Easy Wendy’s Copycat Chili Recipe + Video

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This Wendy’s copycat chili tastes just as good as the restaurant version! Extra hearty from ground beef and beans, there’s plenty of heat and flavor from the canned veggies and spices. Make this easy copycat Wendy’s chili recipe for dinner tonight in only 30 minutes. Copycat recipes like this are the best! 

titled collage for wendy's chili recipe


 

Want an amazing salad to go with copycat Wendy’s chili? Try my Apple Pecan Salad copycat and you have the perfect meal!

It’s safe to say that this Wendy’s Chili Copycat Recipe is one of my favorite chili recipes because it’s the ultimate comfort food!

Give this easy recipe a try and I promise there will be no food waste! 

browning ground beef for wendy's copycat chili

Wendy’s Copycat Chili 

Not only does this dish burst with flavor, but the green chiles really give it character, with subtle smokiness and heat.

Plus, this Wendy’s copycat chili recipe is a fraction of the cost to make at home, and there’s plenty for leftovers! You can make some homemade cornbread too!

If you prefer poultry instead of beef, try my Slow Cooker Turkey Chili. It has similar ingredients, and it’s ready to serve at the end of a long day.

Or, make vegetarian chili for a plant-based option that is just as filling. 

Jalapeno and bell peppers add heat and texture, while a secret ingredient ties all of the flavors together perfectly.

wendys-chili-copycat-6-wide-9443786

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Ground beef – Opt for a leaner blend to avoid too much grease, and be sure to drain off any in the pan after browning. 

    You could also substitute ground chicken or turkey if you’d like.
  • Canned beans – Pinto and kidney beans are tender and hearty. You could swap in black or white beans, but the overall flavor will change a bit.
  • Diced tomatoes and green chiles – Choose the fire roasted versions of both to add that “simmered all day” flavor to your Wendy’s copycat chili.
  • Spices – Onion powder and cumin are the base for us to build on. New Mexico chili powder is slightly fruity, but you can use a regular chili powder blend if needed. 

    Stick with smoked paprika as sweet paprika has a different flavor profile.

How To Make Copycat Wendy’s Chili

First, brown the ground beef in a large pot. Then, add the rest of the ingredients and simmer until done. It’s that simple!

I like to drain and rinse the canned beans when I make this dish, but it’s not required. 

Keep in mind that the extra liquid will affect the consistency, so you may need to leave out the additional water.

Helpful Tips and Tricks

  • Customize the spices. Adjust the amount of red pepper flakes based on how spicy you like your food. 

    Cumin and chili powder also adds some heat, so feel free to experiment with those amounts as well.

    Taste as you go and add more until it’s just right.
  • Develop those flavors. The longer chili simmers, the more the flavors come together. 

    While this copycat Wendy’s chili recipe tastes delicious either way, you could easily leave it on the stove for 3 to 4 hours if you’d like.
  • Want to save some time? I love making a big batch of crockpot ground beef as meal prep for future recipes. 

    Just portion it out into storage bags and freeze. Then, add it to your chili, soup, or baked dishes without even having to thaw it first!
stirring a pot of copycat wendy's chili

FAQ – Common Recipe Questions

How long does chili last in the refrigerator? 

When kept in a sealed container, Wendy’s copycat chili should stay fresh for 3 to 4 days. You can also freeze leftovers for up to 6 months and thaw them in the refrigerator before reheating.

Be sure to allow the chili to cool before storing it, and leave space in the freezer containers for it to expand. 

Having an airtight container is key to keeping this delicious chili fresh and is super important for storing leftover chili. This will keep it fresh and ready for the next day.

What is in Wendy’s chili seasoning? 

The exact ingredients listed on packets of Wendy’s Hot Chili sauce are: water, corn syrup, salt, distilled vinegar, natural flavors, xantham gum, and extractives of paprika.

Instead of hunting down Wendy’s chili seasoning or stockpiling a pile of packets, we can pack just as much heat with pantry ingredients!

Onion powder, ground cumin, New Mexico chili powder, smoked paprika, and red pepper flakes are all you need for a scrumptious bowl of copycat Wendy’s chili.

Can you make this Wendy’s copycat chili recipe in the crockpot?

Absolutely! Follow the recipe as directed, but combine everything in your slow cooker instead. Cook on Low for 4 to 6 hours or High for 2 to 3 hours. You’ll just want to make sure that the fresh ground beef gets cooked all the way before serving. 

The fun part about making this family favorite in the crock pot, is that you can prep and make this copycat version in advance so that it’s ready and waiting for you to enjoy. The first time you make it, you’ll be sure to make a double batch the next time! 

What foods pair well with this simple Wendy’s chili recipe?

I’m all about adding fun ingredients and tastes to this homemade Wendy’s chili. You can add hot sauce for heat, tortilla chips for a crunch, and don’t forget that cayenne pepper is a great way to add some spice, too. 

Some people like to have a side of french fries to dip into their chili, and I’m all about that! Don’t forget that you can add a little bit of sour cream to the top and some fresh green chilies as well. 

The fun part about making this stove top chili is that you can easily add your favorite toppings to this easy chili recipe. 

lifting a ladle of homemade chili out of a pot

Enjoy!
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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small bowl of copycat wendy's chili

bowl of wendys chili

Wendy’s Copycat Chili + Video

Donna Elick
This Wendy’s copycat chili tastes just as good as the restaurant version! Make this easy chili recipe for dinner tonight in only 30 minutes.
5 stars from 3 reviews
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Method Stovetop
Servings 16 Cups

Ingredients
 

  • 2 pounds 93% lean ground beef
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 32 ounces tomato sauce, 4 8-ounce cans
  • 30.50 ounces pinto beans, 2 15.25-ounce cans, rinsed and drained
  • 30.50 ounces kidney beans, 2 15.25-ounce cans, rinsed and drained
  • 29 ounces fire-roasted diced tomatoes with garlic, 2 14.5-ounce cans
  • 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
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, crushed
  • 1 cup water

Instructions
 

  • 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.
  • Simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Video

Donna’s Notes

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.
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!

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 258cal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 747mg | Sugar: 4g | Fiber: 11g | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 6mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Title text (pictured in a white bowl): Wendy's Copycat Chili

Originally published January 2014, updated and republished January 2024

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44 Comments

  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.

    1. 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.

      1. 5 stars
        Nothing in the world tops Hatch chillies. I wait anxiously every year for them The hot ones are the best! One year I dehydrated a bunch so I have a stockpile 🤣

  2. 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. 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!

    2. 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

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

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

    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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

    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!

  9. 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!

  10. 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!

  11. 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!☺

  12. 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!!

  13. 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

  14. 5 stars
    The most delicious chili recipe out there, and even better than the one you get at Wendy’s. I make this with cornbread waffles for Sunday dinners and the whole family loves it!

  15. I have made this with ground beef and also with chunks (1″ to 2″) of chuck roast. I like to put it covered into a low (200 to 250 deg.F) oven and cook it slowly for a few to 5 hours until the meat is tender.

  16. 5 stars
    This chili recipe is a total winner! So easy to make and it tastes just like the restaurant version. Donna and Chad really nailed it with this one.

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