The world of strange, kooky boxed baking mixes intrigues me.

They draw me in with their colorful packaging and wildly varied price ranges. I stand in the baking aisle and try to make sense of their antics: Tie-dyed cake patterns, Auntie Annie pretzel kits, and $7 Milk Bar cookies. Do they taste like the boxes claim and are they worth their price tags?

Unfortunately, I found the Duff Goldman Purple Rain cake and insanely expensive Crumbs Bake Shoppe Colossal Cupcake mixes to be lacking. This time I grabbed a less expensive product that made no claims to be “premium” quality. The Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit Mix called my name during my last Target trip. At $2.24, plus 1/2 cup of cheese and 1/3 cup of butter, I proceeded in the spirit of “What the heck?”

It’s true that we all want what we can’t have. In Mason City there is no Red Lobster in sight and so it doesn’t sound too bad. Believe it or not, a Red Lobster actually went out of business here!

Growing up, my parents stuck to a rotation of three dine-in restaurants for special occasions, none of which included Red Lobster because my mom thought Red Lobster didn’t like it. I wanted what I couldn’t have, so I begged and pleaded to go and they finally took me. I remember it striking me as just “ok.”

I didn’t return to Red Lobster until Jake and I lived in Fargo. It was insanely busy all of the time. Honestly, the food was fine. Ordering Endless Shrimp, however, was most certainly not fine. I got full 1/2 way into my first plate of shrimp, nullifying the whole promotion.

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My first & last endless shrimp experience.

And finally, when I think of Red Lobster, I think of my friend Chelsea. As a high schooler, she once chose to dine here for her birthday. She had always wanted to try eating a lobster. What actually happened horrifies her to this day: The server made her choose a lobster from the tank and give it a name. Then she instructed her to, “Now, say bye-bye. He’s going to boil!” Like many lobsters before him, he suffered a Game of Thrones fate and arrived at the table looking the same, except redder. She’s been a vegetarian ever since.

Frankly, I’m terrified of lobsters. They’re, like, so snappy and pokey. I met my first lobster in culinary school and I’ll never forget this big box of tethered lobsters whose antennas waved wildly from the top.

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But, I digress. The Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit Mix contained one packet of baking mix and a small foil pouch of seasoning. All you need to add is 3/4 cup of cold water, 1/2 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, and 1/3 cup of melted butter.

Preparation is simple. Mix together the baking mix, cheese, and water in a bowl until just combined. Place 1/4 cup scoops of batter onto a greased baking sheet and bake at 350℉ for 13-15 minutes until the tops are golden brown.

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I can’t shred cheese and not think of that scene in Napoleon Dynamite where Kip’s grating a giant brick of cheddar with a tiny little grater.

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While the biscuits bake, I combined the melted butter with the seasoning mix. It smelled like bouillon and tastes of garlic salt.

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The instructions directed me to spoon or brush the butter mixture over the warm biscuits and serve immediately. I ended up with extra butter, so you could get away with only using 1/4 cup.

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And the verdict?

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Pretty dang good. I found this mix to produce an accurate knock-off of what Red Lobster serves in their restaurants. In fact, Jake and I both dare say these taste better. I felt less crazy when a friend informed me that she just made these at home, too, and also thinks they taste better than the restaurant’s.

I didn’t notice anything wild about the ingredients in the baking mix. The list doesn’t list any seasonings or spices and it might actually just be Bisquick. But, somehow, these really do taste like the real thing and possibly better. Having spent $2.24 for the box and adding my own 1/2 cup cheese + 1/4 cup of butter, it’s a relatively cheap thrill, especially since it tastes like the real thing.

Most Red Lobster biscuit recipes do, in fact, call for Bisquick mix. If you already have this on hand, you could try one of these recipes. Bisquick isn’t an ingredient of which I want to keep a large quantity and don’t plan to make them very often, so I’d be satisfied buying an occasional box when the craving hits.