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Copycat Wendy’s Chili

The flavor is spot on and this makes a *big* batch!

I have long appreciated the fact that Wendy’s offers chili in their fast food lineup. Sometimes that and a baked potato just sounds so much better than a burger (even if that burger happens to be square) and that’s entirely because Wendy’s chili is goooood. And lucky for all of us it’s not at all hard to make right in your own kitchen!

As many great things do, this chili starts with onion, bell pepper, and celery sauteed in some olive oil until they’re tender and fragrant…

Then, of course, there’s ground beef, and the perfect blend of seasonings for that signature Chili’s flavor, which is chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and salt and pepper.

Add kidney beans and pinto beans and simmer it all in a bath of tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, and a bit of water. Forty minutes of simmering is ideal, but you can simmer a little longer for a thicker texture, or add a bit more water to thin things out. Wendy’s chili tends to be on the thicker side, but it’s all up to you here!

The final flourish is stirring a bit of butter into the pot until it’s melted. It seems simple and maybe even unnecessary, but it gives it the perfect velvety mouth feel. Top it with cheddar and onions, just like you might request in the restaurant and enjoy that same flavor right in your own home. (It makes for mighty fine leftovers, too!)

Serves 6

10m prep time

45m cook time

Rated 4.7 out of 5
Rated by 24 reviewers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 2 (15 oz) cans kidney beans, undrained
  • 2 (15 oz) cans pinto beans, undrained
  • 1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Cheddar cheese and green onion, for serving
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add onion, pepper, and celery and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes more. Drain fat, if necessary.
  3. Add chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder, and season liberally with salt and pepper.
  4. Add tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, beans, and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer until liquid has reduced slightly, about 40 minutes.
  5. Add butter and stir until melted. Adjust seasoning as needed and serve with cheddar and green onions. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Dinner Then Dessert.

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