Copycat Applebee's Wonton Tacos Recipe

chicken wonton tacos on plate
chicken wonton tacos on plate - Patterson Watkins/Mashed

If you're anything like recipe developer Patterson Watkins, then there's a good chance you've enjoyed Applebee's wonton tacos at some point in your life. After being discontinued from the Applebee's menu in 2020, these fan-favorite apps did find their way back onto some location's menus; for those who still can't nab the tacos near them, this copycat recipe will help fulfill your crispy wonton taco dreams.

"Applebee's was on to something with this appetizer," Watkins quips, though truly, these are some tasty little tacos with quite a bit of flavor complexity going on. "I like the combo of sweet and savory, sweet-chili chicken marinade and creamy-tangy-herby slaw find some nice balance in this recipe," Watkins explains, also highlighting an unexpected slaw ingredient — pickled ginger — which really takes the tanginess levels to new heights.

In case you, too, can't get enough of these fun little Asian-inspired tacos, then this copycat Applebee's chicken wonton tacos recipe is exactly what you're looking for. With a little ingenuity and some clever manipulation of wonton wrappers, you can make the appetizer right in your own kitchen, and perhaps you'd even be inclined to pair them with other popular Applebee's appetizers while you're at it.

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Gather The Ingredients For Copycat Applebee's Wonton Tacos

ingredients for wonton tacos
ingredients for wonton tacos - Patterson Watkins/Mashed

There are a few components that make up these tacos — the marinated chicken, a tangy slaw, and the crispy wonton shells. For the chicken and marinade, you'll need olive oil, sweet chili sauce, hoisin sauce, garlic, and diced chicken breasts. Meanwhile, mayonnaise, rice vinegar, honey, lime juice, chicken or soy-flavored ramen seasoning, broccoli slaw mix, scallions, cilantro, pickled ginger, and sesame seeds make up the bulk of the slaw. To make the taco shells, you'll use wonton wrappers and two types of oil -- olive and sesame.

Looking to make these tacos but aren't big on chicken? You can easily swap out the protein for a seafood-inspired or meatless sub. Watkins suggests both lobster and shrimp for a seafood option, and notes, "Tofu would work really well with the marinade too, if you are looking for a meatless option."

Step 1: Mix The Chicken Marinade

raw chicken and chili marinade
raw chicken and chili marinade - Patterson Watkins/Mashed

Place chili sauce, hoisin, and garlic in a medium bowl, stir to combine.

Step 2: Mix In The Diced Chicken

raw chicken mixed in sauce
raw chicken mixed in sauce - Patterson Watkins/Mashed

Add chicken to the bowl and stir to coat.

Step 3: Cover And Marinate

covered bowl of marinating chicken
covered bowl of marinating chicken - Patterson Watkins/Mashed

Cover the bowl or transfer the marinated chicken to a zipper baggie and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Step 4: Mix The Slaw Dressing

dressing in bowl
dressing in bowl - Patterson Watkins/Mashed

Meanwhile, place mayo, vinegar, honey, lime juice, and ramen seasoning in a large bowl, and whisk to combine.

Step 5: Add Slaw Ingredients

unmixed slaw ingredients in bowl
unmixed slaw ingredients in bowl - Patterson Watkins/Mashed

Add slaw, scallions, cilantro, ginger, and sesame seeds to the bowl, and stir to combine.

Step 6: Cover And Refrigerate The Slaw

covered bowl of slaw
covered bowl of slaw - Patterson Watkins/Mashed

Cover the slaw and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Step 7: Preheat The Oven

oven preheated to 400 F
oven preheated to 400 F - Patterson Watkins/Mashed

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Step 8: Cover Pan Edges With Foil

pan with edges covered in foil
pan with edges covered in foil - Patterson Watkins/Mashed

Drape sheets of foil over the edges of a 13x9-inch baking dish. Set aside.

Step 9: Combine Oils

oil in small bowl
oil in small bowl - Patterson Watkins/Mashed

Combine the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 teaspoons of sesame oil together.

Step 10: Brush Wonton Wrappers With Oil

oil, brush, and wonton wrapper
oil, brush, and wonton wrapper - Patterson Watkins/Mashed

Brush the wonton wrappers on both sides with the blended oil.

Step 11: Drape Wonton Wrappers On The Foil

wonton wrappers draped on pan
wonton wrappers draped on pan - Patterson Watkins/Mashed

Drape the brushed wontons over the foil and place in the oven.

Step 12: Bake The Wontons

golden wonton wrappers on pan
golden wonton wrappers on pan - Patterson Watkins/Mashed

Bake the wonton wrappers for 6-8 minutes or until crisp and golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool and harden (about 10-15 minutes).

Step 13: Heat Oil In A Skillet

oil in cast iron skillet
oil in cast iron skillet - Patterson Watkins/Mashed

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Step 14: Add Chicken To A Pan

marinated chicken in skillet
marinated chicken in skillet - Patterson Watkins/Mashed

Once hot, add the chicken and any residual marinade to the skillet.

Step 15: Cook The Chicken

cooked chicken in skillet
cooked chicken in skillet - Patterson Watkins/Mashed

Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until cooked through. (Reduce the heat if you start to notice the marinade scorching).

Step 16: Begin Assembling The Tacos

chicken taco, chicken, and slaw
chicken taco, chicken, and slaw - Patterson Watkins/Mashed

To assemble the tacos, gently remove the wonton shells from the foil, and fill each with 2-3 tablespoons of chicken.

Step 17: Add The Slaw

chicken taco with slaw
chicken taco with slaw - Patterson Watkins/Mashed

Top the chicken with 2-3 tablespoons slaw.

Step 18: Serve The Wonton Tacos

wonton tacos and sauce on plates
wonton tacos and sauce on plates - Patterson Watkins/Mashed

Serve with some additional sweet chili sauce and lime wedges on the side, if desired.

Copycat Applebee's Wonton Tacos Recipe

wonton tacos and sauce on plates
wonton tacos and sauce on plates - Patterson Watkins/Mashed

Can I Make These Copycat Wonton Tacos Spicier?

chicken wonton tacos on plate
chicken wonton tacos on plate - Patterson Watkins/Mashed

While these tacos do have a slight spice kick to them thanks to the chili sauce in the chicken marinade, they lean more heavily on sweet, tangy, creamy, and herby flavor profiles. Of course, that doesn't mean that you couldn't up the heat should you desire it, and Watkins has a few suggestions for how to do that. The first option is to finely dice up some jalapeño peppers and toss them into the slaw mix, which will add both spice and extra crunch.

Or, you could make the chicken spicier by way of the marinade. "You could spike the marinade with some additional fire, some sambal or sriracha," Watkins suggests. She also notes that, while the sweet chili sauce she uses in the marinade isn't too spicy on its own, they do make hotter versions. So, if you want that extra kick of heat, you could look out for a spicier sweet chili sauce so as to avoid adding any extra ingredients to the mix.

Finally, you could add a little kick of spice by way of garnish. "I think crushed wasabi peas could make for a nice spicy garnish too," Watkins tells us.

Do I Need To Use The Foil When Baking The Wontons?

wonton wrappers on baking sheet
wonton wrappers on baking sheet - Patterson Watkins/Mashed

You may be tempted to skip the foil-lining step of this recipe, because after all, how important could it be? As it turns out, that foil is quite crucial to maintaining the structural integrity of the wonton wrappers as they bake, so it's a step that you really don't want to skip. "We want our shells to be somewhere between a U and a V, in shape," Watkins explains. "The foil helps preserve and create that shape (being that those pesky wontons really want to fold in on themselves)."

The consequence of not using foil is that your baked wontons might fold in on themselves, meaning you won't be able to stuff them and, if you try to anyway, they'll break apart. "What I did, was to make a sort of fat tent of foil around the edge of my pan (where it flairs out a bit near the bottom)," Watkins advises, and she also warns against extending the foil past the bottom of the pan, otherwise it might snag on your oven racks.

Can You Make Any Part Of These Wonton Tacos In Advance?

chicken wonton tacos on plate
chicken wonton tacos on plate - Patterson Watkins/Mashed

Though there is a possibility for both making parts of these tacos in advance and keeping leftovers, Watkins does highlight that it's a bit tricky. You can make the wonton shells in advance, but no more than a day in advance, else you'll be left with either stale or soggy little taco shells. "I would store the cooked and rested shells on a wire rack, uncovered, and at room temp until you are ready to assemble," Watkins says.

As for the chicken marinade and slaw, there's a little more wiggle room. As Watkins explains, "The marinade and the slaw dressing can be made in advance, I would just avoid adding the chicken until you're ready to proceed (these ingredients have some acidic properties that might make your chicken a little mealy if you let it marinate for more than an hour)."

Finally, should you find yourself with some leftover chicken, you'd be best off repurposing it for a different meal as opposed to making day-old tacos. "If you find yourself with leftover cooked chicken, this would make for a great Asian salad topper, same goes with any leftover wonton shells (crushed up and sprinkled over a salad)," Watkins suggests.

Read the original article on Mashed.