fortune on eating out costs and can save time driving to and from places. It opens new doors of opportunities too - enjoy a homemade BK Whopper with a side of TGIF whiskey glaze! Or Chick-Fil-A mac and cheese on the side of Long John Silver’s battered fish… The world is now your oyster.
To help everyone eat more healthily, save money, and enjoy all of the fast food their heart desires, we’ve compiled a list of 26 copycat recipes, which are indeed so delicious that you won’t be able to tell the difference.
Texan burger chain Whataburger will have you exclaiming, WHAT a burger! When taking your first bite of these delicious patties. People from all walks of life love these burgers and with good reason. This recipe shows you how to create a much healthier version at home, and changes include the type of beef to prime ground beef for a much lower saturated fat content.
Subbing out the ricotta and cheddar for non-fat cottage cheese and parmesan is the biggest change here, reducing the fat content hugely but ramping up the protein with the cottage cheese. Using Low-fat milk in the creamy sauce doesn’t make a huge difference to the taste, but it does to the calories.
Not only is this recipe healthier and cheaper, but it’s very quick to make because it uses store-bought tortellini. The creamy sauce easily has the calories reduced by using light Alfredo sauce. Leftovers keep very well, so they can be batch cooked for the week. Now, we just need unlimited breadsticks…
So, you’re not going on a road trip anytime soon but have a big craving for Chick-Fil-A? This copycat recipe will satisfy those urges without expanding your waistline. Mac and cheese are hardly known as healthy food, but with this recipe, you’ll get the protein from the cheese and milk but save on the saturated fat with sneaky subs like skim milk and wholemeal flour.
Crumbled spicy tofu, how unhealthy can that be? While Chipotle prides itself on fresh ingredients and they are healthier than other chains. The food is still going to be higher in sodium and saturated fat than if you prepare it yourself. Tofu is a notoriously low-calorie, high-protein food, and cooking this yummy dish at home is a super healthy option!
Grilled chicken, pesto, and cherry tomatoes? That doesn’t sound so bad! It’s the buttery lemon garlic sauce that gets you with this dish from Olive Garden. I mean, it’s super delicious but loaded with saturated fat. Using low-fat mozzarella and low-fat ‘buttery spread’ save you a bucket load of calories, but don’t sacrifice taste.
Is your guilty pleasure Taco Bell? Mine too! That’s why I just had to create this recipe for their soft tacos filled with spicy potatoes. So tasty! Potatoes and flour tortillas have a lot of Weight Watchers points, so there are a few options for this one depending on how calorie-laden you are willing to make them.
The epic creation at Taco Bell. Ground taco-seasoned meat in hard tacos, covered with spicy ranch, surrounded by cheese, wrapped in a flour tortilla, and all melted together. Oh my! How to make it healthier? Half Baked Harvest starts by making the seasoning from scratch, which reduces the sodium content easily, olive oil to fry, and a much healthier ‘ranch’ dressing.
A hybrid model of a taco and quesadilla is much more exciting than a hybrid car in my opinion. Another copycat recipe from Half Bake Harvest, she makes this one super simple, so it doesn’t take anywhere near as long as you’d expect. Using her homemade chipotle chicken taco seasoning, which is delicious and also much lower in salt than from Taco Bell. She also shares her ‘Doritos’ seasoning, used on the tostadas in the middle of the wrap.
Pizza is one of those dishes that is very easy to make, and when you do, it’s much healthier and less greasy than from a restaurant or grocery store. CPK does come out with some great flavors though, so how do you create them at home? The key with this BBQ chicken pizza is using barbecue sauce on the dough instead of marinara. We Are Not Martha also shares another ingredient characteristic of this particular pizza - cilantro, which is sprinkled on top after it comes out of the oven.
While this recipe isn’t necessarily healthy, it’s 100% healthier than ordering a slice from the famous Factory. It makes you want to pass out when you see the calories listed under each menu item. Opting for the homemade version is much better for your state of consciousness. Food, Folks, and Fun worked out at just over $1 per slice, so you’re saving a fortune too!
Life In The Lofthouse reveals their take on the International House of Pancakes buttermilk stack. What makes this a copycat recipe and not just a regular buttermilk pancake recipe though? Maybe it’s the butter pecan syrup, but you’ll have to try them to find out!
13. In-N-Out Burger
The copycat recipe everyone who’s moved away from the west coast has been waiting for. Does this copycat burger from Butter Your Biscuit cut though? There are some die-hard In-N-Out burger groupies out there, after all. Thin patties are coated in mustard and seasoned, giving a slightly crispy texture, and a ‘special’ sauce is added to the bun. Try it and see what you think!
14. KFC Coleslaw
Dinner Then Dessert uses a food processor to chop up all the raw cabbage to the size required to copy KFC’s coleslaw. You need milk, mayo, and buttermilk for the creamy sauce, with yummy seasoning like onion powder giving it that kick of flavor that we all know and love.
These are giant breadsticks covered in butter and garlic. Because what do you need on the side of pizza? More bread of course! There is something very addictive about the food from Little Caesar’s, whether it’s the slight greasiness or the chewiness of the dough, who can tell? It’s just yummy. And this recipe from Copy Kat aims to replicate it, so get out that mixer and start mixing up your bread dough.
Insanely Good Recipes shares the secret ingredient to Long John Silver’s batter. Many people assume they add beer to the batter because it’s so deliciously crispy. However, it’s made from a combination of club soda, baking soda, and baking powder. It creates an abundance of bubbles, lightening the batter so it doesn’t taste greasy and heavy. The recipe calls for deep frying. But for a healthier alternative, bake it in the oven or pan fry.
You can’t have a list of copycat recipes without featuring McDonald’s. I’m not sure why, but it just seems wrong. Maybe because the food is so simple and so tasty but so unhealthy? There must be a better way to enjoy it. Thrifty Jinxy has found a way to enjoy a Big Mac with fresh ingredients and a special sauce.
There are so many delicious burgers from good ole BK, but the Whopper is probably the most iconic one they offer. The signature offering was first sold, in Miami for 37 cents and was an instant success. It’s a pretty simple recipe to replicate and make relatively healthy, as this copycat recipe from Mashed shows us.
Is there a better appetizer than the Bloomin’ Onion? It takes onion rings to a whole new level but is just in a league of its own. Secret Copycat Restaurant Recipes shares how to recreate this masterpiece of an onion.
Shugary Sweets copies the iconic soup from Panera, using skim milk as the base to reduce the fat content making it a bit easier on the heart. It takes about 30 minutes to make, so much quicker than driving to Panera, ordering, driving back, and it’s less expensive to whip up at home!
Made in an Instant Pot, this recipe is incredibly versatile because you can change the fillings for different flavors. Everyone raves about these egg bites from Starbucks because they are a high-protein, low-carb breakfast and not loaded with hidden sugars like a yogurt granola pot often is.
Another copycat recipe from Starbucks because, let’s face it, the coffee giant’s offerings may be delicious but are pricey and overloaded with sugar and saturated fat. This version from Shugary Sweets has you baking two entire loaves for less than a slice would cost you. It adds a sneaky sugar syrup to keep the loaves moist, making them last longer. They are freezer-friendly too!
You can easily find a copycat recipe for Red Lobster’s cheddar biscuits, but how about those coconut shrimp? The name alone makes you feel like you've been transported to a tropical island. The Food Hussy details dipping them in cornstarch, coconut cream, and then shredded coconut and breadcrumbs. They also suggest using the air fryer for a healthier cooking option.
We’ve covered a lot of burgers on this list because everyone has their favorite chain, and we want to cover all bases! Shake Shack has their special sauce, which The Girl On The Bloor details for us. It includes ingredients like light mayo, pickle brine, mustard, and garlic powder. As long as you’re using high-quality ground beef as well, it stays relatively healthy.
Why does Panda Express taste so good? If you’ve ever been to China, you’ll know it’s nothing like the food they eat there. But does that matter? Think of it as a cuisine in and of its right! Sticky, gooey, crispy, and just generally delicious. Unfortunately, it comes with a hefty calorie tag. Making it at home can help with this fantastic recipe from Kitchen Divas.
The iconic sauce from the restaurant lets us embrace the joy of the weekend. Sweet and syrupy, it goes great on almost anything. You don’t have to BBQ a rack of ribs to justify using it. Burgers, shrimp, and salmon are good, even just fries! Aside from whiskey, you’ll need to shop for ingredients like pineapple juice, soy sauce, and dark brown sugar.
26 CopyCat Recipes (So Good You’ll Think They’re The Real Deal)
- Whataburger Patty Melt
- Olive Garden Giant Cheese Stuffed Shells
- Olive Garden Asiago Tortellini Alfredo with Grilled Chicken
- Chick-Fil-A Mac and Cheese
- Chipotle Sofritas
- Olive Garden Grilled Chicken Margarita
- Taco Bell Spicy Potato Soft Taco
- Taco Bell Cheesy Gordita Crunch
- Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme
- California Pizza Kitchen BBQ Chicken Pizza
- The Cheesecake Factory Red Velvet Cheesecake
- IHOP Buttermilk Pancakes
- In-N-Out Burger
- KFC Coleslaw
- Little Caesar’s Crazy Bread
- Long John Silver’s Fish Batter
- McDonald’s Big Mac
- Burger King Whopper
- Outback Steakhouse’s Bloomin’ Onion
- Panera Bread Broccoli Cheese Soup
- Starbucks Egg Bites
- Starbucks Lemon Loaf
- Red Lobster Coconut Shrimp and Pina Colada Sauce
- Shake Shack Burger
- Panda Express Honey Walnut Chicken
- TGI Friday’s Jack Daniel’s Dipping Sauce
- Choose your favorite recipe.
- Click the link of your favorite recipe.
- Follow the instructions of the linked recipe.