Sometimes it’s better to cook or bake something from scratch than it is to buy it. It’s not a question of personal pride—sometimes the homemade version simply tastes better, and that’s especially true of the classic mass-produced fast food and snacks we’ve eaten all our lives. In our own kitchens, we we can be more delicate in our process and select more gourmet ingredients, taking the kind of care along the way that just can’t be achieved on a conveyor belt.
So here are 12 copycat recipes for popular foods we all know and love, from White Castle to Cheez Whiz.
Girl Scout cookie season is short, but these Girl Scout cookie Thin Mint dupes are ready to be assembled from basic pantry items all year long. The secret to the buttery interior is a Ritz cracker, which is fun to reveal to guests after they’ve eaten several, trying to pinpoint the uncanny center. Get the recipe for homemade Thin Mints here.
Papa Johns Garlic Sauce
Papa Johns Garlic Sauce is 99% of the reason we order pizza from Papa Johns. So with a recipe for its exact replica, you can order your pizza from just about anywhere—and this salty, silky condiment is guaranteed to make any pie 50% more indulgent. Get the recipe for knockoff Papa Johns Garlic Sauce here.
For those who didn’t grow up with a Costco membership, Chicken Kiev is a rolled chicken filet filled with herb butter and coated in breadcrumbs, an easy weeknight dinner that feels like a treat. But you don’t need to buy the frozen, individually shrink-wrapped filets in bulk. Using our recipe, you can make them in batches and freeze them for future use all winter long. Get the recipe for Coscto-worthy Chicken Kiev here.
Mock Apple Pie
This “mock” apple pie is yet another recipe in our copycat list that uses Ritz crackers to fool the senses. In this case, the crackers combine with cream of tartar, sugar, and lemon to approximate the sliced fruit in an apple pie, which eliminates the need to core and peel any produce. It doesn’t sound like it would work, but one bite will prove how convincing it is. Get the recipe for mock apple pie here.
Doritos Cheese Powder
Without their flavor powder, Doritos are nothing more than corn chips—that’s how transformative this cheese dust can be. With our recipes for both a Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch seasoning, you can bring that signature Doritos flavor profile to anything else you eat, from potatoes to biscuits to corn to party dip. Get the recipe for DIY Doritos Cheese Powder here.
Homemade Dole Whip
Dole Whip has a storied history within the Disney theme parks, and for many tourists, it’s synonymous with the Disney vacation experience. There’s now a frozen version sold at grocery stores, but it can be pricey. Our homemade version, meanwhile, only requires three ingredients, and you can make a bigger batch than you can buy. Get yourself a taste of Disney for cheap. Get the recipe for homemade Dole Whip here.
Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette
Chipotle’s popular Honey Vinaigrette dressing has an obsessive following, to the point where it’s hard for locations to keep enough on hand. But Chipotle recently released the TikTok-famous recipe so people can make it at home, and since it’s a relatively standard vinaigrette recipe, it’s nice and easy to assemble. With just a few minutes of prep and a whir of the blender, you’ll have what some fans consider liquid gold. Get the recipe for Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette here.
Copycat White Castle Sliders
Our Midwest-tastic homemade White Castle sliders are remarkably close to the genuine article in terms of both flavor and presentation. The recipe features one singular beef patty pressed into a baking pan that is then cooked, sliced into squares, and placed on dinner rolls with cheese and pickles. The secret to getting so close to that White Castle flavor is a packet of Lipton onion soup mix, which lends some umami to a gloriously no-frills dish. Get the recipe for White Castle sliders here.
Shake Shack’s ShackSauce
In 2017, Shake Shack released Shake Shack: Recipes & Stories, a cookbook full of the burgers, fries, and shakes that made it famous. And the crucial differentiator in a Shake Shack burger is ShackSauce, an all-purpose, dip-with-anything condiment that’s easy to replicate at home. With just five ingredients, you can throw together a sauce that will elevate anything fresh off the grill or sizzling away on your stove. Get the recipe for Shack Shack’s ShackSauce here.
Fox’s U-Bet Chocolate Syrup
Fox’s U-Bet Chocolate Syrup has been a Brooklyn staple for well over 100 years, and it’s what New Yorkers opt for in their chocolate milk and egg creams, the latter being a mixture of chocolate syrup, milk, and seltzer (no eggs or cream involved). For a copycat chocolate syrup with all the flavor of U-Bet, brown sugar and espresso powder add depth while a pat of butter lends some silkiness to the final product. Don’t settle for an inferior product. Get the recipe for copycat Fox’s U-Bet here.
Homemade Cheez Whiz
The mass-marketed cheddar-like spread affectionately known as Cheez Whiz has undergone some reformulations since its introduction by Kraft in 1952, and each time, it seems to lose a bit more of its cheesy essence. This homemade version recaptures that flavor with both shredded cheddar and cream cheese, then amps it up with mustard, Worcestershire, and paprika. The copycat recipe is simple to assemble and versatile in its applications, and you don’t even need a blender to put it all together. Get the recipe for DIY Cheez Whiz here.
Copycat Pizza Lunchables
Anyone of a certain age remembers Lunchables Pizzas, aka discs of pita-like bread served cold with sauce, unmelted cheese, and odd little slices of pepperoni. Through much experimentation, we found a way to faithfully recreate them using a homemade recipe—a process worth the time and effort simply because it will wow everyone who’s ever eaten these Lunchables, bringing the nostalgia for this school cafeteria treat to new heights. Get the recipe for homemade Pizza Lunchables here.
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