Don’t stop at the drive thru make Wendy’s Chili at home

Wendy’s Chili is a classic recipe that many people love. Wendy’s chili is made fresh everyday and you can do the same. Tomato juice really adds enhanced flavor to Wendy’s chili. You may want to start off with a little less chili powder, but we really do find the whole 1/4 cup isn’t too hot, but very flavorful.
Make a bowl of Wendy's Chili with this CopyKat Recipe

Wendy’s Chili

Please note: While Wendy’s may use grilled hamburger patties, I suggest that home cooks use ground meat for convenience. You can start by grilling patties first and then incorporating them into your chili if you desire.

Wendy's Chili

  • Author:
  • Recipe Type: Soup
  • Prep time:15 minutes
  • Cook time:1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Serves: 10
Wendy's Chili

You can make this mild-flavored Wendy’s chili anytime. This is easy to make, and makes enough that everyone can go back for a second bowl.


  • 2 pounds fresh ground beef
  • 1 quart tomato juice
  • 1 (29-ounce) can tomato puree
  • 1 (15-ounce) can red beans, drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chili powder (you may want to use less, as some people find this is too much)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (if you like real flavor, add more)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


In a skillet, brown the ground beef; drain. Put the drained beef and the remaining ingredients in a 6-quart pot. Cover the pot; let it simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes.

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  • Rachel

    Thank you for this recipe. Everytime I made chili my husband would say, “It doesn’t taste like Wendy’s.” I now nailed it. Thank You.

  • Tmac72

    THANK YOU for this recipe. Sorry for all of the ‘nit picky’ comments your getting. I do have a question though. I watched the video of you making this and didn’t think you drained the grease off of the meat before you started adding ingredients, but the recipe tells you to drain the grease… comments?

    • Stephanie Manley

      I didn’t drain the grease you are right, the meat was very lean. If your meat is greasy, by all means drain it.

  • bob

    Without knowing what the author means by chili powder I cannot use this recipe.

    Wiki has a good article about chili powder and the author seems to feel that “chili powder” is powdered chilis while powdered chilis with herbs, spices, and salt is a “chili powder blend.” I fully agree.

    Most recipe authors fail to understand this terminology when it comes to chili powder and then do not specify exactly what is meant by “chili powder” in the recipe.

    Here is a recipe for chili powder blend without salt:

    No salt chili powder blend recipe:

    This chili/chile powder recipe site also discuses the use of salt and other herbs in “chili powder.”

    So which is it? Salt or not? Chili powder or chili powder blend? If it is a blend with salt, which brand, as different brands have different amounts of salt? If a blend, what herbs and spices are in the blend and at what ratios? Also, if doing ratios by volume, what type of salt is used? Table, various sea salts, and kosher salt all have different amounts of salt per a given volume.

    Without knowing what the author means when they say “chili powder” it is impossible to duplicate this recipe.

    • Stephanie Manley

      Fascinating comment. I wonder where you live, in many grocery stores within the US this is typically a spice blend powder without salt. Thank you for the suggestion I should be more clear about my ingredients.

    • T05hA

      Whoa! lol Alton Brown to the rescue. :)

  • Yogiolivarez

    I worked at Wendys twenty years ago and their recipe for the Albuquerque store had a jar of pace Picante Salsa to it. This is probably a better substitute then some of the other suggestions.

  • Mrsmo48

    i would have really loved your video, but the ad running over on the side couldn’t be turned off and kept competing with you. LOL however, i got the gist of it all and will be making this soon! thanks for the recipe.

  • Christina

    Just made this today in the slow cooker and just added some franks hot sauce to it and it was amazing. Thanks sooo much, very tasty and really enjoyed it.

  • Pdav2gl

    yes it has a lot of tomatos in wendys chill

  • Mrsfu

    you know whats funny pioneer womans chili recipie is dead on to wendys.

  • Megan

    Please fix the chili powder amount!!! It’s obviously wrong. I used half the amount it calls for and thought that even an 1/8 of a CUP seemed ridiculously large. Sure enough, it was way too much and now it’s not edible. In this economy I didn’t exactly have the money to waste and that whole pot was not edible.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for your comment. First off let me say that I am very sorry your chili didn’t turn out well. I am very comfortable with the amount of chili powder that is listed, it is 1/4 cup, which is 3 tablespoons. Brands of chili powder that I have used with success are Penzeys, Mc Cormicks, The Spice House, some I bought from a dollar store, and a couple of other brands. I might suggest you add some additional tomatoes, or even water to stretch out the batch that you have.

      • Terry

        Great recipe…
        FYI 1/4 cup = 4 tablespoons not 3

    • Pdav2gl

      put some ketchup in it or cut it in half and when u make new batch ad this in without the stuff dont like

    • CookingMama

      Use your own powers of common sense, reasoning and use the amount of chili powder you like…..
      Recipes are adjustable to each personal taste, the adjustments need to be made by each individual.

    • T05hA

      I always have to add more than 4 tablespoons, wonder what kind of Chili powder you’re using. Might wanna try French’s Chili seasoning. Makes the best chili if you ask me.

  • Megan

    Please fix the chili powder amount!!! It’s obviously wrong. I used half the amount it calls for and thought that even an 1/8 of a CUP seemed ridiculously large. Sure enough, it was way too much and now it’s not edible. In this economy I didn’t exactly have the money to waste and that whole pot was not edible.

  • Yum!

    I am just rotflmao at the people who keep pointing out that Wendy’s doesn’t use fresh ground beef, they use up the cooked hamburgers. Folks, where do you think hamburgers come from? Anyway, thanks for the recipe, I’m going to try it this weekend but I don’t think I’m going to use the celery… I don’t seem to taste any in the cup that I just finished.

    • Beckywhite11

      I worked their, and it’s true they do use the hamburgers that where cooked, or slightly over cooked. dropped into a bucket & next day chopped up & made the process, everyday.

      • g

        Yeah, that’s not what she’s trying to say. She’s trying to say that hamburgers=ground beef, so essentially they are using ground beef.

    • T05hA

      There is definitely celery in it. Might not have made it with celery in the cup that you ate, might have been out. But it’s definitely in ours here in GA. I honestly think that is what gives it that wonderful unique flavor. If you like celery, try it.

      • Stephanie Manley

        The recipe does have celery in it.

        • T05hA

          Also just to add to this, Walmart has canned tomatoes with celery, onion and green peppers, I bought 2 cans of that and used it in place of the puree. Saved me from having to chop up celery, onion and peppers. Great Value brand.

          • Stephanie Manley

            I didn’t know that they had this!

          • T05hA

            It’s definitely the bees knees.

          • Stephanie Manley

            I will have to try this!

  • Chilimonger

    Wendy’s chili bears little resemblance to real chili. At best, it’s a bean soup with tomatoes. But Chili? No.

    • kklatham

      chili actually doesnt even contain beans to get technical

      • Anonymous

        Are you from Texas?

      • yippee

        in the mid-west, yeah, it does. you must live in the west.

    • kklatham

      chili actually doesnt even contain beans to get technical

    • kklatham

      chili actually doesnt even contain beans to get technical

    • TexasChiliGal

      Agreed. Wendy’s “chili” is NOT chili. But note, I DO really, really like it. It is a lot like a taco soup or something. Yum.

  • Eileen

    Yummmyyyyyy…Tastes great and like an original to me…thanks for sharing.



    • Penny Blossom

      All these subs make this a completely different recipe.

  • Ellen

    My, my folks are critical! Can’t wait to try this for an upcoming St. Patrick’s Day luncheon. A sister-in-law has been making a version for years. Always a big hit! Bless you for posting this!

    • stephaniemanley

      Thank you! I am so happy to hear that you have been enjoying this recipe for years.

  • me

    i worked at wendys their chili is not made fresh everyday they use old cooked hamburgers a can of red beans a can of pinto beans a can of premade chili tomatoes and a packet of chili powder and water and a thing of frozen vegetables homemade is much better then wengies

    • Brad Tjapkes

      The cooked patties that are not served on buns because they are broken or over cooked are counted out 10 lbs 8 oz and placed in freezer. When a batch of chili is to be made, a bag of meat is retrieved from the freezer, boiled out for 10 minutes which helps to reduce the fat content even further.
      If I had no meat in the freezer, I would take the meat off the grill when cooked then boil out.
      Once a chili batch is made and meat added, it must be cooked and served. The standard for chili was serve today, refrigerate leftovers. We could reheat a chili only ONCE. If that chili was not served it would be discarded.
      So to respond to this, Wendy’s chili is made fresh everyday. In the mornings or towards lunch you may get a reheat chili but it is my belief the chili is better reheated once.

  • Debbie

    My husband LOVES Wendy’s chili and begged me to find the recipe and make. It tastes exactly like the restaurant chili, and it made enough to freeze more meals!

    • T05hA

      Yep my hubby too. Anytime we get fast food, that’s always what he wants. So now I’ve learned the recipe (tweaked it) so it tastes just like Wendy’s Chili I don’t go unless I just don’t have time to cook. lol

      • Stephanie Manley

        Thank you very much!

  • April

    Ok so I’m sitting here eating Wendy’s Chili cause I love it soo much! And it had tomatos, two different knds of beans, and green peppers in it. This recipe does have any of those things. Guess I won ‘t be using this recipe to make Chili!

    • Stephanie

      Yes, the recipe has changed, since it was originally published :(

    • Chilihead

      You know, the recipe has green peppers in it.

  • Danielle

    I love that so many people didnt even clock that you said you’ve used a different kind of meat to Wendys and that’s clearly pointed out (well i got it!). ha.

    Anyway, i will be testing this out on a big Wendy’s chilli fan, so we’ll see!


    • Stephanie

      I am not certain why that gets pointed out often, but it does.

  • Patty B

    This is my favorite chili recipe ever. I’m trying it tonight with venison. MMMM can’t wait.

  • Donna

    can you make this in a slow cooker?
    I think as long as you brown the hamburger ahead of time, you can put everything in the cockpot and simmer away ~Stephanie

    • Erika

      I cooked this in the slow cooker twice. I browned the hamburger and threw everything else in (with little extra cumin and a can of diced fire roasted tomatoes). It came out great!

  • Amber

    Ok, I posted earlier today about trying the recipe out. I must admit after reading the reviews I was a skeptic it would be anything like Wendy’s resturant chilli. But I must say, this is without a doubt just like Wendy’s. I cooked it in a dutch oven on the stove for 4 hours on low heat. The only thing different I did was use 2 small cans of the diced tomatoes that are seasoned with oregano because I like tomatoes in my chilli. I give this recipe 5 stars!!

  • Amber

    I am going to try this recipe tonight. Although I had Wendy’s chilli at the beginning of the week, it still seems like is has some sort of stock or broth to it. I will post again tomorrow to let you know how it turned out. @stephanie, I bet you get sick of seeing the cooked patties comment. haha.

  • Pete Hommel

    I fixed this recipe for my girl friend and I the only part I had a problem with is the bell peppers were not quite as cooked as I like.Also i like “cubed tomatoes ” so i did not use the two cans of Puree and i used the entire can of the tomatoe juice except for on 16 oz glass which i drank and that was wonderful too.

  • Bob

    Here is the closest version we have found:
    2 pounds ground beef
    One 29-ounce can tomato sauce
    One 29-ounce can kidney beans (with liquid)
    One 29-ounce can pinto beans (with liquid)
    1 cup diced onion (1 medium onion)
    1/2 cup diced green chili (2 chilies)
    1/4 cup diced celery (1 stalk)
    3 medium tomatoes, chopped
    2 teaspoons cumin powder
    3 tablespoons chili powder
    1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
    2 teaspoons salt
    2 cups water

    1. Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat; drain off the fat.
    2. Using a fork, crumble the cooked beef into pea-size pieces.
    3. In a large pot, combine the beef plus all the remaining ingredients
    and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook, stirring every 15 minutes, for 2 to 3 hours.

    • t

      Wendy’s drains the liquid. It did when I worked there.

      • Stephanie

        Which liquid are the draining? Beans? Meat? something else?

        • Anonymous

          Wendy’s drains their kidney beans but not their chili beans.

  • Myself

    WOW Sue do you feel picked on?
    i have made this recipe for years and its great!! I do add the tomatoes. The recipe changed a bit over the years as I forgot or added stuff. I would certainly never use old hamburgers to make it! how silly!! It’s perfect the way it is written.

    • Stephanie

      No matter how many times I explain why I don’t use old hamburger patties, someone always comes up and tells me this is how the chili is made. I know this is how it is done, but I think it is a step we can skip for the home cook.

  • Sherry Smith

    They take the leftover cooked hambugers chop them and add water to a pot and boil the grease off the meat and rinse before adding the other mixture.

  • Desilars

    I used two kinds of beans like many people suggested. I also used petite diced tomatoes instead of the puree, again as suggested. I used just under a quart of tomato juice and I did dice the veggies really small so they would cook faster. It looks awesome and smells great. I probably used less chili powder than called for but I used chili beans which already had chili powder in them.

  • Brynne

    This may not be the current Wendy’s recipe, but I’ve been making this one for several years now and I wouldn’t change a thing. My husband LOVES it and so do I!

  • Frist Try

    I followed this recipe just as it was written. It didn’t taste, look or smell like the chili our Wendy’s serves. There was way to much of everything in an overly thick sauce. In addition, there was not a pleasant blend or saturation of flavor. I will not take the time to make it again.

  • julie

    Wendys uses their ground beef patties that get cooked on the flat grill,then chop them up into pieces for the chili, i use to work there,i know how they make it. its juicy.

  • Swyatt

    Made this last night. I used V-8 tomato juice, omitted the puree and added 2 cans of diced tomatoes with the garlic, basil and oregano seasoning in it. it was scrumptious!!!! Will definitely do again!!!!

  • Jason

    Everyone should keep in mind that Wendys changes their chili recipe on a regular basis – so I am not sure what version is shown above, but it is not the most current.

    • Stephanie

      That recipe is from about 7-8 years ago, so I haven’t updated this recipe in a long time 😉

      • JM

        Is there any way you could get us a new version?

        • Stephanie

          I will most likely never get the recipe to suit everyone. Wendy’s chili has changed a few times over the years. I am never going to grill hamburger patties first, but you know I am sure at some point I can update the beans, and try to see if there really are chopped tomatoes in there.

          • Brad Tjapkes

            Grilling patties first is not necessary as long as you get the correct amount of meat. I take the 3 pounds for this recipe, add 1/2 the salt to the meat and brown.

    • Brad Tjapkes

      I worked Wend’s 14 years from 96-10. The recipe NEVER CHANGED. The recipe is an industry secret and has not changed in nearly 30 years.

      • Kay

        I worked there from 1979 – 1984 and the chili recipe DID change…it isn’t the same as when I worked there. And I actually preferred the old recipe. I don’t think we used to put all the peppers in there.

  • jim

    I use v-8, regular, low soduim (or spicey for me) instead of tomato juice. Otherwise a great family favorite!

  • Name (required)

    Do Not use Tomato Puree in this recipe.
    It ruined the chili the first time I make the
    chile. Use instead, one (1) 29 oz can of
    Diced Tomatoes.
    Also, use as much chili powder as you
    need to suit your (and your family) taste.
    Good Luck and Good Cooking.

    While you may not have liked your results, I think is a good recipe, I would have never called a pot of my chili ruined, but your suggestion is a valid one ~Stephanie

    • judyb

      I agree I always used the diced tomatoes instead of puree. It really makes the difference.

  • Ada

    I have made this chilli numerous times but it always comes out so thick that I end up using more tomato juice. Should water be added to it as I feel Wendy’s waters down their chilli.

    I think that is a personal choice on adding water to their chili.

  • Jo

    My daughter worked at Wendy’s when she was in high school years ago. What the recipe fails to mention is that they used the ground beef patties that were left over as the ground meat in the recipe.
    Thanks for mentioning that, I have made a note regarding using ground meat. ~Stephanie

    • Becky

      Very true. I worked their in High school to.

  • JM


    From past comments, it is said Wendy’s does not use fresh meat. My recipe does not ask you to fry your meat up into patties, and then use in chili, this is intentional on my part. If you desire you can take the meat, fry into patties, and then put into the chili. I felt this was a step most home cooks would not want to take. ~Stephanie

  • kronflux

    hem. this may be an old post, but I just had to comment.
    I worked at 4 different wendy’s stores, working for 2 seperate franchise owners.
    they don’t use fresh ground beef, or fresh anything for that matter. we put the overcooked expired burger patties into a heated drawer for several hours, eventually(usually at the end of the day) we take the patties out of the drawer, and stick them into a large plastic zip-lock-like bag, which then went into the freezer overnight. in the morning, the meat is taken out of the freezer, chopped up and recooked, then tossed into the premade chili in a large pot.
    Thanks for you input, I specifically do not used pre cooked cooking patties, because I think using freshly ground is easier for the home cook, I appreciate your sharing. I have heard of this before, from many different sources.

  • http://Website(optional) A Gibson

    I don’t think Wendys uses fresh ground beef. It looks like they chop up the beef patties to me.

    • Former Employee

      Actually, Wendy’s does use fresh ground beef. It is never frozen and they cook fresh patties all day long. The reason it is cooked (even when guests aren’t in the restaurant) is so that the meat is cooked for the chili. Also, Wendy’s boils the meat and drains it to make it more tender and drain off more fat!

    • Mathew

      WENDY’S uses fresh meat to grill the patties, then any leftover patties that were not served within the allowed time throughout the day are put into a warmer, then frozen overnight to be thawed out the next morning for that day’s chili. The leftover meat is boiled along with added fresh meat to satisfy the weight of beef needed for that day’s pot of chili. After the boiling process, the meat is chopped into ground beef and slowed cooked 3-4 hrs. along with the rest of the ingredients in a 4gallon pot(depending on the specific Wendy’s process). That day’s leftover chili is rarely placed in the walk-in to be served the next day under the descretion of a manager. I was fairly pleased with my overall Wendy’s chili-making experience.

  • Sure Recipe

    This is great. No problem with too much chili powder. I like to have the Wendy’s flavor without as many beans.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think they drain the grease!

    • Pdav2gl

      yes they do biol and drain off -fat look at the fat content –on ther list at there place and if u take one home and cool it there is none to very low fat on top floating !!!-i have never seen one wth any floating-i boil my fat off -but haveing probleems with to many carbs -as a type 2 debetic

    • Pdav2gl

      yes they do biol and drain off -fat look at the fat content –on ther list at there place and if u take one home and cool it there is none to very low fat on top floating !!!-i have never seen one wth any floating-i boil my fat off -but haveing probleems with to many carbs -as a type 2 debetic

    • Pdav2gl

      yes they do biol and drain off -fat look at the fat content –on ther list at there place and if u take one home and cool it there is none to very low fat on top floating !!!-i have never seen one wth any floating-i boil my fat off -but haveing probleems with to many carbs -as a type 2 debetic

  • cameo

    this is not the recipe for wendy’s chili it calls for pinto beans and kidney beans. i worked there for 3 years.

  • Anonymous

    Anyone know how many servings this makes?

    • Anonymous

      I beleive it will make about 12 servings.

  • Stephanie

    So Ron, your comments got me to thinking, why in the world it would take so long to simmer the chili. So I made some, I shot a video for the chili 😉 It takes awhile for the onions and celery to cook. It isn’t going to be done in 30 minutes, unless you like the two a little crunchy. It took my chili about a good hour for the celery to get fully done, and lose the crunch. My tip, the smaller you slice the veggies the quicker it will take for the soup to cook.

  • Ron

    Just had a large bowl of Wendy’s Chili yesterday. My wife and I both noted that it contained two kinds of beans. Pinto and Kidney . I would add, with the amount of liquid used, one 15 1/2 ounce can of pinto beans and one 15 1/2 ounce can of kidney beans. I personally think you would produce a better clone by replacing the tomato puree with stewed tomatoes. I see no reason to simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours while using canned beans. This is strictly overkill. I would think thirty minutes would be more like it.

    • mel

      It had kidney beans and chili beans–i used to work there

  • Josie

    This is a hit at large gatherings, especially when it’s cold outside. I also added tomatoes, which I love using in everything. And, sometimes I add canellini beans (white kidney beans) to change up the color. This chili remains a "hot" request at groups where friends bring their special dishes to share. I

  • Sue

    I have been making this Chili for many years. I got the recipe off this website originally. I made it one night for my group at work. The new VP to our company came in and she tasted it and loved it. When I told her it was a Wendy’s Chili recipe, she was delighted. She said she that was her favorite food there and asked for the recipe. She has been making it for years as well. We are having lunch on Friday in my department and she asked if I would make Wendy’s Chili. My suggestion is I add more cumin and less chili powder and just a touch more of sugar than what it calls for. My VP used ketchup instead of tomato puree. It’s a hit no matter what is added.

  • Jessica

    Haha, I work at Wendy’s. Our store doesn’t make chili anything like this. It’s a bag of seasoning, a can of base which includes tomato paste, water and a few mashed up tomatoes, two bags of frozen vegetables (onions and flavorless green peppers), one gallon small chili beans, and half gallon dark red kidney beans. Talk about simplicity.

    • t

      exactly! Same as when I worked there.

  • John T

    The last time I bought chili at Wendy’s it had chopped tomatoes in it, which I like. Looks like this recipe post fails to include diced or roughly chopped tomatoes and used "tomato puree" instead. My guess: if you did it the way this CopyKat recipe calls for, there would WAY too much liquid for the amount of solid ingredients. I’m guessing substitute three coarsely chopped medium tomatoes for the tomato puree. THEN if it seems to need a bit more liquid add just enough of tomato puree.

    Also I can’t remember if Wendy’s chili contains celery (this is a minor point) since I haven’t ordered it at Wendy’s since last Winter.