Monday, January 13, 2020

Wendy's Copycat Chili (With Video)

This Wendy's copycat chili tastes just like the restaurant version. Make this hearty chili recipe for dinner tonight in 30 minutes!
titled photo (and shown): Wendy's Chili Copycat Recipe

Say what you will, Wendy's really makes some spectacular beef chili. It's one of their signature sides.

If you have ever eaten at Wendy's restaurant, you have to know about the chili. It's so thick, you can stand a spoon straight up in the bowl.

Well, now a fabulous restaurant recipe for hearty chili with beef and beans is available in your own kitchen!

Wendy's Copycat Chili

This recipe is bursting with flavor, the green chiles really give this chili great character; with a little smokiness and a little heat (adjust to your liking).

Chad was not really excited about the idea of making a copycat Wendy's chilli recipe at first.  He already had his own favorite recipe and is not a big fan of messing with perfection.

I have to say, after the chili was served, he was eating his words as he declared it to be FANTASTIC duplicate for WENDY'S CHILI!

Well, that was a week ago.  He has had it every day for lunch since then.  Yes!  Seriously, this hearty chili recipe is THAT good.

Well, back to the story. You know I actually worked at Wendy's for a short time when I was about 16.  Cashier... true story!

Wore one of those fabulous uniforms in the late '80s.  I ate Wendy's chilli every day when I was working there.  So, what happened you ask?  Well, we had a little disagreement over a manicure.

Apparently, there was a store policy against pretty nails.  We couldn't come to terms so I left.  A girl has to have priorities.

Well, Wendy's...  Now I have my manicure and your fabulous chili at home, whenever I want.

Wendy's Chili Recipe Tips:

  • Customize the spices. Add more or less red pepper flakes to adjust to the desired spiciness.  If you don’t like anything spicier than Big Red Gum, add a pinch.  If you like 4 alarm chili add more.
  • Simmer time. Honestly, you could simmer for 3-4 hours.  I simmer for 15 minutes, because I am quite impatient!  The flavor come together the longer it cooks, but trust me, it tastes delicious either way.
  • Why New Mexico Chile Powder? It has a deep dark reddish-brown color and features an earthy, sweet flavor and subtle, spicy heat.

    It is mildly hot and absolutely perfect for this hearty chili recipe. It creates a truly authentic flavor!

    New Mexico Chili Powder can be found in the international aisle in the bulk bags or on Amazon. If you are afraid the heat will be too much, you can use 1/2 New Mexico Chili Powder and 1/2 regular chili powder.

Tools to make this recipe


With love from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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homemade version of Wendys chilli topped with shredded cheese and scallions in white bowl
Check out more of our favorite soup and stew recipes: 

Watch the Wendy's chili recipe video below!

Yield: 16 Cups   

This recipe is for the Wendy's chili lover in you. Say what you will, Wendy's really makes some spectacular beef chili. It's one of their signature sides, so if you have ever eaten at Wendy's you have to know about the chili. It's so thick and rich you can stand a spoon straight up in it.
prep time: 15 mins    cook time: 15 mins     total time: 30 mins


  • 2 pounds 93% lean ground beef
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 2 (15.25-ounce) cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 (15.25-ounce) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes with garlic
  • 1 (7-ounce) can roasted green chiles, diced and peeled
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons New Mexico chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • pinch – 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup water


  1. In a large 12-quart, heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat, add ground beef, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper.  Cook until browned, drain drippings if necessary.  Add remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer.
  2. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Serve and enjoy!


  1. Add more or less red pepper flakes to adjust to the desired spiciness.  If you don’t like anything spicier than Big Red Gum, add a pinch.  If you like 4 alarm chili add more.
  2. Honestly, you could simmer for 3-4 hours.  I simmer for 15 minutes, I am quite impatient!  The flavor comes together the longer it cooks, but trust me it tastes delicious either way!

titled photo collage (and shown): Wendy's Chili Copycat Recipe

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  1. This sounds great Donna! I love Wendy's chili, but like your husband I have my own way to make chili. Also like your husband I'm going to have to try this! Is New Mexico chili powder a brand of chili powder or a type?

    1. NM Chili powder is a type. You can use regular chili powder if you can not find New Mexico variation. It is a little smoky and it adds great flavor. Let us know how it goes. Enjoy.

    2. Or try, Hungarian paprika, Mexican paprika. Nice flavors.... :)

  2. I love chili and a pretty manicure! Pass me a bowl!

    1. BarbaraRose FarberOctober 1, 2017 at 3:07 PM

      Yummy......but I used fresh roasted green chili
      I just happen to live in New Mexico, and just happen to have my yearly order of Hatch, New Mexico Green Chili in the freezer. I usually order 25 pounds roasted and frozen. So you can bet I did not use canned Green Chili.
      Thanks for the great recipe.

  3. Just had this chili for dinner. It was delicious!! Thanks for the recipe.

  4. I tried Wendy's chili about two weeks ago and I was blown away at how delish it was! You bet I am going to try your recipe. Looks wonderful!

    1. Awesome! Let us know how it goes.

    2. Delish! Cooked it till the boil and put in a crock pot for about 4 hours. This chili was just waiting for us after the basketball game! Thank you from the bottom of our bowls!

    3. I'm sure this chili is delicious but I have made chili at wendy's and all they use is the left over meat off the grill, tomato juice, crushed tomatoes and mccormic chili sesoning packets . Some store dice onion and green peppers to sprinkle on top with some grated cheese

    4. Too funny, that's exactly how i make my chili and i always thought Wendy's tasted alot like mine.

    5. It looks like you could easily halve this recipe for smaller families.

    6. Why make half when you can stow leftovers in the freezer because this tastes amazing a few weeks or months later.

  5. Just finished making this, and it is delicious. I substituted fresh onions, garlic, and bell peppers, but this recipe is spot on. Now I don't have to drive 60 miles to go to Wendy's. The one thing that is missing is celery.

  6. I kind of stopped eating Wendy's chili when it made headlines around 10 years ago. Even though the whole thing turned out to be a scam, since that time I have given Wendy's chili a big thumbs down.

  7. I'm surprised to hear anyone call Wendy's chili thick. The last time I had it, it was so watery that I vowed I'd never eat it again. Here's hoping your recipe is much better. If you want to copy some REALLY good chili, try Steak 'n' Shake's or Cincinnatti Chili's. Now THAT is good chili.

  8. I think it's even better the next day!!! Good stuff!!

    1. Hey Kim....I wonder how many people out there would enjoy chili much more if they heeded your comment. Chili that is properly prepared will always taste better the next day. And, if there is any left, it even improves on the third day. Pinto beans turn out the same as chili....the older it gets, the better the taste gets....By the way, today (01/22/16) in Glasgow, Kentucky is a very good chili day. Temp is 28 degrees. It has been snowing hard for over 4 hours with about 5 inches on the ground and still peppering down.

  9. Cincinnati Chili is an acquired taste, so one is used to or expecting Texas style chili, Don't do it!!

  10. Can I use fresh tomatoes instead?

  11. Your nails were a priority over making a living and contributing to society and taking care of yourself? Not a good look for a female.

    1. Get over yourself... she was being funny not to mention I'm sure she was a teenager.

  12. To the Anonymous with the snide comment...she said she was 16! Probably only working 12 hours a week for personal spending money, and maybe save a little. Why don't you MYOB? Jeez Louise.

  13. This looks interesting. Wendy's Chili is not one of my favorite dishes, but your photo looks delicious and I do love spicy food. I usually put peppers in my risotto dishes.

    Do you have any spicy risotto recipes? I'd really love to know some traditional ones.

  14. There are only 2 of us and this recipe makes tons. How can I make only enough for 2

    1. I would say the recipe makes 8 grown adult (2 cups) servings. You could reduce the recipe by 4 to get the proper serving size you are looking for.

      1/2 pound 93% lean ground beef
      1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
      1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
      1 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
      1/2 (15.25 ounce) cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
      1/2 (15.25 ounce) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
      1/2 (14.5 ounce) cans fire roasted diced tomatoes with garlic
      1/4 (7 ounce) can roasted green chiles, diced and peeled
      1/2 teaspoons onion powder
      1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
      1 1/2 teaspoon New Mexico chili powder
      1 scant teaspoon smoked paprika
      smallest pinch crushed red pepper flakes
      1/4 cup water

      Enjoy and let us know how it goes!

  15. Have made this a few times, just like Wendy's! Yum!

    1. Holli@TheSlowRoastedItalianOctober 2, 2017 at 4:23 PM

      We are so happy you enjoyed it, David!

  16. I make this all the time, taste just like Wendy’s!

    1. Holli@TheSlowRoastedItalianOctober 5, 2017 at 8:03 AM

      We are so happy you enjoy it, Sandy!!!

  17. Last time I had Wendy's chili it was on the thinner side and kinda blah but from the good reviews here I'll try this one. It does look yummy!

    1. Holli@TheSlowRoastedItalianNovember 15, 2017 at 8:40 AM

      Enjoy and let us know how it goes!

  18. Absolutely Delicious! Made this tonight to savor as husband and I watched the Jags beat the Pats (our new lucky Chili? 😄) I did add sauteed onion and garlic, but otherwise made per the recipe. I have another Chili recipe that includes cubed beef and 7 varieties of dried chiles but it takes a good 3-4 hours to make. This recipe is so full flavored and quick, that it will be added to our rotation. Thanks for a delicious recipe!

  19. can this recipe be made in a slow cooker?

  20. Your chili recipe,Donna, sounds very good to me.It looks very delicious and tasty! I will make this for sure! The chili at Wendy's is to watered down & meatless to me. Thanks for sharing!☺

  21. Delicious!! Browned the ground beef on the stovetop, and threw everything into a slow cooker. Four hours on high, and we had fabulous chili. Great recipe, and easy to adjust to one's personal preferences. Due to sodium issues, I used no-salt added beans and tomatoes. This is now our favorite chili recipe!!

  22. I will try this. Having worked at Wendy's for 20 years this is way off from the ingredients that Wendy's uses, it has celery, green pepper, and onion, no pinto beans. But I'll try it and see, who knows may be my new favorite


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