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How to Make 20 Fast Food Favorites at Home

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have it your way

For many Americans, fast food is a way of life, despite the associated nutritional hazards. Even conscientious eaters indulge sometimes, however. In those instances, it's often healthier and tastier to make homemade versions of the drive-through meals you love. You might be surprised how close these recipes come to the real thing.

Double Double
Double Double by James (CC BY-NC-ND)

in-n-out double-double

Beloved by locals and visitors to the West Coast, In-N-Out has just about perfected a burger with toasted buns, relish-filled special sauce, and ground chuck in place of ordinary ground beef. This replica includes even the "Animal Style" grilled onions. Recipe: Your Homebased Mom

Shake Shack
Shake Shack by Lucas Richarz (CC BY-NC-ND)

shake shack double shack stack

The double-stacked burgers at New York's fast-expanding Shake Shack are simple in appeal but a little more complicated in execution, as Epicurious reveals. They can still be made at home, from potato bun to sautéed portobello mushrooms. Recipe: The Loop

Big Mac
Big Mac by Frédéric BISSON (CC BY)

mcdonald's big mac

The world's most popular hamburger tastes even better homemade. Just stack the ingredients in the right order and don't forget the special sauce. Don't be afraid to add other components, such as tomato or grilled onions, to improve on the classic. Recipe: Top Secret Recipes


mcdonald's french fries

Perhaps the only fast food item more popular than the Big Mac is the golden fries that come with it. Replicating the basic yet unique texture and flavor of McDonald's fries involves special attention to the shoestring thickness and the heat of the cooking oil. Recipe: Food.com

Egg McMuffin
Egg McMuffin by Adam Kuban (CC BY-NC-ND)

mcdonald's egg mcmuffin

With only four basic ingredients, McDonald's original breakfast sandwich is almost as easy to make at home as to pick up from the drive-through -- and that includes the perfectly circular egg patty. Recipe: Top Secret Recipes

Chicken McNuggets

mcdonald's chicken mcnuggets

Though beloved by many, McDonald's Chicken McNuggets have been criticized for using preservatives and processed meat. Enjoy the taste clear of those concerns by using chicken breast cut into bite-size pieces and a simple breading of flour, eggs, and seasonings. Recipe: Recipe 4 Life


kfc chicken

The "original recipe" of 11 herbs and spices used to make Colonel Sanders' world-famous fried chicken is still closely guarded, but home cooks have found ways of duplicating the deliciousness. Instructions even go into details about what brands of spices to buy. Recipe: Food.com

Copycat KFC Potato Wedges

kfc potato wedges

KFC potatoes boast their own distinct flavor and crunchy texture. For home cooks, that means steaming, then frying russet wedges using little more than flour, seasonings, and buttermilk. Recipe: Tracey's Culinary Adventures

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chick-fil-a sandwich

Tender fried chicken breast and fluffy buns make Chick-fil-A's signature sandwich a worthy competitor to the standard fast food hamburger. Use home-breaded chicken breast and improve on it with generous helpings of lettuce and tomato (usually short-changed at this chain restaurant). Recipe: Damn Delicious

Krispy Kreme Glazed Doughnuts

krispy kreme glazed doughnuts

Fans of Krispy Kreme's gleaming, glazed doughnuts have little choice but to make them at home if there's no shop nearby. The addictive glaze is simple to make, but leave some time to roll out the dough and allow it to rise before frying. Recipe: My Thirty Spot

Taco Bell: Crunchwrap supreme
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taco bell crunchwrap supreme

Most Taco Bell menu items are just ways of repackaging the basic ingredients of ground beef, nacho cheese, sour cream, and tomato. But the Crunchwrap Supreme is especially popular with its tostada-shell-within-a-flour-tortilla setup, although some advise breaking up chips for better crunch and easier folding than a tostada shell allows. Recipe: Cooking With Janica

White Castle
White Castle by rocor (CC BY-NC)

white castle sliders

There are no White Castle locations in the western United States, but those who can't buy the chain's greasy, onion-loaded sliders can make them at home in less than an hour. The ingredients are straightforward but for a single tablespoon of peanut butter that gives these mini-burgers their unusual texture. Recipe: Favorite Family Recipes

Jack In The Box Taco
Jack in the Box/facebook.com

jack in the box tacos

No other taco tastes quite like Jack in the Box's, although a homemade imitation can comes close -- without the paste-like ground beef texture. The decidedly un-Mexican creation requires only affordable ingredients available in any grocery store, including American cheese, refried beans, and mild taco sauce. Recipe: Food.com

Dairy Queen's Blizzard
Dairy Queen TX/facebook.com

dairy queen blizzard

Dairy Queen is known for its Blizzards: soft-serve ice cream with candy toppings mixed in. At home, the trick is getting the thick texture right without buying your own specialized blending machine. The only unusual ingredient is Frangelico liqueur, which can be omitted. Recipe: Brave Tart

Pizza by Charanjit Chana (CC BY-SA)

pizza hut pan pizza

This clone may take longer to prepare than delivery, but it's just as cost-effective, particularly since there's no driver to tip. Knead and crisp the dough in oiled cake pans before adding seasoned tomato sauce, mozzarella, and thin pepperoni, or whatever other ingredients you desire. Recipe: CDKitchen

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burger king onion rings

Onion rings are easy to make at home -- with enough patience to deep-fry sliced onions to a perfect golden brown. This homemade version emulates Burger King's classic side. Recipe: Recipe 4 Living, or One Ingredient Chef for a healthier alternative breaded without eggs or oil

Arby's Curly Fries
Arby's Curly Fries/facebook.com

arby's curly fries

No deep-frying is necessary to replicate the unique paprika-accented flavor of Arby's curly fries. To give the potatoes their identifiable corkscrew shape, the recipe requires a vegetable spiralizer (starting at $15 on Amazon). Recipe: Like Mother Like Daughter

Panda Express Orange Chicken
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panda express orange chicken

Orange chicken is an irresistible, if not authentic, fixture of Americanized Chinese food. A quick and straightforward copycat calls for ingredients found in most kitchens to bread and fry the chicken pieces before combining with the tangy, orange-juice-based sauce. Recipe: Food.com

Chipotle Burrito Bowl Unsauce
Chipotle Burrito Bowl Unsauce by Michael Saechang (CC BY-SA)

chipotle chicken burrito bowl

Cut down the oversize portions of Chipotle's fresh-made burrito bowls. The rice and chicken need fresh cilantro and, of course, chipotle peppers, but as with the real thing, the other toppings are entirely customizable. Recipe: What's Gaby Cooking


cinnabon classic roll

It's far more cost-effective to make Cinnabon's decadent namesake rolls in batches at home using this recipe than to buy a single $4 bun at the mall food court. At 463 calories per roll instead of 880, it's a whole lot healthier, too -- if you can resist eating more than one at a time. Recipe: Jo Cooks