Easy Wendy’s Chili Copycat Recipe

12 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes

The BEST Wendy’s Chili copycat recipe to recreate the famous hearty delicious chili with beef, beans, veggies and lots of amazing flavor. 

A bowl of homemade Beef Chili is always a comforting Dinner, but sometimes we get a craving for Wendy’s famous chili. With this copycat recipe, you get homemade chili plus the iconic drive-thru flavor. Don’t forget a Wendy’s Frosty for dessert!

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!

Grabbing some Wendy’s Chili for lunch is a no brainer when the weather starts turning cold. Their chili hearty, flavorful, and filled with the perfect amount of heat to warm you up. It’s almost unbelievable that a fast food chili could taste as good as chili from scratch, but it is actually really yummy! The good news is that with this copycat recipe, you don’t have to head to the drive-thru when you are craving a delicious bowl of the famous chili.

With its perfect blend of beef, beans, and veggies, Wendy’s Chili has become a beloved comfort food for many. While there’s no exact list of Wendy’s chili ingredients, this Wendy’s Chili recipe has all the same flavors and textures, down to their signature brothy consistency. Folks will swear you just poured store-bought cups of their chili in the pot!

A standard order of Wendy’s Chili comes with saltine crackers, but since you are making homemade chili, you can step up the sides! Instead of plain crackers, top a delicious bowl of chili with equally delicious Ranch Saltines. Of course there’s the classic chili side, cornbread! Serve a big bowl of chili with Sweet Cornbread to compliment the warm flavors or if you love spicy heat, try it with some Jalapeno Popper Cornbread Muffins

Why should you make Wendy’s Chili at home?

While grabbing a bowl from the restaurant is convenient, there’s something special about recreating this classic dish in the comfort of your own kitchen. First off, it is way cheaper because you can make a huge pot for the same cost of a couple orders. And a big pot means delicious leftover chili for lunch all week long! Plus making a homemade Wendy’s Chili recipe means you get to control the ingredients and make it even better than the original version!

How to Make Wendy’s Chili

  • Beef: In a large pot, brown the ground beef. Let it sear and form a crust to get a delicious char, then break it up into bigger chunks as you cook it. Drain the fat.
  • Combine: Add the canned beans and tomatoes with the liquid from the cans to the beef, then stir in the veggies, spices, tomato sauce, and water. Mix it well and bring the liquid to a boil.
  • Simmer: Lower the heat to simmer, meaning small bubbles as it cooks. Stir occasionally to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Cook for about 2 hours.
  • Serve: Stir the butter into the chili mixture until its melted and fully incorporated into the broth. Serve with crackers and your favorite toppings. 
An amazing Wendy's Chili Copycat!

Delicious Cornbread Recipes

FAQs for Wendy’s Chili

Does Wendy’s put onions in their chili?

Yes Wendy’s Chili is made with onion both at the fast food restaurant and in this homemade version. The great thing about making it home is you can skip the onions if you don’t like them, just use onion powder.

What is Wendy’s chili sauce made of?

Wendy’s Chili is a robust and hearty soup-like dish featuring a combination of beef burgers, beans, and vegetables cooked to perfection. This mouthwatering recipe has garnered a reputation for being hearty with bold spices in a thinner broth and lots of beefy flavor.

Is Wendy’s chili healthy?

Wendy’s chili can be considered a relatively healthy option compared to some other fast food choices. It contains a good amount of protein, fiber from the beans and vegetables, and is relatively low in saturated fat. However, it’s important to note that the chili does contain sodium and should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Key Ingredients

  • Ground Beef: The ground beef forms the base of the chili, providing richness and depth of flavor. At one point Wendy’s original recipe was made with leftover hamburger patties, so let the beef get a nice sear before stirring to recreate that tasty char.
  • Tomatoes: Tomato sauce contributes a luscious and tangy element to the chili, binding all the flavors together. The canned tomatoes, with their natural sweetness and acidity, provide a bright and fresh taste to balance the richness of the beef and beans.
  • Canned Beans: These canned kidney beans and pinto beans add heartiness and creaminess to the chili. You want to use the liquid from the can to add flavor and a silky consistency to the broth.
  • Veggies: The combination of yellow onion, celery, and green bell peppers adds depth and complexity to the chili while also packing it with vegetables for a healthy hearty chili.
  • Jalapeno: There’s just enough jalapeno to add a subtle heat without making this chili spicy. You can leave them out for a totally mild chili or add more if you love spicy food!
  • Chili Seasoning: The chili seasoning ingredients are the secret behind Wendy’s Chili’s irresistible taste. Cumin and chili powder infuse smoky and earthy flavors, while black pepper and salt enhance the overall seasoning.
  • Water: Wendy’s Chili is a brothy chili so water is added to get that thinner consistency. If you prefer a thicker chili, you can skip this step, and you’ll still get that delicious Wendy’s Chili taste. 
  • Butter: A bit of butter at the end adds a touch of richness and silky texture, without adding a whole lot of calories. The butter helps mellow some of the bold spices, for a distinctive creamy flavor.

Can Wendy’s Chili be made ahead of time?

Absolutely! Wendy’s Chili actually benefits from being made ahead of time as it allows the flavors to develop and deepen further. Prepare the chili as instructed, let it cool, and refrigerate it overnight. The next day, reheat it gently on the stovetop for a more flavorful meal.

Variations

  • Meat: Instead of ground beef, use ground turkey or chicken. Wendy’s chili was created to use up leftovers, so why not make this with leftover burger patties or even Homemade Beef Meatballs.
  • Veggies: Add extra vegetables like carrots, zucchini, or corn to enhance the nutritional value and make it even heartier. You could also use more veggies to replace the meat, just cook them in oil first to make up for the beef fat.
  • Spicy: Increase the heat by adding crushed red pepper, more diced jalapenos, hot pepper sauce, or even chipotle peppers if you love your chili with a spicy kick.
The ultimate chili, JUST like Wendy's chili and perfect for your gameday crowd!

Slow Cooker Wendy’s Chili Recipe

  • Brown the ground beef in a skillet and drain the fat.
  • Transfer the cooked ground beef to a slow cooker.
  • Add all the remaining ingredients (except the butter) to the slow cooker.
  • Stir well to combine all the ingredients.
  • Cover the slow cooker and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or on high heat for 3-4 hours.
  • Stir occasionally during the cooking process to ensure even distribution of flavors.
  • About a half hour before serving, add the butter.
  • Cook the remaining time, stir well and serve.

Wendy’s Chili Bar

Do you remember Wendy’s Super Bar, aka their amazing salad and chili bar they had in the 1990s? Indulge in the nostalgia of dining-in at a fast food place by setting up your own chili bar, complete with this homemade Wendy’s Chili recipe. The secret to a perfect recreation is Baked Potatoes! Don’t forget the butter (or get real authentic with margarine), sour cream, and green onions for the ultimate trip down memory lane. For the salad bar, a simple iceberg salad mix will do along with lots of croutons, cheddar cheese, onions, tomatoes, and any other favorite salad bar toppings.

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How to Store

  • Store: Allow the chili to cool completely, then transfer it to an sealed container. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.
  • Reheat: It’s best to reheat chili on the stove top over low heat, stirring occasionally until heated through, to deepen the flavors.
  • Freeze: Divide the chili into freezer-safe bags, leaving some headspace for expansion. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating on the stove top.

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Pin Recipe

Wendy’s Chili (Copycat)

The BEST Wendy's Chili copycat recipe to recreate the famous hearty delicious chili with beef, beans, veggies and lots of amazing flavor.
Yield 12 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder

Ingredients
 

  • 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 jalapeno , diced, 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

Instructions

  • In a heavy bottomed stockpot brown the ground beef.
  • Drain the fat.
  • Add in the rest of the ingredients (except the butter) and bring to a boil.
  • Lower to a simmer and cook uncovered (please keep at a simmer level) for 2 hours stirring occasionally.
  • Add in the butter and stir until fully melted and incorporated.
  • Serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 358kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 56mg | Sodium: 1259mg | Potassium: 1048mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 540IU | Vitamin C: 20.8mg | Calcium: 108mg | Iron: 5.3mg
Keyword: Wendy’s Chili (Copycat)
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!

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.

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Comments

  1. Made this for my 81 year old father. He is very picky and loves Wendy’s Chili. He said it was the best he ever had. Thank you for sharing. I did make a couple of changes. Added beef stock instead of water, and added and 1/8 of a cup of Pinot noir with the meat for an extra richness. (Always add wine, little for me and little for the pot)…
    Thanks again.

  2. Delicious and the perfect blend of flavors! We add sharp cheddar cheese on top and serve it with cornbread. Lots of compliments and second helpings. Thank you for a great recipe.

  3. I cooked the chili as it called for.
    I only let it cook longer in the crockpot and 1/2 the Jalapeño, but I think the whole one would have been fine. I left it on warm until the next morning.
    Loved it.

  4. I didn’t have a jalapeño and also added a few tablespoons of cocoa (unsweetened). Your recipe has a slight more kick than Wendy’s (did a blind taste test), and more hearty flavor. Nice job!

  5. Making this today. I, going to omit the kidney beans and green pepper. I, care for neither. Will substitute with black beans and pablano pepper. Gonna be a chilly and kinda layed back weekend.

  6. I’ll try this, but the kidney beans should be drained and washed. I worked at Wendy’s many years ago and made quite a few pots of chili. Part of that process was to always wash the kidney beans. We also never added butter. The beef we used was from the burger meat that wasn’t served in a timely manner. When cooking burgers at Wendy’s you have only a few minutes from the time the patty hits the grill to serve. Once that time expires the burger goes in the chili meat pan. Then it’s boiled, drained, and chopped. There is a measured amount to everything but I always put a little extra meat. The key ingredient is Wendy’s chili poweder.

  7. Love this recipe. Many compliments when we serve it to guests. I also pressure can it by bringing the ingredients up to a boil, placing in jars and can in quarts according to the pressure canners recommended time and pressure for my elevation.

    1. Jody, I’m not sure why the chili was too thick. I am a huge fan of all things chili (https://dinnerthendessert.com/?s=chili) so maybe one of our other chili recipes would be more soupy? Appreciate you trying our Wendy’s Copycat Chili and really appreciate the 5 star rating 🙂

    1. Sure can Joe! Here’s the recipe for a Slow Cooker version of Wendy’s Chili Copycat Recipe from the post.

      Slow Cooker Wendy’s Chili Recipe
      Brown the ground beef in a skillet and drain the fat.
      Transfer the cooked ground beef to a slow cooker.
      Add all the remaining ingredients (except the butter) to the slow cooker.
      Stir well to combine all the ingredients.
      Cover the slow cooker and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or on high heat for 3-4 hours.
      Stir occasionally during the cooking process to ensure even distribution of flavors.
      About a half hour before serving, add the butter.
      Cook the remaining time, stir well and serve.

      Enjoy!

  8. This is one of the BEST chili recipes ever!
    My tweaks to the recipe included using 1/8 cup of Ancho Chili powder with 1/8 cup of regular chili powder. Omitted the jalapeno, and added a clove of fresh garlic! Totally delicious!!!

  9. My dad always made chili growing up and never wrote his recipe down.. this is the closest recipe I have found! It is so great!! Thank you for sharing. I’ve made it many times. It is our family/crowd favorite. We like it chunky & add spicy chili beans and no water.
    Thanks for bringing back old memories for me <3

    1. Abby, I love it! So glad you’re enjoying the Wendy’s Chili Copycat Recipe and it reminds you of your Dad’s. Thanks so much for the 5 star review.

  10. Awesome recipe! My husband and I love it and it’s on a regular rotation in our house…even though there’s a Wendy’s about a mile away.

  11. This recipe is right on the money. Greaaaat Taste! Not hard to make but takes longer than 10 mins preparation or at least it did me. I’m a bit slow though.

  12. I’ve been making a similar Wendy’s copycat recipe for many years but today decided to go looking for another. I halved this recipe and made a few changes. The most significant change was using half ground beef and half homemade pork Italian sausage plus adding a bit of sugar. My husband declared this the best chili I ever made. High praise! It was excellent. Served it over spaghetti (Cincinnati style).

  13. I can’t sat for me that this recipe tasted like Wendy’s chili. I can say it makes a darn good batch of chili.

  14. I made this and it was great. Found the recipe again and saved it. I knew I was looking for the one that added butter at the end. Soooo good! ??