The Internet Provides a Bounty of Recipes To Recreate Restaurant Favorites

Great Pretenders

Every so often, a restaurant will offer a particular thing on the menu that’s tasty, memorable and seems to have almost universal appeal. I’m thinking the Tiramisù at Carrabba’s Italian Grill and the pretzel-dip-and-beer cheese dip at TGIFriday’s.

It becomes your go-to menu item and the thing that can get you out of your jammies on a Friday night when a craving hits and draw you to Olive Garden (Zuppa Toscana!) or Bonefish Grill (Bang Bang Shrimp!). 

And then there’s the worst-case scenario: when you can’t even cave in and order the P.F. Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps or Tony Roma’s Baby Back Ribs that you love, because the food you’re craving is from an out-of-town restaurant. My daughter’s friend would pay her a bounty to bring packages of Zax Sauce back to their college campus in Sarasota, because there were no Zaxby’s restaurants nearby.

Lucky for us, there are kitchen wizards with time on their hands, desire in their souls and a generous nature who are willing to share the fruits of their “hacking” on recipe sites (,,, and Pinterest (so you get the how-to plus luscious photos for inspiration).

The recipes listed here were found on the website. But never fear, if one of these isn’t your favorite restaurant fare, you’ll probably find it in one of the more than 3,500 other copycats listed on the site at If you’re looking for a recipe, it’s always useful to scroll through the comments. You’ll often find commentary from restaurant employees past and present who let you know just how close the “hacker” has come to recreating the original recipe.


Carrabba’s contends that with so many Tiramisù recipes to choose from, they can make the decision of choosing easier for us, because their redention is “simply perfect.” Try this sweet ending, and taste what you think for yourself.


Courtesy of Carrabba’s Italian Grill®
Carrabba’s Signature Dessert Trio: Tiramisú, Dessert Rosa and Sogno di Cioccolata


2 large eggs

⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon dark rum, such as Myer’s

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 container (16 to 17 ounces) mascarpone

2 cups brewed Italian roast coffee, cooled

2 tablespoons hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico

2 tablespoons coffee liqueur, such as Tia Maria

32 dry ladyfingers (savoiardi), about 9 ounces

1 bar (3½ ounces) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, grated on the large holes of a box grater


Whisk the eggs, sugar and rum together in the insert part of a double boiler. Heat over simmering water, being sure that the bottom of the insert does not touch the water, using a rubber spatula to stir constantly and scrape down splashes on the inside of the insert, until the mixture is hot, thickened, and opaque and reaches 160°F on an instant-read thermometer. Turn off the heat and stir for 1 minute longer.

Remove the insert from the pot. Add the vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer set on high speed until the mixture is cooled and tripled in volume, about 3 minutes. (The mixture should form peaks when you remove the mixer.) A few tablespoons at a time, beat in the mascarpone. Do not overbeat.

Have 9-inch-square baking dish ready to hold the Tiramisù. Mix the coffee and liqueurs together in a wide, shallow bowl. One at a time, quickly dip 16 ladyfingers in the coffee mixture (do not soak them), and place side-by-side to line the bottom of the baking dish. Spread with half of the mascarpone mixture, then sprinkle with half of the chocolate. Repeat with the remaining ladyfingers (discard the remaining coffee mixture), mascarpone, and top with chocolate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight. Spoon into bowls and serve chilled.

Zax Sauce
Zaxby’s fans swoon over this sauce. It’s meant for chicken dipping, but many a French fry has taken a dunk in it, too. Commenters on the recipe recommend swapping in tomato paste for the ketchup. There’s no cooking involved, but you should let it sit for at least two hours after mixing so the flavors can mingle.

Yield: ½ cup sauce


½ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup tomato ketchup

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

½-1 teaspoon black pepper


Mix together the mayo, ketchup and garlic powder, blending well. Add Worcestershire sauce and blend well. Cover the surface of sauce with lots of black pepper until just coated. Blend well. Repeat process, covering surface with black pepper. Stir until blended well and refrigerate.


Cheddar Bay Biscuits
There are no less than 29 iterations of this Red Lobster favorite on and many more on other recipe sites. This particular recipe has garnered many five-star reviews since it was posted in 2007. The poster swears the secret is to use really cold butter.

Yield: 9 biscuits 


2 ½ cups Bisquick baking mix

4 tablespoons cold butter

Courtesy Red Lobster

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

¾  cup cold whole milk

¼  teaspoon garlic powder


2 tablespoons butter, melted

½  teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon dried parsley flakes

1 pinch salt


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine Bisquick and cold butter, but don’t mix too thoroughly. There should be small chunks of butter about the size of peas. Add cheddar, milk and garlic powder. Mix by hand until combined, but don’t over mix. Drop nine equal portions onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until tops are light brown. For the topping, stir garlic powder and parsley flakes into the melted butter. Use a pastry brush to spread garlic butter over the tops of the biscuits.


Bang Bang Shrimp 
These spicy, sauced-up fried shrimp have earned the local Bonefish Grill a “Best Appetizer” win in the Best of the Emerald Coast contest for years. There are a lot of permutations of this recipe on the Web with many different “secret” ingredients. Some complain the sauce in this recipe is too “mayonnaise-y,” so you might want to start with a lesser amount. A commenter who claims to know the exact recipe says Bonefish uses Mae Ploy brand sweet Thai chili sauce and Hong Foy garlic chili sauce.

Yield: 4–6 servings


Courtesy Bonefish Grill

1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined; smaller shrimp work best

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup Thai sweet chili sauce

3–5 drops hot chili sauce,
just a few drops

½–¾ cup cornstarch, for coating shrimp


Mix mayo and sauces for coating. Bread shrimp in cornstarch. Deep fat fry the shrimp until lightly brown. Drain on paper towel, put shrimp in a bowl and coat with the sauce. Serve in a lettuce lined bowl and top with chopped scallions. 

Categories: Recipes