When White Castle opened its first doors in Wichita, Kansas in 1921, it quietly began a dining revolution in America. It took a few decades for fast food to really get on a roll: McDonald’s, the first to translate assembly line practices found in car factories into kitchens, opened what would become the modern iteration of the famous hamburger joint in 1948. Soon after, other restaurants were taking note of McDonald’s success and pivoting their restaurants to mimic the standardization and processes. Burger King, Carl’s Jr., Taco Bell, Arby’s, Chick-fil-A, and Wendy’s came into their recognizable forms in the following decade, and ever since have dominated suburbs and freeway pitstops.
Fast food has come to represent broader issues facing Americans. Fast food is cheap, meaning it’s an essential source of calories for the millions of Americans experiencing food insecurity. For parents and caregivers working long hours, finding time to cook a meal can be difficult to impossible, with the convenience of fast food providing an easy source for dinner everyone in the family is happy with. Most fast food is high in saturated and trans fat, sugar, and sodium—without much if any of the good nutrients the human body needs.
Fast food is also tasty—the result of all that fat, sugar, and sodium, not to mention the food science that goes into making burgers juicy and fries crispy. So beloved are some fast food staples that many people try to recreate them at home. With access to simple recipes via the internet and popular cooking shows on television, Americans can whip up their favorite spicy fried chicken sandwiches, breadsticks, and taco concoctions at home. An added benefit is that buying ingredients from the store will drastically cut down on the fat, sugar, and sodium levels of the same meal at a fast food joint. The downside? Well, you have to make it yourself.
Stacker hunted for the recipes that make it easy, scouring lifestyle blogs and cooking sites to find copycat recipes from the top 20 most popular fast food restaurants. Read on for recipes to make chicken nuggets, pizzas, crunchwrap supremes, and more, all in your own kitchen.