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Which Fast Food Restaurants Have the Best Chili? 

Are you looking for the best fast food chili? I’ve got you covered!

Believe it or not, chili is becoming increasingly popular amongst fast food chains, so you can get your fix in just minutes.

Some of the best restaurants offering chili include Sonic, Dairy Queen, and Freddy’s.

Lucky for you, I’ve tried them all, and I’m here to share my favorite dishes and combos.

Keep reading to discover the best fast food chili and maybe even find your next favorite meal.


Culver’s

Culver’s is a fast-casual chain of restaurants with hundreds of locations across the US.

It’s a Wisconsin restaurant that’s been around since 1984 and offers burgers, ice cream, and Wisconsin classics like cheese curds.

Visit a Culver’s restaurant near you and try their delicious chili. They call it George’s Chili, after the founder’s father, who perfected the recipe when Craig Culver was young.

The hearty homestyle chili is perfect for a cold day, whether you’re enjoying a bowl in chilly Wisconsin or elsewhere.

It’s a moderately spicy chili con carne with a crunch of celery and onions and a secret spice blend.


Panera Bread

Panera Bread is a bakery and cafe famous for its soups. With over 2,000 locations throughout North America, it’s a popular choice for anyone looking for a fresh twist on lunchtime.

The chain offers bistro-quality baked goods and menu items, from salads to sandwiches.

They use the highest quality ingredients, and their cozy chili is great for gourmet lovers and casual customers. You can order for one or a crowd.

Order the turkey chili at Panera, a filling dish with antibiotic-free dark turkey meat.

It features kidney beans and chickpeas, and the chefs add tomatillos and chiles for a southwestern kick. It’s one of my favorite Panera soups!


Steak ‘N Shake

You might think of Steak ‘N Shake only as a burger place, but did you know they also sell chili?

Consider adding a bowl of spicy chili to your standard burger and shake meal.

Steak ‘N Shake is a fast food chain based in midwestern America, but it has locations worldwide.

If you haven’t tried the restaurant before, I can’t recommend it enough, especially the delicious chili!

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Order your chili in a cup or get a larger serving in a bowl. The recipe features cola for a unique twist of sweetness, and it comes with topping options like cheddar, Jack cheese, and onions.


Wendy’s

Visit Wendy’s for some of the best chili at a fast food place.

wendy's chili cup

The American chain started back in Columbus, Ohio in 1884, and after hundreds of years, it’s an integral part of US fast food culture.

Pick up a bowl of chili and change up your typical Wendy’s meal. I like to get a classic Baconator sandwich and fries, which pairs well with a bowl of chili after a long day.

The chili is spicy, but you can tone it down with a dollop of sour cream. It has a pinto bean base with ground beef and chopped fresh peppers.


Wienerschnitzel

Wienerschnitzel is a hot dog fast food place with many chili options.

The restaurant is the largest hot dog chain in the country, and it’s an American standby many of us grew up with.

Head to Wienerschnitzel and order a chili dog or variation. I like to get a classic chili dog with an all-beef dog and a standard bun. Or, you can customize your dog with a pretzel bun or a Polish sausage.

I also like to get the chili cheese dog, which adds a slice of American cheese.

Remember to check out the junkyard dog, which includes potatoes, chili, and cheese.


Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers

Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers is a hamburger and sandwich fast food chain based in Kansas.

It has hundreds of locations in over 30 states, and I highly recommend swinging by if there’s one in your town.

I like to visit Freddy’s and grab their homecooked chili, an indulgent dish with onions, adobe peppers, and fresh ground beef. It’s not too spicy, with just a hint of sweetness.

Consider adding a side of chili fries to your burger meal. The fries have hearty chili, crunchy onions, and jalapeno cheese sauce, making a warming side for your lunch or dinner. 


A&W

A&W is an American chain known for its iconic root beer. The restaurant serves burgers, chicken, fries, and dessert and is also a great place to get a quick bowl of chili.

The chain hails from California and has served the United States for over a century.

There’s also a Canadian branch where you can get similar menu items.

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Head to your local A&W and try my favorite meal, a hamburger with chili fries.

The chili fries are decadent, with plenty of gooey cheese and mild-flavored beef chili. Also, try the coney dog with chili topping, cheese sauce, and onions.


Firehouse Subs

In 1994, a pair of brothers and former firefighters founded Firehouse Subs.

It’s a fast food shop grown into a nationwide chain, serving sandwiches hearty enough to fight fires with.

The sandwich place features Italian and American subs, salads, and soups, and I like to get a meatball sub with a side of chili when I visit.

Consider adding a side salad to complement the heartiness of the chili.

The chili has a kidney bean base with chopped tomatoes and flavorful peppers.

They use the fresh ground beef they feature in many sandwiches, making the soup hearty, tasty, and filling.


Potbelly Sandwich Shop

Potbelly Sandwich Shop is a smaller chain with a few hundred locations throughout the US.

It’s based in Chicago and started as a sub-style sandwich place and expanded to include milkshakes, salads, and soups.

You have to visit Potbelly and try their iconic chili. It’s unique from other fast food chilis because you can customize it to make it vegetarian.

The chili has a creamy tomato base and uses kidney beans and vegetables for flavor. Order it with or without ground beef. All soups come with oyster crackers on the side.

The soup’s portion is small, so I like to get a sandwich too.


Sonic

Sonic is a burger drive-in with a 1960s feel. Founded in Oklahoma by a WWII veteran, it has over 3,000 locations nationwide and is a staple in many people’s routines.

I like to head to Sonic after a long workday and order one of their iconic chili dishes.

The Chili Cheese Coney is one of Sonic’s oldest and most classic dishes, and it’s a tried and true menu item you can’t miss.

Sonic uses a 100% beef hot dog topped with hot chili. They let you personalize your dog and add toppings like cheddar cheese, relish, onions, or tomatoes. 


Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen, often called the Texas Stop Sign, is a point of Texas pride, but in the past few decades, it’s spread nationwide.

The burger and ice cream restaurant has over 4,000 locations, and there’s bound to be one near you.

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Try Dairy Queen’s Signature Chili, a mild dish with beef, kidney beans, and hints of barbecue.

You can order it in a bowl or atop one of Sonic’s other dishes.

I like to get Dairy Queen’s chili cheeseburger, a beef patty with cheese, chili, and crispy fried onions.

Take advantage of the chili dog, a similar dish with shredded cheddar cheese.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

Follow him on LinkedIn, Instagram, Quora, Google Guide and Facebook.