5 Do-It-Yourself Fast Food Recipes Tested for Accuracy

I've never quite understood the appeal of making fast food menu items at home. The entire point of fast food is that it arrives quickly, with minimal effort on your part. Nevertheless, you can find countless recipes online for just about every menu item from every restaurant imaginable, even the terrible stuff.

We debate some of the best and worst fast food items ever on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...

... where I'm joined by Diana Cook, who runs the Cracked Twitter account and is also the love of my life, and Jeff May, a comic who likes nothing but hockey.

As for this column, instead of talking about overrated fast food, I decided to make some of my own. I tracked down five of the most popular online recipes for famous fast food items and took a shot at cooking them up myself. First up ...

#5. Krispy Kreme Glazed Doughnuts

Bruno Vincent/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The Original:

Let's get the confessions out of the way right up front -- I'm not a fan of Krispy Kreme. I wrote about it a few weeks ago, actually. That said, it's National Doughnut Day, and who am I to spit in the face of that kind of accidental search traffic? So, I guess it's time to make the doughnuts, so to speak.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images
The stupid kind.

For the purpose of this column, I'm speaking about and dealing with the famous Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut. If you show up when they first take a new batch out of the gallons of grease in which they're cooked, employees emerge from the shadows and give out free samples, like crack dealers campaigning for new customers at an after school program. They turn on a red neon sign to let people know that time has arrived, which is appropriate, in that eating a Krispy Kreme doughnut is like whoring your pancreas out to diabetes.

Bruno Vincent/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Krispy Kreme franchises have been dying off at an alarming rate in recent years, though, so those hot doughnut encounters are few and far between these days. If you were the type who'd jump a median at the sight of that hot-treat beacon, learning to make a Krispy Kreme doughnut at home might be your only option.

The Biggest Hassle of Making It:

For brevity's sake, instead of me retelling the entire preparation process, if you're truly interested in the technical details of making your own doughnuts, you should just read the recipe I'm basing this on at some point later when it doesn't involve diverting your attention from me and the important work I'm doing right now.

Instead, going forward, I'm going to use this section to tell you what you really want to know about making fast food items at home, which, of course, is how much of a goddamn hassle it's going to be.

In the case of a Krispy Kreme doughnut, it's a whole lot. The directions involve 24 separate steps, and you could watch pretty much any movie that isn't directed by James Cameron in less time than it takes to make a batch. By far, though, the biggest burden is the dough.

Still more fun to watch than Titanic.

The best invention before sliced bread was bread you didn't have to make yourself, because that shit is a tremendous hassle. Doughnuts are a member of the bread family, obviously, so they're just as much hassle in that respect as anything else.

So, if efficiency is your concern, this is not the recipe for you. If there's no longer a Krispy Kreme in your town, you're just going to have to take heart in knowing that whatever substitute you find will probably be a million times better anyway.

The Results:

Here's the thing: As much as I dismiss Krispy Kreme doughnuts, they're still doughnuts. Provided you can navigate your way through the intricacies of making yeast rise, the rest of the steps from there aren't too labor intensive, and the finished product ... tastes like fried dough covered in a glaze of sugar. That's almost always going to taste delicious. My problem with Krispy Kreme has always been that they put that glaze on everything.

Now I can too!

As standard glazed doughnuts go, theirs is as good as any. The differences in a hot glazed doughnut from place to place are going to be about as noticeable as the difference between $299 headphones and $350 headphones. It's a doughnut. It's as fine as any, I suppose, but definitely not worth the time it takes to make one yourself.

#4. Orange Julius


The Original:

If you're under the age of 30 or so, Orange Julius might be relatively foreign to you. Sure, they're still around in some form or another, but not like they used to be. There was a time when there was an Orange Julius in damn near every mall in America, which is quite an accomplishment, considering that Satan was their mascot for most of the '80s.

Hail smoothies!

Their flagship product is the eponymous Orange Julius drink, an orange-based smoothie concoction that was once available with an optional whole raw egg for added protein, because everything we knew about fitness back then came from Rocky movies.

After salmonella presumably killed off most of their customer base, the chain was bought out by Dairy Queen, and a good Orange Julius has been hard to come by ever since.

The Biggest Hassle of Making It:

If the fall of Orange Julius is something that impacted your life, I have wonderful news. Making your own is absurdly easy. So much so that, as far as hassles go, I'd say the biggest is cleaning the blender when you're done. Everything else is just standard smoothie-making shit. Read how to do it here, if you're so inclined.

The Results:

Following the instructions provided by the Food.com recipe produced an icy, refreshing smoothie-type treat that tastes exactly like children's aspirin.

Now available in adult flavor!

In other words, it was a rousing success. That's exactly what an Orange Julius is supposed to taste like. I'd recommend whipping up a batch for your next '80s-themed party, if you do stupid things like that. Otherwise, just make them whenever you're in the mood. It's a lot less hassle than finding a mall that still sells them.

#3. Red Lobster Cheddar Biscuits

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The Original:

It was announced recently that the Red Lobster restaurant chain would be sold for $2.1 billion. If you're wondering why someone would pay that much cash for the Olive Garden of seafood restaurants, then you've probably never tried their garlic cheddar biscuits.

Red Lobster's only redeeming quality.

They put a big basket of them on every table, as far as my recollection of my last trip to Red Lobster goes. That was sometime in the early '90s, though, so things may have changed. Money is tighter now than it was back then; it wouldn't surprise me a bit if at some point Red Lobster started making people pay extra for these delicious little proofs that "even the blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes" is an accurate rule of life.

In short, these biscuits are the only thing Red Lobster does right.

The Biggest Hassle of Making It:

If there's one flaw in Red Lobster's garlic cheddar-based business model, it's that, much like Groupon, it's absurdly easy to replicate. In fact, going to Red Lobster is way more work than just making these things yourself. Once again, Food.com comes through with a fairly easy-to-manage recipe, if you're into that kind of thing.

In my travels, I've also found that the Pillsbury version you sometimes find in the freezer section of your local grocery store is equally delicious.

Just stop going to Red Lobster is what I'm saying, I guess.

Either way, this is a pretty straightforward recipe that doesn't require too many theatrics. It does call for a wooden spoon, like it's the 1800s or something, but I decided to roll the dice on that being totally optional. Other than that, it's just basic cooking stuff.

The Results:

It might have something to do with my staunch refusal to track down that wooden spoon, but my version turned out a little more ball shaped than biscuit shaped, but whatever, man, they're still delicious. If you're looking to completely immerse yourself in the Red Lobster experience, bake up a batch and serve them piping hot alongside whatever your local grocery store has marked for clearance in the seafood section.

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Adam Tod Brown

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