REVIEW: Wendy’s Canned Chili

Fast food sneaks into the grocery store with varying degrees of success. Taco Bell’s range of products, from shells to sauces, are mostly fine. Arby’s frozen curly fries? Awful. In olden times, before I got sober, it was pretty hard to beat White Castle’s frozen cheeseburgers after a night spent over-imbibing. (The real thing would be the preferable choice, obviously, but we haven’t had them in my market for a couple of decades now.)

I’ve never been a regular consumer of Wendy’s chili. I’ve had it a few times on top of a potato, sure, but it’s never anything I’ve specifically set out to consume. But now that it’s available in canned form, I felt like I needed to have both. And that I should taste them side-by-side. Blindfolded, in fact, to see if I could tell which was which.

Is a blindfolded taste test a little elaborate for a can of chili? No. No, it’s not.

The first one I tried was thick and meaty. There were plenty of beans and a moderate amount of seasoning. It was salty, but not unbearably so. There were no discernible chunks of tomato, but the base was plenty tomato-y with a slight tang. If you’re into heat, this one won’t do much for you; I’ve received kisses from my grandmother that were spicier than this.

The next chili was much thinner than the first. Soupy, even. The meat chunks were few and far between. There were large, acidic pieces of stewed tomato. The base was sweet with just a little hint of heat. Despite nearly everything else being entirely different, the beans were identical to the beans in the first bowl.

So, two very different chilis allow me to say this: if you dislike Wendy’s chili, you might still like the canned version. Conversely, if you love Wendy’s version, don’t necessarily expect to love the canned variety, too. You might, you might not.

But the moment you’re all waiting for — which chili was which? The first chili — the meaty, seasoned one that I enjoyed quite a bit — was the canned version. The runny bland one was the ACTUAL Wendy’s chili.

Is this a shocking revelation? Perhaps not. Handmade chili from a human Wendy’s person is liable to vary in quality; AI chili made by a robot and canned by a machine is bound to be more formulaically standard. But this isn’t a bad thing. I’d definitely buy the canned chili again, but the other one? I feel no such compulsion.

Purchased Price: $4.42
Size: 15 oz can
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per 1 cup) 280 calories, 12 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 1040 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar (2 grams of added sugar), and 17 grams of protein.

12 thoughts to “REVIEW: Wendy’s Canned Chili”

  1. Great review. The only real stumbling block here for me is the price. $4.50-$5 for the canned Wendy’s versus $2 for Hormel. The Wendy’s is good but not enough to justify double the cost. For me anyway.

    1. Right there with you. I was excited for this product when I first read about it a couple of months back, but then I saw the price point. It’s just too expensive.

  2. I do make chili from scratch at home. Honestly it’s not that difficult. Brown beef, add veggies (celery & onion), add canned tomatoes (sauce, stewed, and diced). Add spices and hot sauce. Simmer for an hour. Done.

    Also it’s very flexible can go to vegan route and use plant based ground “beef”

  3. I hate Hormel chili but buy it for quick nachos or chili dogs. I make my chili for a main course meal. I knew which chili was which when you mentioned watery/runny; I only get chili if getting a taco salad. I will give the can a try , though. Great review.

  4. As I was reading along, I swear: I totally (and accurately) predicted that the meatier, more seasoned one was the canned version. Obviously, counter-intuitive (at least it is, generally speaking)…but, yeah.

    As an aside: To my recollection, I have never had Wendy’s chili before (and I love chili, in general). Go figure.

  5. As a regular visitor to Wendy’s and a large chili with every meal that I eat there, I found the canned version to NOT taste anything close to the restaurant version. Because I eat there regularly FOR the chili, this was an upset. There was a lot of expectation on my part about the taste but I did not think that it would have a totally different taste than the restaurant-style. I understand that a robot made it and canned it and some additives go into that process for preserving but still, I buy Taco Bell products in the supermarket because they taste like Taco Bell.

    It is an edible chili, but I will not purchase another can because I will not be paying for “Wendy’s Chili”, I will just be overpaying for a can of chili.

    1. Agreed. But honestly the Taco Bell products are no different than buying Ortega or one of the others they all pretty much taste the same. I was really hoping I could make Taco Bell stuff at home with the meat that tastes just like Taco bells but I guess they’re not going to give us that LOL

  6. Just had my first can of Wendys Chili. I can’t believe no one else mentioned the weird taste that it has. I can’t describe it, but it ruins what could have been a solid contender in the canned chili wars. Sad that I bought two cans. Not anxious to try it again.

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