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. jack

    4 stars
    Made it twice. Omitted the celery was the only change. The first time I cooked it the blend of spices made it delicious. Even though I thought the tomato puree made it far too thick. It had good flavor but not quite a duplicate of the Wendy’s chili because of its thickness. Yesterday I cooked it again and added a little water and it diluted the spices a bit..I need to substitute that ghastly tomato puree with tomato sauce next time. Also it was unusual adding onions after cooking the ground beef.. Otherwise it’s a good chili that tastes better the next day

  2. Gary

    5 stars
    Good chili recipe if you don’t like super-spicy. I cut the amounts of cumin, chili powder and left out the cayenne. (My wife doesn’t care for the heat). It’s definitely a keeper!

  3. Cheryl Mae

    5 stars
    Delicious. I used V8 juice and Italian jarred Passata. It does need heat though. Makes a thin souplike chili which is what I like. Great with crackers and a little hot sauce.

    • Professor

      4 stars
      That’s what it says:
      Slow cooker Directions
      In a skillet, brown the ground beef.
      Drain the grease from the browned ground beef.
      Put the drained beef and the remaining ingredients in a slow cooker.
      Cook on low for 4 hours.

    • Allister

      If all you can find is tomato paste and can’t find puree, mix the paste with an equal amount of water and you will have tomato puree. Tomato juice is 100% tomato juice not the same as V8, V8 is tomato juice with other vegetables, it can be substituted, but it will slightly change the flavor and you might have to add a little more water to get the same consistency as it is slightly thicker than tomato juice… You probably won’t notice much flavor or consistency difference unless you compare them side by side…

  4. Danielle

    3 stars
    This is a great recipe but it was a bit bland, and I even added diced fresh jalapeño with seeds. Something seems to be missing but I can’t put my finger on it. I do wish I’d had a better chili powder, all the store had was the generic brand. I will make again and make a few adjustments. Thank you!

    • Stephanie Manley

      I am very sorry my recipe didn’t meet your expectations. I think it was your chili powder to blame. I would suggest using McCormick’s, while not the store brand, it is a very common brand available at most stores.

    • Professor

      Danielle: There are many great chili powders available online now. Try:
      Gephardt’s is a highly rated brand you might find in stores.

  5. From Nece's Kitchen

    5 stars
    This recipe is delicious! We liked it better without the celery. I liked the amount of chili powder, as we like it a little spicy. Very good flavor. We were snowed in, and the Hubby and I ate the whole pot over a few days! I was going to make it again, and I could not find this recipe. I made a different recipe, and Hubby said not as good as the first one! I was so happy when I ran across it in a drawer today!! SCORE!!

  6. Trudy

    I was sure it was a hit as soon as I finished putting the ingredients in the pan. I knew it was a hit when my husband had a second helping. (He doesn’t generally care much for chili.) Can’t wait to try some after all the flavors meld in the fridge. I mean I literally can’t wait! Absolutely delicious chili.

  7. Patti

    5 stars
    This was outstanding! My only changes were to add the whole bottle of V8, an extra 14oz. (My store didn’t have tomato juice!)
    I also fried my ground sirloin like a giant hamburger patty, in a large fry pan. Salted the oil, dropped the beef in, salted the top, flipped it when time and crisped up both sides before I broke it apart. Yum!

  8. Annette

    5 stars
    Oh my, oh my, So good!
    I didn’t have a green pepper so I used a red one. Nothing really different there.
    Too much chili powder NO WAY. This recipe is perfect. The tomato juice I buy has several more ounces than a quart. No biggie. Just put it all in.
    This is the best chili I have ever made. Thank you for this fabulous recipe.

  9. Barb T

    4 stars
    I also used V-8 instead of the tomato juice. However, made the mistake of cutting the amount of chili powder, which left it a little bland for us. Will not make that mistake again!! The amount of chili powder is just fine and I wont make the mistake of using less next time. It was a wonderful chili, and will follow the recipe to the letter next time.

    • Barry

      5 stars
      This was pretty much exactly Wendy’s chili I forgot the celery and used a yellow pepper if anything I would add a little more heat but I also add to Wendy’s Excellent recipe

4.93 from 224 votes (152 ratings without comment)

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