Steak and Shake 5 Way Chili

Steak and Shake 5 Way Chili is unlike any comfort food you’ve had before. It begins with a rich and flavorful chili made with high-quality beef. What makes it so remarkable is the hearty mix of tender spaghetti, savory onions, and shredded cheese that it’s served with. Don’t pass up the opportunity to make it at home!

Copycat Steak and Shake 5 way chili in a bowl.

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What makes Steak and Shake 5 way chili unforgettable

Steak N Shake restaurant is known for its steak quality burgers.  The burgers are made with all-natural, antibiotic-free, USDA-certified choice beef. And they use that beef for chili in the 5-way style.

The 5 way chili is one of Steak n Shake’s most beloved dishes since it allows for customization and satisfies anyone’s need for comfort food. It combines spaghetti, homemade chili, chili sauce, freshly grated cheddar cheese, and minced onions.

The chili is infused with delicious seasonings such as chili powder, garlic salt, and celery salt. It takes over an hour to cook, which enhances its flavor. The combination of high-quality ingredients and the simmering time is what makes this chili impossible to resist.

Why you’ll love this recipe

You’ll love the versatility and easy cooking methods of this recipe! Although it requires some cooking time, much of it is allowing the chili to simmer.

It’s perfect for chilly evenings when you need something more comforting to satiate your hunger. But it’s also ideal for small gatherings since it makes eight servings, and guests can choose which exact toppings they want.

Better yet, you can modify it further with new toppings to make it your own. Simply use this recipe as a base and add other toppings that you can’t get at Steak and Shake!

History of 5-Way Chili

The first bowl of chili was made in the state of Texas. But it wasn’t until the 1920s when 5-Way Chili was first introduced to the world in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

You simply make your chili and add a series of toppings on top. Kind of like adding cheese or oyster crackers, but these add-ons are unique. They include spaghetti, onions, beans, and cheese.

Here’s how it works:

  • 2-Way Chili = Spaghetti and Chili
  • 3-Way Chili = Spaghetti, Chili and Cheese
  • 4-Way Chili = Spaghetti, Chili, Cheese, and Onions
  • 5-Way Chili = Spaghetti, Chili, Cheese, Onions, and Beans

How to assemble 5 way chili

While the Steak and Shake 5 way Chili may follow most of the original rules, you will follow these rules to put it together.

  1. Place generous helpings of Spaghetti into a bowl or plate.
  2. Add 3/4 cup of chili
  3. Top with 2 tablespoons chili sauce
  4. Next, add chopped onions
  5. Top off with 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack and Colby Cheese


Here’s what you’ll need for the chili:

  • Ground chuck
  • Onion diced
  • Celery salt
  • Tomato sauce
  • Water
  • Light kidney beans
  • Garlic powder
  • Garlic salt
  • Chili powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Tomato paste

Here’s what you’ll need for the add-ons:

  • Spaghetti
  • Onions
  • Monterey Jack & Colby cheese blend
  • Heinz Chili Sauce

Pick up your Chili sauce at your favorite grocery store. It comes in a glass bottle and looks somewhat like the old glass Heinz Ketchup bottles.

Copycat Steak and Shake 5 way chili ingredients on a table.

How to make Steak and Shake Five Way chili

  1. Sauté ground beef and (optional) onions in a skillet over medium-low heat.
  2. Once cooked, drain the beef and transfer it to a medium-large saucepan.
Cooked ground beef and onions in a skillet.
  1. Add tomato sauce, kidney beans, water, and spices to the pot.
Steak and Shake chili with beans being cooked in a skillet.
  1. Simmer for 1 hour, covered with a lid, stirring frequently.
  2. Add tomato paste and simmer for another 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the spaghetti noodles.
  4. Serve the cooked chili over spaghetti with measured chili sauce, chopped onions, and shredded cheese.
A serving of Steak 'n Shake 5 way chili.

Recipe variations

  • Use a slow cooker. If you want to utilize your crockpot, you can slightly adjust the recipe to do so. First, either sauté the meat and onions on the stovetop or use the sauté function on the appliance (don’t forget to drain it!). Then, following the directions, add the required ingredients to the crockpot and cook it on low for 5-6 hours. You can add the tomato paste during the last hour.
  • Substitute the meat. Although the ground chuck is part of what makes this chili so special, you are free to substitute it for something else. For instance, ground turkey or pork!
  • Use a different type of cheese. Try using mild cheddar or even pepper jack to change it up.
  • Swap the spaghetti for a different pasta. Use shells, macaroni noodles, or penne pasta instead for a different look and texture.

How to turn this into chili mac

Steak n’ Shake’s chili mac is comprised of spaghetti, chili beef, and chili sauce. The easiest way to make it is to cook the ground meat with chili powder and other seasonings to flavor it instead of making the entire chili with the beans. Then, layer all of the components: the cooked noodles, store-bought chili sauce, and chili beef.

What to serve with homemade 5 way chili

On top of the chili, you can add other toppings, such as fresh diced jalapenos, sour cream, or green onions. This tastes amazing whether you serve the chili alone or as the 5-way!

Also, you can serve side dishes with it, such as a mixed greens salad. It is pretty hearty, so you don’t need a heavy side. You can also serve any leftover chili with crisp tortilla chips. It’s the perfect light lunch or afternoon snack.

How to store the leftovers

You can either refrigerate or freeze this chili. First, transfer it to an airtight container once it’s cool. Store in the refrigerator for three to four days or the freezer for four to six months.

What is the best way to reheat 5 way chili?

The easiest way to heat individual portions is in the microwave. Cover the bowl with a paper towel and heat it in intervals, stirring between cooking times.

If you want to reheat a larger amount, the stovetop is the way to go! Just make sure to heat over medium-low heat so you don’t burn the bottom.

Lean into chili 5 way and add chili mac

Make a fusion of chili 5-way and chili mac by layering spaghetti, chili sauce, and chili then cover it with toppings. Cook up some extra meat on the side to make chili beef. This makes it extra meaty! Then, you can add with the shredded cheese and raw diced onions.

Copycat Steak 'n Shake 5 way chili in a bowl.

Love Steak and Shake? Try these copycat recipes:

More Chili Recipes

Be sure to take a look at more of my easy soup recipes and the most popular fast food copycat recipes.

What’s your favorite Chili Topping? Let me know in the comments below.  And don’t forget to follow me on Facebook or Instagram or subscribe to my mailing list for the latest CopyKat recipes!

Copycat Steak 'n Shake 5 way chili in a bowl.

Steak and Shake 5 way Chili

Steak and Shake 5 way Chili combines all the flavors of chili with the added bonus of spaghetti. Yes, spaghetti and the steak quality burgers Steak N Shake is known for are the secret ingredients to this comfort food.
4.88 from 25 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Steak and Shake Recipes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 855kcal


Chili Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground chuck coarsely ground
  • 1 1/2 cups onion diced
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 32 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 cup Water
  • 28 ounces light kidney beans
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder plus 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 16 ounces tomato paste

5 Way Chili add ons

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 onion diced
  • 12 ounces Monterey Jack – Colby cheese blend
  • 2 tablespoons Heinz Chili Sauce


  • Please note the onions that are cooked in the chili are optional. You can leave them out. I personally love onions when cooked in the chili. Steak N Shake does not add onions to cooked chili. Chopped onions are served on top of the chili. 
  • In a skillet on medium-low heat saute ground beef and onions. When the beef has been cooked, drain all grease and place in a medium-large saucepan. Add celery salt, tomato sauce, kidney beans, garlic powder, garlic salt, chili powder, pepper, water, and salt, mix all ingredients. 
  • On low heat place a lid on the saucepan and simmer for one hour, stirring frequently. After the chili has been cooking for an hour add tomato paste and stir well. Place lid on the pan and simmer an additional half-hour. Prepare spaghetti as directed and drain. 

5 Way Chili Assembly

  • To assemble: For individual serving: In a shallow bowl or plate place: Generous helpings of spaghetti 3/4 cup Chili 2 tablespoon Chili Sauce Chopped Onions (to taste) 1/2 cup Shredded Monterey Jack and Colby Cheese Mix Top with additional onions to your taste.


  • Chili sauce can be purchased at most grocery stores in the condiment area. It is sold in a glass bottle and looks somewhat like the old glass Heinz Ketchup bottles.
  • Any leftover chili can be placed on crisp tortilla chips for a light lunch or a great snack.
  • Store chili in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.  Re-heat in the microwave.


Calories: 855kcal | Carbohydrates: 89g | Protein: 49g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 114mg | Sodium: 2348mg | Potassium: 1940mg | Fiber: 14g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 2260IU | Vitamin C: 25.4mg | Calcium: 327mg | Iron: 9.4mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Cheryl

    2 stars
    This is a good chili recipe. But tastes nothing like steak and shake. If you add two cans of tomato paste it is terrible. The answer must be somewhere in the middle. I am still working on it. I don’t think chocolate is the answer. As that would make it taste like skyline The prepackaged cans of steak and shake chili have no tomatoes. Is it possible the sauce is the ketchup worsteshire combo?

  2. Lawrence

    Gus belt founder of steak n shake used ingredients all ready in the restaurant, the cola is RC cola, ketchup instead of paste, and chocolate syrup (used in the shakes) not coca powder, on another note: Mac sauce , the catsup is AGED(left over bottles from dining room) and Worcester sauce

  3. Charlotte

    5 stars
    So, after all this commentary and dispute, does anyone have a recipe that REALLY tastes like Steak and Shake? I find it the best chili I’ve ever eaten, especially in the fast-food arena. The liquid/sauce is to die for. I would welcome a recipe that truly hits the mark. It would take me the rest of my life to try all these variations.

  4. Sue Bakalor

    This is not right!! Try this:Steak-n-Shake Chili
    Recipe Ingredients
    2 tablespoons oil
    1 1/2 pounds ground beef
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 can onion soup
    1 tablespoon chili powder
    2 teaspoons ground cumin
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    2 teaspoons cocoa
    2 cans kidney beans
    1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
    1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
    1 cup cola (Coca-Cola, Pepsi or generic)

    Brown ground beef and salt in oil.
    Put soup into blender, blend for 1 minute.
    Add all to a slow cooker. Drain beef and beans before adding to slow cooker.
    Let simmer on LOW for 6 hours or on HIGH for 2 hours.

  5. Christine Johnson

    People Complaining about the Onion’s Obviously haven’t had the 5 way Chili as there are onion’s on top of it.

  6. Mom5

    This recipe is good and is very close to Steak and Shake chili if you don’t add tomato paste. Mine was very close to S n S until the paste was added. The tomato paste ruins it in my opinion. I added a little paprika 1/2 tsp. and 2 tsp. of cumin. When you make this taste it before adding any tomato paste to it. If you need to add some paste a small can would be enough, not two 8 oz cans.

    • Emily

      So the recipe only calls for 1 6oz can of paste – but I agree I think the paste ruins it. This recipe tastes NOTHING like SnS.

  7. Roger Boone

    As a former Steak ‘n Shake manager, here are my comments. 1) Mac sauce as it is known is made a gallon at a time with 1gallon catsup and 1 cup Worcestershire sauce. 2. Meat comes pre made from and frozen in a 1.5 gallon block. The store puts 1.5 bricks in a big pot with 4 gallons of kidney beans and 1gallon water for 3.5 hours. They stir with a paddle periodically. The other halh block goes on the steam table with a cup of water for chili macs and three ways. If I were making the meat, I would be sure to list cummin and chili powder at the top with ground beef and garlic powder. Not much else to it.

      • Julie Thimyan

        Just made it. And it wasn’t chili Mac sauce. Yuck. And I used 1 cup of ketchup and 4 tablespoons of Worchester sauce I mixed it up and I made the noodles and I put some on top and it didn’t taste nothing like the sauce that they have at Steak and Shake

      • Stephanie C.

        Hi Julie, The proper ratio for the sauce is 1 Tbsp Worcestershire to 1 cup of Ketchup since there are 16 cups in a gallon.

    • Romi Bobo

      Thank u so much. I use to work at The Olive Garden and We would Swap food with Steak N Shake. And i asked one of the delivery guys what was in the sauce on a Chili 3 way and he said ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Thanks for the extra info. ????

  8. burrlywool

    Hugh Steak and Shake fan and this was VERY disappointing…… I’ve made other recipes from this site and they were great, but this one wasn’t even close.

  9. irish54

    secret is, instead of chili sauce, use equal amounts of ketchup & Worchester. However, I sometimes taste while putting together sauce. I worked there for 24 yrs.

  10. Honeybee

    I agree this is a chili recipe and it probably is delicious. BUT it is not a kopy kat receipe for Steak and Shakes chili recipe. I am a avid copy kat in the kitchen and the main two ingrediants that set S n S chili apart from the rest are not even included in this recipe.

  11. Sue Bushong

    we went to your resturant today and i ordered a cup of was the smallest cup i ever burgers are good , but forget the chili

  12. Sue Bushong

    we went to your resturant today and i ordered a cup of was the smallest cup i ever burgers are good , but forget the chili

    • Debbie

      We got Steak n Shake take out yesterday. The chili was excellent but the bowl was so tiny and only filled half full. I poured into my 1/2 cup measuring cup and it was a little more than half of that. My guess we got 6 level Tablespoons of chili at the most. A total rip off.

  13. Sue Bushong

    we went to your resturant today and i ordered a cup of was the smallest cup i ever burgers are good , but forget the chili

  14. Derek

    Exactly how is this going to be Steak and Shake Chili when their chili has ABSOLUTELY NO onions in it?

    I know, for several reasons. The main reason is anyone that has actually eaten there can see no onions plain as day.

    As my Sicilian friend once said: “Onion. The main ingredient used by cooks that want to cover up the taste of their bland creation.”

    If you think about it, it’s not far from the truth. Not to rant, but in Italy you’ll find a distinct lack of onions in most of their sauces, North or South.

    • Stephanie

      You know, according to their ingredients you must be correct. , they do serve a lot of their chili with the onions.
      I do not agree with your comment that onions only cover up bad flavor. I would not be certain what French Onion Soup would be covering up, I know, maybe bad beef broth. Any remarks that tend to knock out whole relms food/situations are best thought up from people who can only see in black and white.

      • Good cook 19

        I agree with you on this. I love onions and onion flavor in most of my foods. I’ve even considered chocolate coverd onions. Individuals who dont have their minds open to new flavor options should probably stay away from most restaurant cooking especially Italian foods. How sicilian Chefs got into this im not sure. Chili is as american as it gets taking its roots from Chuck wagon cooks on the trial trying to server hot food that wasnt spoiled. Even they took advantage of wild onions found along the trail as fresh vegetables, and im sure at some point they were used in the chili as well as wild mushrooms. I guess our friend here relies totaly and completely on his recipes for the succesful results in his kitchen. Frankly I can cook and regularly change the ingredients in my recipes according to what is available in my refrigerator at the time. I do this because I understand the value of a recipe. It is the guidline to success or failure based on the talents of the person using it at the time.

4.88 from 25 votes (19 ratings without comment)

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