16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (2024)

Jul 12, 2021 | Food, Recipes

Whether you're on a spending freeze or just looking for ways to use up all that chicken in your freezer, these restaurant copycat recipes are exactly what you need! So, put down your phone (unless you're using it to read this), and just say “no” to takeout. These recipes will help you save a ton of cash!

16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (1)

Whether you're craving Red Robin, Olive Garden, Chik-fil-A, or Cafe Rio, you're going to love the recipes we're about to share. We may have even found a Dole Whip copycat recipe for you. 👀 What can we say? We love our Freebs!

*Note: When you click the links in this post, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Do yourself a favor and try going one week without a single meal (or treat) from a restaurant. (Spoiler alert: if you do, you'll save some serious cash!) With these copycat recipes in your back pocket, you have no excuse to order takeout. Get ready to wow the fam…here we go!

COPYCAT DRINK & TREAT RECIPES

16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (2)

We won't lie. We like hitting up the drive-through window for a refreshing treat now and then. But doing it every day? Well, our frugal hearts just can't stand it! So, here are a few of our favorite copycat beverage and treat recipes:

  • Starbucks Fall Drinks – We get it. It's hard saying no to those pumpkin drinks! But if you've got caramel sauce, whipped cream, cinnamon, and some pumpkin puree handy, you can make about five drinks for the price of one at Starbucks! A good frother will help you take your Starbucks copycat drinks to the next level!
  • Swig Raspberry Dream – If you don't live in Utah, you might know about the magical deliciousness that we call Swig. This soda shop has it all, and lucky for you, we uncovered a copycat recipe for Swig's Raspberry Dream drink.
  • Dole Whip – We know Disney isn't technically a restaurant, but when we stumbled upon this copycat Dole Whip recipe from BellyFull, we had to share it!

It's taking everything in us to stop from running for the blender, but we've got SO much more to share! Let's keep going, eh? Next up: sauces!

RESTAURANT COPYCAT SAUCES

16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (3)

It's time to get saucy! We got our hands on two of America's favorite sauce recipes (well, the copycat versions!), and we think they're just as good as the originals. And the best news? They're so fast and easy to make! Here you go:

  • Red Robin Campfire Sauce – If you know, you know! This fry sauce is pretty much the best ever. (Was it cheugy of us to say that?! Oops!) Grab our Copycat Red Robin Campfire Sauce recipe courtesy of our sister site, Shelf Cooking.
  • Chick-fil-A Sauce – Yes, we know Walmart sells a knockoff version! But we have to be honest; this copycat Chick-fil-A sauce recipe is better. And since we bet you already have all the ingredients anyway, why not take two minutes to make a quick batch? You'll save some major money this way!

Ready to move on to a few side dishes we think you'll love? Let's bring the restaurant home!

COPYCAT SIDES

16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (4)

We promise these side dishes taste just as good as their restaurant-inspired sidekicks. You can thank us later! Here are three copycat sides you should try:

  • Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice – Taco night is one of the cheapest, easiest meal ideas! Take it to the next level with this restaurant-style Mexican rice recipe.
  • Cafe Rio Cilantro Lime Rice – If you've ever been to Cafe Rio, you know how delicious their legendary rice is! Make it at home with this copycat cilantro lime rice recipe!
  • Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits – We've never met a person who doesn't love the biscuits from Red Lobster. Yes, you can buy them from the freezer section, but you can also make them yourself for way less money! This copycat Red Lobster biscuit recipe from Kimspired DIY is making us hungry.

Drumroll, please! We hope you're ready for what's coming next because these main dish copycat recipes are giving us life.

YOUR FAVORITE MAIN DISH COPYCAT RECIPES

16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (5)

Okay, we saved the best for last! Let's talk about dinnnnerrr…dinner time! Well, copycat dinner recipes, that is! Here are some of our faves:

  • Brio Sliced Steak Salad – Before you turn your nose up at a salad, try out Shandra's copycat Brio sliced steak salad. We dream about it, you guys!
  • Copycat Chick-fil-A Nuggets – Need we say more? No more Sunday cravings for you! This copycat Chick-fil-A nuggets recipe is here to save the day.
  • Red Robin BBQ Chicken Wrap – If you're thinking, who goes to Red Robin and doesn't get a burger, then you've obviously never tried this copycat Red Robin BBQ Chicken Wrap!
  • Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup – You'll want to lick the bowl when you finish eating this chicken gnocchi soup!
  • Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Bowl – We've got another copycat Cafe Rio recipe for ya! Yes, we love them that much. This Cafe Rio sweet pork recipe cooks in the crockpot, so it doesn't get much easier.
  • Copycat Zuppa Toscana – We've got one more Olive Garden copycat recipe for you, too! This zuppa toscana is a TREAT.
  • Breakfast Egg Sandwiches – You know those drive-through breakfast sandwiches that taste SO good? The ones on the English muffin. Well, you can whip up a huge batch to keep in the freezer! They're crazy cheap and easy. Grab our egg sandwich recipe from Shelf Cooking.
  • Chipotle Barbacoa – Break out the crockpot for this easy copycat version of Chipotle's barbacoa beef. Shoutout to The Magical Slow Cooker for this goodness!

Can you even?! We can't wait for you to try these.

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE COPYCAT RECIPE TO SHARE

We hope you love all these copycat recipes as much as we do! We predict your bank account and your tastebuds will thank you for making these dishes.

Do you have a go-to copycat recipe? Share it in the comments below!

16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (6)

Are you looking for a few more easy recipes to try?

  • These quick and easy donut holes are just as tasty as they are cute!
  • Learn how to make bread with this easy peasy recipe.
  • Our chocolate covered strawberry recipe makes the perfect gift!

Simon says, go try these recipes!

  1. 16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (7)

    Dawneon June 2, 2014 at 7:56 am

    I wish I lived there 🙂 Grocery prices are so much nicer than in the NE.

    Reply

  2. 16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (8)

    sarahon August 1, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    Hello! I love this post so much I definitely need motivation to stick to my budget!

    My question is… how do you find organic produce and organic food for sale? I am a vegan and it is very hard for me to find deals on such items. Which is why I can never stick to my budget!

    Any suggestions or advice?

    Reply

    • 16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (9)

      FunCheapOrFreeon August 2, 2014 at 8:37 am

      Great question! That’s a tough one. Especially because the answer is…organic produce DOESN’T really go on sale. It doesn’t need to! The way the food industry works in this country is sad. So you won’t find a good deal, they are fully taking advantage of the supply/demand issue in this country. So my best advice is to look up “the dirty dozen” and just pick and choose what you go organic with, and for those things you choose to buy organic, buy from Costco and you will save up to half or more. You might need to buy larger quantities but just freeze or store extras, or split with a friend. It’s worth the savings for sure. And they have a HUGE organic section that’s growing every day. Best of luck!

      Reply

      • 16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (10)

        Joslynon October 12, 2015 at 7:37 pm

        Hi there… I just wanted to chime in on the organic front, though I know this post is old. My husband used to work at a food coop stocking shelves so we know all about the organic food sales. Our local coop participates in a sales program all the coops in the area do. A few times a year frozen organic veggies and fruits, canned tomatoes, dry beans, etc will go on sale. When that happens we get an even bigger discount by ordering a case and using our membership discount as well… it is still more expensive then non-organic but for us it is an area we are willing to invest more money. Thank you for the tips here!

        Reply

        • 16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (11)

          FunCheapOrFreeon October 12, 2015 at 9:11 pm

          Great insight, thanks for sharing!! XO

          Reply

    • 16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (12)

      Kanoealohaon November 12, 2014 at 3:11 pm

      Readjust your budget. If you are constantly spending $200 a week on food for the things you need/want then your budget should be $200. I use to tell myself yeah our budget is $100 a week but constantly spent $125, well I had to stop lying to myself and readjust it.

      Reply

  3. 16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (13)

    Daisyon October 1, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Hmm – I just don’t buy it, at least not for my family. We are a family of 4 and spend about $500 on groceries in a month (including toiletries, diapers, normal bulk Costco purchases for the home spread out) and we go through absolutely at LEAST 10 gallons of whole milk and 3-4 gallons of 2% milk a MONTH. As for fruit… we can go through three watermelons in a week, cantaloupes only last us a day, and I can’t get my kids to eat cereal for breakfast everyday. And my kids are only 3 and 1… so… I’m not sure what is wrong with my appetite or what, but there’s just no way – no matter how I try to cost save or budget here or there, we are always over $500. Maybe we just have to give up some of our expensive healthy eating habits?

    Reply

  4. 16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (14)

    Ginaon October 3, 2014 at 9:44 am

    I agree with above posts…I couldn’t do this. I spent at least $100 per week for our fam of four 36, 34, 22m, 7m. I pack my husbands breakfast and lunch, brew his coffee and we eat at home every night for dinner. I’ve never seen .49/lb tomatoes or onions. More like $2.99-3.99/lb for tomatoes and $1.99 for onions. We don’t make expensive meals. I could easily spend $30-40/wk on fruit and veggies alone before the two gallons of milk which cost $10…can’t imagine what it will be when the baby starts drinking cows milk in a few months. So I’m at $50 before bread, lunch meat, eggs (which are 1.79 for the store brand a dozen), meat etc. I clip coupons and only buy sale items. I don’t know…seems very hard to do in the north east.

    Reply

    • 16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (15)

      FunCheapOrFreeon October 13, 2014 at 9:47 pm

      Yes, that could certainly be true. Different parts of the US are much more expensive than others. But a lot of the same principles hold true that can be used anywhere – buy what’s in season, buy what’s on sale and stock up, big box stores carry much better prices, and buy in bulk when you can. And of course, don’t shop based on what you want to cook that week, cook that week based on what the best prices are! Hope that helps, thanks for reading!

      Reply

  5. 16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (16)

    Michelle Wilsonon October 9, 2014 at 6:09 am

    This is not even possible in the East Coast area. There should be a statement saying where this person lives as I totally agree with the last person’s post. Milk is about $4.00 a gallon and unless its a once and a blue moon sale, veggies are never less than $1.99 a lb. Please next time post where you purchased your groceries so that people will not be fooled into thinking that they can do this anywhere.

    Reply

    • 16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (17)

      FunCheapOrFreeon October 13, 2014 at 9:43 pm

      Michelle – thanks for the feedback! Walmart, and local grocery stores like Smiths, Sprouts, and Harmons (here in Utah) have these prices regularly. While we do agree that different areas carry different prices, we also agree that good deals can be found anywhere if you look hard enough! Best of luck to you!

      Reply

      • 16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (18)

        eleion June 22, 2015 at 3:20 am

        I agree with you… we could have comments all day long about how it’s more expensive here or there ($6 gallon of milk for me in Honolulu), but I totally get the point of this post. OBVIOUSLY, it’s about saving a ton of money…making meals with what is on sale. MAKING MEALS instead of eating out. Buying in bulk helps a lot for me. I buy a 10b bag of chicken breast, slow cook the whole bag and pack a bundle of shredded chicken bags to freeze instead of buying the canned chicken. I do the same thing for cubed chicken chunks. I bring the bag home from Costo, let it thaw and bake the whole thing at once with light seasoning. Then, I cube it all up and store it in smaller containers in the freezer.

        Thanks so much for this post. Hopefully people understand that your intention is not to all eat these exact meals where they live and YES, it might cost a bit more for some things in more expensive areas of the country, but income is usually higher to go with cost of living too.

        Thanks for the inspiration!

        Reply

    • 16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (19)

      Debon September 13, 2015 at 12:52 am

      She’s giving an idea of prices where she lives. Why jump on her because you live someplace more expensive? You as a reader should realize it’s not for everyone.
      Gawd does everything have to come with a disclaimer?
      My family drinks 4 gallons of milk a week. So…. That’s not her job to know that or to know you’re vegan or celiac or whatever else. She’s putting up an EXAMPLE of how it could possibly be done.
      Get a grip.

      Oh and by the way…. It’s ONCE IN A BLUE MOON.
      Twit.

      Reply

      • 16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (20)

        catherineon October 9, 2015 at 8:25 pm

        Deb, are we related? I get pissed when someone says WALA (instead of voila) too. We may be sisters.

        Reply

  6. 16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (21)

    CBellon August 13, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    Hi! Love the article. We are also going to be a family of 7, so I was automatically drawn to the article. BUT, I am a little confused. When each of the meals are broken down price-wise, they all end up being more expensive than what she says they are. And not only that, is she saying she feeds 7 people on 1# of chicken for a meal or 1# of beef for 7 hamburgers? I can’t feed my kids on less than 2# of any meat. If that’s the case, it shoots the price up at least 3-4$ per meal. For example, the Burger scenario prices add up to $14.03, with just getting 1 tomato and 1 pound of ground beef. If you have to double the meat, you are looking at $16.52 for that meal. If you could clarify for me, that would be great! Thanks!

    Reply

    • 16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (22)

      Debbieon January 9, 2017 at 10:30 am

      I’m gonna guess that the list of ingredients with the prices is what those food items are on sale for in her area. But then she probably adjusts the meal price based on how much of the food items she used. For example, maybe she used 2 lb of hamburger, so that would be $5, but I’m sure she didn’t use the whole $1.99 jar of mayo… maybe only like $.20 worth or something. And probably not the whole .88 head of lettuce… maybe only $.10 worth. So basically, you would spend a certain amount of money buying the ingredients, but that’s not necessarily how much it would cost to make the meal. You could have leftover ingredients that could be used for other meals. I’m sure many people have many of the ingredients already on hand and wouldn’t actually need to buy them at the store. She was just listing which items were on sale for a more thrifty purchase (from what I gathered anyway).

      Reply

  7. 16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (23)

    Ashleyon December 22, 2017 at 7:37 am

    The lemon chicken picatta was my favorite, and the link isn’t active anymore 🙁 Any idea where I can find this recipe?

    Reply

  8. 16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (24)

    Heather Bon February 24, 2018 at 7:41 pm

    That lemon chicken picatta recipe looks like the bomb! I’ll have to try it!

    Reply

  9. 16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (25)

    Amandaon July 29, 2019 at 4:57 am

    None of these recipe links work anymore 🙁 just wanted to let you know!

    Reply

    • 16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (26)

      FunCheapOrFreeon July 30, 2019 at 9:36 am

      Oh no, thanks for letting me know! I’ve gone in and updated all of those recipe links – they’re good to go now! 🙂

      Reply

Submit a Comment

16 Restaurant Copycat Recipes You NEED to Try - Fun Cheap or Free (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Ray Christiansen

Last Updated:

Views: 6159

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (49 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Ray Christiansen

Birthday: 1998-05-04

Address: Apt. 814 34339 Sauer Islands, Hirtheville, GA 02446-8771

Phone: +337636892828

Job: Lead Hospitality Designer

Hobby: Urban exploration, Tai chi, Lockpicking, Fashion, Gunsmithing, Pottery, Geocaching

Introduction: My name is Ray Christiansen, I am a fair, good, cute, gentle, vast, glamorous, excited person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.