Salisbury House Chili - Recipe
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Salisbury House Chili Recipe


Salisbury House Chili (Copycat)

There is a local restaurant chain in my city called Salisbury House, affectionately known by locals as Sals – its been around forever. Started during the days of vaudeville when a vaudevillian entertainer passing through town noted that there was no place to eat at 4 in the morning, and saw a business opportunity for a 24 hour diner. He opened one restaurant, basically a shack with a “little red roof” – the roof became the restaurant’s trademark – and, it grew from there. Almost a century later, Salisbury House continues to thrive, and most of them still have “the little red roof”.  Great little diner, with really good food. Their Chili is amazing – best I’ve ever had, anywhere. EVER.  Very unique taste to it.

Salsbury House Winnipeg RecipeNorth Main, Winnipeg.  Photo Courtesy of

Some time ago, I found this in my local paper:

“Grant Frederick had asked if anyone had a clone recipe for Salisbury House chili. Ruth Thomas wrote that she attended a Huron Carole Festival at The Forks in the late 1980s, where Salisbury House was serving chili and handing out the recipe, and she kindly sent me a copy. Thanks also to Florence Bouchard, who had a copy of the same recipe as published in the Free Press a number of years ago”.

Now, between you and me, this ain’t the real recipe. Nice try Sals.  Like they were really going to start distributing the secret recipe for their infamous chili. Yeah, right.  Anyway, its nonetheless a good Chili recipe. Notice it contained brewed coffee – that part is definitely spot-on. I always noticed their chili had a mild coffee taste, but I just  assumed it was from the strong aroma of coffee that always fills their diners. It really is an interesting addition to a chili recipe that adds some very delicious flavour when it blends with the other ingredients.   This photo really doesn’t do it justice – I’ll have to snap another pic next time I’m there (shown here its over top a pork chop with melted cheese – gotta get a shot of it a la carte, or on their Chili Nip. Now we’re talkin’…

Funny thing is, the recipe calls for kidney beans, but truth be told, I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen or detected a bean in Salisbury house Chili – ever. Nice try there, Sals. I do believe its a bean-less chili, so next time I make it, I’m going to omit the beans and see if it brings us a little closer. And its also important to note that this Chili should have a very fine consistency, so no big chunks! Crumble the beef very well and dice ingredients very finely.

Hey, if you’re a local Salisbury House lover, scroll down the page to drop me a comment and let me know you were here 🙂

Salisbury House Chili


1 kg (2 lbs) ground beef
200 g (1 1/4 cups) onions, minced
675 ml (2 3/4 cups) regular brewed coffee
675 ml (2 3/4 cups) tomato sauce
100 g (6 tbsp) tomato paste
35 g (4 tbsp) chili powder
4 ml (3/4 tsp) curry powder
10 g (6 tbsp leaves) oregano
3 ml (2/3 tsp) ground cumin
3 ml (2/3 tsp) ground coriander
500 ml (2 cups) beef stock
30 g (4 tbsp) jalapeno peppers, diced
5 ml (1 tsp) salt
5 ml (1 tsp) pepper
10 g (1 tbsp) sugar
1 kg (2 lbs or 5 3/4 cups) cooked kidney beans
200 g (1 1/2 cups) celery, diced
200 g (1 1/2 cups) green pepper, diced


Brown beef in large heavy pan. Add onion and cook for a few minutes. Add coffee, tomato sauce, tomato paste, chili powder, curry powder, oregano, cumin, coriander, beef stock and jalapeno peppers. Simmer gently for one hour. Add salt, pepper and sugar and simmer for another 20 minutes. Add the beans, green pepper, and celery and simmer for another 10 minutes.

WFP Taste Tester Notes: This makes good chili, but I have to say mine turned out very hot and spicy. I would try using only half the amount of chili powder and jalapeno peppers to start, and then taste after it had simmered for a while and add more at that time if desired.

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  • Dw

    I’ve lived in Winnipeg since the 50’start and Sals no longer serves chili and their famous stew – only once a week. The original Salsbury house chili did contain kidney beans also no jalapeño peppers. Its hard to get fresh jalapenos so use a mix of Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce to taste, with a touch of garlic.

    • Clever Cook

      Thanks for the comment DW. Interesting to know that Sals did originally include kidney beans in the chili. They do still serve Chili on nips and burgers, of course – its their signature trademark. What would Sals be without their Chili Nips! The Sals I go to will also let you order a “side” of just chili (but maybe its because I’ve gotten to know them really well!), so I sometimes buy a bowl to go. Definitely some of the yummy-ist stuff on the planet! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment 🙂

  • REG

    I used to work at a Sals (Main and Matheson) in 1965. There are two chilis getting mixed here.

    There is the chili that was a sauce that was served over fires and hot dogs and burgers, that one does not contain beans.

    There was also the “bowl of chili” with toast that was a different chili that did have kidney beans. It’s more like the bowl of stew type meal that they also used to have.

  • Mike

    I love sals. After moving to Calgary for 10 years, I always make a stop to sals.

    Does anyone happen to know the sals sauce recipe

  • Cecile

    I lived in Winnipeg till I got married in 1961 and moved down east. I now live in Kelowna B C and my sister sent me a similar recipe for Sals chili and I did try it was pretty good. but I have to say hands down this is about as close as one can get to my favourite sals chil. My husband likes beans in his so I put a can of black beans in his hands and put the other half aside for me. I worked at CPR telegraph office as a teletype operator sending and receiving telegrams etc. Loved the job and when on midnites we would go to the Salisbury house at 3 a m and have a chili nip and a choc milk shake for our coffee break. good times really good times. Never could figure out why Salisbury House didn’t expand here in Kelowna people would really go for their food especially the chili nips

    • Clever Cook

      Hi Cecile!

      Thanks for commenting and for sharing your personal memories of Sal’s! Everyone seems to have great memories associated with good times at Salisbury House, often reaching way back into the past.

      Mine are of being a little girl and my mom taking me to Sal’s for chili nip plates, often after a nice shopping trip to Woolco! For dessert she’d get me my favorite chocolate glazed chocolate donut, and once in a while or she’s have coconut cream pie. She’d give me coins to play my favorite songs on the Juke Box. Ah, those were the days. Much simpler times, they were.

      Later, when I became an adult, we used to love to go out to dinner together, but we’d usually go for something more upmarket. Then a number of years ago she began ailing; some of the very last few times we went out to eat together were at Sal’s (on Henderson Hwy), following her doctors appointments.

      Yes, its quite interesting that Sal’s hasn’t expanded beyond Winnipeg, but we still have lots of them here – including many of the original locations, as well as some new ones. The old Red Lobster Restaurant in the Garden City part of Winnipeg became a Sal’s a few years back! So they keep growing, just not beyond the ‘Peg.

      How lucky you are to live in Kelowna, the most beautiful part of Canada in my personal estimation! I expect one day I’ll wind up there myself. But I sure would miss Sals!!!!

      Thanks for stopping by! So glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  • Tim Logan

    Reg is quite right. I worked in mgmt. at Sals for ten years & can tell you he is absolutely right. As far as expansion, at some point in time Sals has had units in Calgary & Edmonton as well as Brandon, Kenora. Selkirk. I believe there were others but can’t recall at this time.I think they just opened one on the OCN.

    • Darren

      Dawn, I’ve tried to replicate Sal’s Sauce many times without success. I buy two containers of it at the Sal’s Commissary every time I’m in the Peg (have three-quarters of a container of it at the moment at my home here in southern Ontario!).

      As best I can tell, it has mayonnaise, ketchup, horseradish, ground black pepper and paprika — it definitely has these ingredients, I’m 100% sure on that much. But I think it may also contain (not 100% sure) butter, dash of Worcester sauce, *possibly* yellow mustard and onion juice.

      I also think the ingredients are combined in a high-speed mixer, because the consistency is quite different from mayonnaise, and it also has a slightly creamy, buttery taste to it.

      This sauce has been around for eons, so it’s going to be made with ingredients that were common back in the day. Hope this helps!

  • Ken

    On my wedding night June 10 1972 we were staying at the hotel that is now the Radisson on Portage Ave downtown. Two blocks over to the east there was a carpark that had a small Sals on the main floor of the carpark. At 1 am my brand new wife sent me to that Sals for the famous Sals chili. Cutting through the back alley I arrived back at the hotel to find the hotel surrounded by fire trucks. I was not allowed to go back up to my room for over an hour while they checked out the fire situation. The chili was amazing ( I ate them both ) but after that night the marriage not so much. I still LOVE the chili.

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