It's Your Money

Your Money: Copycat recipes

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Who doesn't enjoy going out to eat? If the final bill gives you heart burn, no worries.

We found a way to get the same great taste but for less.

We found dozens of websites offering copycat recipes from many of your favorite chain restaurants. But how tasty are the copycat recipes and do they really save you money? We put them to the test.

Armed with three on-line recipes, Chef Cory Goodman whipped up versions of Chipotle's guacamole, California's BBQ Chicken Pizza, and Cheesecake Factory's Oreo cheesecake. We also purchased each item from that chain restaurant and then hit Fayetteville Street, right in front of our Raleigh Eyewitness News Center.

We asked taste testers to compare how the copycats measured up to the restaurant's "real deals."

First up, California Pizza's BBQ Chicken Pizza. One taster said, "I think that one looks a little better." All the tasters thought the California Pizza looked better, but when it came to taste?

One tester said, "I definitely liked this one better." Another said, "It had a bold flavor to it, taste really really good."

Another one added, "This one has more of a gourmet look, but this one definitely taste better." All liked the copycat BBQ pizza better.

How about Chipotle's guacamole? Volunteers liked both and it really came down to preference.

One tester said, "This one I think is garlic and the onions are bigger. This one is better." Abigail Sharpe liked Chipotle's better but Mike Dunlap liked the copycat sample. He said, "I think it's more flavorful."

How about when we compared Cheesecake Factory's Oreo cheesecake with the copycat version? Navery Alston said, "That was ok." The one he was referring to is the copycat recipe, but when he tried the second sample, which is Cheesecake Factory's, he said, "This one is more flavorful and stuff, think whip cream on it, just overall better texture."

But for other tester, they preferred the copycat version. One tester said, "This one taste really good. It's creamier and you can taste the Oreos."

A big question we got, was it cheaper to make the copy cat version?

For the California Pizza, it cost us a little over $13 with tax. With the ingredients the copycat recipe called for, we were able to make two BBQ chicken pizza's for the same price.

As for the cheesecake, one piece from the Cheesecake Factory cost $7, while we made a whole cheesecake for $9.

The price of the guacamole is tough to compare. The copycat recipe we used could feed at least a dozen people, all the ingredients cost us about $7, while Chipotle sells there's in small containers for $1.75 a piece.

Here are some links to find copycat versions of restaurant recipes:

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it's your money, diane wilson
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