In this fast-paced world, the convenience of a drive-through dinner can be hard to resist. Still, 82% of the meals consumed by Americans in 2018 were prepared in the comfort of their own kitchens. With greater access to simple recipes via the internet and popular cooking shows on television, Americans appear to be finding the ease of cooking at home more appealing.
The health benefits are difficult to ignore, especially considering that a majority of American diets exceed the recommended amount of added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Cooking at home makes it much easier to control what goes into our bodies, rather than leaving it up to chance at a fast food restaurant—where consumers are off by about 650% when estimating the amount of salt in their meal. Almost everyone in the U.S. could use a little break from the sodium and preservatives that often accompany going out to eat. Nevertheless, it can be hard to refuse cheap, accessible food that delivers instant gratification and nostalgia.
The experts at QSR recently released data on the 50 most popular fast food restaurants in America for 2018, which led Stacker to scour the plethora of popular lifestyle blogs and online cooking sites available to find copycat recipes from the top 20 most popular fast food restaurants. For kitchen novices and experienced cooks alike, these recipes promise to help create healthier, budget-friendly, at-home versions of your favorite fast food menu items.
2/ Stock Catalog // Flickr
Source: 12 Tomatoes
McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets are fried, easily dunkable, and loved by children throughout the world. This copycat recipe is sure to be a godsend for busy parents of picky eaters, and it only takes 30 minutes. Shake the tenderized chicken in a bagged mixture of flour and spices, dip the battered chicken in egg, lightly fry for 10 minutes, and finish in the oven.
3/ hirotomo t // Flickr
Source: Penny Pinchin’ Mom
The iconic drink is notorious for warming hearts and stomachs alike during the holidays and has caught on well outside the Starbucks spectrum. This recipe combines creamy pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, espresso, milk, brown sugar, and decadent vanilla syrup to bring the famous latte to your home kitchen.
4/ BrokenSphere // Wikimedia Commons
Source: Bless This Mess
Any fan of Subway knows that the bread makes or breaks the sandwich. This recipe lets you enjoy that soft, delicious bread in the comfort of your own home. Combine warm water, yeast, sugar, salt, olive oil, and flour. Allow the dough to rise for 30 minutes, and bake for 25 minutes for the perfect loaf.
5/ Lambroso // Wikimedia Commons
6/ Fatlouie // Wikimedia Commons
7/ Calgary Reviews // Flickr
There’s nothing like a warm bowl of chili from Wendy’s to spice up a cold evening. This version of hearty chili stews the spices, ground beef, vegetables, and beans for an hour to get the very best depth of flavors. You can even adjust the amount of heat for those who can’t handle the spice.
8/ Evan-Amos // Wikimedia Commons
Source: Taste of Home
The humble jelly is widely recognized as one of the messiest doughnuts to eat at Dunkin’ Donuts—and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In this version, you can choose exactly which type of jelly or jam you’d like to put inside the warm, fluffy donuts. After making the dough, divide it into circles and sandwich the jelly in between, fry until golden brown, and roll in sugar while still warm.
9/ J. Reed // Flickr
Source: Serious Eats
Out of all the items on Chick-fil-A’s menu, the hand-breaded chicken sandwich has to be the most iconic. This copycat recipe combines spicy cayenne and smoky paprika in the seasoning, and it really goes in-depth as to what makes the perfect chicken sandwich. For example, brine the chicken breast for at least six hours to make this sandwich a real show-stopper.
10/ Uttaddmb // Wikimedia Commons
11/ Toby Oxborrow // Flickr
Source: Genius Kitchen
No need to call for delivery when you’re craving a cheesy pan pizza from Pizza Hut. This recipe gives you all the information you need to create one at home, right down to the fresh pizza dough and homemade sauce. The dough needs to rise for at least an hour and the oven pumped to 475 degrees Fahrenheit for maximum effect.
12/ Stacy Spensley // Flickr
Panera soup is so popular that the company sells it in grocery stores all over the U.S. This version of the hearty soup is the ultimate comfort food, especially considering that it’s loaded with fresh veggies like broccoli, carrots, and onion. Make the soup even creamier by blending everything together before adding the cheddar cheese.
13/ Michael Saechang // Flickr
Source: Culinary Hill
Chipotle’s chicken is one of the stars of its burritos, tacos, bowls, and nachos. The combination of ancho chile and adobo sauce gives this chicken marinade an extra authentic kick. Blend them together with spices and oil, and marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes (overnight is even better).
Source: Dash of Sanity
Just seven ingredients and 20 minutes are all it takes for some of the fluffiest, most satisfying homemade biscuits on the internet—with just as much flavor as the KFC classic side. Flour, baking powder, sugar, cream of tartar, salt, butter, and milk are mixed and baked for 10 to 12 minutes. Make them savory with gravy, or go sweet with some jam or fruit preserves.
15/ Brian Child // Flickr
16/ theimpulsivebuy // Flickr
Source: The BakerMama
This recipe reveals a couple of important steps, like putting the mixer in the freezer, for turning regular ice cream into the creamy Dairy Queen dessert we all know and love. Use any kind of crushed mix-ins like cookies, candies, brownies, or granola to make this frozen treat even better.
17/ ChildofMidnight // Wikimedia Commons
Source: Oh, Sweet Basil
Even though whipping up this version of Arby’s classic roast beef sandwich will take less than 10 minutes, the result is pretty impressive. The homemade, tangy "secret" sauce made with ketchup, salt, and onion and garlic powders, combined with gooey cheese piled high with thinly sliced roast beef, is enough to make anyone’s day a little nicer.
This is sure to be a hit for anyone who likes dipping Little Caesars cheesy garlic bread into marinara sauce. Bake the dough ingredients and top with garlic, butter, parmesan cheese, and a little salt. The recipe even comes with its own video, providing step-by-step directions for bread-making novices.
19/ theimpulsivebuy // Flickr
Millions of this fast-food chain’s tacos are consumed in the U.S. every year, or 1,055 tacos per minute. Now, thanks to this recipe, you can create your own version of the menu item at home. Mix together browned ground beef, beans, and spices to create the smooth texture, stuff it into a tortilla, and fry. Add toppings at the end.
20/ Jerry Huddleston // Flickr
Source: The McCallum’s Shamrock Patch
Any fan of fried chicken knows that perfect seasoning is everything. That’s why this recipe’s version of Popeyes’ famous, hand-breaded, spicy fried chicken uses 10 different ingredients in its spice mixture. Give the chicken a classic buttermilk brine, and golden fry in peanut oil to make this dish irresistible.
Source: Budget Savvy Diva
Many pizza fans maintain the idea that a pizza is only as good as its dipping sauce, especially when it comes to Papa John’s customers and their Garlic Dipping Sauce. When you’re tired of the traditional ranch, give this version of garlicky butter sauce a try. Melt margarine on the stove or in the microwave, and then add garlic powder and a pinch of salt.