7 Takeout-Inspired Recipes

by Abby Montanez

Since the majority of us have been cooking at home—three meals a day/seven days a week—the odds of wanting to order out is pretty high. Sometimes, the energy just isn’t there to think of a creative dinner or maybe you just want to treat yourself. It’s easier, and that’s ok. But, I will challenge you in saying that you can cook up something equally as tasty as your favorite restaurant with these takeout-inspired recipes. 

What a home-cooked version of your favorite takeout-inspired recipes allows for is control. Control over things like seasoning, texture or ingredients. You can take Kung Pao chicken and use cauliflower instead. Swap fried foods for oven-baked. You could also just try your hand at recreating classic meals like a Smashburger or pizza. Here are seven takeout-inspired recipes to get you started. 

1. Kung Pao Cauliflower

“Sharing my healthier twist on a classic Chinese dish with this Better Than Takeout Kung Pao Cauliflower. Oven-roasted cauliflower tossed in a sweet, spicy, and sticky kung pao sauce. I’ve swapped the chicken for nutrient-packed cauliflower, and replaced the deep frying with oven roasting. This kung pao cauliflower is the perfect healthy, but still delicious, alternative to the traditional heavier sugary version. It has a quick 30 minute cooking time and uses pantry staple ingredients. Making this recipe perfect for any night of the week.”Recipe by Half Baked Harvest

Half Baked Harvest

2. Rigatoni with Easy Vodka Sauce

“Before you convince yourself there’s no way that a little onion, tomato paste, and cream can come together in mere minutes to make one of the best homemade pasta sauces you’ve ever had, hear us out. Better yet, make this recipe for yourself. Just try and use double-concentrated tomato paste, which packs more flavor than the standard stuff.” – Recipe by Basically


3. Falafel

“I pride myself on being a curious person in the realm of cooking so it’s pretty pathetic that I had falafel all worked up in my head as this highly complex thing and never once, you know, read a few recipes. Had I, I’d have learned many extremely cool things about falafel such as the fact that while you do need to start with dried chickpeas (come back!), you don’t even have to cook them, or not in the classic long-simmered way, to make it. You soak them overnight in cold water, grind them up with seasonings and herbs, pack them into spoonfuls, fry them in less than an inch of oil in merely a few minutes, and that is it. There’s no egg. There’s no breading. It’s vegan, it’s gluten-free, it’s dirt cheap, and it’s easy, I mean criminally easy, to make.” – Recipe by Smitten Kitchen

Smitten Kitchen

4. Smash Burger

Like most everyone else, we can’t seem to get enough of the smash burger, with a lacy griddled patty (or two, actually, to maximize that crispy exterior). But, like drinking an Aperol spritz, cooking it is best done outside. Our grilled version won’t smoke out your kitchen, blanket your stove with grease, or ask you to spend even one more minute of this sweet summer night indoors. We found that a three-ounce patty hits the sweet spot: big enough to fill out the bun when smashed but small enough that two patties aren’t overkill.” – Recipe by Epicurious / Bon Appetit

Epicurious / Bon Appetit

5. Sheet Pan Tso Cutlets & Broccoli

“If I ever met General Tso, I would thank him for his sweet, spicy sauce and share my deep respect for completely besting practically everything else on the Chinese takeout menu. I would, however, explain that I modified his genius creation to eliminate the greasy frying and replace it with equally crunchy oven-baked cutlets and broc that, in my opinion, deserve a place in his army. The sauce is tangy and sweet, thanks in part to two condiments you may get mixed up sometimes. So here’s what you need to know: Mirin is a thick, sweetened rice wine from Japan you can find right in the Asian aisle of the supermarket. Rice wine vinegar is tarter, thinner, and more puckery.”  – Recipe by Chrissy Teigen

takeout-inspired recipes


6. Pizza

Eating pizza is a national pastime. Making pizza? It’s one of the best ways get the entire family involved in cooking. Plus, getting your hands on dough can be calming and creative…What I really needed was Philly’s pizza maestro Joe Beddia. He talks through all the nuanced details in his excellent book, Pizza Camp: Recipes from Pizzeria Beddia (Abrams Books, 2017), with wisdom designed to lead home cooks on the path to pizza success, all the better with practice. It might not be long now before I line my oven Beddia-style with terracotta tiles.” – Craig LaBan, recipe adapted from Pizza Camp by Joe Beddia.

takeout-inspired recipes


7. Coconut Chicken Tikka Masala

“If you often find yourself heading to your favorite local Indian spot for curry, you need to try this Coconut Chicken Tikka Masala. It’s likely healthier, has incredible flavor, and can be made using only a handful of pantry staple ingredients…that you may even have on hand. My secret is to blend up a quick homemade yellow curry, which becomes the base flavor. I also add coconut milk to the chicken, which keeps the masala creamy. It adds a hint of coconut flavor, which I find to be really nice with Indian cuisine. AND…the flavors get even better the next day, meaning leftovers are especially delicious!” – Recipe by Half Baked Harvest

takeout-inspired recipes

Half Baked Harvest

Let us know what other takeout-inspired recipes you’d like to see!

Main image by Half Baked Harvest

About the Author/s

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Abby is The Digest's Managing Editor. She spends her time looking at dogs on Instagram and eating her way around Jersey City.

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1 comment

Lori Foster Harvey May 12, 2020 - 3:05 pm

These look fabulous! I can’t wait to try 1, 2 and 7!


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