Skip the drive-thru and make this copycat Wendy's chili recipe at home!
Classic Chili Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Next time a craving for Wendy’s chili strikes, forget about a trip to the drive-thru and head to your kitchen instead. This copycat Wendy’s chili recipe creates a hearty, homemade version that’s not too spicy and just as delicious as the real deal (just like these other Wendy’s copycat recipes).

With ingredients like celery, onions, green peppers, chili powder and, of course, “fresh never frozen” beef, this recipe calls for mostly pantry and refrigerator staples you already have.

Copycat Wendy’s Chili Ingredients

  • Green pepper
  • Onions
  • Celery
  • Vegetable oil
  • Ground beef
  • Canned diced tomatoes
  • Canned tomato sauce
  • Water
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Chili powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Dried oregano
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Canned kidney beans
  • Canned pinto beans


Step 1: Saute the vegetables and meat

In a Dutch oven, saute green pepper, onions and celery in vegetable oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Add ground beef and cook until browned. Drain any liquid.

Step 2: Simmer

Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, Worcestershire sauce and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for 1-and-1/2 hours. You can tweak the seasonings for your chili now—more garlic powder and onion powder will give you the classic Wendy’s flavor.

Step 3: Add the beans

Add the beans to the Dutch oven. Simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes longer. (You want beans that are tender, but haven’t turned to mush from over-boiling.)

Step 4: Garnish

Wendy's copycat chiliTMB Studio

The best thing about eating Wendy’s chili at home is you can use every garnish in your refrigerator to dress it up. Put on a dollop of sour cream, chives and cheddar cheese or a handful of Fritos. If you’re feeling ambitious, serve your bowl of chili with a side of these copycat Cheddar Bay Biscuits.

Wendy’s Chili Storage

For refrigerator storage, use an airtight container. The chili should be good for up to four days. To reheat, simply cook on the stovetop over medium heat. This recipe stores exceptionally well, so your leftovers will be just as good—or better—the next day.

How do you freeze Wendy’s chili?

This recipe makes a lot of chili. To store in the freezer, divide the cooked chili into separate freezer-safe containers. Label each with the date. The chili can be stored frozen from four to six months. To reheat, thaw the chili in the fridge overnight and then let it simmer in a saucepan until it’s fully reheated.

Copycat Wendy’s Chili Tips

Can you make Wendy’s chili in a slow cooker?

We recommend simmering this chili on the stovetop. If you’re looking to cook your chili for longer than 2 hours, try out one of our slow cooker chili recipes.

How do you add heat to this Wendy’s chili recipe?

There are plenty of ways to kick up the heat. You could swap out the diced tomatoes for diced tomatoes with added green chilis or habaneros. Season to taste with a few more tablespoons of chili powder or even cayenne pepper. And while you’re adding your favorite toppings to your bowl of chili, spice it up with some sliced jalapenos.

Classic Chili

Mom's homemade chili recipe was the best! She knew just the right ingredients to put her 'stamp' on it. I could eat it with my eyes closed and know it was hers. It amazed me that she could put it together in so little time. —Marjorie Carey, Alamosa, Colorado
Classic Chili Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time

Prep: 10 min. Cook: 1 hour 50 min.


12 servings (3 quarts)


  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (16 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • Optional: Tortilla chips or corn chips, shredded cheddar cheese, and sliced green onions


  1. In a Dutch oven or large soup kettle, saute green pepper, onions and celery in oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Add ground beef and cook until browned; drain. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, Worcestershire sauce and seasonings. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 1-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add beans. Simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes longer. Serve with toppings as desired.

Nutrition Facts

1 cup: 259 calories, 10g fat (4g saturated fat), 47mg cholesterol, 708mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate (7g sugars, 7g fiber), 20g protein.