Home Copycat Recipes Wendy’s Chili Recipe

Wendy’s Chili Recipe

Wendy’s Chili is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods.

It’s like a warm hug on a cold day. Just a few spoonfuls can turn your day around.

Wendy's Copycat Chili

This Wendy’s Chili copycat recipe is made with ground beef, bell pepper, onions, diced tomatoes, kidney beans, pinto beans and spices.

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And trust me, that will warm you up from the inside out!

Throw on a few homemade ranch oyster crackers and some shredded cheese, and you’ll be in chili heaven!

Wendy’s Chili Recipe

You don’t have to leave home to get that classic Wendy’s flavor.

You can make this copycat chili recipe in your very own kitchen and have plenty of leftovers to enjoy.  

In fact, I think it’s even better on day 2. There’s just something about how the flavors meld together overnight.

But… do you know the secret of what makes Wendy’s Chili so unique?

Their beef is always fresh, never frozen. It’s also not made specifically for chili.

Instead, they use meat from the grilled hamburger patties that don’t make it into their burgers.

This gives it that uniquely charred, caramelized taste.

So, let’s get to it, shall we?

Chili with Chips on the Side


  • Ground Beef – For this recipe, it’s best to use beef with low fat content. Ground turkey is an excellent low-fat alternative if you’re looking for a healthier option. Be sure to brown the beef first before adding other ingredients. 
  • Chili Seasoning – My seasoning of choice is McCormick Mild Chili Seasoning, but feel free to choose whatever you like.
  • Onion – Just one will do. I like to wear a thin pair of gloves to avoid smelly hands. But you can also rub your hands and the cutting board with a slice of lemon.  
  • Beans – The kidney beans bring a sweeter quality to the chili, while the pinto beans give it a creamy texture and an earthy flavor.
  • Diced Tomatoes with Green Chili – My favorite is Rotel, but feel free to use any Rotel substitute you prefer.
  • Stewed Tomatoes – Tomatoes bring that rich, distinctive flavor that you can only find in a warm bowl of chili. You can use fresh tomatoes if you prefer, but I find the canned just make my life easier.
  • Tomato Sauce – I’m talking about plain tomato sauce here, so don’t confuse it for tomato juice or spaghetti sauce. Only tomato sauce will do.
  • Green Bell Pepper – Be sure to take out the pith and all the seeds!
  • Vinegar – Its acidity will heighten the flavors of the other ingredients. Balsamic vinegar works great, too. 

The Best Chili Toppings

There’s an endless variety of chili toppings you can use to make this dish pop.

And there are no rules, either, so go nut!

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That said, here are some of my personal favorites:

  • Shredded Cheese – I like the 4-cheese Mexican. A combination of Monterey Jack, Mild Cheddar, Queso Quesadilla, and Asadero cheese. 
  • Tortilla Chips – Adds an extra crunch and a bit of saltiness.
  • Avocados – I could put this on just about anything. And it’s pretty darn healthy!
  • Bacon – Adds a rich, smoky flavor to your chili. And a nice crunch. 
  • Tomatoes – This one is a bit more unusual. But I love a few fresh-cut cherry tomatoes on my chili. 
  • Sour Cream – Adds a creamy texture and helps cool it off. 
Bowl of Chili Sitting by a bowl of chips, lemons, and red pepper flakes

Can You Freeze Chili?

Sure you can! You can store chili for up to 3 months in an air-tight container. Just be sure to let it cool to room temperature first before placing in the freezer.

The History of Wendy’s Chili

If you’ve read this far, I assume you’re a fan of Wendy’s Chili. We can be friends now. But have you ever wondered how and when it all began? Well, here’s a little history lesson for you.

The first-ever Wendy’s restaurant opened its doors on November 1969 in Columbus, Ohio. Its famous chili has been on the menu since day one. That’s four decades of warm, spicy goodness. 

But did you know? The beef in Wendy’s famous chili is made from leftover burger patties. That’s part of what gives their chili that distinctive flavor.

But, how did Wendy’s came up with the idea? Well, burger joints almost always have unused leftover burgers at the end of the day. So instead of throwing those out, Wendy’s used them for chili. The rest is history.

Can You Make Wendy’s Chili in a Crockpot?

You sure can! Brown the ground beef, drain off the oil, and then add all the ingredients into a slow cooker. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours.

It’s a perfect meal for winter nights, game days, and get-togethers. 

Tips & Tricks for Making the Best Chili

  • Don’t get teary when chopping onions. Place the onions in the fridge for 30 minutes before chopping. Or if you’re like me (always in a rush), you can do 10 minutes in the freezer. Works like a charm.  
  • Cook the onion separately from the beef. Doing so will bring out the flavor and aroma of the onion.
  • Add more spice! Adjust the seasonings or throw in extra chili powder. Or maybe mix in a few minced chipotles or diced jalapenos.
  • Add a splash of beer. Like Guinness in beef stew, it’ll give the chili a deep, robust finish.

For this last variation, I need you to have an open mind.

If you want to enhance the flavor of your chili, a small amount of either dark chocolate, cinnamon, or strong coffee works wonders.

Add cinnamon or coffee at the same time as the other spices.

But if you’re going for the dark chocolate, add it in with the tomatoes and let it dissolve into the dish.

Try it and thank me later. 

More Chili Recipes You’ll Enjoy

Best Bowl of Chili
White Chicken Chili
Texas Roadhouse Chili

Wendy’s Chili Recipe



Prep time


Cooking time







This Wendy’s Chili copycat recipe is made with ground beef, bell pepper, onions, diced tomatoes, kidney beans, pinto beans and spices that will warm you up from the inside out!


  • 2 Tbsp 2 olive oil

  • 2 pounds 2 ground beef

  • 2 stalks celery

  • 1 onion (chopped)

  • 1 green bell pepper (chopped)

  • 3 (14 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes

  • 1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chiles

  • 1 (14 ounce) can tomato sauce

  • 1 cup 1 water

  • 2 (1.25 ounce) packages chili seasoning

  • 1 (14 ounce) can kidney beans (undrained)

  • 1 (14 ounce) can pinto beans (undrained)

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 Tbsp 1 White vinegar


  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  • Place the ground beef in the pot. Press down the beef to form one large patty. Let the bottom brown for 8 to 10 minutes. Use a spatula to break up the beef into bite-size crumbles. Cook until no longer pink. About 5 more minutes.
  • Stir in the celery, onion, and green bell pepper and cook until onion is translucent. Should take around 5 minutes.
  • Pour in stewed tomatoes, diced tomatoes with green chiles, tomato sauce, and water. Break up any large pieces of stewed tomatoes. (You can also run the stewed tomatoes through a food processor before adding if you like.) Stir in chili seasoning.
  • Add in the kidney beans and pinto beans. Salt and pepper to your desired taste. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. Mix vinegar into chili.
  • Enjoy!
Wendy's Copycat Chili Recipe

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Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

4 thoughts on “Wendy’s Chili Recipe”

  1. You did a great job on coping the taste. Made it exactly as you said the first time. Was great! The second time I used 1mild and 1hot. Didn’t change the overall taste just kicked it up a notch. (We live in Texas) even though we are not originally from texas. Food is spicier in texas. I really like this recipe alot hubby enjoyed it too. As I am commenting on this recipe.I decided to make a big pot of it today. Going to freeze some. Also, this is so good but is lower in calories then most recipes. Again it really does taste like wendys. Don’t leave out the tsp. Of white vinegar. It’s the secret ingredient!

  2. Better than Wendy’s! Rich flavor and perfect blend of veggies and spices. Cheese on top made it perfect. Thank you for sharing!


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