12 Restaurant Favorites We Recreated at Home This Year

updated Dec 19, 2019
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: Brett Regot/Kitchn

Over the past year we’ve developed countless copycat restaurant recipes based on your most popular requests. These are the menu items that people rave about, that passionate cooks try to recreate at home, that drive you to visit restaurants just so you can order them.

Here are 12 of our favorite copycat recipes we created this year — from Olive Garden’s creamy chicken gnocchi soup to Taco Bell’s Crunchwrap Supreme. And if you’re wondering whether or not these recipes actually taste as good as the real deal, rest assured: Most of these recipes taste even better.

1. Copycat Cracker Barrel Hash Brown Casserole

Seven ingredients and 15 minutes of prep time are all you need to make this crowd-favorite breakfast item from Cracker Barrel. It transforms a frozen bag of hash browns into a comforting casserole that is crispy on the edges and soft and cheesy in the center. Serve it with ketchup, a dollop of sour cream, or all by itself for the perfect accompaniment to fried eggs or pancakes.

Get the recipe: How to Make Copycat Cracker Barrel Hash Brown Casserole

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

2. Copycat Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake

As it turns out, The Cheesecake Factory has never actually published a recipe for their namesake dessert, but that hasn’t stopped home bakers from trying to recreate the classic at home. This year we tested out the most popular copycat recipe online and were thrilled to discover that it really does taste just like the real deal. It’s now our go-to recipe for recreating the classic at home — and we think it might just be the actual recipe they use.

Get the recipe: Copycat Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake

Credit: Amanda Paa

3. Copycat Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup

Endless pasta is fine, but the real MVP of the Olive Garden menu is the chicken gnocchi soup. It’s creamy, comforting, and just the thing to eat on a cold night. This copycat version uses store-bought potato gnocchi, shredded rotisserie chicken, and a generous amount of half-and-half to recreate the beloved meal at home. It comes together in no time and with only a handful of ingredients. The only thing it’s missing is the endless breadsticks.

Get the recipe: Copycat Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup

4. Starbucks-Style Medicine Ball Tea

This copycat recipe of a Starbucks customer-favorite is just the thing to warm you up and help soothe a sore throat — and you don’t have to wait in line to get it. It’s made by brewing peach and mint tea bags in a combination of hot lemonade and water sweetened with a touch of honey. Go ahead and bookmark this recipe for the next time you’re feeling under the weather.

Get the recipe: Starbucks-Style Medicine Ball Tea

Credit: Joe Lingeman

5. Restaurant-Quality Taco Salad

Taco salad might seem like a complicated recipe, given all of the components that go into it, but this version uses a handful of clever shortcuts to make it something you can pull off in no time. You fry the tortilla strips in the same pan as the beef, and toss it in a simple dressing made with sour cream, salsa, and lime juice. It has all of the flavor and crunch of a classic restaurant-style taco salad — all without having to leave your house.

Get the recipe: How to Make the Best Restaurant-Quality Taco Salad at Home

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: Pearl Jones/Kitchn

6. Copycat Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme

In my humble opinion, the best menu item at Taco Bell is the Crunchwrap. Soft and crunchy tortillas, nacho cheese, crisp shredded lettuce, and spicy ground beef come together to create the ultimate handheld meal that hits all of the right notes. This copycat version recreates the beloved menu item using just a handful of staple ingredients so you can enjoy it anytime a craving hits.

Get the recipe: Copycat Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme

Credit: Joe Lingeman

7. Better-than-IKEA Swedish Meatballs

Everybody knows that the best part about going shopping at IKEA is ordering a plate of the Swedish meatballs. I mean, what trip to the furniture superstore would be complete without the iconic trio of meatballs, lingonberry jam, and mashed potatoes? Lucky for you, we have a recipe that you can make at home without having to trek to your nearest IKEA to get them.

Get the recipe: How to Make Better-Than-IKEA Swedish Meatballs

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk/Kitchn

8. One-Pot Cajun Chicken Pasta

This 20-minute one-pot pasta is a riff on a beloved menu item from Chili’s. It’s loaded with juicy chicken, ripe tomatoes, and a generous amount of Cajun seasoning and comes together in no time at all. This recipe pan-sears the chicken versus grilling it (as Chili’s does), but other than that it’s pretty darn close to the real deal — or dare we say better.

Get the recipe: One-Pot Cajun Chicken Pasta

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

9. Copycat Starbucks Bistro Boxes

For people in need of a quick pick-me-up during the day, Starbucks bistro boxes are just the thing. They’re a quick-fix meal loaded with protein that’ll help you power through the mid-afternoon slump. But these snacks can also be pricey, so we went ahead and created a copycat version that’s cheaper, easy to throw together, and perfect for meal prepping. Make a bunch of these boxes on Sunday and take them to work all throughout the week.

Get the recipe: Copycat Starbucks Bistro Boxes

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

10. Copycat In-N-Out Animal-Style Fries

If you haven’t tried In-N-Out’s famous animal-style fries, you’re seriously missing out. They’re crispy fries loaded with melted cheese, caramelized onions, and a signature secret sauce. Lucky for you, the secret is out — and we think we’ve nailed the recipe. You don’t even have to be on the West Coast to enjoy them. Make these for your next party, game day, or for no real reason at all.

Get the recipe: Copycat In-N-Out Animal-Style Fries

Credit: Christine Han/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

11. Copycat P.F. Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps

The best menu item at P.F. Chang’s are the lettuce wraps. There’s no denying that. And we think this version comes pretty darn close by cooking ground chicken thighs with a plethora of flavorful ingredients like ginger, chili-garlic paste, and cremini mushrooms. Serve the mixture with crisp lettuce leaves and you have the perfect appetizer or light dinner.

Get the recipe: Copycat P.F. Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Credit: Joe Lingeman

12. Copycat Panda Express Orange Chicken

Everybody loves Panda Express orange chicken, and this year we developed a copycat recipe that is — dare we say — even better than the original. Crispy pieces of chicken are coated in a sticky-sweet sauce kicked up with a touch of red pepper. Serve it over rice and you have a quick meal that everyone will love.

Get the recipe: Copycat Panda Express Orange Chicken