Burger Chili


It’s no small secret that Wendy’s restaurants make their chili with leftover cooked hamburger patties, not that I am trying to duplicate their flavor here. While I don’t choose to make chili from cooked beef, there have been the occasions where I had leftover burgers for whatever reason and have reimagined them into chili. This is also good if you want to make chili but only have frozen meatballs on hand, as you can thaw them and it works the same (provided they are not coated in sauce). You can also use up leftover meatloaf this way, again, as long as it is not inappropriately covered with a conflicting sauce.



  • Cooked hamburger patties (1 pound)
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (15 ounce) can whole tomatoes
  • 1 (16 ounce) can chili beans (or canned kidney beans)
  • 1 cup beer (lager beer can be flat)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (or to taste)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Ground hot pepper (optional)


Step 1

Pulse onion and garlic in food processor until chopped. If you don’t have a food processor, just chop all these manually.

Step 2

Heat oil in a large saucepan and cook onion and garlic until soft.

Step 3

Meanwhile, pulse burgers until they are crumbled; set aside.

Step 4

Pulse tomatoes in juice until they are crushed.

Step 5

When onion is soft, add burger crumbles and crushed tomatoes to the saucepan.

Step 6

Add seasonings and stir.

Step 7

Stir in the can of beans along with the beer and simmer, covered, over med-low heat for about 15-25 minutes to blend flavors and heat through.

Step 8

Serve with crackers or shredded cheese if you like.

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