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. 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?

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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)

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!
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


  • 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


  • 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.


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!
An amazing Wendy's Chili 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 upcoming cookbook: Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients which is being 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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  1. I love this recipe which is basically indistinguishable from Wendy’s. It’s a versatile starter recipe for chili that can be enhanced to your own personal preferences.

    Add a tablespoon or two of sugar to cut the acid in the tomatoes. I think Wendy’s does the same.

    Regarding tomatoes, I use San Marzano canned peeled tomatoes. Cento brand from Walmart is a good buy. I chop one can with a knife by hand. I use a food processor to turn the other can into sauce.

    One more thing – keep in mind Wendy’s uses portions of unused burger patties chopped up for their chili. So, let your meat brown in whole form in the pan, so that it’s got some decent chunks in it. One good way to achieve this is to put frozen ground directly into the pan and scrape off the chunks as it cooks.

  2. Sabrina, do you have a specific chili powder that you use for your chili recipes? i see that you link to the McCormick dark chili powder – is that what you use? i have found that many different chili powders have very diverse flavors which, of course is going to affect the final flavor of the chili.

  3. Going to make this but concerned about the 1/4 cup of chili powder. That sounds excessive. Is that correct??

  4. I don’t like it when people make comments without even making the recipe but since I saw this recipe by dinnerthendessert, I made an exception.
    I’ve made quite a few recipes from Sabrina and all were a total success so when I drove past Wendy’s today,I almost bought a big cup! But I thought no,we probably have all the ingredients. As soon as I saw Sabrina’s copycat recipe, I saved it on Pinterest but thought of cutting the recipe in half but I decided I’ll make the recipe and put part of it in 1 qt. Zipper bags.We’ll either use it up for ourselves or give it to someone that needs meals. (That’s confidence in the recipe for sure!)
    I love the pack that Wendy’s give out to add heat.Can anyone tell me how to make that?

  5. Great Recipe I use 2 small cans of green chilies instead of the jalapeño and with the hamburger meat I added a pound of ground pork. Instead of simmering it for 2 hours I cooked it in my 8 qt pressure cooker for 7 minutes since the beans are ready cooked I didn’t want my beans mushy. It turn out great. The pressure cooker idea I seen on YouTube for Wendy’s Chilli. It turn out great. I making some right now.

  6. This was really good and got better the next day.
    I made a few subs as I thought I had all the ingredients but I didn’t:
    subbed chipotle for jalapeno
    ran short on Tomato sauce so subbed petite diced tomatoes with a little tomato paste.
    Was still delicious. I was actually sorry I sent some home with my son 🙂

  7. I make this vegetarian with veggie ground round. I have made it several times and family love it. Great recipe. Thanks

  8. I didn’t modify this recipe (other than using the types of beans I had on hand, light, dark kidney & cannellini) I was worried the whole jalapeno would make it too spicy but it wasn’t “spicy” at all. We like a bit of spice, this was perfect for everyone. Served with some shredded cheddar, sour cream & fritos. Delicious! I did forget the butter at the end, I didn’t feel like it was missing anything. Might add some as I heat up the leftovers just for fun

  9. To amend my previous comment, I’m a vegan, so swapped out the beef for Morningstar Farms crumbles and left out the jalapeños due to sensitive tongues in my family and it was A-FREAKING-MAZING.

    I will be making this chili forever.

  10. I work at Wendy’s and we never put butter in it….. peoples come like crazy for Chili. Because they always love it.

    Also my mother made Chili many, many years go and she never put butter in her. Not at all.

    1. The butter adds a little creaminess/depth, and fat back to the dish since it was drained from the beef the beginning. I think it’s a nice touch. I’d also add that if you aren’t watching your weight – you can forego draining the fat off the ground beef to add some additional richness to the dish.

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