Best-Ever Crockpot Chili

Best-Ever Crockpot Chili

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My favorite chili is Wendy’s. Always has been. My chili usually comes out a bit thicker than Wendy’s, though I suppose if you take your Wendy’s chili and cook it a bit longer, it will thicken up. Culver’s chili is comparable, but I think it has more tomato sauce. George Webb has some great chili, too, but they have spaghetti noodles and we’re not making Cincinnati chili today.

I used to work a Wendy’s so, as I’ve mentioned before, I’ll make a lot of Wendy’s copycat recipes here. Some people are grossed out by the method which Wendy’s chooses to make it’s chili. Meat is always cooking during the lunch and dinner rush, but as the rush winds down, not all the meat gets sold before it becomes dry and over-cooked. So, that meat is set aside and cooled, to be cut up and added to the next day’s batch of chili. The chili mix is prepared, the meat added and it simmers all day, so the meat is tenderized and the flavors marry. It is a really long slow-cook process; their chili takes like 3 days to make before it gets served up into your chili bowl at the drive-thru window. I don’t see anything wrong with that at all. I love Wendy’s.

We aren’t going to take 3 days to make this chili, though the process will be similar, and you can absolutely prepare the meat mixture the night before, just like Wendy’s. If you have to go to work in the morning, you just wake up, mix everything together, turn it on low and go to work. Dinner is ready for you when you come home! I would just add and extra ½ c. water before you head out the door, in case traffic or weather is bad and you’re not back in 8 hours time.

This can be cooked in the slow cooker on high for 4 hours, but I recommend adding 2 diced ripe red tomatoes with 1 cup or water or broth and stirring occasionally to prevent burning.

Ingredients are simple:

  • canned tomatoes
  • beans
  • onion
  • pepper (green bell pepper/chili pepper)
  • beef
  • celery (optional)

Today, I’m using up some ground pork, so we’re doing a 50/50 beef/pork blend.

If you cook your meat & dice your veggies the night before, this is a great dump & go crock pot meal.

Just combine the ingredients, and let it slow cook for 8 hours.

Serve it with your favorite toppings.

I like cheese, sour cream and saltines.

If you go Culver’s “supreme” chili style, just add diced red onion.


You can also easily make this into Culver’s chili by using only dark red kidney beans (2 cans), brown sugar instead of white, sea salt and diced banana peppers. It seems like they use more tomato juice as well, so add 2 tomatoes and use 2 cans of diced tomatoes, skipping the can with the green chilies. Use beef broth instead of water, adding a 2nd cup as necessary.

The base of this recipe came from the Hamilton Beach slow cooker recipe book. Mine is … well-aged. Their recipe calls for only 1½ lbs. of ground beef, and 1½ lbs of hot Italian sausage. I’ve made with both hot sausage and sweet sausage, and it was really good with the hot sausage, so you can kick it up a notch and try it that way, skipping some of the extra veggies that come from the Wendy’s chili ingredients.

Lovely leftovers

I love leftover chili! You can just do so much with it! This recipe makes about 20 cups (5 quarts), so unless you’re feeding more than 10 adult people, you’re guaranteed leftover chili, even if some of them return for seconds (or use larger-than-life serving bowls to eat out of).

  • Chili & Cheese baked potatoes (also offered at Wendy’s)
  • Chili-Cheese dogs
  • Chili-Cheese fries
  • Beef & Bean Chili-Cheese Burritos with optional leftover rice
  • Cincinnati chili

Toppings & Sides

Which way do you like it? Make a chili bar, and include hot dogs & brats (or Polish sausage), buns & Chicago dog toppings like American cheese slices, sport peppers & celery salt.

  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese or Monterey Jack
  • Saltine Crackers (or Ritz)
  • Sour Cream
  • Cilantro
  • Diced or sliced onion (white, red or green)
  • Crinkle-Cut Fries on the side for dipping
  • Spaghetti noodles on the bottom
  • Diced green chilies or sliced jalapeño on top
  • Fritos or Cheetos (any flavor)
  • Tortilla chips on the side
  • Tater tots
  • Cornbread

Best-Ever Crockpot Chili

Slow cooker Chili, just like Wendy's.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time8 hours
Course: Lunch, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: American
Servings: 16
Calories: 374kcal
Cost: $22


  • Slow cooker


  • 3 lbs ground beef (not in a tube)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 15-oz can dark red kidney beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 16-oz can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 10-oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes (no salt)
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 c water or broth (beef or chicken)

Chili Seasoning

  • T chili powder
  • 1 T cumin
  • t salt
  • 1 t sugar
  • t garlic powder
  • 1 t onion powder
  • t cayenne pepper
  • ½ t pepper


  • Cook the ground beef in a pan until almost done, then drain & add onions. Season with Worcestershire & tabasco sauce if desired.
  • Continue cooking until no longer pink and onions appear translucent. Remove from heat & set aside to cool slightly.
  • Combine the chili seasoning ingredients in a small bowl & stir to combine. Set aside.
  • Add all ingredients to crock pot, stir to combine, cover & cook on low 8 hours.


% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6.2g8%
Saturated Fat 2.2g11%
Cholesterol 76mg25%
Sodium 363mg16%
Total Carbohydrate 40g15%
Dietary Fiber 9.7g35%
Total Sugars 3.5g 
Protein 39.1g 
Vitamin D 0mcg0%
Calcium 75mg6%
Iron 20mg110%
Potassium 1265mg27%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.
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