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We all love the familiar…These Kid Friendly Copycat Recipes from the Most Popular Chains in the USA will give you just that!
When it comes to food, sometimes, newer isn’t better. New can be novel; however, sometimes comfort is key. Lately, though, things have been different. Sometimes eating at home just seems more appealing. Whether it is avoiding the outing or simply the coziness of preparing food at home, sometimes making your own food is desirable.
I compiled a list of the top 25 chain restaurants in the United States. Below you will find a top recipe from each of these restaurants. So, reminisce & enjoy safely in your own home. So, without further ado, here are the top 25 US Chain restaurants, in order:
This burger chain started with a single store in 1955 in California. From there it has grown to be one of the largest franchises in the entire world. Their signature dish is the Big Mac Burger with their “secret sauce.” This Big Mac Copycat from ThriftyJinxy is an amazing homemade alternative.
The second most popular chain “restaurant” in the US is actually a coffee shop. Founded in Seattle, WA in 1971, Starbucks currently has over 30,000 stores in over 70 countries. One of their more popular recipes is their Lemon Loaf. With this recipe from bubbapie, you will just need to add your favorite hot beverage to feel like are are back at the coffee shop.
Chick-fil-A was originally founded as “Dwarf House” in 1946, focusing on burgers and steaks. Also, random fact: the ‘A’ is not just to make it sound like ‘fillet’; it is meant to show Grade A for the meat being served. A highlight of their menu is their signature Chick-fil-a sauce. This copycat from buildyourbite will make your homemade nuggets taste restaurant worthy.
#4: Taco Bell
This one is literally my favorite fast food joint. I could eat here daily and probably not get sick of it. Did you know the restaurant is actually named after a person? (Glen Bell, the founder) and tacos originally cost only 19 cents?? At the beginning the restaurants even included fire pits and Mariachi bands! How FUN! One of their better dishes as of late is the Crunch Wrap Supreme. This recipe from Cooking with Janica is an amazing way to replicate this dish at home.
#5 Burger King
The King of the Whopper is still popping in the New Year. They have been serving up burgers since 1954….that is over 60 years! Their signature dish, of course, is their Whopper. Serious Eats has an awesome DIY Whopper for your stay-at-home days!
Subway began in 1965 as Pete’s Super Submarines. In 2002, it would become the largest fast-food chain in the United States. One of the keys to Subway’s great success is surely its amazing sandwich bread. This Easy Homemade Subway Bread from Bless This Mess Please will let you recreate your favorite Sub at home with ease. Just add toppings!
Dave Thomas, beloved from his 1980s commercials founded Wendy’s in 1969 in Columbus, Ohio. They became famous for their square burger patties made with what was said to be “fresh, never frozen beef.” Almost as iconic as their cornered burgers is their signature chocolate Frosty. This awesome copycat from The Chunky Chef is just like the real thing so you need not even leave your house to taste the familiar dessert.
Dunkin’ (formerly Dunkin’ Donuts) was founded in 1950 in Massachusetts. As of today the chain has nearly 13,000 locations. While the chain sells bagels, sandwiches and all sorts of coffee options, donuts are its signature item. These Dunkin Glazed Donuts from Alyona’s Cooking will let you recreate the magic at home.
#9 Domino’s Pizza
Domino’s was founded in 1961 in Michigan. According to their website there are over 34 million ways to create a Domino’s pizza. So options, they got ’em. One of their more interesting offerings is the Cinna Stix from their collaborations with Cinnabon. This awesome dupe from Dinner then Dessert also includes the yummy dipping sauce.
#10 Panera Bread
Panera Bread began in 1987 in St. Louis. The chain is known for its bi-focused business. Half of the business focus on the coffee shop style bakery and specialty coffees. The other half is a soup-salad-sandwich based restaurant. All locations play classical music and provide a relaxing sit-down, self-serve environment. One of their most popular items is their soup in bread bowls, which are iconic to the extent of inspiring parody songs such as Bread Bowl by Koo Koo Kangaroo. This Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup from Yammie’s Noshery will have you feeling like you are sitting right in store.
#11 Pizza Hut
In 1958, two brothers in college founded Pizza Hut for $600 in Kansas. In 1984, the chain started to delight young children everywhere with the ” Book It” program which rewarded young readers with free pizzas. But, alas, many of us are now adults and can’t simply read a book to get a free deep dish pizza. Fortunately CDKitchen has created the perfect Copy Cat Pizza Hut Pan Pizza.
Chipotle was founded in 1993 with the original idea of simply providing enough income for the owner to make enough money to launch a fine-dining restaurant. It ended up becoming so popular that a chain took off. Odd fact? You will end up with about 70% more food if you order a burrito bowl with a tortilla on the side as opposed to a regular burrito. A central piece to many dishes is their cilantro lime rice. This version from Curry Trail makes it easy to recreate on your own.
#13 Sonic Drive-In
Sonic began in the 1950s as a simple Root Beer Stand. The chain emulated the car-hop style that was popular in that time. While they have since added mobile-ordering and drive-thru-s, many locations still feature roller-skating waitstaff. One of the chains most popular items is its signature Cherry Limeade. In2016 the chain claimed it sold enough of the drink to fill 15 Olympic sized pools! However their Cherry Limeade couldn’t be easier to make at home thanks to this recipe from Classy Clutter.
KFC, or, Kentucky Fried Chicken if you are old school, originated in the 1930s in Corbin, KY. To this day, the town still hosts a Chicken Festival every year which I learned while living in KY for several years. Festival or not, they do make some good chicken, but really, really, isn’t it the sauces that make it all come together! This recipe for KFC Finger Licking Good Sauce will give you that restaurant feel at home.
#15 Olive Garden
Olive Garden launched as a near instant success in Orlando, Florida. From the very beginning it had all intentions of trying (and clearly succeeding) to become a major chain. One feature of the chain is their offering of unlimited breadsticks with every meal. Olive Garden makes as many as 700 million breadsticks each year so clearly they are quite popular. This Copycat Olive Garden Breadstick from Shugary Sweets will surely have them cooking a few less in the restaurant!
Applebee’s was founded in Georgia in the 1980’s and was almost named Cinnamon’s. It’s molten cakes are famous and its appetizers are always 1/2 off after 9pm. The chain is now officially owned by IHOP. One of my personal favorites at Applebee’s is its Fiesta Lime Grilled Chicken. This recipe from The Cookie Rookie let’s you recreate the magic right in your own kitchen.
#17 Panda Express
Panda Express has over 2,200 locations making it the largest Asian-inspired chain in the United States; however, it remains family-owned. This makes it one of the largest family-held businesses in the United States. It’s owners were college sweethearts (how cute!). It is also credited with the invention of the chain’s signature dish: Orange Chicken. Kitchen Sanctuary’s Orange Chicken is just like the real thing–you’re welcome!
Did you know there is not actually an “Arby?” The chain was named for the Raffel Brothers, hence RBs became Arby’s. Vermont & Rhode Island remain the only US States without an Arby’s, meanwhile, Ohio has the most! The chain also sells enough shakes each month to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool. While the chain is mostly known for its roast beef sandwiches, its signature Horsey Sauce is almost as iconic. This recipe from CopyKat will give you that magical spicy goodness at home!
#19 Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen
Popeye’s began in the 1970’s in New Orleans, Louisiana, its founder was only 28 years old. While its Spicy Chicken has been extremely popular, it was originally launched as “Chicken on the Run.” In 2019 the chain gained more notoriety for its “war” with Chick’fil’A over who had the best chicken sandwich. While it is best known for its chicken Popeye’s Cajun Rice is almost as special. This recipe from Dinner Than Dessert will prove just that.
#20 Little Caesars
One of the founders of Little Caesars wanted to call the restaurant “Pizza Treat.” His wife (and co-founder) suggested something more unique, her nickname for him, “Little Caesar.” The founder was also voiced its most famous “Pizza, Pizza” slogan. Pizza aside, the chain also serves some pretty iconic sides. This Copycat Little Caesar’s Crazy Bread from Fabulessly Frugal is spot on.
#21 Dairy Queen
Dairy Queen pioneered the soft-serve ice cream trend in 1938, its next iconic move in ice cream would be in 1985 with the introduction of its signature Blizzard which was served upside down to show its rich, thick texture. Texas boasts the most DQ’s in the United States. Life Love & Sugar provides the BEST copycat of another of DQ’s signatures in its Copycat Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake.
#22 Buffalo Wild Wings
Buffalo Wild Wings began in Ohio in 1982. Oddly enough, the chain actually sells an equal number of boneless and bone-in wings. They have a massive array of sauce choices; however, if you ask me, the Spicy Garlic Sauce is the absolute best! Love To Be In Kitchen has the best Copycat Buffalo Wild Wings Spicy Garlic Sauce, if you do ask me!
#23 Chili’s Bar & Grill
The restaurant concept was inspired by a chili cook-off with its first location beginning at a converted postal station in Dallas, Texas. Chili’s sells over 60 million pounds of fajita meat every year! Forget the sides though, it is the Copycat Chili’s Queso Dip from Cincy Shopper that will make you feel like you are sitting right in the midst of the bar & grill.
#24 Jack in the Box
Jack in the Box began 70 years ago in San Diego, California. Its burgers originally cost only 18 cents and the chain founded the drive-thru. It was also a pioneer of the all day breakfast, having begun the option in the 1960s. While the chain is most famous for its burgers, did you know that it also has a big taco following! This Jack in the Box Copycat Taco Recipe from My Bizzy Kitchen will let us without a Jack-in-the-Box around experience their tacos at home.
The pancake chain began in the 1950s off the success of its founders coffee cart business. Oddly enough, only its Vermont restaurant serves “real’ maple syrup. While the chain is clearly most famous for its pancakes, I mean, see the name. For me, the omelets are what makes the visit worthwhile (though a side of pancakes never hurt, just saying….). This IHOP Spinach & Mushroom Omelet from Marilyn’s Treats is just the ticket.