The 5-ingredient restaurant copycat recipes you have to try

Heading to a local restaurant to get your favorite menu items isn't as easy as it used to be. The hospitality industry has been forever changed by the events of 2020, leading to massive restaurant closures, downsized menus, and an economic downturn that might make customers think twice about the definition of cheap fast food options. Cooking at home is not only a necessity in some cases but a fun way to test your skills and enjoy culinary favorites.

We've experimented in the test kitchen to come up with simple five-ingredient restaurant recipes. Plus, we've included only pantry items and ingredients you can mostly find at your local grocery store. While it's not always cheaper to cook certain fast food menu items at home (we're looking at you, Taco Bell bean burrito), it certainly gives home cooks more flexibility when it comes to taste and dietary restrictions. Regardless of your reason for wanting to cook at home, copycat restaurant recipes can be just as good as the originals.

5-ingredient copycat Costco rotisserie chicken recipe

Costco rotisserie chicken is popular for a reason. Not only is it one of our top-ranked grocery store rotisserie chickens, but it's also less expensive than an uncooked chicken in most cases. The Costco chicken is available for $5, which can be pretty hard to beat. It's also juicy, moist, tender, and packed with flavor. We wanted to see if our recipe could beat the original. This recipe is especially for you if you want to get locally raised and organic chicken without preservatives but keep the flavor of the Costco original.

Why make the copycat recipe at home? Ask Julia Child. It's the test of a true cook, and this is the ideal recipe thanks to its simplicity. Costco doesn't reveal its spice mix, but our five-ingredient copycat Costco rotisserie chicken recipe offers the right blend of smoky, pungent, salty, and spicy flavor. We developed the recipe to retain moisture by taking the "low-and-slow" approach. Sure, it's not a 100 percent match — Costco's version is definitely saltier — but it's a moist and flavorful alternative.

5-ingredient copycat Taco Bell triple layer nachos recipe

Taco Bell updated its menu in July 2020, "clearing space" for other options and paring down in response to COVID. The fast food favorite of the triple-layer nachos got the boot in the name of efficiency. This was a true disappointment seeing the fan-favorite sold on the "Why Pay More" menu for a mere 89 cents. We came up with this five-ingredient Taco Bell triple layer nacho copycat recipe to mimic the discarded menu item. In reality, our recipe developers could've made this a four-ingredient recipe. The queso dip from the grocery store turned out to be too thick, however, to speak to the original. You could absolutely buy the cheese sauce from the Taco Bell location. Although, that feels like cheating. Instead, we landed on a modified grocery store option after a bit of experimentation.

The sauce is another story. At first, we thought Taco Bell's red sauce was closer to an enchilada-style sauce. We realized enchilada sauce is thicker and more flavored by chilis than the triple layer nachos call for. Instead, for the most authentic copycat recipe, we turned to Ortega. The results feel much more nuanced than its five ingredients suggest.

5-ingredient White Castle hamburger recipe

White Castle is the U.S.'s first fast food chain, with roots in the Midwest. Even though the chain boasts locations in only 13 states, White Castle stands out for its tiny, deliciously greasy burgers. We decided to crack the code by making the perfect copycat White Castle sliders. It also took a couple of batches, but the burgers (almost) looked like the original. The taste is legit and doesn't require many ingredients or time to replicate.

The hamburger itself is different from other fast food joints. The White Castle five-ingredient copycat recipe calls for beef, dried onions, a wheat flour bun, and a pickle. A slice of pickle isn't included in the frozen product you'll find at the grocery store but is a standard in the restaurants, which we believe is the better option. Also, While Castle uses dried onions because of an onion shortage in the 1940s, and they never looked back. The final ingredient is adding water to reconstitute the onions for a soft texture.

This recipe also calls for 80/20, as in beef with the lean-to-fat ratio of 80 percent lean meat to 20 percent fat. Our copycat White Castle hamburgers stay true to the original that doesn't call for any spice. The final result also incorporates the five small holes in the patty because of authenticity.

5-ingredient TGI Friday's stuffed potato skins recipe

After weathering the blow of the 2020 pandemic, International Business Times found TGI Friday's could close a huge portion of its restaurants for good. If you can't visit the restaurant or are looking to save some money, home chefs can elevate their roster of recipes with a menu favorite. We're bringing you the stuffed potato skins. To keep our copycat 5-ingredient recipe for TGI Friday's stuffed potatoes skins simple, we had to get a little creative. The obvious palace to start for this copycat recipe is potatoes. TGI Friday's uses Maine-grown white potatoes, but we used the more widely available russet variety. Those spuds are then topped with melted cheddar and crispy bacon.

The dipping sauce is the tricky part. TGI Friday's describes their sauce as a "ranch sour cream topped with green onions." To keep the ingredients to five items, our recipe creators selected the sour cream and green onions. Granted, home chefs don't have to be as rigid by using some ranch seasoning to spice up the sauce. The end result, however, surprised even our taste testers. So are the taters as good as the original? We have our opinion but will let you be the judge.

5-ingredient copycat Burger King French toast stick recipe

French toast sticks could be called a sort of breakfast revolution. No longer are breakfast and brunch eaters held to the tyranny of soggy toast. You don't need to slather maple syrup onto your French toast but rather dunk directly into the sweet sauce to preserve every crispy bite. ¡Viva la revolución! We have Burger King to thank for this breakfast innovation. We came up with a 5-ingredient copycat Burger King French toast stick recipe so you can avoid waiting in line at the drive-thru for lukewarm sticks.

After some sleuthing, it turns out the Burger King originals are actually vegan. No dairy or eggs are used in the making of their French toast sticks. As a result, our experimentation came up with some epic fails. Turns out, almond milk and cornstarch are close but lacking in the right flavor. We went back to the roots of French toast to produce our copycat recipe with Texas toast, eggs, milk, cinnamon sugar, and avocado or canola oil. It might not be 100 percent authentic to the drive-thru delicacy, but the finger-food breakfast captured the taste, and dare we say essence, of the original. Bon appetit!

5-ingredient copycat McDonald's Sausage McMuffin with Egg recipe

McDonald's Egg McMuffin is one of the standard grab-and-go breakfast sandwiches to eat while heading into the office. As fewer people head into an office these days, making one at home is an alternative routine for anyone who misses the flavor-packed sandwich. The McMuffin is the right amount of protein without getting too heavy to cause droopy eyes during a video call. Plus, who isn't over the will-or-won't-they availability of the fast-food restaurant's all-day breakfast?

Fortunately for true lovers, McDonald's released the recipe for their cult-classic Sausage McMuffin with Egg. The ingredient list is minimal, leading to our version of the classic with the 5-ingredient copycat McDonald's Sausage McMuffin with Egg recipe. The best part? Our version of the breakfast sammie is cheaper than the Value Menu original. At the time of this article, a Sausage McMuffin with Egg cost $3 at our local McDonalds (this is of course subject to change depending on your location). We did the math based on our grocery store ingredients, adding up to $1.61 per sandwich. Plus, we had plenty of servings to share. How's that for value?

5-ingredient copycat Taco Bell Mexican pizza recipe

Let's face it. Taco Bell's items are less authentic Mexican cuisine than a fusion of flavors and cultural inspirations. The Taco Bell Mexican pizza is a melted, cheesy delight pulling from a range of influences. The result is well-seasoned ground beef, spicy tomato-chili sauce, and savory refried beans served on a crispy tortilla shell and topped with melted cheese. Pulling from the simple recipe on Taco Bell's website, our 5-ingredient copycat Taco Bell Mexican pizza recipe uses store-bought ingredients for semi-homemade results.

It can also be flavored to your taste. First, you have the option to season the beef using spices from your cupboard or pre-seasoned beef from the store. To be fair, we might have fudged the five-ingredient ethos here, but the results are delicious. You can also add additional oil of your choice or skip altogether. You can also adjust this recipe to use gluten-free or corn tortillas for any dietary restrictions you may have. It's ridiculously easy to layer the ingredients and bake to perfection.

Keep in mind that this recipe isn't likely to taste exactly like the original. Taco Bell's beef product is made with only 88 percent meat. The remainder is filler, such as oats, soy, and seasonings. This recipe will taste beefier than the original.

5-ingredient copycat Taco Bell bean burrito recipe

Taco Bell is one of the few fast-food restaurants that can cater to the vegetarian diet. The vegetarian-friendly bean burrito is one tried-and-true example. However, that doesn't require any dietary restrictions to enjoy. It's a simple, cheap, and quick meal. For just $1.29 price tag (prices vary with date and location), the burrito combines refried beans, red sauce, cheddar cheese, and onions wrapped in a flour tortilla. While we couldn't beat the price, our 5-ingredient copycat Taco Bell bean burrito tastes as good as the original — even if we had to add a little water to technically rack up six ingredients total. Who's really counting, anyway?

Taco Bell is straightforward with its ingredients, so we could easily source them from the grocery store. Taco Bell's tortillas are also certified vegan, which can be replicated with tortillas made without the traditional lard. Keeping this recipe even more foolproof, we used store-bought red sauce and pre-seasoned pinto beans. In addition to being a shortcut, the red sauce we chose really made the whole recipe come together. See for yourself why this copycat bean burrito recipe could easily be a classic.