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.


  • 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.

More Iconic Copycat Recipes

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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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


  • 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


  • 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!

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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  1. I made this for my family, doubled the recipe because we have a lot of people in our family when we all get together. My family has always loved but chili but decided to try this recipe. It was a HUGE hit!! Everybody wanted some to take home and I froze the reader later sometime for the hubs and me.

  2. This recipe was right on with Wendy’s Chili. I made it in a crockpot and brought it for lunch at my Quilting Bee. Everyone loved it, many got second servings and several asked for the recipe. Thanks.

  3. Delicious, but way too spicy. Maybe my Penzy’s chili powder was “high powered” but next time I would cut the amount by half, and add hot sauce to each bowl to taste.

  4. I have made this several times for my family and they love it. I use elk meat instead of hamburger and it is amazing! Does have a little kick but it’s perfect! Thank you!

  5. Overall, excellent recipe. I find canned tomatoes to be a bit bitter, so add two tablespoons of ketchup, 2 Tbsp. of sugar and half a teaspoon of baking soda.

  6. Closes Wendy’s chili recipe I’ve ever tried! Tastes great the same day and even better the day after. I share this recipe every time I make it for company or am asked about a chili recipe.

  7. This is sooo good!! My family loves this recipe. I’ve cooked it about 3 times now and it never disappoints. I altered it a bit by excluding the jalapeños and added a chili flavor pack.. Thanks so much!!

  8. I’m sorry, but this recipe tastes nothing like Wendy’s chili and 1/4 cup of chili powder is way too much. Also, it was super spicy and I typically love spicy. Will definitely not make again.

  9. I loved it! I altered mine a little just playing around. Added a packet of chili seasoning and put extra bell pepper and celery chopped fairly big (I like the crunch it adds!) and omitted the jalapeño (I don’t like spicy, even tho I’m a southern girl!). I used the “chili” diced tomatoes and it was amazing!

  10. I tried this twice but got lazy the second time. I replaced the tomatoes, onions, celery and jalapenos with a large jar of “medium”, chunky salsa and it was amazing.

    1. Wendy’s chili bean mix is kidney beans and small red beans. Canned small red beans haven’t been available at my grocery store in at least a year. I always appreciate that Sabrina makes the effort to offer a substitution, and the flavor difference here is negligible.

    2. According to the ingredients list on Wendy’s menu page for their chili, there is.

      Chili: Chili Base (Chili Sauce [Water, Tomato Paste, Tomatoes (Tomatoes, Tomato Juice, Calcium Chloride), Sugar, Modified Corn Starch, Salt, Chili Pepper, Spices, Flavor Enhancer (Dextrose, Salt, Yeast Extract, Modified Corn Starch), Citric Acid, Garlic Powder, Disodium Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate, Onion Powder, Xanthan Gum], Onions, Celery, Green Peppers), Water, Ground Beef (Beef, Salt), Chili Beans (Prepared Pinto Beans, Prepared Red Kidney Beans), Soy Lecithin.”

  11. As the weather up near the Canadian border has turned cold, it was the perfect opportunity to try this recipe. I can say as a novice in the kitchen, but with a knack for new things, this chili was amazing just as is, no changes or substitutions. My dinner guests really loved it served with honey-butter cornbread. Thank you so much. Would give this 10 stars if I could.

  12. I have a pot simmering right now. It smelled wonderful before I even turned the fire on 1 hour 40 minutes to go. Thank you, I’m sure I’m going to love this.

  13. Absolutely my go to chili recipe! Tastes just like Wendy’s, we use Tabasco to flavor in lieu of the Wendy’s hot sauce. Thank you so much!

    1. Not a great chili recipe. Too many tomato-based, would recommend least tomatoes and more seasonings especially salt. Will not make again.

  14. This is a great knock-off Wendy’s chili! Delicious! Will definitely make it again. Do you have a knock-off recipe for the Wendy’s chili sauce packet too?

  15. When I prepared it for 6 servings, the jalapeño computed to 0.5 (one half) and the chili powder to 0.13 cup or 2 tablespoons. The result was so hot ? it was inedible! Even doubling all the other ingredients just put it still in the barely edible range! All I can do to save my mouth is eat a bunch of cheese and milk to absorb the capsaicin. When I make it next, I’ll use 0.25 jalapeño, and one teaspoon of chili ? powder to start. I can always add heat, but it’s impossible to remove it!

  16. This does taste like Wendy’s chili but it isn’t as watery as Wendy’s if cooked as directed. I would either add an additional cup to cup and a half of water, then make as directed. I did enjoy this recipe

  17. 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.

      1. Teresa, it says “Post Comment” not “Post Review”.

        This chili is amazing and the whole family loves it! Thank you for posting this recipe!

        From Jimmy (who is not condescending to others).

  18. 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.

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

      1. Taste great cold can’t wait till it’s done thank you for the recipe!!!!! Will say it’s fullest crackpot I’ve ever had….lol

  20. 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?

  21. 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.

  22. 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 🙂

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

  24. 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

    1. Very good recipe! I never leave comments but I have had to share this recipe with so many people bc it’s an instant favorite. The spice level is low .. maybe some people forgot to seed their jalapeños? Just a good chili! Thank you for sharing the recipe!

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

    2. That doesn’t mean she is the only person on the world making it correctly. Butter is like the secret ingredient here for added silky texture and richness. You sound so horrified. There are other good cooks in the world besides your mother.