The Best Copycat Recipes To Make For Lunch

When it's lunchtime and your stomach is grumbling, it's all too easy to reach for your car keys and make straightaway for your favorite fast-food joint — but is that really what's best for your wallet (as well as your health)? If you want to watch how you're treating both but you can't quite stand to give up some of your favorite lunchtime treats, you're going to want to try out some of these lunchtime-ready copycat recipes from Mashed's recipe developers.

A little more budget-friendly than dining out every day and a little less processed, our fast-food copycat recipes are sure to satisfy your cravings. Whether you're in the mood for a Taco Bell burrito, a Panera bowl of soup, or a plate of Panda Express, we've got a little bit of it all plus more — and you can make them all easily either during your lunch hour or ahead of time for simple reheating.

Enjoy a taste of Trader Joe's all week long with this batch of mac and cheese

If you often find yourself wandering to your local Trader Joe's during your lunch hour, we've got a craving fix for you. This mac and cheese copycat recipe tastes nearly identical to what you'll pick up at the health food chain and it makes enough for six servings, so you're set for lunch all week long. The recipe takes a bit of prep and 20 minutes in the oven, though, so you may want to prep this one on Sunday afternoon ahead of the work week. Don't worry, though: Our recipe developer promises this mac and cheese tastes even better as leftovers.

Make this favorited Starbucks panini, no panini press required

Maybe your lunchtime routine includes buying an afternoon pick-me-up coffee at Starbucks along with one of the coffee chain's sandwiches. If that's the case, cut your Starbucks order in half with this copycat ham and Swiss cheese panini recipe. It only takes 15 minutes to make, so it couldn't be easier, and all you need are a few ingredients from the deli case. No panini press? Check out our tips for replicating the process without one.

Copy Panera's chicken noodle soup for a comforting lunch

Who can say no to a piping hot bowl of soup from Panera? It's an excellent warming, comforting lunch, especially on a chilly day or when you're just feeling less than your best. This recipe does take about an hour, so you might want to make it ahead of time and then reheat it for your lunch. Pro tip? Store the noodles and the soup separately so the noodles don't become soggy, and then add them right after you reheat the soup.

Fulfill your drive-thru dreams with this McDonald's hamburger copycat recipe

Sometimes, you're just craving a McDonald's hamburger: that perfect combination of grilled patty, tangy mustard, pickles, diced onions, and fluffy bun. You don't have to sit through the drive-thru to get your fix, though. You can make a McDonald's copycat hamburger at home in just 15 minutes. You'll even save a few calories. Our recipe comes out to 223 calories per burger, while the McDonald's original hamburger is 250. Plus, when you make your burger at home, there are endless ways to customize it, just in case you or someone in your family is a picky eater.

Don't wait in line at Trader Joe's when you can make the brand's famous chicken salad at home

Trader Joe's lines are notoriously bad, so the next time you're craving some of the brand's amazing chicken salad around lunchtime, skip the lines and just make some at home. Our copycat recipe mimics the beloved Wine Country Chicken Salad that you'll find in the store, and it all comes together in just ten minutes. Eat it on its own for a tasty, protein-packed lunch, add it atop a simple green salad, or pile it high on a croissant. Any way you enjoy it, it's delicious.

No time for a sit-down lunch? Enjoy P.F. Chang's lettuce wraps on the go

One of P.F. Chang's most talked-about dishes is the restaurant's lettuce wraps. With butter lettuce filled with a combination of chicken, water chestnuts, shiitake mushrooms, and a symphony of spices, it's easy to see why. They're delicious! But you don't always have time at lunch to go sit down in a restaurant for a full meal. So, the next time you're dying for some of these delicious lettuce wraps around lunch, use our copycat recipe to make a near-perfect version at home in under 30 minutes.

Chow down on these copycat Chick-fil-A nuggets, sauce and all

Chick-fil-A drive-thru line stretched across the parking lot and out into the street? It's not an uncommon sight around lunchtime. Luckily, when you have our Chick-fil-A nuggets copycat recipe, you can skip the line but still enjoy these tasty little nuggets of goodness regardless. We've even nailed making Chick-fil-A's honey mustard dipping sauce. So, what are you waiting for? You're only 45 minutes away from cracking the code to one of America's favorite lunches.

This copycat Panera broccoli cheddar soup is your new favorite comfort food lunch

Whenever you have a free hour on a Sunday, whip up this Panera broccoli cheddar soup copycat recipe and then reheat it all week long for a scrumptious lunch that'll hit the spot and fuel the rest of your day. Creamy, smooth, and oh-so-delicious, this soup can be served alongside a variety of other lunch options for a more well-rounded meal, whether you prefer a simple salad, fresh baguette, or a sandwich.

This Taco Bell bean burrito copycat is well worth 15 minutes

It might be a little difficult to convince you to step away from the Taco Bell bean burrito and try our copycat version instead. After all, the Taco Bell version is wildly cheap, so it's not exactly hurting your dining budget. But, if we can convince you, it'll be well worth your time. That's because our recipe only includes five ingredients (whereas the Taco Bell burrito includes quite a few others), comes together in just 15 minutes, and makes four burritos at a time.

Jump on the fried chicken sandwich bandwagon with our Popeye's copycat recipe

Fried chicken sandwiches are all the rage right now, but if you don't want to head to the drive-thru to jump on this trend, you can make your own version of Popeye's chicken sandwich at home with the help of our scarily accurate copycat recipe. While it takes about an hour to whip up these sandwiches, they're the perfect lunch for a slow work day or weekend, and our recipe makes four, so you can share your lunch with the fam.

Discover the secrets behind Chick-fil-A's mac and cheese

Forget the chicken. If your go-to order at Chick-fil-A is mac and cheese rather than chicken nuggets or chicken sandwiches, have we got the copycat recipe for you. We broke down the secret to Chick-fil-A's mac and cheese, so you can pull together this favorited lunch item in just 30 minutes. Some of the secrets? A special blend of cheese and spices, including paprika, turmeric, and annatto, which is commonly used not for its flavor but as an all-natural food coloring.

Enjoy a fresh In-N-Out burger no matter where you live

There's no denying that In-N-Out boasts a cult following, and if you count yourself as a member of that cult, then you likely get a hankering for an In-N-Out burger every once in a while. The unfortunate part of this is that if you don't live anywhere near the regional chain, you're not going to be able to put that hankering to rest — until now. Whip up our In-N-Out burger copycat recipe for a taste of the good stuff, no travel required.

Combine pizza and tacos for a winning lunch

Can't decide between pizza or tacos for lunch? Why not have both? With our copycat Taco Bell Mexican pizza recipe, you can. All you need are ten minutes and five ingredients: tortillas, ground beef, refried beans, enchilada sauce, and shredded cheese. Optional toppings include green onions, diced tomatoes, and a dollop of sour cream. Cook and season the ground beef ahead of time for easy assembling, and you're mere minutes away from the culinary fusion lunch of your dreams.

Don't miss out on this copycat Chick-fil-A grilled chicken sandwich

Chick-fil-A's grilled chicken is a little bit underrated. It doesn't get quite the hype that Chick-fil-A's fried chicken does, but if you've never tried this option, you're missing out. Luckily, you can make your own copycat Chick-fil-A grilled chicken sandwich at home in less than 15 minutes. Our recipe packs in a lot of flavor thanks to a mixture of orange and grape juice, molasses, chicken stock, paprika, apple cider vinegar, and more.

When it comes to this copycat Olive Garden Alfredo sauce, all that's missing are the breadsticks

When you're craving pasta for lunch, you might not have time to actually sit down at an Italian restaurant, but fast-food Italian isn't really a popular (or satisfactory) option. For these moments, check out our Olive Garden Alfredo sauce copycat recipe. All that's missing are the breadsticks. Cook up your favorite pasta shape and add this sauce, which comes together in less than 15 minutes, for a delicious lunch just like what you'd get at the Garden.

Your lunch hour was just transported to Tuscany thanks to this Zuppa Toscana recipe

If your favorite Olive Garden menu item, though, is neither breadsticks nor pasta but instead the delicious, comforting concoction that is Zuppa Toscana, you definitely need this copycat recipe in your life. Easier and requiring fewer ingredients than you might think, this soup blends potatoes, kale, and Italian sausage into a mixture of heavy cream and chicken broth for a light yet filling soup that hits the spot. You'll need an hour for this recipe, but it's definitely one that tastes great as leftovers.

This Chipotle chicken burrito copycat is well worth the required elbow grease

Okay, so this isn't the easiest copycat recipe to throw together for lunch on the fly, but if you cook all the separate ingredients ahead of time, you'll have an easy lunch to assemble as needed. Our Chipotle chicken burrito copycat recipe requires a bit of marinating, chicken-grilling, sauce-making, and rice-cooking, but all that work is worth it when you're digging in to a delicious burrito that you didn't even need to stand in line for.

Uncover the mysteries of the Frisco melt with our copycat recipe

Up there with the chain's thick milkshakes, shoestring fries, and steak-filled chili, Steak 'n Shake's Frisco melt is an iconic menu item. But this mysterious sandwich with a mysterious name isn't such a mystery once you break it down with our copycat recipe. With 30 minutes and some basic pantry ingredients and condiments, you can make your own Frisco melts at home anytime you're craving one for lunch. Plus, our recipe makes two sandwiches, so there's room to share (though we wouldn't blame you if you didn't).

This Fiery Doritos Locos Taco copycat recipe is worth bragging about

So you think that the Taco Bell Fiery Doritos Locos Taco is impossible to replicate at home? That there's no way you can make that amazing shell on your own? Think again. Our copycat recipe makes it entirely possible and — dare we say it? — easy. In under an hour, you can make four amazing Fiery Doritos Locos Tacos, and while that might be a little more time than it'd take to run to the Taco Bell drive-thru, just imagine the bragging rights you'll have with your friends.

Join the club and start making the Crunchwrap Supreme at home

The Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme is one of the most copied Taco Bell menu items, and for good reason. It's amazing. The next time you're craving one of the delicious works of foldable art at lunch, spend your lunch hour in the kitchen rather than the drive-thru thanks to our copycat recipe that comes together in just about 30 minutes, leaving you plenty of time to chow down. It's all entirely possible with just some standard taco and burrito ingredients.

Make this mouthwatering Panda Express orange chicken at home

Panda Express' orange chicken is in a league of its own. That unmistakable orange hue and burst of flavor make this one a favorite. If you've always wished you could make it at home, here's your chance. Our Panda Express orange chicken copycat recipe gives you everything you need in order to fry up a batch of this delicious menu item. It all comes together in less than 45 minutes, and our recipe makes six servings, so there will be plenty of leftovers.

Get your autumn on any time of year with this autumn squash soup recipe

This Panera Bread autumn squash soup copycat recipe is like a little burst of fall flavor that you can enjoy any week of the year. All you need is about an hour of time and less than a dozen ingredients. Butternut squash, apples, cinnamon, turmeric, and curry powder come together for a deliciously hearty, rich, full-flavored soup that's sure to warm you down to your toes. You'll never need to wait for the Panera Bread seasonal fall menu to make its return again.