The Best And Worst Fast Food Chilis To Order - Mashed (2024)


The Best And Worst Fast Food Chilis To Order - Mashed (1)

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ByKorey Denton/

For many people, chili is the epitome of comfort food. It's filling, flavorful, and hearty, and it can be made quickly or slowly simmered over the course of several hours. Chili is certainly a beloved dish all over the United States, but it can take a lot of time, planning, and shopping to make (think of all the cans of beans, meat, seasonings, and produce you have to buy — and that's not even including the toppings). It's fair to say that chili can even be a little stressful to make, especially if you're cooking for a large number of people or are in a hurry.

When you aren't up to making it yourself, there are plenty of restaurants that serve it on their menu. And if you don't have time to swing into an actual sit-down restaurant, fast food might be your only option. While it might not be the first place you think of for satisfying your fix, some fast-food chilis are pretty tasty. That said, there are also more than a few places we would recommend avoiding for this particular order. Whether the chili is served as a dish all on its own or on top of french fries, hot dogs, or baked potatoes, some versions are best left uneaten. If you want to know which fast-food chilis are worth your time and which aren't, you've come to the right place.

Best: Culver's

Culver's is definitely more of a regional-based fast-food joint, so don't be surprised if you've never been to one. But the next time you're somewhere with a Culver's, you might want to make time to stop by. If not for the burgers or custard, then for the chili. Fans know that the fast-food spot is actually very proud of its chili, so as you might expect, it's one of the best versions out there. According to Culver's, George's Chili is a "medium-spicy chili con carne made with simmered homestyle beef, diced tomatoes, dark red kidney beans, peppers, onion, and celery, along with a secret blend of peppery spices." That obviously sounds delicious, but is it really?

Yes! Customers love Culver's chili, and they make that clear on Reddit. Whether you eat it on its own, with fries, as a side, or with a grilled cheese sandwich, it's one of the best out there. The vegetables and seasonings really take this chili up a notch. In fact, it's more akin to something you would expect to find at a sit-down restaurant or even in someone's kitchen after they spent hours cooking. That's exactly the vibe you get with Culver's chili: practically homemade but at fast-food convenience and price.

Worst: Dairy Queen

We all know and love Dairy Queen for its various frozen treats. The Blizzard is obviously a classic, but there are also tasty ice cream cakes, bars, drinks, and more. And then there's the food menu, filled with fast-food favorites like burgers, fries, and chicken tenders, and a few more creative options like pretzel sticks and chili cheese dogs. Now, plenty of fast-food joints serve decent chili cheese dogs, but Dairy Queen is not one of those places.

In fact, the chili cheese dog might just be the worst thing on the menu at Dairy Queen. Food reviewers forBusiness Insidertried the chili cheese dog, and the consensus was declared that it was pretty awful. One taste tester even said that it was the worst fast-food item they'd ever eaten, which is saying a lot. The barely noticeable amount of chili the employees ladled on top of the hot dog was one ofits negative qualities. The chili at Dairy Queen is seriously nothing to write home about, on the contrary, it's better left avoided. It's mild, watery, and overall just highly disappointing. Chili is not something that Dairy Queen does well, so next time you're craving it, steer clear.

Best: Wendy's

The Best And Worst Fast Food Chilis To Order - Mashed (4)

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The best fast-food chili out there should probably come as no surprise to anyone who's had it before. Say what you will about Wendy's chili, but there's no denying the fact that it's flavorful, filling, and loaded with so many vegetables, beans, and meat that it's honestly impressive. What's more, Wendy's chili really leans into the tomato flavor, making it taste pretty fresh considering where you're ordering it from. And while many will tear down Wendy's chili, saying it's made with leftover meat from the previous day or that body parts are regularly found in it, that's simply not the case.

It's no secret that Wendy's chili is an iconic part of the menu, and according to the chain, it serves over 83 million portions of the stuff each year. It was actually one of the first menu items back when it originally opened. And if you've ever had it, you won't be surprised to learn that the chili is so tasty that a rumor of a Wendy's employee winning a chili cook-off after bringing chili from work may very well be true.

People really love Wendy's chili. As one Twitteruser put it, "Wendy's chili with cheese and onions slaps. It's been one of the few constant fast food items that have existed across my lifetime that has never failed me." Simply put, Wendy's has the best fast-food chili, bar none.

Worst: Firehouse Subs

When you think of a sandwich joint, you probably don't think of chili at all. But when the spot in question is themed as a fire station and offers Firehouse chili on the menu, your expectations might rise just a little. After all, a Firehouse chili sounds pretty appetizing, doesn't it? We're imagining awarm flavorful bowl of chili with just the right amount of kick, But is it, really? As it turns out, not so much. Though Firehouse Subs describes its chili as being "made from the finest ingredients," including ground beef, diced tomatoes, kidney beans, and onions, it turns out the result is not as tasty or hearty as claimed.

Though the subs might be good, the fast-food restaurant's chili is lacking. It doesn't have much flavor, and it's certainly not worth the price tag. "Firehouse Subs chili ain't it," one Twitter user put it. Other reviews note the lack of price value too. Clearly, the chili at Firehouse Subs isn't anything to write home about, nor is it really very good at all. With poor flavor and texture, it doesn't have much going for it. Yikes, that definitely doesn't sound like a dish you would want to spend money on.

Best: Braum's

Another fast-food spot whipping up great chili is Braum's. The chain is only located in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Arkansas, and Missouri, but if you ever find yourself at the establishment then it's definitely worth trying the chili. For starters, Braum's chili sounds like it's pretty fresh and amazing. "We start with 100% pure beef, and then we add beans, tomatoes, jalapeños, and our special blend of herbs and spices then we serve it with a side of cheese and sour cream," Braum's describes, noting that you can also ask for onions to add extra flavor.

Not only is this chili packed with goodies, but there's a really good balance of spicy and savory elements. The texture is equally great — not too watery but also not so thick that it feels difficult to eat. One Twitter user described it as "pretty darn good," which is high praise for a fast-food chili. Seriously, Braum's chili tastes like something you'd have at your mom's house on a crisp fall evening. At Braum's, it's served for a good price, and with a lot more side options and ice cream than your mom probably has.

Worst: Sonic

Sonic Drive-In has a lot going for it. Its drink menu is huge, with an almost infinite amount of combinations and creations to make with the offerings. The food menu also contains a lot of items you won't find at your typical burger joint, either. That said, not everything on the menu is top-tier, and one dish that's really not the best is the chili. Most of the chili at Sonic is served as a topping, and that might be the best thing about it.

Sonic's chili truly tastes like the worst brand of canned chiliyou can find at the supermarket. It's way too salty, there's no depth of flavor, and there are no beans (which some people might actually like, but beans are necessary if you want your chili as a hearty meal). Additionally, Sonic's chili tastes like it's been sitting out all day, instead of slowly simmering as the spices come together. In fact, the spices are actually pretty easy to miss it's so bland. It tastes old, stale, and downright bad. The only way it's kind of enjoyable is on top of tater tots, and to be honest, pretty much anything tastes good with tater tots.

Best: Steak 'n Shake

If you've never been to a Steak 'n Shake, then you're seriously missing out. Not only does the chain serve burgers made with steak, but its milkshakes, chicken tenders, and so much more are also incredibly tasty. The menu is pretty small, so you might be surprised to learn that chili is there along with burgers and fries. Even better, it's served up in two signature ways (alone or as a pasta dish) and is consistently one of the most popular menu items.

People certainly rave about the chili, too. Steak 'n Shake's chili is so popular that the chain even released a canned version so that you can enjoy it at home whenever you want. Fans appreciate the canned chili just as much: "I love Steak 'n Shake chili [with] beans. They are amazing. Great taste. I highly recommend and I would definitely buy it again," one Influensterreviewer commented. "Steak N' Shake chili with beans has the perfect level of heat for me, and is mild and easy to eat. The chunks of beef are large and meaty and delicious, and the beans are plump and perfectly cooked. Every spoonful is bursting with beef and beans and sauce!" another customercommented. Clearly, this chili is pretty good.

Worst: Wienerschnitzel

You might think that a place known for selling hot dogs would at least offer a decent chili to ladle on top, but that's not the case at Wienerschnitzel. In fact, the chain's chili is pretty bad. And while it might serve to satisfy your craving for a minute or two, you'll soon realize that it was so not worth it.

Specifically, a review from Brand Eating described the chili as too salty and wateryto actually enjoy, and a Twitter user said thatthey'd rather just eata plain mustard corn dog instead of dealing with the chili again. Yelp reviewers described the chili as bland and lacking in flavor, and some noted the chili dogs barely even had any chili on them. Those aren't exactly rave reviews, but they check out. Wienerschnitzel isn't the place you want to go when you're craving chili, even if you just want chili on a hot dog, hamburger, or french fries.

Best: Panera

Most people associate Panera Bread with soups, salads, and sandwiches, as well as pastries and assorted bread, of course. But the chili is a soup option that's surprisingly hearty, delicious, and full of flavor. Though Panera's chili is made with turkey instead of beef, it features the same traditional ingredients as most recipes, including kidney beans, tomatoes, onions, and spices. It is also loaded with chickpeas, edamame, and tomatillos. With all of those flavors mingling, it's no wonder people are obsessed with the chili.

Panera's turkey chili is so good that the brand even sells it pre-made at select grocery stores. And people love that chili, too: "If I could give it 10 stars I would, when I first tried this chili I didn't even know it was turkey chili but I'm happy I still tried it because it's the best permafrost chili I've ever tried," one reviewer wrote, adding, "I mean of course it's a bit better when it's fresh from Panera but it's still great when it's store bought." Basically, if you're looking for a lighter chili that's still flavorful, Panera is the place to go.

Worst: Whataburger

One of the most beloved burger joints inTexas is Whataburger. The chain serves up delicious burgers and chicken 24 hours a day, making it the perfect spot any time you're craving a burger or breakfast sandwich. And while it would make sense for the burger joint to also sell chili (a staple to most Texans), it wasn't until 2022 that it started serving it up on french fries ... though that might have been a mistake. The chain really hyped up this new menu item, but it's now clear that it wasn't meant to be.

"We're answering the call from Whataburger fans loving the new Chili Cheese Burger and requesting chili cheese fries," Rich Scheffler, Whataburger Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, said in a press release. Unfortunately, the fries weren't a hit and aren't even on the menu anymore. What's more, one TikTok videowent viral for criticizing the chili cheese fries as being poorly portioned. People in the comments seemed to agree that the new dish was an immediate disappointment. One user even claimed to be an employee stating that the chili sits out for hours. Yikes, that's definitely not something you want to eat, and it's a good thing the item was removed from the menu.

Best: McAlister's

McAlister's is a great place to grab a sandwich, salad, or even a baked potato. But you might not know that the chili is also pretty impressive. People online love McAlister's chili, and if you've ever tasted it then you understand why. It's savory, hearty, and exactly what you want from a chili. Vegetarians will be glad to know that McAlister's also offers a veggie chili, allowing them to experience the hearty flavor without the meat.

Still hesitating? Then take a look at this rave review, because it's sure to sell you on the dish: "Their chili is straight-forward awesome," the customer explained. "As you know, chili can be made 100 different ways — I've had dozens of styles at numerous chili cook-offs. But for my money, I prefer the old-fashioned style I get from McAlister's." There you have it, McAlister's chili is loaded with flavor and tastes like something your grandma would make. What more could you ask for?

Best: PotBelly

Another great fast-food chili hails from PotBelly. While the chain might be best known for its delicious sandwiches served on fresh bread or its tasty cookies, the chili takes the cake in terms of the best menu items. Filled with beef, beans, peppers, and spices, PotBelly's chili might not sound like anything special, but it definitely is. In fact, it's so delicious, that a taste test from Insiderfood reviewers revealed that PotBelly's chili was preferred over Wendy's version. Now, not everyone would agree with that statement, but at the very least, the two are definitely on par. A bowl of chili from PotBelly is hearty, fresh, and has a thicker consistency more akin to what you'd make at home.

Chili fans online agree that PotBelly's chili is seriously impressive. So the next time you find yourself near the fast-food spot, don't be afraid to give the chili a try. It might not be what you typically order from the chain, but it's actually one of the best fast-food chilis out there. And for the price and convenience, it really doesn't get better.

The Best And Worst Fast Food Chilis To Order - Mashed (2024)
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