Wendys Chili Recipe Top Secret Ingredient Revealed

Nicole Austin

The answer might surprise you. But now you can make your own.

Wendy’s chili is a classic recipe that combines vegetables, chili beans, and savory spices with their signature beef.

A staple comfort food, chili in various forms has long been a go-to for warmth and comfort, and Wendy’s chili has been a convenient way to order high quality chili with fast service and a reasonable price.

For over 50 years, people have turned to Wendy’s for a classic and beloved chili that is a fan-favorite.

Wendy's Chili Recipe Picture

Wendy’s is known for their unique fast-food menu, from square burgers to the classic Frosty, so an otherwise unexpected find like a baked potato or a steaming bowl of chili is right at home here.

Those not searching for a vegetarian chili will find that Wendy’s chili is an easy dinner solution on the go.

Wendy's Peppermint Frosty Photo

What's the Top Secret Ingredient in Wendy’s Chili?

Well, you may be disappointed to discover that this isn’t really a well-kept secret…

Wendy’s proudly boasts a patty that contains no fillers or additives, and their beef chili uses this same meat to boost the flavor in their filling, protein-packed chili.

This is why Wendy’s chili tastes so different from what you may expect in a mass-produced product.

This “fresh, never frozen” beef patty is made in large amounts during the dinner rush so it’s ready to go for customers.

But the burgers are held to high safety standards and therefore any patty that is not sold in short order is converted into chili to make good use of an already cooked product, according to the company.

You’d be mistaken if you assume that Wendy’s chili uses “old” meat.

Hamburgers not used within 5 minutes of production are then converted into chili meat.

Wendy’s takes the extra step of boiling the burger before adding it to the chili — and while this may seem odd, it serves a purpose.

How to Make Salisbury Steak in a Crockpot Picture

Wendy’s meaty chili is not greasy because of this critical step, which makes it a desirable option for the consumer.

This reduction in waste has served Wendy’s well — it is both cost effective for the company and responsible for a product that is widely popular and very loved.

This chili has warmed the hearts, souls, and bellies of millions (over 83 million servings a year, to be exact).

The chili is so popular that it’s served in every U.S. location and some international locations, too.

Wendy’s has even taken their delicious chili a few steps further by combining it with other hit items to create a fresh new take on their menu.

For example, chili cheese fries or taco salad.

Wendy’s website even suggests dipping your nuggets into the chili or using it to top your baked potato for an exciting new combo — and we agree!

Carlsbad Cravings Cincinnati Chili Photo

Is Wendy’s Chili Healthy?

Lean chili has become increasingly popular as more consumers are becoming aware of how to indulge in their favorite foods while being more health-conscious.

Modern dietary recommendations involve lower carbs and higher protein, and Wendy’s chili fits the bill.

With 16g net carbs for a small order and 23g net carbs for a large, Wendy’s chili by itself is below the minimum net carb recommendation for weight loss per meal for both men and women, and the meat and beans make this a high protein option.

Wendy’s chili is available as a standalone or a side, and is healthier than the traditional sides at the restaurant, like fries or baked potato.

The nutritional value and lower calorie count make it optimal for even restrictive diets.

Despite containing sugar, which does help balance out the acidity of the tomato base,

Wendy’s chili is considered a friendly option for individuals with Type 2 diabetes (though we always suggest speaking with your doctor for health advice specific to your personal needs).

Wendy's Fish Sandwich Photo

How to Eat Healthy at Wendy’s

Chili is an excellent way to eat a healthy meal from Wendy’s, but you may also be wondering what other nutritious options are available to you.

Whether as a side or as a standalone, Wendy’s offers salads that taste pretty great and are also filling.

Serve alongside chili for a complete meal with even more veggie options, or have it solo for a lighter dish that is convenient without a lot of fat or grease.

Grilled chicken sandwiches are also another great option.

Without the crispy breading, these sandwiches drop drastically in caloric intake while maintaining a delicious flavor.

Junior hamburgers are a great way to eat the burger you’re craving without going overboard on the calories.

Opt for a small side salad without croutons rather than fries for a filling meal that makes you feel good about your choices.

Wendy's Chili Recipe Photo

Can You Save Wendy’s Chili?

Perhaps you filled up too quickly, or you want Wendy’s chili from the comfort of your home without stepping foot out the door.

Either way, the good news is you can reduce food waste and save Wendy’s chili (or our Wendy's chili copycat recipe below) by refrigerating it for use within 2-3 days, or it can be frozen.

Let your leftover chili cool to room temperature before putting it in an airtight container in your fridge.

To freeze Wendy’s chili, place the cooled chili in a freezer-safe container or bag and remove as much air as possible.

If in a bag, lay flat and spread the chili out to help it freeze and thaw faster, and to save valuable freezer space.

Depending on how well it has been stored, it can last several months in a freezer.

As with any food that contains meat, do not leave Wendy’s Chili out overnight — it won't still be good the next day.

Your risk of exposure to dangerous bacteria increases rapidly over time, and any meat product that hasn’t been used within two hours’ time must be refrigerated immediately to keep it safe to serve.

Otherwise, throw it out.

How Can I Make Wendy’s Chili at Home?

The popularity of Wendy’s chili makes it a great item to copycat for your own dinner or to serve to a large crowd on game day (or any time).

Many flavors and varieties of chili are popular to emulate, including ingredients that may not always be available, such as Bird’s Eye Chili.

For an authentic Wendy’s Chili flavor in our best copycat recipe, you only need a few base ingredients and of course, a taste tester — we volunteer, if needed!

The slow cooker recipe calls for dark red kidney beans, pinto beans, ground beef (or hamburger patties, like Wendy's does), red chili powder, tomato sauce, a medium onion, and a few other ingredients before topping it with cheddar cheese, sour cream, or chives.

You could also serve this homemade chili with tortilla chips or hot sauce!

Some people prefer ground turkey — there's no wrong way, per se, and this will taste great.

But it's less true to the real thing than cooked beef, so if you want to emulate the fast food chain, stick closer to our copycat version.

If you’re having a hard time making your chili uniform, we suggest adding a small amount of butter to your dish.

Butter is a natural emulsifier that keeps ingredients from separating.

Butter added to chili will help combine ingredients like oil, tomato juice, and sugar to keep them balanced and mixed well together.

It can also help dull the sensation of spice that some people experience with even the mildest forms of chili.

While Wendy’s chili is not considered a very spicy item, not everyone has the same taste buds — so bear in mind that the addition of this common, creamy ingredient can do a world of wonders for your soup.

Or take your hearty chili the other direction and add cayenne pepper, chili seasoning, green chiles, or a few tablespoons of chili powder to this great recipe, depending on who's going to be consuming it!

After all, for some people the heat is the best part, and it's your own kitchen.

Use our copycat Wendy’s chili recipe at home today!

Nicole is a self-published author of fiction novels, and a lover of food and spending time in the kitchen with her six children. She lives in coastal Maine where she loves exploring new recipes especially those that can save time, money and wow a crowd.

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