You might think Wendy’s has top secret recipes however I am sharing with you an authentic Copycat Wendy’s Chili recipe that you can make at home.

There are a few key secrets to making it, just like Wendy’s restaurant, that I am going to share with you. This Wendys chili can be made stovetop or mixed up and allowed to simmer in your crockpot all day.

wendys chili in a bowl

Be sure and read through this post. I have shared a lot of tips to make this the most authentic copycat of Wendy’s chili recipe.

How I found what is really in Wendy’s chili

This recipe started when I checked out a cookbook with restaurant recipes from the library. I was newly married and was trying to find the perfect chili recipe that tasted like our favorite take-out chili.

 I copied the recipe on the small index card minus the beans. It took a few years to convert my husband to like beans in his chili.  Over time I had to glue the small card onto a bigger one, and we made a few changes like using stewed tomatoes and canned green chilis.

Copycat Wendy's Chili old recipe card

It didn’t start as the perfect recipe; it sort of evolved over the course of 20 or so years. You can tell by our recipe card. Many pots of chili have been made using this recipe card.

I changed up the recipe again when I originally published this post by looking carefully at the ingredients listed on the Wendys website.

What is Wendy’s top secret chili ingredient?

There are really two things that make a Wendy’s copycat pot of chili amazing.

  • This secret might surprise you, but time is the key! It’s all about the cooked beef they put in the chili
  • There is a touch of sweetness with the 6 grams of sugar per cup.
  • Wendy’s chili has two kinds of beans in the recipe.

Ingredients: What’s in Wendy’s chili?

cans of beans, peppers, celery, onion, cumin hamburger, chili powder, garlic powder

I have carefully researched and broken down the ingredients to give you the most authentic copycat recipe.

What is Wendy’s chili meat made from?

Wendy’s takes leftover char-grilled patties and puts them in the fridge for the next batch of chili. When they are ready to make chili, they put the patties in a pot of boiling water. Boiling the burgers reduces the fat content, so the chili will not be greasy. Also, boiling brings back some of the moisture to the meat after sitting in the fridge.

I start with a fresh hamburger for my recipe, and after it is cooked, I rinse and drain it with boiling water.

What kind of beans to use?

I originally got this recipe in the mid-1980s. I am updating this post in 2022, so I checked back on the restaurant website, and they have changed their beans in the ingredients list. They did have kidney beans and pink beans listed. However, now they have chili beans listed as prepared pinto beans and kidney beans.

Does Wendy’s put sugar in their chili?

Again I referred to the restaurant’s ingredient list on their website. There are 6 grams of sugar in each serving of chili.

🔪 Instructions

  1. Cook hamburger in a large pot over medium heat. Break apart the hamburger as you stir it. You will want your hamburger to be pea-size pieces. Cook until there is no pink left in the meat.
  2. Drain off the fat. I like to tip the pan and then spoon off any grease. Then blot the meat with paper towels to get the last bit of fat from the meat.
  3. Next, add onions, green peppers, and celery to the cooked hamburger. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes to tenderize the vegetables.
  4. Add tomatoes, beans, seasonings, and water. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer covered for 1 hour.

💭Tip for cooking hamburger

One of my favorite tools in my kitchen is my simple meat chopper. The curved 5-blade design makes cooking hamburger quicker and easier when I need it crumbled.

wendy's chili in a bowl with cheese near by

Using a slow cooker

If you would like to use this recipe in a slow cooker, then cook your hamburger as instructed. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir and cover. Cook on low for 4-5 hours.

If you find that your chili is too runny, be sure and visit my post Tips For How To Thicken Chili In A Slow Cooker.

Toppings for chili

 This chili recipe is great served with toppings. If serving a crowd, fill bowls with these topping ideas so guests can pick and choose their favorites.

How to make Wendy’s Chili Cheese Baked Potato

If you like Wendy’s fluffy potatoes topped with their signature chili, then I have good news! To make baked potatoes like Wendys visit my Air Fryer Baked Potatoes Recipe. The potatoes turn out perfect every time, with a creamy center and crisp salty skins.

This would be a great way to make a meal using your leftover Wendy’s copycat chili recipe. Top with shredded cheese and some hot sauce.

Perfect Air Fryer Baked Potatoes Recipe on a plate with parsely and butter

How to reheat chili

Here is the best part about leftover chili, it tastes even better the next day. Reheat leftover chili on the stovetop at medium-low heat. You can also heat it by the bowl in the microwave. Just be sure the internal temperature reaches 165 F.

How to freeze

  1. Allow to chili to cool down to room temperature.
  2. Use thick, durable freezer bags or airtight freezer containers. Be sure to label and date your freezer bags.
  3. Lay the bags flat on a cookie sheet and freeze for 24 hours. Then remove it from the cookie sheet and stack in your freezer.

To reheat, defrost in the fridge overnight. Or, to defrost quickly, use the defrost setting on a microwave. Be careful not to overheat the chili in the bag when defrosting in a microwave. It is best to put the chili in a sauce pot and heat it on your stove to 165 degrees.

Canning chili

Canning soup and stew is easy and safe when you use a few basic canning safety tips. You can have a quick heat and eat dinner ready on a cold winter night in minutes.

Make a double batch of Wendy’s Copycat Chili according to the recipe card at the bottom of this post. Then visit my post, How To Make Canned Chili, for complete canning instructions.

Is Wendy’s Chili healthy?

According to the restaurant’s website, Wendy’s chili has 240 calories per cup, 11 grams of fat, 22 grams of carbs, and 6 grams of sugar. They also have additives in their chili. For this copycat recipe, I have chosen to leave out the modified corn starch, calcium chloride, yeast extract, citric acid, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, xanthan gum, and soy lecithin that Wendy’s adds to their chili.

Did you enjoy making this recipe?

Could you be a gem and leave a comment and rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ below? This helps others find yummy recipes to make for their family and friends. Calling all food paparazzi 📸 share your creation on IG, and tag me @intentionalhospitality.

5 from 4 ratings

Wendy’s Chili Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 16 cups
You might think Wendy's has top secret recipes however I am sharing with you an authentic Copycat Wendy's Chili recipe that you can make at home.

Note: Be sure to read through the recipe’s post for tips and details about this recipe.


  • 2 pounds ground beef, 90% extra lean
  • 1 20 ounce tomato sauce
  • 1 cup onions, diced small
  • 1/3 cup green pepper, diced smal
  • 1 cup celery, diced very small
  • 1 14 oz stewed tomatoes, canned, slightly purred with a blender
  • 1 14 oz kidney beans, canned
  • 1 14 oz pinto beans, canned
  • 2 teaspoons cumin, I believe this is what they call "spices" in their list of ingredients.
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, mild
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups water


  • Cook hamburger in a stockpot and drain off the fat. Rinse and drain the meat in a colander with boiling water or extremely hot tap water. Return to stockpot.
  • Add onions, green peppers and celery to hamburger, cook on medium heat for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender
  • Add tomatoes, sugar, beans, seasonings, and water. Simmer for 1 hour.
Serving: 1cup, Calories: 245kcal, Carbohydrates: 20g, Protein: 15g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 40mg, Sodium: 575mg, Potassium: 590mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 306IU, Vitamin C: 9mg, Calcium: 54mg, Iron: 3mg
Cuisine: American
Course: Soup
Author: Gina Dickson
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