If you love Wendy's chili then you'll love this homemade recipe. This chili is meaty, thick flavorful. Chock full of vegetables, beef and beans. A hearty lunch or dinner that's easy to make! Bell peppers, celery and white vinegar set this recipe apart.
★ Why You'll Love this Recipe ★
A big pot of chili is perfect food for the cooler months. It's a great dinner or lunch.
Our family loves to make a big pot on weekends. It's a favorite meal for football Sundays. You can make a big pot, put on the game, and everyone can help themselves as they get hungry.
This recipe is inspired by Wendy's chili. I like the flavor and the thick yet soupy broth. I like how they give you a packet of "hot chili sauce" to add.
What sets Wendy's chili apart is the use of celery and bell peppers. These two ingredients add a layer of richness of flavor (and nutrition!) to your chili. Win-win!
★ Ingredients You'll Need ★
This may look like a lot of ingredients. And it is! Because really delicious chili requires lots of layers of flavors.
The good news is, the cooking process is very simple o once you gather your ingredients and do a little chopping, it's just 2 steps from there to cook the chili.
Here's everything you'll need:
- Ground beef or turkey. I like to use half and half but you can go all ground beef or all ground turkey if you'd like.
- Onion. A white or yellow onion will provide the most flavor. You can use a red onion too but I prefer to add that raw, as a topping. Up to youthough. It's not a deal-breaker either way.
- Celery. This is a popular ingredient in many soups. So it just makes sense to add celery to your chili although many people don't. Know who does though? Wendy's! I think this is one of the secrets to their unqiue flavor of chili.
- Green bell pepper. Here's another staple to Wendy's chili that many people skip when making chili. Bell pepper adds a fresh, earthy flavor that compliments and cut through all the meat giving you a less greasy tasting chili in my opinion. You can use any color bell pepper, but keep in mind the yellow, red and orange varieties are much sweeter.
- Diced tomatoes. Just a can of diced tomatoes will do.
- Condensed tomato soup. I like to use tomato soup rather than tomato sauce or tomato puree because it has extra flavors built in. It's also sweetened so you don't need to add any extra sugar to combat the acidity of all the tomatoes.
- Dark red kidney beans. These are for texture! Not all chili is made with beans, but I prefer my chili with beans. Leave them out if you do not.
- Chili beans. These are a softer texture and come packaged with chili spices. You can leave these out but I recommend including them for heartiness and maximum flavor.
- Chili powder. The signature spice of this hearty soup. You can adjust the amount to your own liking.
- Paprika. This is a subtle pepper which compliments the bell pepper and adds a touch of smokiness to your chili.
- Garlic powder. I like the taste and texture of garlic in powder form but you can use any kind of garlic — minced, paste, or fresh. Just sauté it with the onions and celery if using raw garlic so it's not too much bite.
- Cheddar cheese. A wonderful garnish that tastes as good as it looks.
- Red onion. This sweet and mild onion makes a nice topping to add crunch and spice. The color also looks really nice!
- Frank's hot sauce. If you love heat, add some to taste!
- White vinegar. This gets added right before serving to really add zing!
- Salt and pepper. Add to taste if desired. For even more flavor, try sea salt.
The Secret Ingredient for the Best Chili
This "secret sauce" is actually just white vinegar! Vinegar, when added right before serving, brightens and enhances all the flavors, really elevating your chili and making each bite "pop" with flavor!
If you look at the ingredients of Wendy's hot chili sauce pack, it's just vinegar and some paprika, which we are adding right into the chili.
★ Tips & FAQs ★
The recipe below makes a big batch. You can double it if you're feeding a large family or you want leftovers for lunch.
I actually make extra because I love making burritos from the leftovers!
If that sounds good to you, check out my recipe for making delicious 5-Minute Cheesy Chili Burritos
This chili freezes well for quick dinners or freeze individual sized servings for lunches. Try freezing in a freezer-safe glass container like this one for easy reheating.
★ More Recipes You'll Love ★
Want more easy dinner ideas?
View all my dinner recipes here. Be sure to Pin your favorites for later!
Chili with Beans and Peppers
- 1 lb ground beef or turkey or 1lb of each
- 1 onion diced
- 1 rib celery chopped
- 1 green bell pepper chopped (optional)
- 14 oz can petite diced tomatoes
- 10.75 oz can condensed tomato soup
- 15.5 oz can dark red kidney beans drained
- 15 oz chili beans not drained
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- shredded cheddar cheese to taste
- chopped red onion to taste
- Frank's hot sauce to taste
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar 1 tablespoon per bowl
- 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste
- Brown turkey and/or beef in a dutch oven with diced onion, celery and green pepper over medium heat. Cook and stir for about 6-10 minutes or until onions are translucent.
- Add tomatoes, beans, and spices. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer. Cover and simmer on low for a 1 hour. Stir occasionally.
- Spoon into bowls and stir in vinegar right before serving. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Top with shredded cheddar cheese and diced raw onions as desired.