Favorite Restaurant Foods to Make at Home
Longing for Chinese orange chicken, fried chicken sandwiches, or a big, juicy burger? Have we got the recipes for you.
After multiple weeks of sheltering in place, I’m starting to seriously crave my favorite restaurant meals. Like many people right now, I’ve been staying home for all but a few trips to the grocery store. I love to cook, and I filled the first few weeks of quarantine with creative challenges like eating through my pantry, putting my crock pot to work, and finding some interesting new ways to use beans. But now I’m missing my go-to take-out dishes and the guilty pleasures of my favorite fast foods.
With that in mind, I pulled together 15 copycat recipes and restaurant-style recipes that you can cook at home to recreate some of your favorite restaurant specialties until the real deal is available again. Unfortunately, though, you’ll have to do the dishes!
Tips for putting together a restaurant-worthy recipe and dining experience at home
Pick a dish that’s slightly more extravagant than something you would normally cook (in time, number of ingredients, or cooking technique) and one that’s more decadent than usual — treat yourself!
Pro chefs enhance your experience by combining textures and fresh ingredients, so look for ways to add a pop of color or crunch to your meal. Plan your meal for right after a shopping trip, if needed.
You probably already know that your tastebuds secretly crave salt and butter, and the pros never skimp here. It's a special occasion, so splurge!
Part of the restaurant experience is the presentation and how the food feels in your hands. Making a burger or sandwich? Wrap it securely with waxed paper or parchment paper to hold it together and keep the juices and toppings in.
Consider inviting friends or family (ones you don’t live and eat with every day!) to join you remotely — dinner party by Zoom? I will toast to that.
Perfect Ribeye Steak
Whenever my family goes to celebrate anything really special, we always seem to find ourselves at our favorite steakhouse. This grilled steak recipe is perfect for spring and seasoned with a homemade Montreal seasoning blend, including a mix of dry herbs you may have in your pantry and a bit of orange zest. The steak is served with a topping of a simple herbed butter and there's no need for steak sauce.
But a trip to the steakhouse is as much for the side dishes as it is for the steak! I’m imagining the river of juice running from my steak and into my pile of buttery Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes; Smoky Roasted Cauliflower that smells as good as it tastes; and Baked Macaroni and Cheese, made with loads of cheddar cheese and served hot from a skillet.
Juicy Steakhouse Burgers
One of the things my family has been craving while stuck at home is a fat and loaded hamburger, the kind we typically get at a nice restaurant or specialty burger joint. This recipe has a ton of flavor from the liberal use of seasonings. But the real secret is keeping it juicy with the addition of panade, a blend of bread and milk in the mix that holds in moisture even if the burgers are cooked to medium-well. You may want to make extra patties; after all, you can freeze them up to three months for a future meal made fast. You can’t have a burger without a side of fries, right? These Crispy Baked Wedge Fries are just the thing. And don't forget the coleslaw!
Chinese Orange Chicken
This family-friendly recipe is a tempting homemade version of the popular Chinese-American restaurant dish. Maybe even better than takeout, it’s made with fresh orange juice and orange zest. While there’s a fair amount of sugar, you can adjust it to taste. Yummly reviewers recommend making some extra sauce so you have it for dipping or to eat with rice.
P.F. Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps
These chicken lettuce wraps are a copycat version of a popular restaurant appetizer, but can be served as an entree as well. You can use any ground meat, including beef or turkey. If you can’t get butter lettuce, you could use romaine or iceberg. Some Yummly reviewers recommend adding matchstick carrots, finely diced cabbage, or even peanuts near the end to give the dish additional crunch.
Pineapple Fried Rice
One staple of Thai and Chinese takeout is fried rice, and this recipe adds in a generous amount of tart pineapple to give it a sweet and sour taste. You can use fresh or canned pineapple, any protein you have on hand (ham, chicken, or shrimp), or go with fried tofu to make it vegetarian.
Deep Dish Chicago-Style Pizza
I used to think that a thick and crispy crust deep-dish pizza was something you could only get at a pizzeria (or in Chicago!). This recipe uses a cast-iron skillet and some cornmeal to get that crispy crust at home, with store-bought pizza dough (Trader Joe’s has a good one). Though it calls for Italian sausage, you can modify that to include other ingredients; just make sure any substitutions or additions are well-drained and don’t introduce too much water, or the crust will get soggy. Artichoke hearts, green olives, and pepperoncini would make a great Mediterranean version.
CPK’s BBQ Chicken Pizza
Branch out from your normal pizza routine with this creative pizza topping combo of barbecue chicken with fresh cilantro, popularized by California Pizza Kitchen. You can use your favorite brand of barbecue sauce, or take just a few minutes to make your own Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce with ingredients you probably have in your pantry. While this recipe calls for making the dough from scratch, if you can’t get flour or yeast, you can use store-bought pizza dough.
Quick and Easy Pad Thai
Pad Thai is a favorite dish for noodle fiends craving Thai takeout. This fresh and colorful version can be put together fast, in less time than it would take to have it delivered.
Spicy Pork Ramen Noodle Soup
If you’re a fan of rich and savory bowls of Japanese ramen, you’re probably craving some right now. I sure am. The slow-cooked meats and broth are not something I typically take the time to make at home, but while this recipe is a bit time-consuming, it’s relatively simple and hands-off. And it will satisfy any quarantine urges for project cooking. The recipe calls for some ingredients (gochujang, mirin) that you should be able to find at a well-stocked grocery store or Asian specialty store.
DIY Popeyes Chicken Sandwich
Popeyes’ fried chicken sandwich has been a sensation since the day it launched, and if you tried to get one recently, you probably saw drive-through lines around the block. Now is the perfect time to try to make it at home! Deep-frying the seasoned chicken is surprisingly easy to do in a skillet or large pot. There’s no need to buy buttermilk; you can easily make it yourself with milk and either lemon juice or vinegar (the instructions are in the recipe). Brioche buns are ideal and match the Popeyes’ bun best, but any sandwich bun will work in a pinch.
Chicken Tikka Masala
This popular Indian restaurant dish is made with broiled (or grilled) yogurt-marinated chicken that’s then simmered in a creamy and curry-spiced tomato sauce. Don’t be deterred by the long spice list; the recipe is easy to make at home and you can leave out any spices you don’t have. If you don’t have heavy cream, you can substitute canned coconut milk, and if you don’t have ghee, just go with regular butter.
Pasta with a rich, creamy Alfredo sauce is one of my Italian restaurant picks. It always seems more luxe than a marinara sauce, though it’s not hard to make. This recipe is simple and delicious as-is, but feel free to add chicken.
Better Than Chipotle DIY Chicken Burrito Bowls
Burritos and burrito bowls are one of my usual fast and easy meals to go out for and this colorful copycat Chipotle burrito bowl is a new lunchtime staple in my house. It includes lots of fresh ingredients that can be prepped in advance, plus chicken made with Mexican flavors in the slow cooker, so you have it ready for lunch or dinner in no time. You can top the bowls with avocado, jalapeno chili, cilantro, salsa, or whatever you have on hand, and of course, feel free to set out some tortillas.
Salmon Poke Bowl
The poke bowl, another lunchtime staple, feels decadent but is really easy to make yourself if you can get access to sushi-grade fish at a well-stocked grocery store or Japanese specialty grocer. While most Hawaiian-inspired poke recipes use ahi tuna, this recipe goes with fresh or frozen salmon, which may be easier to find.
Easy Baked Buffalo Chicken Wings
In my hometown, Saturday night is traditionally “wing night” at the local bar. When we can, everyone in my family comes together to catch up and share a messy feast of Buffalo wings. Here’s an easy and healthier baked recipe to make at home. Don’t forget a side of celery and carrot sticks with ranch or blue cheese dip, and feel free to add other seasonings and sauces, such as honey mustard, or sweet and sour sauce. There’s no wrong way to feast on wings.
More copycat recipes
Whether you're craving crispy chicken nuggets or egg rolls, cheesy Cheddar Bay biscuits, a frosty Frappuccino or a tender Cinnabon cinnamon roll, we have thousands more copycat recipes on Yummly to help you through your quarantine cooking until you can get back to the real thing. You'll find dishes modeled after Starbucks, Olive Garden, Chick-fil-a, Panda Express, Cheesecake Factory, Chili's, Panera, Red Lobster, Taco Bell, Wendy's, McDonald's, Arby's, Texas Roadhouse, KFC, Applebee's, and more.