Next time a craving for Wendy’s chili strikes, forget about a trip to the restaurant. Head to the grocery store and make a Wendy’s copycat instead! Cooking up a big batch of this Classic Chili gives you plenty of leftovers—and you’ll skip hard-to-pronounce ingredients like xanthum gum and disodium inosinate found in the real thing.
How to make copycat Wendy’s chili
The ingredients here are mostly pantry and refrigerator staples. Make sure to use “fresh never frozen” beef for authentic Wendy’s flavor. Speaking of Wendy’s beef, find out why all of their burgers are square-shaped.
- 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
- 1-2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 cans (16 ounces each) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Step 1: Saute the vegetables and meat
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 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 1-1/2 hours. You can tweak the seasonings for your chili now—more garlic powder and onion powder will give you the classic Wendy’s flavor.
Find something to do while you wait. You could learn why Wendy’s is one of the only fast-food chains offering baked potatoes or clean out the refrigerator. Your pick!
Step 3: Add the beans
Last, drain the kidney beans completely. Toss ’em in 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
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 oyster crackers.
Pro Tip: This recipe makes a lot of chili. To have a meal on-demand for busy nights, I’d recommend freezing this recipe in individual servings. You can warm a single portion on 70% power in the microwave or over medium heat. It’s the recipe that keeps on giving! Read on for more delicious copycat recipes inspired by your favorite fast food dishes.