Wendy’s Chili is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. It’s like a warm hug on a cold day. Just a few spoonfuls can turn your day around.
But you don’t have to leave home to get that classic Wendy’s flavor. You can make this Copycat Chili Recipe in your very own kitchen. With plenty of leftovers to enjoy.
In fact, I think it’s even better on day 2. There’s just something about how the flavors meld together overnight. Top it off with some shredded cheese, sour cream, bacon, tortilla chips, and you’ve got a new family favorite.
So, let’s get to it, shall we?
Tips & Tricks for Making the Best Chili
First on my list: bacon. You can never go wrong with bacon. Throw in a few strips to add texture and flavor to your chili.
Now, if you have a little extra time on your hands, you can also cook the onion separate from the beef. Doing so will bring out the flavor and aroma of the onion. Cooking the onion together with the beef tends to just steam it rather than saute it.
If you want to add a little extra heat to your chili, you can always season it with more spices. And just because it’s called chili doesn’t mean you can only use chili powder.
Why not add some minced chipotles or diced jalapenos to your dish? These spices will kick things up a notch.
To make things even more interesting, add in a splash of beer. Doing so will give your chili a more robust flavor.
For this last variation, I need you to have an open mind. If you want to enhance the flavor of your chili, a small amount of either dark chocolate, cinnamon, or strong coffee works wonders.
Add cinnamon or coffee at the same time as the other spices. But if you’re going for the dark chocolate, add it in with the tomatoes and let it dissolve into the dish. You can thank me later.
Ground Beef – For this recipe, it’s best to use beef with low fat content. Ground turkey is an excellent low-fat alternative if you’re looking for a healthier option. Be sure to brown the beef first before adding other ingredients.
Chili Seasoning – My seasoning of choice is McCormick Mild Chili Seasoning, but feel free to choose whatever you like.
Onion – Just one will do. I like to wear a thin pair of gloves to avoid smelly hands. But you can also rub your hands and the cutting board with a slice of lemon.
Want to reduce the tears? Place your onions in the fridge for 30 minutes before chopping. Or if you’re like me (always in a rush), you can do 10 minutes in the freezer. Works like a charm.
Beans – The kidney beans bring a sweeter quality to the chili, while the pinto beans give it a creamy texture and an earthy flavor.
Diced Tomatoes with Green Chili – My favorite is Rotel, but any other brand will do.
Stewed Tomatoes – Tomatoes bring that rich, distinctive flavor that you can only find in a warm bowl of chili. You can use fresh tomatoes if you prefer, but I find the canned just make my life easier.
Tomato Sauce – I’m talking about plain tomato sauce here, so don’t confuse it for tomato juice or spaghetti sauce. Only tomato sauce will do.
Green Bell Pepper – Be sure to take out the pith and all the seeds!
Vinegar – Its acidity will heighten the flavors of the other ingredients. Balsamic vinegar works great, too.
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 1 green bell pepper (chopped)
- 3 (14 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
- 1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chiles
- 1 (14 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 cup water
- 2 (1.25 ounce) packages chili seasoning
- 1 (14 ounce) can kidney beans (undrained)
- 1 (14 ounce) can pinto beans (undrained)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 Tbsp White vinegar
1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
2. Place the ground beef in the pot. Press down the beef to form one large patty. Let the bottom brown for 8 to 10 minutes. Use a spatula to break up the beef into bite-size crumbles. Cook until no longer pink. About 5 more minutes.
3. Stir in the celery, onion, and green bell pepper and cook until onion is translucent. Should take around 5 minutes.
4. Pour in stewed tomatoes, diced tomatoes with green chiles, tomato sauce, and water. Break up any large pieces of stewed tomatoes. (You can also run the stewed tomatoes through a food processor before adding if you like.) Stir in chili seasoning.
5. Add in the kidney beans and pinto beans. Salt and pepper to your desired taste. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. Mix vinegar into chili.
Source: Just Like Wendy's Chili
The Best Chili Toppings
There’s an endless variety of toppings you can put on your chili. No rules. But here are some of my personal favorites.
Shredded Cheese – I like the 4 Cheese Mexican. A combination of Monterey Jack, Mild Cheddar, Queso Quesadilla, and Asadero cheese.
Tortilla Chips – Adds an extra crunch and a bit of saltiness.
Avocados – I could put this on just about anything. And it’s pretty darn healthy!
Bacon – Adds a rich, smoky flavor to your chili. And a nice crunch.
Tomatoes – This one is a bit more unusual. But I love a few fresh-cut cherry tomatoes on my chili.
Salsa – I’m not sure what’s wrong with me but I can never get enough salsa.
Sour Cream – Adds a creamy texture and helps cool it off.
Can You Freeze Chili?
Sure you can! You can store chili for up to 3 months in an air-tight container. Just be sure to let it cool to room temperature first before placing in the freezer.
The History of Wendy’s Chili
If you’ve read this far, I assume you’re a fan of Wendy’s Chili. We can be friends now. But have you ever wondered how and when it all began? Well, here’s a little history lesson for you.
The first-ever Wendy’s restaurant opened its doors on November 1969 in Columbus, Ohio. Its famous chili has been on the menu since day one. That’s four decades of warm, spicy goodness.
But did you know? The beef in Wendy’s famous chili is made from leftover burger patties. That’s part of what gives their chili that distinctive flavor.
But, how did Wendy’s came up with the idea? Well, burger joints almost always have unused leftover burgers at the end of the day. So instead of throwing those out, Wendy’s used them for chili. The rest is history.
Can You Make Wendy’s Chili In a Crockpot?
You sure can! Brown the ground beef, drain off the oil, and then add all the ingredients into a slow cooker. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours.
It’s a perfect meal for winter nights, game days, and get-togethers.
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