Wendy’s Chili Recipe

Do you love Wendy’s chili? This copycat Wendy’s chili recipe is the perfect way to feed a large crowd. Grab a large pot, grab your favorite toppings, and enjoy some of the best chili. Did you know this tastes even better the next day?

A bowl of copycat Wendy's chili.

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Why This is the Best Copycat Wendy’s Copycat Chili Recipe

If you are looking for a tried and true copycat recipe look no further. I developed this copycat version over 20 years ago. This recipe has stood the test of time. People love this recipe.

This chili is perfectly seasoned, it’s not too spicy, and spiced just enough. This easy chili recipe is going to become one of your go-to recipes. It is the leftover chili you can enjoy the next day.

Wendy’s Chili Meat

Now, it is said that Wendy’s chili is made from grilled hamburger patties that didn’t make it into their burgers. You don’t have you start out with hamburger patties, you can use fresh ground beef.

We think it is easier to start out this way when you make your own chili. We suggest that you brown the beef very thoroughly before making your chili.

If you are a die-hard Wendy’s Chili fan you can start out with about 2 pounds of ground meat, and fry it up as hamburgers, but you must cook them until they are very well done.

Did you know?

  • Wendy’s Chili is gluten-free.

There are lots of fresh ingredients in this Wendy’s chili copycat recipe, and you can put this recipe together in no time. This recipe has onions, celery, green bell pepper, two types of beans, beef, and chili seasoning.

You won’t be disappointed when you make a delicious bowl of this amazing chili from scratch. You’ll enjoy the wonderful aroma of chili cooking on the stovetop.

Wendy’s Chili Recipe Ingredients

Here’s a list of what you need:

  • Ground beef – Ground chuck is recommended due to its fat and lean meat ratio
  • Tomato juice
  • Tomato puree – I use this instead of tomato sauce or stewed tomatoes because it has more flavor.
  • Canned red kidney beans – drain and rinse before using
  • Canned pinto beans – drain and rinse before using
  • Onion – white onions are recommended
  • Celery
  • Green bell pepper
  • Chili powder – McCormick brand is recommended
  • Ground cumin
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Oregano
  • Cayenne pepper – if you need your chili to have more spice, I recommend adding a bit more
  • Sugar

Tomato juice really enhances the flavor of this chili, as does the chili powder, though you may want to start off with a little less chili powder. I find that 1/4 cup isn’t too hot, and is still very flavorful.

Copycat Wendy's chili ingredients on a marble surface.

How does Wendy’s make their chili?

Wendy’s makes their chili in a big pot with leftover hamburger patties and chili ingredients. All you need is a skillet to brown some ground beef and a big pot to cook the chili. Here are the easy steps:

  1. In a skillet, brown the ground beef over medium-high heat.
  2. Drain the browned ground beef.
  3. Put the drained beef and the remaining ingredients in a 6-quart pot.
Collage of cooking ground beef for copycat Wendy's chili.
  1. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
  2. Bring the chili to a boil, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer for 1 to 1½ hours, stirring every 15 minutes.
Collage of making copycat Wendy's chili.
  1. Serve this delicious chili and enjoy it as-is or with your favorite chili toppings and side dishes.
Copycat Wendy's chili in a white bowl.

Recipe Notes

It is important to cook this chili for the entire time as listed in the recipe. The flavors mellow and change over the cooking time.

I understand that some people also feel that 3 tablespoons of chili powder are too much. I think if you stick with standard brands of chili powder this is best.

Chili powder is a combination of several spices, there isn’t a chili powder plant. Stick with a well-known brand, and if you naturally like foods that are less spicy consider using less. Again, I fully stand behind the 3 tablespoons as listed in the recipe below.

You can substitute the ground beef with ground turkey. Just note it won’t have the same beefy flavor.

Overhead view of copycat Wendy's chili in a Dutch oven.

Can you make Wendy’s Chili in a slow cooker? Yes, you can!

Can you make this delicious chili in a Crockpot slow cooker? Of course! Simply brown the ground beef, drain the beef, pour everything into a slow cooker, and then cook on low for about 4 to 6 hours.

I hope you enjoy this recipe!

What to Serve with Wendy’s Chili

Here are some sides, toppings, and other dishes to go with this hearty chili:

  • Baked Potato
  • Corn Chips or Tortilla Chips (or make nachos with chili on top of them)
  • French Fries
  • Garlic Parmesan Buffalo Wings
  • Grilled Cheese Sandwich
  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Salad
  • Saltine Crackers
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Sour Cream
Bowl of copycat Wendy's chili topped with shredded cheese and sour cream.

How to Store Wendy’s Chili

This recipe makes quite a bit, chances are if you don’t invite the whole team over for chili, you will have plenty to enjoy. Let’s go over how you can best store the chili!

  • Refrigerate – in an airtight container for up to five days.
  • Freeze – cool the chili to room temperature. Place it in an airtight freezer-safe container or a vacuum-sealed bag. Keep it in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Best Way to Reheat Leftover Wendy’s Chili

If you need to reheat a portion of Wendy’s chili I recommend reheating in the microwave. If you need to reheat several portions I recommend reheating on the stovetop in a pot over medium-low heat.

Overhead view of copycat Wendy's chili in two bowls and two spoons.

Check out my other Wendy’s copycat recipes

More Chili and Stew Recipes

Be sure to take a look at more fast food to make and homemade soup recipes.

A bowl of copycat Wendy's chili.

Wendy’s Chili

You can recreate the famous taste of Wendy’s Chili at home
4.93 from 224 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Wendy’s Chili, Wendy’s recipes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 257kcal


  • 2 pounds fresh ground beef
  • 1 quart tomato juice
  • 29 ounces canned tomato puree
  • 15 ounces canned red kidney beans drained
  • 15 ounces canned pinto beans drained
  • 1 large onion chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chili powder you may want to use less, as some people find this is too much
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • Brown the ground beef in a skillet and drain the grease.
  • Put the drained beef and the remaining ingredients in a 6-quart pot or slow cooker and stir to combine.
  • If using a pot, cover and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes.
  • If using a slow cooker, cook on low for 4 hours.



Calories: 257kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 64mg | Sodium: 308mg | Potassium: 508mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 575IU | Vitamin C: 23.3mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 2.4mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home, and CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Dawn

    I have been making this chili from your recipe for the past 10 years and my family loves it. I just wanted to note that it does freeze very well.

  2. Laura Sloss

    I also used V 8 instead of Tomato juice and a 14.5 ounce can of RO*TEL Diced Tomatoes and green Chilies.
    Love it!!

  3. Janice brown

    I use a can of tomato soup instead of juice. It gives the chilly a greater taste. Next time I’m going to use baked beans instead of kidney beans and see what that tastes like.

  4. Don

    5 stars
    We grabbed V8 by accident the last time we made it and it took the flavor up a whole other level. I highly recommend V8 instead of tomato juice.

  5. Ember-Leigh Hamilton

    5 stars
    This is my go to chili recipe. Family loves it.
    As I do not like hunks and chunks of vegetables, I put the onions, green pepper and celery in a mini blender and then toss the mixture in.


    We live in New Mexico, USA. There most certainly is a chili plant! Our state is famous for our “Hatch” green Chile from Hatch NM. The Chile peppers start out green, then as they ripen they turn to a dark red. The red pods are usually dried and ground up to make chili powder. The green pods are usually used fresh, frozen, or canned (green is spelled “chile” & red is spelled “chili).” Hope this helps!

    • Dolores Herrera

      The red chili is dried whole which are turned into ristras or loose which are made into red chili molido rojo or ground red chili is used to make chili and used in recipes

    • Kerrie

      5 stars
      That’s so funny. My mom is from New Mexico and she always said that chile is the plant for any color and chili is a spice blend or a dish. I’d never heard of the color distinction until now. Thanks for sharing!

    • Mike Hunt

      You misinterpreted what she wrote. What she wrote was “Chili powder is a combination of several spices, there isn’t a chili powder plant.” The emphasis on the word powder. She’s correct, there aren’t chili powder plants but there are chili plants. Folks that aren’t familiar with the world of chilis oftentimes don’t distinguish the difference between a ground up (powdered) chili pod and that same chili pod powder mixed with other spices to make what is commonly referred to as chili powder.

  7. Mark Weber

    5 stars
    I decided to give this recipe a try because I’ve always enjoyed Wendy’s chili. I made a double batch today (1/25/20) using 92% ground sirloin. I multiplied the quantities for all ingredients by two (i.e., 4 lbs ground beef, etc.). My only changes to the recipe were I used crushed tomatoes (SMT brand) instead of puree, I reduced the quantity of garlic powder by about half and added about 4 cloves of garlic that I squeezed thru a press. I bumped up the quantity of ground cumin a bit as recommended in the video and I added some extra diced celery and green pepper to make sure it didn’t disappear in the mix. I chopped the onion a bit on the coarse side, and added about 25% of it to the ground meat as it finished browning to “sweat it” a little as shown in the video (I drained the ground meat first although the video didn’t show that happening). The rest of the chopped onion was added along with everything else. The result tastes exactly like Wendy’s chili in my humble opinion. Thank you and keep up the good work!

    • Stephen D Reamer

      Great recipe! I have made twice, 1at time exactly like recipe. The second time I reduced the tomatoes puree by half(I thought it too thin) and I replaced the cayenne pepper with hot Hungarian(Szeged) Paprika, settling on 1\4 tsp when finished. Very happy with this change!

4.93 from 224 votes (152 ratings without comment)

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