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.



Wendy's Chili (Copycat)

4.99 from 58 votes
  • 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
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: 540g, Vitamin C: 20.8g, Calcium: 108g, Iron: 5.3g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

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!

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  1. Sabrina, this recipe is spot on! Love it, love it, love it! Since you made such a perfect copycat recipe for the chili, would you PLEASE make a copycat version of Quizno’s discontinued green chicken chili verde soup? I ate it every day for two weeks years ago, then they stopped serving it, and I have been heartbroken ever since. I even begged to buy the information on the ingredients. I kind of think it came in a bag and they just added water and chicken, but I still dream about that soup. If you could come up with a semi version, I would be forever grateful and sing your praises until you became viral, lol.

    1. I’m so glad you love it so much! I’ll definitely add your request to my research list. I don’t think I’ve ever had it but I’ll start digging and see what I can come up with when I get a chance. Thanks for the suggestion.

    1. Do you want to add it in replace of something or in addition. If you add tomato paste it will thicken the chili. If that’s ok with you, then go for it. Enjoy!

  2. This is an awesome recipe I have made a couple of times exactly as it is written, but tonight I was out of jalapeño peppers so I went canned chipotle peppers about 3 chopped up and it gave the chili a little bite and a great smoky flavor. Thanks again for sharing.

  3. I made this recipe tonight…I cut it in half since it’s for 1-2 folks in my house but I kept the full cumin measurement (by mistake) and did about 3/4 of the chili powder requirement because…that’s my business. Delicious!! Definitely printed and stashed away ?

  4. Made this recipe this weekend for the first time and my family loved it! Definitely will be making again! Thank you so much for sharing.

  5. I added a clove of minced garlic & fresh parsley (since my herb garden is doing so well) & I used a yellow pepper instead of the green pepper. I made mine in the crock pot…DELICIOUS!!

  6. Interesting as it may be This is not the perfect copycat recipe.. Wendy’s does not use jalapenos what is to be perceived as is actually Anaheim peppers and also is not green bell peppers…their also is tomato paste in the recipe and no butter…refer to the hack Masters recipes…Todd Wilbur at top secret recipes site.. it’s hard to argue with the man that’s has 33 years experience professionally reverse engineering well over 1500 famous recipes

  7. This is great chili! Quick, easy and tasty!love it in winter, it makes the house smell so good as it simmers. It makes a lot so I put it in quart containers and freeze it.

  8. This is the best chili! It has tremendous flavor and so easy to make. I use ground bison and ground turkey to reduce the fat a bit. I do add a couple of bay leaves and a couple of teaspoons of Mexican Oregano (since I can never leave well enough alone). I would recommend this recipe to anyone who is a real fan of Wendy’s Chili!!!

    1. It may not be Wendy’s but it is one great pot of chili. I made it stove top and drained the beans in error. I used one can of everything because I am the one I am cooking for. I used half of the other ingredients as well and just seasoned up or down to my liking. I had no celery and no green pepper. I accompanied it with Krusteaz honey cornbread!! Good eating!!

  9. Hi did everyone use two stalks of celery? I only used 1 because two just seems way too much and I feel like them only meant 2 celery sticks. I hope still chili comes out good. 🙁 help please!

    1. I used the 2 stalks of celery, large ones at that. It was not too “celery-ish”.

      I also substituted “Bush’s Southwestern Style Pinto Beans in a … red chile sauce with mild jalapeno peppers” for the pinto beans and did not add the jalapeno called for in the recipe (my husband does not like spicy hot food) but you can taste the chili, once mixed before it’s fully cooked and add jalapeno to your taste (jalapenos come in different sizes).

      I used petit diced tomatoes & their juice instead of chopping whole canned tomatoes & adding their juice and made my own chili powder from an online recipe, going mild on the heat, because I didn’t have any (plus your own spice mix will probably be fresher & therefor more flavorful than a store’s brand.)

      Tip: if you find the chili to be too wet, you can thicken it with a bit of corn meal and cook a little longer.

      We liked the chili very much.

  10. Made this today took out the celery and jalapeños. And subbed with turkey meat. Has great flavor but way to liquidy for my liking. Uh

  11. I haven’t made this yet but is it possible to substitute tomato juice for the tomato sauce? If so would I use the same amount?

    1. It’ll be thinner if you use juice vs the sauce. You might want to add a bit of tomato paste to thicken it a bit before adding. Good luck!

  12. This is an excellent recipe. I have made it many times. You actually need the sugar, butter and a lot of chili powder to get it just right. (But some may prefer less spice of course) Thank you for the recipe and detailed directions.

  13. This was delicious! Only change I made was that I added more chili powder and used hot chili beans instead of mild, because I wanted a kick to my chili. I highly recommend!!

  14. Great recipe! I personally thought the 1/4 cup chili powder was too much, so will be adjusting that down next time. And possibly less tomato sauce – too tomatoey for us, so counter-balanced it with a bit of brown sugar and double the butter. But definitely a keeper!

  15. Just made tonight and my husband and I are making this our go to chili! Absolutely delish!!! Thanks so much for this recipe! Love, love, love it!!!

    1. I’ve not tested it using an instant pot but I’m sure you could find a similar recipe online and use that as a guide. Good luck!

  16. I don’t like chunks of tomatoes…what do you
    Suggest for the 28 ounces chopped tomatoes?? Also not a fan of jalapeños – would it be the end of the world if I left them out?!!!! Help!!

    1. I would recommend pureeing the chunks of tomato with an immersion blender to help reduce. You could also substitute with more tomato sauce but you may need to add tomato paste too to thicken it up. Hope this helps.

  17. I hate recipe review when they aren’t exact but i felt I should for anyone in my position. I have the pickiest of eatiers so I left out the jalepenos and chili powder and only used a few shakes of cumin and these finiki eaters devoured their plates. They requested to have it again. I was completely shocked so I had to add a review Incase they’re others out there who don’t like the traditional heat of chili.

  18. Made this in the slow cooker on high for about 6 hours. Made frito pies with it. My family loved it and asked me to keep the recipe. Definitely making this again.

  19. I have made this many times now. It’s easy, and the taste is excellent. I usually make a double batch and keep lots stashed away in the freezer.

  20. Just a question: 1/4 cup chili powder seems like a LOT. I have had Wendy’s Chili often and the difference between what I use in my recipe and this is WHOA! A lot. Is this amount correct? (I know the old start with less and taste taste taste…just wondering).

  21. Can you please tell me what kind of tomato sauce you used? Did you use the normal plain sauce or a sauce with added ingredients like basil/oregano? Same with the chopped canned tomatoes please. Thank you. 🙂

  22. You absolutely nailed it. I cannot tell the difference to the real thing. In fact this is so much better and fresher. I did leave out the pinto beans though in an attempt to make it more Keto friendly. I also added shredded cheddar.

  23. Adding 2 teaspoons of Lawry’s Seasoned Salt brought the flavor up to almost an exact match to Wendy’s chili.

    Thank you

  24. This is the best “Copy Cat” Wendy’s chili I have ever had. It’s a go to every time I want chilli. I put it in the slow cooker for 7 hours, and it’s wonderful, especially on hot days here in Florida. I don’t change a thing. Been fixing it for several years for family and friends and it’s a big hit. Thanks so much, your the best!!

  25. I have been looking for a copycat recipe for Lance Oatmeal Cookie. I don’t know when they stopped making them or delivering them in my area (if they still make them). My favorite oatmeal cookie. If you come up with this recipe I would love you to send it to me.
    I have just found your site. Thanks

  26. Made the chili recipe today. I used a red pepper rather than green. The chili is wonderful. This recipe is a keeper.

  27. Let me start by saying two things. 1) I. Hate. Chili. and 2) I am not a rate/review kind of person, and this is actually probably the first time I have ever done it, but I feel this needs to be said. I LOVED this recipe! I just had left overs for dinner and I already cannot wait to have it for lunch at work tomorrow. I’ve shared it with three people today alone because I am so impressed with it. We put it together in the Crock-Pot Tuesday evening (today is Thursday), put it in the fridge, and cooked it on low for 8 hours yesterday. Aside from a couple recommendations by other reviewers, we made it exactly as it says and we we won’t change a single thing when making it next time. The only things we changed was draining the beans, as someone said it makes it chalky or pasty I believe, and then we cooked the meat with the cumin, salt, pepper and 1/2 of the chili powder. I had never heard of using butter in chili, but I dropped it in the Crock-Pot just before serving since I wanted to follow the recipe as much as possible. I don’t know if it did anything or not, but again the final outcome was so perfect we will continue using it. My wife, a chili lover, thanks you for finally giving me a recipe I will make for her!

      1. This is the first time using this recipe, i just put all in Crock-Pot. And I don’t have any cumin ? which I thought I did. Will that make a big difference? Thanks in advance

  28. 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!

    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!

  29. 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.

  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. 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!!

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. 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..

  35. 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!

  36. 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!