Wendy’s Chili – Copycat Recipe – Gluten Free


Are you a Wendy’s Chili fan?

This Wendy’s Chili recipe clone fits the bill anytime, especially on a cold winter’s night. The original source is from Todd Wilbur’s Top Secret Recipes, and now I’ve adapted it just a bit too.



prefer to cook with dry beans because they are healthier and more cost effective than canned beans.


However, I’m all for convenience too… 

I regularly pre-cook and freeze my beans (in multiple batches), reserving the broth in Mason jars. Label & date to use later!


Wendy’s Chili – Copycat Recipe
Serves: 8

Use Either: Canned Beans
1 (28-oz) can pinto beans, undrained
1 (28-oz) can red kidney beans, undrained

1 1/2 cups water

Or Substitute: See Bean Conversions (below)*
3 cups COOKED red kidney beans, or frozen & unthawed
Discard red kidney bean broth

3 cups COOKED pinto beans, or frozen & unthawed
1 1/2 cups pinto bean broth, (reserved from cooking) or frozen & thawed

For Chili:
1-lb ground beef, browned
1 medium onion, diced & sautéed 
1 celery rib, diced & sautéed 
1 (29-oz) can tomato puree 
1 (14.5-oz) can diced tomatoes, with green chilies
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tsp black pepper

Monterey jack cheese, shredded
Green onion, sliced


Beans: Combine the beans, (water or broth) in a large stockpot. 

For Chili: In a skillet, brown the ground beef, onions, and celery; drain off fat, and transfer to the pot with the beans. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring the pot to a boil over MED-HIGH heat. Then cover and reduce the heat down to MED-LOW. Simmer until the flavors have blended nicely and the chili has reached your desired thickness. 

To Serve: Garnish with shredded cheese and sliced green onion.


Sharon Anne
I hope I don’t just confuse you! Please comment and ask questions if I have. Basically…

2 (28-oz) canned beans, undrained = 6 cups cooked beans
2 cups uncooked dry beans = 6 cups cooked beans 

Always cook different types of beans separately, yet you can surely cook in larger batches and freeze the leftovers.

See: Cooking Beans (for more info)

Cook: Beans Separately
1 cup (8-oz) dry red kidney beans, pre-soaked
3 cups filtered or distilled water
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp salt, reduces blow-outs (pressure cooker)
Discard red kidney bean broth

Cook: Beans Separately
1 cup (8-oz) dry pinto beans, pre-soaked
3 cups filtered or distilled water
1 tsp minced garlic 
1/4 tsp salt, reduces blow-outs (pressure cooker)
1 1/2 cups pinto bean broth (reserved from cooking)


Freezing Beans: See Cooking Beans, scroll down that page

(19-oz) bag cooked red kidney beans, frozen & unthawed
(19-oz) bag cooked pinto beans, frozen unthawed
1 1/2 cups pinto bean broth (from cooking) frozen & thawed 


Recipe Adaptations: 

  • I’ve not made the recipe with canned beans, just cooked dry beans and it’s terrific. 
  • I cut the ground beef in half from the original recipe, reducing the fat by half too. My hubby still thought it tasted very much like Wendy’s Chili. He said he never would have noticed, had I not told him. Then, being a man, he wouldn’t have minded if there WAS twice as much meat in it! ? 
  • Instead of fresh tomatoes, I use canned diced with green chilies. 
  • I’ve adjusted the seasonings to suit our tastes. 
  • The more water you add, the longer it takes to simmer off, so it’s a personal choice on how much to add. 
  • I love that Wendy’s Chili and this clone recipe are both Gluten Free.


Per Serving: (w/ 1-lb ground beef) 247 Calories; 11g Fat (38.7% calories from fat); 14g Protein; 25g Carbohydrate; 9g Dietary Fiber; 32mg Cholesterol; 537mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 1 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 1 1/2 Fat.
Adapted From:


Per Serving: (Original Recipe) 365 Calories; 21g Fat (51.1% calories from fat); 21g Protein; 25g Carbohydrate; 9g Dietary Fiber; 64mg Cholesterol; 562mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 3 Fat.
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