Wendy’s Taco Salad

Wendy’s Taco salad is made with crispy iceberg and Romaine lettuce topped off with the most popular fast-food chili, fresh diced tomatoes, and shredded cheddar cheese. You top off this masterpiece with sour cream, crunchy tortilla chips, and salsa if you dare. You can recreate this at home, it’s the perfect way to enjoy leftover copycat chili.

homemade Wendy's Taco Salad and a fork

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Taco Salad with Chili

The popularity of Southwest-inspired food is growing. Even classic burger restaurants that were once content to serve only burgers and fries are jumping on the bandwagon. Longtime fast-food favorite, Wendy’s, is getting in on the action with several new menu items.

One of the restaurant’s most successful recent dishes is Wendy’s Taco Salad. This hearty fast food taco salad will have you rethinking your notion that salads are just for dieting!

Wendy’s Taco Salad begins with a scoop of the restaurant’s famous chili over a bed of crispy mesclun mix. But it is the tart sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, fresh chopped tomatoes, salsa, and crumbled tortilla chips toppings that transform the salad into something truly magical.

Serve up the taco salad that Wendy’s customers can’t get enough of as a quick lunch or a satisfying dinner that even the men in your house will ask for again and again.

A Beef-Free Version

Not everyone is comfortable eating red meat, and that is okay. Feel free to substitute an equal amount of ground turkey or even tofu crumbles for the two pounds of ground beef in the recipe. Today you can even find highly rated mock meat from companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible. Many people swear that they are unable to taste the difference between these products and real ground beef.

There is just one drawback when it comes to these high-end meat alternatives. They are usually three to four times the cost of ordinary ground beef.

The extra expense may be worth it for you, but if you want to save some money while still going meat-free, you can try your hand at making homemade ground beef substitute using TVP. TVP, properly known as texturized vegetable protein, is made from defatted soy flour. Luckily, it is much tastier than it sounds since TVP has little or no taste when it is unflavored.

Asians and vegetarian restaurants have been using TVP for decades, but it is still relatively unknown among home cooks. There are lots of recipes online for flavoring TVP, including a popular version at A Beautiful Mess. You can find TVP at many larger supermarkets that have a vegetarian/vegan section and definitely online.


Here’s what you need to make the chili and taco salad:

For the chili:

  • Ground beef
  • Tomato juice
  • Tomato puree
  • Canned red beans
  • Canned pinto beans
  • Onion (large)
  • Celery
  • Green bell pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Ground cumin
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Dried oregano
  • Sugar
  • Cayenne pepper

For the salad:

  • Mesclun mix salad
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Tortilla chips (round)
  • Tomato
  • Salsa or Picante sauce
Wendy's taco salad ingredients

How to Make Wendy’s Taco Salad

To make the chili:

  1. In a skillet, brown the ground beef; drain.
  2. Put the drained beef and the remaining chili ingredients in a 6-quart pot.
  3. Cover the pot and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes.
  4. You can make the chili ahead of time and then reheat a portion of it in a skillet.
homemade Wendy's chili in a skillet

To make the taco salad:

  1. Place lettuce into a bowl.
  2. Chop the tomato.
chopped tomatoes and a knife on a cutting board
  1. Add 1 cup of chili on top of the lettuce.
  2. Place the shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped tomatoes, and salsa on top of the chili.
a bowl of homemade Wendy's taco salad

Tips For Cooking and Serving Wendy’s Salad

  • Get the freshest ground beef possible. Just like coffee, you don’t want your ground beef hanging around for too long. If your local store has a butcher department, ask them to grind two pounds of 80 to 85 percent lean chuck on medium.
  • There are no rules when it comes to choosing toppings. Whatever you usually put on your chili is fine. Avocados are a great addition or try substituting queso fresco for cheddar cheese.
  • Serve the chili warm, not hot. Hot chili will wilt your greens, and cold chili won’t be very pleasant to eat. About 15 or 20 seconds in the microwave is all it takes to warm your chili to the right temperature.

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overhead view of homemade Wendy's taco salad

Love Mexican food? Try these recipes

Best Wendy’s Salad Recipes

Be sure to check out more of my easy Mexican food recipes and the best fast food copycat recipes.

homemade Wendy's Taco Salad and a fork

Wendy’s Taco Salad

Learn how to make Wendy’s Taco Salad at home with this easy copycat recipe. Enjoy a tasty dinner salad with crisp greens, homemade Wendy’s beef chili, Cheddar cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, salsa, and Dorito chips. The best salad to make for Taco Tuesday or any day of the week!
5 from 8 votes
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Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Taco salad, Wendy’s taco salad
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 852kcal


Wendy's Chili

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 quart tomato juice
  • 1 29 ounce can tomato puree
  • 1 15 ounce can red beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 15 ounce can pinto beans rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground 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

Salad Ingredients

  • 24 ounces Mesclun mix salad Mix of iceberg, Romaine, and more
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 8 ounces tortilla chips
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 8 tablespoons Salsa like Pace picante


Chili directions

  • In a skillet, brown the ground beef; drain. Put the drained beef and the remaining ingredients in a 6-quart pot. Cover the pot; let it simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes.

Wendy's Taco Salad Assembly

  • Place 6 ounces of lettuce on each plate.
  • Add 1 cup of warm chili on top of lettuce.
  • Garnish each salad with 1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, 2 tablespoons of sour cream, 2 ounces tortilla chips, 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes. Top each salad with 2 tablespoons of salsa if desired.


The chili makes more than 4 portions that you will need for the salads. 


Calories: 852kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 54g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Cholesterol: 125mg | Sodium: 1629mg | Potassium: 1566mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 6554IU | Vitamin C: 33mg | Calcium: 488mg | Iron: 9mg

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. April Steele

    I wish I would have looked at the picture closely because technically it should be called a chili salad instead of a taco salad. Chili , salad, nachos and a salad is what the taco salad consists of. There is no taco anywhere.

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