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Wendy’s Chili Recipe [Copycat Version That’s Better Than The Original]

I don’t know about you but I love a good bowl of chili, and I thoroughly enjoying making a huge pot of chili on a cool, crisp day.

I’ve made a few different types of chili in the past, including a Hearty No Bean Chili and a Taco Soup (it’s very similar to chili.) I’m always up for trying new recipes, so when I saw a variety of food bloggers attempting to replicate Wendy’s chili recipe, I knew I had to give it a try.

And boy am I glad that I did.

I really enjoyed this recipe, and I’m going to show you exactly how to make Wendy’s chili with this recipe and step-by-step instructions.

Is Wendy’s Chili Recipe “Top Secret”?

One of the common beliefs about fast food chains is that they have strictly guarded “top secret” recipes for all their multi-ingredient menu items. 

In reality, most fast food menu items are very easily reproducible by even amateur home chefs, and Wendy’s chili recipe is so exception.

In this case, my goal was to create the best possible chili while emulating the flavors that fans of Wendy’s chili love. The goal was not to make the chili taste exactly like Wendy’s chili, because while Wendy’s has a strong chili recipe for a fast food chain… it’s still a fast food chain, and those aren’t exactly known as the standard when it comes to foods like chili.

I think the recipe that you’ll find on this page will create something even better than what you’d get at Wendy’s.

copy cat wendy's chili222

Wendy’s Chili Recipe Hack

This recipe actually reminds me of the chili that my mom used to make when I was a kid. Mom’s chili always was one of my favorite chili recipes and probably the best that I ever had, so I was happy to discover something that tasted very similar to hers.

If you are reading this recipe after trying out some similar recipes from other food blogs, you should know that I made a few changes or “hacks” to get a better result:

  1. I used light red kidney beans rather than dark red kidney beans.
  2. I used chili beans rather than pinto beans (ok, chili beans are pinto beans…dressed up in chili sauce… but I think it makes a difference!)
  3. I used 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper rather than 1/8 tsp. I like my chili with a bit of a kick, so if previous recipes have been a bit bland for you, I think you’ll appreciate the extra kick in this one.

I hope you enjoy the recipe!

Recipe: Copycat Wendy's Chili

Recipe: Copycat Wendy's Chili

Yield: 10
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 C chopped celery
  • 1 46 oz bottle of tomato juice
  • 1 29 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 C chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz can light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Instructions

  1. In a large pot over medium high heat, brown the ground beef along with the onion, bell pepper and celery. Drain after cooking and return to the pot.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot, mix well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 hours.

Notes

Serving sizes are approximate

Wendy’s Chili Recipe Ingredients List

What I love about this recipe is that the full ingredient list can be found immediately in most kitchens.

There’s nothing crazy you need to go out of your way to source here.

  • 2 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 C chopped celery
  • 1 46 oz bottle of tomato juice
  • 1 29 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 C chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz can light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Wendy’s Chili Seasoning

If you wanted to just create a seasoning that you could add to any chili in order to give it a bit of a Wendy’s vibe, here’s what I’d recommend.

Combine and mix the following dry ingredients in a plastic bag or seasoning jar:

  • 1/4 C chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

You could keep this on hand to add to any chili in order to bring out the flavor a bit more and make it a taste a bit closer to Wendy’s chili recipe, although keep in mind that a lot of the flavor comes from the wet ingredients as well, so this won’t be a perfect process.

Ways To Enjoy Wendy’s Copycat Chili Recipe

Once you’ve finished making this chili, there are so many different great ways to enjoy this recipe.

It’s quite good plain without any additions.

It’s also amazing topped with cheese, sour cream, crackers, or any other topping that you like to add to your chili.

But you can get even more creative.

For one of our leftover chili nights, I cooked some elbow macaroni and we had chili mac. You can’t go wrong with chili mac!

Throw it on top of a baked potato or in a bread bowl with cornbread, cheese and sour cream.

Make chili dogs by topping hot dogs with the chili recipe and sticking them under the broiler until they are crisp.

Add it to a sandwich or quesadilla for a massive dash of flavor and fun twist on a classic meal you already enjoy.

If you can imagine it, you can make it.

Additional Modifications You Can Make To Wendy’s Chili Recipe

While our goal here is to make something resembling Wendy’s chili, you don’t have to stop there.

Here’s a few modifications you can make to personalize your chili to your own preferences:

  • Add extra kidney beans for a heartier chili and an added fiber boost.
  • Add bacon or other meats to turn it into the type of dish that brings all the boys to the yard.
  • Add carrots, green beans, or other vegetables for a slightly different flavor profile.
  • Add additional spices like jalapeños to really give it a great kick.

There’s really no right or wrong way to do chili…

… okay maybe that’s not quite true. I’ve definitely seen some wrong ways to do chili.

That said, there are a metric ton of right ways to enjoy chili, and I think this Wendy’s chili recipe provides a great starting point to build from if you are like me and enjoy experimenting a hundred different ways with various foods and recipes.

copy cat wendy's chili33

 

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18 comments on “Wendy’s Chili Recipe [Copycat Version That’s Better Than The Original]”

  1. Yum! So glad you liked it, Julie – now I want chili for breakfast :)

  2. And I bet you’ve got another picture that’s going to get accepted to some food sites! :)

  3. Sounds good! I make a lot of chili in the winter – I’ll have to give this one a try!!

  4. I love chili this time of year. I’ve never thought to add tomato juice, good idea! Might have to make some for Sunday’s football games– go Broncos!!

  5. I’ve made this recipe quite a few times now – it’s become one of my husband’s most requested recipes!! Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  6. Great recipe!

  7. Pingback: Lightened Up Clam Chowder - This Gal Cooks

  8. How about a chili cheese burger for breakfast!

  9. This is way to much chili powder..it should be a lot less than in this recipe…it will burn your face off if you use this much chili powder

  10. Why can I not print this recipe?

    • Hi Gwen,
      It looks like something happened with the formatting of the post. I am correcting it now and you should be able to print in a few minutes. Thanks for bringing that to my attention! :)

    • Thanks for fixing this recipe…I love your website and now hope to get more recipes that I can print. Keep on keeping on!!!!

  11. I’ve been using this recipe since it’s been available. We like to double the green pepper & celery, and add a can of dark red kidney beans. One of our favorite dishes to make! Jerry & Rose

    Rating: 5
  12. No pinto beans?   Just kidney beans?