Copycat Wendy’s Chili

Mike tried this recipe on February 19, 2023

Okay, I already know what you’re thinking. Why in the world is a native Texan posting a recipe for a “non-Texas” chili? Well, the simple truth is while we Texans are very proud of our culinary heritage, “chili” as a dish has many different variations found all over the country, each with their own followings. For example, some people like chili made with cuts of meat such as turkey, chicken, or ground beef, while others prefer meatless/vegetarian chili (I’m not one of them). Other ingredients such as beans, tomatoes, other vegetables, and different combinations of spices also have their supporters and detractors. But, one thing is very clear: they all can trace their heritage back to the original “Bowl of Red” that got its start in San Antonio (read more about the history of Texas Chili here).

Of all the “non-Texas” chili I’ve ever had, one of the best is offered in Wendy’s restaurants. A little personal background: I worked in a Wendy’s for about three years right after graduating from high school and starting into college. I learned how to make it, and I liked the fact that you could enjoy the flavor without burning your tongue off (although they did offer hot sauce packets if you really felt the need). I still enjoy eating it today, and decided that it was time to try making it at home. Obviously it’s been a lot of years since I made it in the store, and the recipe for it has changed quite a bit since then (for instance, we never used pinto beans in it – only red kidney beans). Plus, the recipe I knew made a five gallon batch, which is way too much unless you’re hosting a chili supper. This recipe is a little more reasonably sized and is prepared in a slow cooker, much like the way we cooked it all those years ago.

Adapted from Key Ingredient

Copycat Wendy’s Chili

Difficulty: Beginner Prep Time 15 mins Cook Time 4 hrs Total Time 4 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 12
Best Season: Suitable throughout the year


A "copycat" version of the chili sold in Wendy's restaurants.

Adapted from Key Ingredient



  1. In a large skillet, brown the ground beef over medium-high heat, breaking it up into small crumbles as it cooks. Drain off any fat.

  2. Place cooked meat in a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients and mix until well blended.

  3. Cook on Low setting for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally. If desired, garnish with shredded cheese and/or diced onions when serving.

Nutrition Facts

Servings 12

Amount Per Serving
Calories 525kcal
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 11.1g18%
Saturated Fat 3.9g20%
Cholesterol 67mg23%
Sodium 835mg35%
Potassium 2290mg66%
Total Carbohydrate 68.5g23%
Dietary Fiber 17.2g69%
Sugars 5.6g
Protein 42.3g85%

Calcium 14 mg
Iron 58 mg

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.


  • As listed, this recipe produces a chili that has a mild to mid level of heat.
    • To make it milder, reduce the amount of chili powder.
    • To make it hotter and add more intense flavor, increase the amount of cumin.
    • Wendy's offers packets of hot sauce on request. To imitate, offer your favorite hot sauce on the side when serving.
  • Crushed tomatoes can be substituted if tomato puree is not available.
  • Wendy's serves chili with a garnish of shredded cheese and/or chopped onions on request. Both are included here as options.
  • Alternate cooking method: instead of a slow cooker, this can be prepared in a large cookpot or Dutch oven on the stovetop. After combining ingredients, simmer on low-medium heat for 90 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so to prevent sticking.
Keywords: Wendy's, chili, ground beef, kidney beans, pinto beans, tomatoes, restaurant, copycat recipe
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