Forget fast food. Today, more Americans are lining up at food trucks when they want a quick lunch or late-night snack. With gourmet offerings and creative menus, these mobile dining operations are nothing like the sketchy roach coaches of days past. Food truck chefs are dishing up some of the tastiest cuisine in the country, and some are sharing the recipes for their best dishes. If you want to recreate the food truck experience in your own kitchen, here are seven make-at-home recipes for food truck favorites.
1. Brown Shuga Soul Food’s Smoked Chicken Legs
In Boise, Idaho, Yvonne Anderson-Thomas serves up classic Southern dishes like collard greens, sweet potato pie, and macaroni and cheese at the Brown Shuga Soul Food truck. She shared her recipe for slow-cooked sweet and savory smoked chicken legs with Woman’s Day.
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- Kosher salt
- 6 chicken legs
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 teaspoon molasses
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 clove garlic
- 3 cups wood chips
Directions: In a small bowl, combine the garlic powder, paprika, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Rub all over the chicken and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.
If you have a smoker: Place the wood chips in the smoker according to manufacturer’s instructions and heat to 225 degrees Fahrenheit, then place the chicken on the racks bone-side down and cook, turning halfway through, until the internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit, about 2 to 3 hours.
If you do not have a smoker: Remove the grill grates from one side of a gas grill and heat over medium-high heat. Tear 4 pieces of heavy-duty foil. Divide the chips between two pieces of foil, then sandwich with the other pieces. Fold over all of the edges to seal. Use a fork to poke holes in the top piece of foil. Place one foil package directly on the burner and let cook until the package begins to smoke, about 5 minutes. Let smoke for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low (the package should still be smoking).
Place the chicken on the other side of the grill opposite the foil package, bone-side down (the chicken is on the grill grates over the burners not in use). Cover the grill and cook, turning the chicken halfway through, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, 2 to 3 hours (if your grill has a temperature gauge, try to maintain 225 degrees Fahrenheit to 235 degrees Fahrenheit with the burners not directly under the chicken). If the foil packet stops smoking, replace with the second one, increasing the heat to get it smoking and reducing heat after it has started.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, ketchup, molasses, liquid smoke, and garlic. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Brush over the cooked chicken. Or, if desired, before serving, increase grill to medium-high and grill the chicken, turning and basting with the sauce, until the skin is beginning to char, about 5 minutes.
2. Korean-Style Tacos with Kogi BBQ Sauce
L.A.’s Kogi BBQ truck helped launch the gourmet food truck revolution, serving up sweet chili chicken quesadillas, spicy pork burritos, and other dishes that combine Korean and Mexican flavors. But it’s the tacos (available in short rib, spicy pork, chicken, and tofu varieties) that are the truck’s signature creation. You can create a facsimile of the dish that made Kogi BBQ famous by following this recipe from Steamy Kitchen.
- 1 pound cooked pulled pork or cooked shredded chicken
- 12 corn or flour tortillas
- ¼ cup prepared kimchi, or make your own quick cucumber pickles (recipe below)
- Kogi BBQ sauce (recipe below)
For the Kogi BBQ sauce:
- 2 tablespoons Korean fermented hot pepper paste (gochujang)
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
For the cucumber pickles:
- 1 large English cucumber (or 2 Japanese cucumbers), sliced very thinly
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon finely minced fresh chili pepper
- Generous pinch of salt
Directions: If making your own cucumber pickles, start by slicing the vegetables very thinly (use a mandoline slicer if you have one). Then mix together rice vinegar, sugar, fresh chili pepper, and salt with the cucumbers and store in the refrigerator for about an hour, until ready to serve.
To make the Kogi BBQ sauce, add the fermented hot pepper paste, sugar, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil to a bowl and whisk to combine, until sugar has dissolved. (The sauce can be made several days in advance and stored, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use.)
When you’re ready to make the tacos, mix warm pulled pork or the shredded chicken with the homemade Kogi BBQ sauce. Warm the tortillas, then top them with the meat and the kimchi or homemade cucumber pickles. Serve.
3. PDX 671’s Guam-Style Chicken with Red Rice
In Portland, Oregon, hungry diners can order up Guamanian food from the PDX 671 food truck. The truck combines Guam’s unique cuisine with influences from the Philippines, China, Spain, Japan, the U.S., and other countries for meals that are guaranteed to fill you up. If you can’t make it to Portland to try the truck’s flavorful dishes for yourself, you can try making this filling Guam-style chicken, which is marinated with soy sauce and cane vinegar and served with traditional red rice, at home. Recipe from Saveur.
- 3 cups soy sauce
- 1½ cups cane vinegar
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced, plus 1/3 cup finely chopped
- 2½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup thinly sliced scallions
- 2½ teaspoons crushed red chile flakes
- 2½ cups jasmine rice
- 2 tablespoons ground annatto seeds
Directions: To make the marinade, combine 2 cups soy sauce, vinegar, pepper, sliced onion, and 1 cup water in a large bowl; add chicken and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight to marinate.
Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce: Stir together remaining soy sauce and chopped onion with lemon juice, scallions, chile flakes, and ½ cup water; set aside.
To make the red rice, combine rice, annatto, and 5 cups water in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until rice is tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep rice warm.
Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium-high. (Alternatively, heat a cast-iron grill pan over medium-high heat.) Cook chicken, turning, until browned, about 8 minutes. Serve with rice and dipping sauce on the side.
4. Dogzilla Food Truck’s Dogzilla Dog
Southern California diners can try Dogzilla food truck’s Asian-inspired hot dogs, which are topped with ingredients like teriyaki sauce and yakisoba noodles. Everyone else can recreate the truck’s signature Dogzilla dog, which is topped with avocado and Japanese seasoning and condiments, at home. Recipe from King’s Hawaiian.
- 1 package of all-beef hot dogs
- 2 grilled yellow onions
- 1 avocado
- 1 cup bacon bits
- 1 cup furikake (or substitute your own mix of finely chopped sushi seaweed and sesame seeds)
- Teriyaki sauce
- Japanese mayo
- King’s Hawaiian sweet dinner rolls (you’ll need 3 rolls for each hot dog)
Directions: To create a bun for each hot dog, cut 3 King’s Hawaiian rolls ¾ down from middle (the rolls should still be connected). Slice avocado (you’ll need about 3 slices per dog).
Boil hot dogs for 3 minutes. As hot dogs cook, grill onions in pan. Remove from heat. Toast sides of bun in pan.
Place hot dogs in bun and garnish with grilled onions and avocado slices. Drizzle with Japanese mayo and teriyaki sauce. Sprinkle on furikake and bacon bits, then serve.
5. The Moose Truck’s Lobster Tater Tots
Kansas City diners can pay a visit to The Moose Truck to get their hands on delicious comfort food such as crab cakes, burgers with sweet potato fries, and lobster tater tots served with béarnaise sauce. Ryan Sneed, the truck’s executive chef, shared the recipe for the latter dish with Fox 4 Kansas City.
- 2 pounds Idaho potatoes
- 6 ounces sour cream
- ¾ cup Swiss cheese, shredded
- 2 tablespoons lobster bouillon or lobster base
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 6 ounces lobster meat, cooked and chopped into ¼-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives, minced
- ¾ cup potato flakes instant potatoes
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon tap water
For the béarnaise sauce:
- 20 ounces clarified butter
- 4 tablespoons tap water
- ¼ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 pinch white pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 pinch cayenne
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 fluid ounces lemon juice or tarragon vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, minced
Directions: Bake the potatoes in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 50 minutes or until cooked throughout. Allow to cool. Peel then shred with a cheese grater. Set aside.
In a separate mixing bowl, combine the sour cream, cheese, lobster base, salt, pepper, lobster meat, chives and ½ cup of the potato flakes. Mix gently until dough forms. Roll out into a thin tube and cut into tater tot-sized pieces.
Whisk the egg and water together in a bowl. Dip each tater tot in flour, then the egg wash and then dredge in the remaining potato flakes. Set aside in a single layer until needed. (Can be made a day ahead of time)
To make the béarnaise, melt the clarified butter and set aside. In a separate bowl mix the water, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, white pepper, salt, cayenne, and egg yolks. Heat the mixture over a double boiler until thickened. Do not allow mixture to get too hot, or the eggs will scramble. Whisk while heating. After mixture has thickened, slowly whisk in the clarified butter and the lemon juice. Mix in the minced tarragon. Keep warm until ready to serve.
Deep fry the prepared tater tots until golden brown and then dust with kosher salt. Top with béarnaise sauce.
6. The Dump Truck’s Bacon Cheeseburger Dumplings
The Dump Truck in Portland, Oregon, specializes in both sweet (mixed berry) and savory (potato curry) dumplings. They also make a bacon cheeseburger dumpling that’s sure to make your mouth water. The truck’s chefs shared the recipe with The Cooking Channel, so you can try making your own at home.
- 2 cups medium sharp cheddar, shredded
- 1/3 pound thin-cut bacon, half the fat removed, chopped into ½-inch pieces
- ½ tablespoon kosher salt
- ½ tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ large red onion, diced
- 8 ounces 80/20 ground beef
- 40 wonton wrappers
- Vegetable oil, for frying
Directions: Thoroughly combine the Cheddar, bacon, salt, pepper, and onions in a medium mixing bowl using your hands. Add in the beef and combine well.
Roll out your wonton wrappers. Place a dollop of the filling into the center of each wonton using a tablespoon measure. Fold over the ends to make an enclosed envelope, and then secure by either scalloping or pressing the prongs of a fork into the edge.
Heat some vegetable oil in a saute pan. Place the dumplings in a single layer in a large frying pan (you may need to work in batches). Add a few tablespoons water and heat slowly, covered, until the water has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Uncover and add 1 tablespoon of the hot oil to fry the bottoms of the dumplings.
7. The Treats Truck’s Butterscotch Bars
New Yorkers with a sweet tooth can get their baked goods fix at The Treats Truck, which serves delicious desserts like raspberry brownies, iced cinnamon cookies, and lemon squares. They shared some of their favorite recipes in The Treats Truck Baking Book, where this recipe for butterscotch bars comes from (adapted by Tallgrass Kitchen).
- 1½ cups unsalted butter (3 sticks)
- 4 cups brown sugar
- 4 eggs
- 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
Melt the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan, cooking (stirring frequently) until the butter has a nutty odor and you can see golden-brown flecks. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the brown sugar until smooth. Add in the eggs and vanilla, stirring until everything is combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder until combined. Add melted butter and sugar to the flour, stirring until the flour is incorporated into the mix.
Pour the mixture into the greased pan and bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Note: The bars may not seem to be fully cooked, but if a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean, they’re done. The bars will firm up as they cool.
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