Wendy’s Chili (Copycat)

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Wendy’s Chili copycat made with kidney beans, onions, chilis, bell peppers and tomatoes with a spicy chili powder and cumin spices. The perfect copycat!

Wendy's Chili copycat made with kidney beans, onions, chilis, bell peppers and tomatoes with a spicy chili powder and cumin spices. The perfect copycat!Wendy’s Chili is a no brainer now that the weather is cooling down in a hurry. This copycat recipe is actually so spot on that when I tested it on an unsuspecting family member who loves it she replied, “If you got Wendy’s where is my FROSTY!!”

Sadly, I had not made a Wendy’s Frosty for her, but the chili is in fact a very spot-on copycat. Plus I love serving it with my Jalapeno Popper Cornbread Muffins.

Wendy’s Chili seems like it would be a tough recipe to make, but honestly the most difficult part is waiting for it to cook low and slow. In fact here are some tips and tricks for making this the PERFECT chili recipe.

  • Add in a tablespoon of butter at the end of cooking. It helps mellow flavors and provide the best texture. It adds a richness with minimal calories (it is only 1 tablespoon for the whole pot!).
  • Cook on a “simmer” which is lower than “low” usually. Cooking on a simmer is just the smallest of bubbles.
  • If you find your chili doesn’t look the same as below you may have the heat on too high so too much water has evaporated or on too low and too much water is remaining.
  • If you’re nervous about cooking it uncovered just stir more frequently. You’ll be able to feel if any of the chili is sticking to the pot.

Slow Cooker Wendy’s Chili Recipe?

  • Brown the beef before adding to the slow cooker. Add in the rest of the ingredients and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

An amazing Wendy's Chili Copycat!

Looking for more soups?

Looking for more copycat recipes?

The ultimate chili, JUST like Wendy's chili and perfect for your gameday crowd!

Tools used in the making of this Wendy’s Chili Copycat:
Cast Iron Dutch Oven: Great heavy bottomed pan is amazing for low, even cooking and high quality for not a lot of money! Plus the lid is a second pan!
Pot Strainer: MY LIFESAVER. I strain everything in a pot through this and it is SO MUCH easier than a colander. Perfect for cooking 1 pot meals.
Pinto Beans: I also use this variety with jalapenos when I don’t want to go to the store for fresh jalapenos.
Kidney Beans: My favorite for salad toppings too, this variety is my favorite.


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Wendy’s Chili (Copycat)

  • Yield: 12 servings
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
  • Course: Main Course
  • Cuisine: American
  • Author: Sabrina
Wendy’s Chili copycat made with kidney beans, onions, chilis, bell peppers and tomatoes with a spicy chili powder and cumin spices. Taste like a perfect copycat!


  • 2 lbs ground beef 85/15
  • 29 ounces canned tomato sauce
  • 29 ounces canned kidney beans not drained
  • 29 ounces canned pinto beans not drained
  • 28 ounces canned tomatoes chopped (not drained)
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 1 diced jalapeno de-seeded and de-veined
  • 2 stalks celery chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon butter


Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. In a heavy bottomed stockpot brown the ground beef.
  2. Drain the fat.
  3. Add in the rest of the ingredients (except the butter) and bring to a boil.
  4. Lower to a simmer and cook uncovered (please keep at a simmer level) for 2 hours stirring occasionally.

  5. Add in the butter and stir until fully melted and incorporated.
  6. Serve.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 12 servings, Amount per serving: 358 calories, Calories: 358g, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 22g, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 56mg, Sodium: 1259mg, Potassium: 1048mg, Fiber: 9g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 10.8g, Vitamin C: 25.2g, Calcium: 10.8g, Iron: 29.4g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keyword: Wendy's Chili (Copycat)
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Wendy's Chili copycat made with kidney beans, onions, chilis, bell peppers and tomatoes with a spicy chili powder and cumin spices. Taste like a perfect copycat!
An amazing Wendy's Chili Copycat!

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    1. Loved it. Except for not draining the beans. Which means you’re leaving the ingredient that causes gas.. I have cooked many chili recipes, , as a firehouse cook. That’s how I know.

  1. This looks exactly like Wendy’s chili. Can’t wait to try this. I am really loving the fact that this only calls for 1 Tbsp of butter for the entire recipe.

    1. I did a side by side taste test and thought it was spot on but if you’d like to add garlic powder, definitely go for it! Enjoy!!

    2. If you want garlic powder, then by all means add some. You’re making the chili. Make it the way you like it. A recipe is a guideline for you to have a place to start. NOBODY has ever said that Wendy’s is the expert on chili. Personally, I drain the beans and add Beef broth, then simmer to reduce the liquid. (Tomato Paste will thicken the chili when added at the end.)

  2. Just made this for supper. I made it in the crock pot and just added half he chilli powder and 3/4 the cumin. It was delicious.i didn’t spice it as much because I have picky 3 year old. I just added till it was flavorful but not too much. My son still wouldn’t eat it. My husband he really liked it.

    1. It may seem like a lot but after a side-by-side taste comparison, that’s the correct amount to get the right flavor. Enjoy!

  3. My daughter loves Wendy’s chili, so I thought I would give this a try. It is SO much better than the one that I have made in the past. If you want it to taste like Wendy’s, though, I would suggest leaving out the jalapeno. It gives way too much heat to this – Wendy’s doesn’t have any kick/burn to it, and this was so hot I barely could eat it.

  4. How would you go about making accommodations to the recipe if the beans were omitted? That would reduce the amount of liquid so do I add more tomato sauce or water, and how much?

    1. Omitting the beans wouldn’t make it a Wendy’s copycat so I would recommend following a different chili recipe. Sorry.

    1. I haven’t tested using one so I’m not comfortable giving a recommendation. You might be able to find a recipe online with similar ingredients and use that as a guide. If you decide to try, I’d love to know what worked for you. Thanks!

  5. Made this for supper last night..and it was a huge hit! The only thing I forgot to do was add the butter at the end.
    What did we miss by forgetting to add it?
    This will be our new go to Chili Recipe

  6. Okay I never ever comment on anything really but this recipe is SOOOOO good that I needed to leave a comment 🙂
    I had tried two other chili recipes before finding this one and they were okay.
    But this- this recipe, I’ve made it 3 times already and it is just so delicious and comforting.

  7. This chili is extremely good!! It tastes very similar to Wendy’s chili but the first time I made it i found it’s too thick & “tomatoey” & not a thinner broth like Wendy’s is. So I did tweak a few things & now it tastes EXACTLY like it! So here’s my changes: If you don’t like jalepenos like me or don’t have one, I used 2tsp of banana peppers, minced fine, as well as added 2T of the juice to the browning hamburger when I added the onion & celery. Another tip is after I’ve scooped off the extra off the hamburger, I add my all my seasonings now so it can work into the burger & give it a good flavor on its own instead of tasting like boiled meat in soup. Then I add my tomatoes (that I’ve diced even smaller) & let it cook the tomatoes down slightly (I don’t like big chunks of tomatoes but love the flavor). I usually remove a 1/2 c or right here & eat it! It’s so good, i use this exact recipe up till here’s for taco meatballs sometimes) I add 2tsp of paprika also. Next I add the beans, I drained, so I didn’t need to use as much salt. I added 2T of sugar to counter the acid of the tomatoes. I diced my gr pepper fine also as we don’t like big chunks. The last big change was instead of just. 1 cup of water, which leaves it too
    thick thick, I added 6cups of water w/2tsp of beef base so it’s like adding beef stock/broth. You can’t taste it but it adds a really good deep flavor.. THen i brought it to a boil & reduced it to med-loan for a simmer corn 2hrs. NOW it tastes exactly like Wendy’s!!

      1. Sabrina I must say you are a better person than me. I absolutely love your recipes, but I don’t understand how one can give your recipe 5 stars when that person created a totally different recipe. I will never understand that if the person recreating a recipe doesn’t submit it to a place like all recipes rather that posting on a blog.

      2. I have to say after rereading my comment, it sounds like I completely reworked it! Lol but I didn’t, truly! Just adapted it to our tastes & thought maybe others might have the same likes. I dislike it when someone totally redoes another’s recipe on their page ..it’s rude so please forgive me if it seems like I did that!! Take care & happy cooking!! I follow your recipes/posts so can’t wait for more good ones!! ?

        1. No worries! I know that everyone has different tastes and I think at times it is helpful to know how others have tweaked the recipe.

    1. I like your suggestions and will adjust this recipe after I’ve made it according to original recipe. Sometimes tomato sauces need that little bit of sugar to balance out the acidity. I also like paprika in my chili. Last time I made a copy cat recipe for Wendy’s Chili I didn’t like the beans added with the juices. It made it taste thick and pasty. So this time I will drain them but not rinse them. Hoping this all turns out well for my “Chili Night” party I have planned in a few days.

  8. I have tried several chili recipes over the years and my husband has never liked any of them. A few weeks ago he said he likes Wendy’s chili so I tried this. I used a little less chili poweder and he loved it. (So did I). Next time we may add another jalapeño because we both like heat but it was great the way it was. It is easy too!
    Thanks Sabrina!

  9. This looks like the recipe to try for sure. the only question i have is, does you have to use a slow cooker for this recipe? the reason i asked is because my girlfriend is an impatient eater and i like to have dinner done by the time she gets home. i wonder if i can use a pot but slowly cook it over time.

    1. This recipe is written in the recipe card as a stove top version. I think you’re a wonderful boyfriend to have this ready for her.

  10. I made this recipe exactly as instructed. No changes. Results are in from the family. Drum roll please ????

    My sister said it is even BETTER than Wendy’s! Boom!? Bro-in-law said delicious and not too hot… just right. Other bro said he wants to take the left overs home! Needless to say, this recipe was a big hit in our house. Thanks for sharing this recipe. ? Wish I could post a pic but I can’t see where this site allows it.

    1. You just made my day!!! Thank you so much for taking the time to come back and let me know what a hit it was with your family, Terry! You can always post your pics on Instagram and tag #dinnerthendessert 🙂

  11. Not a fan of heavy cumin flavour so I only used a teaspoon, otherwise followed the recipe to a T and it was perfect! Thanks so much 🙂

  12. I made this chili for the first time today. My husband loved it! He said “That is darn good chili”. Will definitely make this again.

  13. I love to cook which inspired my oldest son to become a chef. I totally love this recipe for chili. Not only is it tasty but so easy to put together compared to the one I have been making for umpteen years. Thank you so much for sharing. Much better than the one from Wendy’s.

    1. Go ahead and use all of the can to make it easier. It’s chili, so that extra bit isn’t going to make much of a difference. 🙂

  14. My husband made an odd request for chili recently.. he said he’d like to have some like Wendy’s. So I just made this chili (omitted the celery) and OMG! It is soo delicious! I made a pan of sweet yellow cornbread and my,my, my… Yum-my.
    Thank you for sharing
    This is gonna be a family favorite

  15. Ewwwww so nasty I didn’t like it this is soooo fake fake fake does not even taste the same !!!!!!! !!! …….. JK it was amazing

      1. Hi Sabrina! I made the chili in my crockpot tonight. Great flavor.. you are spot on. However mine was a tad bit watery. I left the lid on the crockpot. Should I have taken it off for the full 4 hours? Think it will get thicker as leftovers? Thanks!

        1. If it was too watery, you may have had the heat too low. Next time, try and increase the temperature just a bit and that should help evaporate some of the water. The lid should stay off the entire time. Hope this helps! Glad you enjoyed it.

  16. This recipe is amazing! I made it for a chili potluck at work and it was the first to go. I love Wendy’s chili but to me this doesn’t take anything like it. Nevertheless, this is a wonderful recipe. I have a pot simmering as I type. This will continue to be my go to chili an at home chili recipe. Thank you for sharing!!

  17. I just made this chili today. I loooooove Wendy’s chili and this tastes so much like it. I’ll definitly be making it again. One thing I did was but the tomatoes with peppers in them and still added the jalapeño. It made it more spicy than I was hoping for but it is still delicious!

    The recipe is super easier and makes a lot of chili.

  18. I’m a big Wendy’s chili fan. Now I won’t have to go to Wendy’s to get my chili fix. It was so easy to prepare – just dump the cans in and chop up a few vegatables. It was hard to wait the two hours to simmer. Delicious! Thank you

  19. This chili is really good. I agree it doesn’t really taste like Wendy’s, however I added 1 Tbsp sugar and substituted beef broth for the water and it’s much closer! I think it needs more green peppers to match Wendy’s. I’m going to try that next time. Yes, next time. I love this recipe!

  20. I have to say, I am not a huge fan of chili. My partner, however, LIVES for it. Especially during football season l. I’ve tried multiple recipes but this is THE WINNER. He’s as happy as a pig in sh*t right now. Thank you!

    Only thing I added was diced a garlic clove.

  21. This chili is very good! I followed the recipe exactly as written and it definitely tastes like Wendy’s! I paired it with my jalepeno cornbread and it was so delicious! Thank you, Dinner, Then Dessert!

  22. Hi,

    Why is it that you use tomato sauce and not tomato juice as this is what it says is in the ingredients of the real Wendy’s chili?

    1. Because I’m not adding any unnatural products and after the side by side tasting I did, it was the closest match. I hope you enjoy it!

  23. This is by far the best chili recipe ever! My entire household loves it! Thank you for posting. (just a heads up – I put 1/2 cup beef broth instead of 1 cup and put it in my crock pot) Delish!

  24. This is DELCIOUS! I am a huge fan of Wendy’s chili and this is so close to their recipe. My family loves it, no matter if it’s 100 degrees outside or if it’s 30. I make this often!

  25. Ok so I’ve been making this every week and it’s absolutely delicious. This is my second post. The reason why I’m posting again is because I’ve been making this a “crock pot” meal. So on that note – when making this in the crock pot; Completely omit the water. You don’t need it at all. Thanks for sharing this perfect recipe! Yummy!

  26. Me and my 11 yr old granddaughter made this today, both my daughters and granddaughters love Wendy’s chili, my youngest daughter is pregnant and craves Wendy’s chili almost daily.. needless to say this recipe was a HUGE hit today with my entire family and a few friends that were over today, so much so I had to go to the grocery store and buy more ingredients to make a double batch if this chili tomorrow for the football game and for the up coming snow storm we’re getting.. and for me the most important thing about this recipe is my granddaughter who is 11 is able to follow the recipe and basically make it on her own with my guidance of course. Thank you for giving us all the better than Wendy’s chili recipe..

  27. I followed the recipe except for cutting the chili powder in half. I can tell the flavor was good, but it was extremely salty for us. I will use less salt and less cumin the next time.

  28. I’m not a huge fan of chili, but when I want it, my go to is Wendy’s. I don’t think this recipe is a true Wendy’s copycat, but it doesn’t matter
    at all because the result of this recipe is a really really good chili. I’m not a fan of spicy hot food, but even with the jalapeno this chili has only a mild kick. The only thing I did differently was, I drained and rinsed the beans and replaced the liquid with an additional cup of water. This recipe is easy to make (I’m a bachelorette with a crockpot, lol). My only warning is, if you’re going the crockpot route, you need one that’s at least 7qts to make the recipe as measured. Thank you for this recipe, it’s a keeper. I’ll be eating chili more often, for sure.

  29. I love that you DON’T drain the beans. There is so much flavor and nutrition in them. I never drain my beans and it always turns out so flavorful and delicious and it adds body!! The gas equation is nominal. I’d rather have the flavor and nutrition for sure!!

  30. Great recipe, simple to make, Just the right amount of kick to it and I’m not even a big chili person but the family is and they love it.

  31. Do I throw the celery, onion,jalapeno bell pepper in when frying ground meat? Or after? Your cooking instructions Arnt very detailed I apologize I’m a beginner and need detailed instructions
    Can you email me detailed instructions please? Thanks!

    1. No, you brown the beef alone then just add everything else in together. No need to add the vegetables to the beef. Wendy’s does not caramelize the vegetables in their chili.

    1. I haven’t tested it so I’m not really comfortable giving a recommendation. You might be able to find a recipe online with similar ingredients to follow as guideline. Good luck!

  32. This is my go to recipe when I want some lovin..Lol. I learned to use pickled tamed jalapenos for the taste and barely any heat. Thanks for this!