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How to Make Chili that Tastes like What You Get at Wendy’s… Only Better

French Onion Soup

Do enjoy the chili served by Wendy’s but hate waiting in line in the drive-thru only to get a triple Wendy’s burger when you get to the window. Yeah, I quit going to Wendy’s years ago because I had a string-and I’m not making this up, I started counting at one point-of at least sixteen straight trips through the Wendy’s drive-thru where they got my order wrong.

And I’m not talking about orders that involve a lot of weird substitutions, either. I mean the orders I got wrong involved not adding stuff rather than adding different things. I mean, for crying out loud, how hard is to not add ice to a drink, or to make a hamburger with only onions?

Am I crazy, or shouldn’t it be easier to get those orders right. Maybe Wendy’s has improved; I don’t know because I haven’t been to one in at least four or five years. I do miss that Wendy’s chili however. Well, not really, because I know how to make a pretty accurate knockoff of Wendy’s chili.

Only better.

Here is the ingredient list with two omissions that I will get to later.

vegetable oil

red kidney beans

pink beans

tomato sauce

tomato paste

black pepper


chili powder

ground cumin


green peppers

Now, if you want to make chili that genuinely tastes like Wendy’s, then you should add some ground beef. I used to make chili with ground beef. Then I smartened up and now the chili I make, whether Wendy’s based or not, is considered by everyone who has ever eaten the best chili they’ve ever tasted. If creating a chili that approximates Wendy’s in every way appeals to you, then used ground beef, preferably allowing it to set in the refrigerator overnight.

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Don’t ask me why, but this recipe comes closer to tasting like Wendy’s if you follow that last bit of advice. On the other hand, if you want chili that retains a Wendy’s flavor, while having an extra bit of excitement that will have people trying to convince you to enter a chili contest then forget all about ground beef. Indeed, you’ll never make ground chili with ground beef again.

When pushing your grocery cart with the one broken wheel down the meat aisle, bypass the hamburger section and go straight for the stew meat. Get yourself a nice pile of thick chunky stew meat and watch the look on the faces of those for whom you’ve made the chili literally light up and even, possibly, explode.

Now for that second omission and the secret ingredient that turns the above ingredients into chili that will have you thinking you are sitting inside a Wendy’s restaurant on a cold wintry night. The secret ingredient, my friends, is nothing more exotic than a can of French onion soup.

You’ll notice I didn’t give any amount figures in the recipe. That is because there is no secret involved in making great chili. You can’t just say use a 10 ounce can of French Onion soup, or three onions. You’ll have to make it a few times to get it just right, but even on the first attempt you will notice that similarity to Wendy’s chili.