If you’re looking for comfort food, Wendy’s chili hits the spot.
Imagine savory ground beef alongside sweet, crunchy bell peppers and onions. The beans, creamy and tender, enrich every spoonful.
Meanwhile, the sauce, with its subtle spice and rich tomato flavor, is the perfect finishing touch.
This hearty, flavor-packed bowl will warm you up from the inside out.
Throw on some ranch oyster crackers and shredded cheese, and you’ll be in Wendy’s chili heaven!
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.
You save some cash making a big pot – way more than you’d get at the restaurant. Plus, you’ll have plenty of leftovers to enjoy!
Also, you’re in control. You pick the beef, the beans, the spices – everything. You can tweak it, taste it, and make it better every time.
Homemade Wendy’s chili isn’t just a meal; it’s your masterpiece in a bowl.
Here’s what you need to make your own delicious Wendy’s Chili right at home.
- Ground Beef – Choose 85% lean ground beef; its fat content adds richness and keeps the meat moist.
- Chili Seasoning – I use McCormick Mild Chili Seasoning, but feel free to choose whatever you like.
- Onion – For that classic aromatic flavor. Use any yellow or white onion for this.
- 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 feel free to use any Rotel substitute you prefer.
- Stewed Tomatoes – Tomatoes bring that rich, distinctive flavor that you can only find in a warm bowl of chili.
- Tomato Sauce – I’m talking about plain tomato sauce here, so don’t confuse it for tomato juice or spaghetti sauce. Juice is too thin, and spaghetti sauce is seasoned, which we don’t want in this recipe.
- 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.
How to Make Wendy’s Chili
Ready to cook up some Wendy’s chili? Here’s how.
1. Brown the beef in a large pot until no longer pink, about 15 minutes.
2. Add the celery, onion, and bell pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.
3. Add tomatoes, sauce, and seasonings. Stir well and break up any large tomatoes.
4. Mix in the beans and bring to a boil.
5. Simmer the chili for 1 hour on low heat.
6. Finish with vinegar. A splash of vinegar at the end brightens the chili, adding a subtle zing.
7. Enjoy your chili hot, maybe with some crackers and cheese on top.
Can You Make Wendy’s Chili in a Crockpot?
You sure can! Just follow these easy steps:
- Brown the ground beef and drain the excess grease.
- Add all the ingredients to a slow cooker.
- Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours.
How easy is that?
One quick tip for cooking in a slow cooker: take the lid off for the last 20-30 minutes to thicken it up.
Tips & Variations for the Best Chili
Get the best out of your Wendy’s Chili with these tips and variations.
- Don’t get teary when chopping onions. Refrigerate them 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.
- Cook the onion separately from the beef. Doing so will bring out the flavor and aroma of the onion.
- Add more spice! Adjust the seasonings or throw in extra chili powder. Or maybe mix in a few minced chipotles or diced jalapenos.
- Add a splash of beer. Like Guinness in beef stew, it’ll give the chili a deep, robust finish.
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.
Try it and thank me later.
The Best Chili Toppings
There’s an endless variety of chili toppings you can use to make this dish pop.
And there are no rules, either, so go nuts!
That said, 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.
- Sour Cream – Adds a creamy texture and helps cool it off.
How to Store
Chili is a fabulous make-ahead meal because it always tastes better the next day.
After a night in the fridge, the flavors and spices will be even more scrumptious.
But whether you’re making it ahead or just have chili leftovers, you need to know how to store them.
To Store: Let the chili cool to room temperature, then transfer it to a sealed container. Refrigerate for up to 4-5 days.
To Freeze: Divide the chili into freezer bags, leaving a bit of space at the top. It’ll stay good in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To Reheat: For the best flavor, reheat your chili slowly on the stove. Stir it now and then until it’s nice and hot.
What to Serve with Wendy’s Chili
Wondering what goes well with Wendy’s Chili? Try these tasty pairings:
- Cornbread: A classic, sweet complement to the chili’s savory flavor.
- Baked Potato: Top a baked potato with chili for a comforting twist.
- Nachos: Spoon it over nachos for a fun, snackable dish.
- Grilled Cheese: Dip a gooey grilled cheese sandwich in the chili.
- Rice: Serve chili over rice for a hearty, filling meal.
More Chili Recipes You’ll Enjoy
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