Fast food is a guilty pleasure in which we all indulge. When you're short on time and long on hunger, being able to whiz through the drive-thru or run 'in and out' of a fast food joint can be a real lifesaver.
But sometimes you crave those good-but-not-so-good-for-you goodies in the comfort of your own home. I mean, even if you're going through the drive-thru, you still have to put on pants.
So, for those times when you'd rather indulge on your secret shame in private, here are some tried-and-true copycat recipes for some fast food favorites.
The Colonel has tried to keep his "11 Herbs and Spices" a deep, dark secret since the chain opened in 1930, when it was still called Kentucky Fried Chicken and before the health police took umbrage at the fried designation.
But flavor detectives have managed to discover the original recipe after much trial and error—and now you can bring the magical mix into your own home. (Bonus: there's also an MSG-free alternative!)
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Did any of you grow up thinking the name was cold slaw? I know I did, and it was because of the crisp, refreshing quality of my all-time fast food favorite: KFC's coleslaw. The clone recipe for KFC coleslaw tastes so much like the real thing that you'll be surprised it doesn't come with a spork.
Wendy's opened when I was in junior high, but my initial joy at having my very own fast food restaurant quickly turned to horror: their all-too-personal slogan was "Wendy's Hot & Juicy." Yikes.
Lucky for me, their frosty was so good that when I got teased about the slogan, I could just drown my sorrows in some creamy, soft-serve goodness. If I'd known I could've made it at home with a simple recipe, I probably would've skipped the hot and juicy restaurant altogether.
When you've been shopping for hours and need a quick meal with a great mix of protein, veggies, and carbs, nothing hits the spot like Panda Express. But save the money you'd spend at the mall and make their famous kung pao chicken at home; your wallet will thank you.
The Great Burger Wars have finally hit the West Coast with the opening of the first Shake Shack in Los Angeles. Those who feel that Shake Shack is vastly superior to reigning West Coast burger champ In-N-Out are quite literally dancing in the streets.
As an East Coaster, I am admittedly biased towards the Shack—which is why I personally can't wait to try Serious Eats' at-home version of the Double Shack Stack. To make the experience truly authentic, maybe I'll wait in line outside my kitchen while it cooks.
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For those of you in the know, the only thing the real burgeratti order at In-N-Out is the Double-Double, Animal Style. For those of you not in the know, this means two burger patties (specially cooked in mustard), two slices of cheese, "hand-leafed lettuce" (whatever that means), tomato, pickle, grilled onions, and that holy grail of In-N-Out, their special spread.
If you don't feel like dealing with the crowds at the fast food mecca, Serious Eats has the lowdown on how to make the Animal-Style Double-Double at home.
Believe it or not, a chalupa is a real Mexican dish: it's made with a bowl of fried masa dough which is then filled with shredded, spiced meat and onions, peppers, tomatoes, and salsa. You may notice that this bears little or no resemblance to the nevertheless delicious Taco Bell treat of the same name.
So, I encourage you to try making Taco Bell's version of the chalupa and the authentic Mexican version linked above to see which is mas delicioso.
A burrito is traditionally a tortilla rolled around a filling of beef and beans. That's it. No rice, no cheese, no veggies, and definitely no avocado. Of course, the burrito has evolved to include myriad variations on the protein, beans, and the addition of the aforementioned, previously excluded add-ins.
Chipotle took this transformation one step further by creating a burrito bowl that eliminated the tortilla altogether... and giving you an excuse to chow down on the entire bag of tortilla chips they give you with it.
Save yourself the hours on the treadmill and make the Chipotle Burrito Bowl at home. If you want to pretend to make it healthier, you can even swap out brown rice for the white.
I don't have any actual statistics on this, but I am certain that the scent of Cinnabon wafting through the malls and airports of America is single-handedly responsible for the failure of many, many diets.
Now you, too, can have at cheat day at home with the secrets to creating a Cinnabon in your own kitchen. Just don't blame us when these amazing rolls end up derailing your diet, please.
There's an SNL sketch that came out when Starbucks introduced a home coffeemaker. Without spoiling it for you if you haven't seen it (watch it; it really is hilarious), the skit highlights many of the issues we commonly face when frequenting our favorite ubiquitous coffee joint.
Get exactly what you ordered and don't worry about your name being mangled on the cup by making your own caramel macchiato in your own kitchen. And you don't need Starbucks' coffeemaker to do it!
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We can't wrap up this list without (arguably) the most famous fast-food chain of all—McDonald's. Whether you're lovin' it or love to hate on it, Mickey D's has definitely left its imprint on our fast food nation—and beyond.
They've been marketing a lot of different things recently, but I think it's best to stick to the classics, which is what you'll find covered in this list full of copycat recipes for Big Macs, Egg McMuffins, French Fries, and more. The only downside? You won't be able to play Monopoly or find a Happy Meal included with your meal.
We know that these hacks for copycatting fast food fare aren't going to replace a trip to the familiar locations that serve your favorites. But if you want to try your hand at recreating some famous recipes that you previously could only get at the drive-thru or in the takeout joint, these are a great starting place.
Do you have any fast food fake-outs to share? Tell us in the comments below!