Wendy’s Taco Salad Recipe


Remember when eat-out salads were simple? None of these over-the-top quinoa-strawberry salads you find everywhere these days. A simple, uncomplicated salad that still has a twist to it; now that is rare. Then, lo and behold, while at my local Wendy’s, I came across the Wendy’s Taco Salad. It is just what I have been looking for; a beautiful mix of crispy lettuce, juicy diced tomato, freshly grated cheddar cheese, crunchy tortilla chips and the legendary Wendy’s chili.

wendys taco salad on a countertop

What is Wendy’s Taco Salad?

Wendy’s Taco Salad, a classic item on the Wendy’s menu, is a delightful blend of fresh and flavorful ingredients. It is a perfectly balanced dish that combines crunchy lettuce, juicy tomatoes, cheddar cheese, and hearty chili, topped with tortilla chips for that additional crunch.

The salad is made up of the following:

  • Crisp lettuce
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Wendy’s famous chili
  • Sour cream
  • Salsa (used as a dressing)
  • Tortilla chips

Each element contributes to the overall flavor and texture of the salad, creating a delicious meal that leaves you satisfied and full.

How to make Copycat Wendy’s Taco Salad

I love this recipe because you can pre-make the chili and either store it in the refrigerator or freeze it for months. The leftover chili can be used in pasta dishes or casseroles.

This taco salad gets even better. You can assemble it in a mason jar and store it for 2-3 days! Assembly also takes minutes meaning you don’t have to rush to get lunch ready.

This is the perfect salad recipe as it is delicious, easy to make and can be pre-made.

To make the chili, heat the olive oil in a large pot and sauté the onion, bell pepper and celery. Add the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin and garlic powder. Cook for another 2 minutes.

Add your ground beef and cook until evenly browned. Next add your crushed tomatoes, kidney beans and pinto beans. Bring the chili to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Season the chili with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

To assemble the taco salad, place your lettuce in a bowl. Add the cheddar cheese and tomatoes and top with broken corn tortilla chips and the chili. Lastly add a dollop of sour cream and enjoy!

Wendy’s Taco Salad Recipe (Copycat)

4 from 11 votes
Recipe by Laura Ritterman Course: SaladsCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy


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The famous Wendy’s Taco Salad is the perfect mix of lettuce, tomato, cheese, tortilla chips and that delicious chili. Healthy, appetizing and easy to make, you will never want to use any other recipe again.


  • Ingredients for Wendy’s Chili
  • 2 tablespoon 2 extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped

  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon 1 tomato paste

  • 3 tablespoon 3 chili powder

  • 2 teaspoon 2 ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon 1 garlic powder

  • 1 1/2 pound 1 1/2 ground beef

  • 1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes

  • 1 (15-oz.) can pinto beans, with liquid

  • 1 (15-oz.) can kidney beans, with liquid

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 1-2 cups water or beef stock, optional

  • Salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • To Assemble
  • Romaine and Iceberg lettuce

  • 1 ½ cup cheddar cheese, grated

  • 2 tomatoes, diced

  • 1 packet 1 packet corn tortilla chips, crushed

  • Wendy’s Chili

  • Salsa

  • Sour cream, optional

  • Optional: Tortilla bowl for presentation


  • Start by making your chili. Heat the extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the chopped onion, celery and bell pepper and sauté for about 4-5 minutes.
  • Add the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin and garlic powder. Cook for a few more minutes making sure to coat all the vegetables.
  • Add the ground beef and cook while breaking apart the meat with your wooden spoon to ensure that it evenly cooks through.
  • Your beef should be nicely browned. Add the crushed tomatoes, kidney beans and pinto beans with their liquid. If you do not want to add the liquid from the cans, you can replace it with 1 cup water or beef stock.
  • Bring the chili to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes. You might need to add more water or beef stock if the liquid evaporates too quickly. You want a juicy yet thick consistency; not too wet or too dry. Season the chili with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • To assemble a Wendy’s Taco Salad, start by placing your lettuce in a bowl. Sprinkle your cheddar cheese and tomatoes over your lettuce. Top with broken corn tortilla chips and heated chili. Top with a dollop of sour cream and enjoy your heavenly salad.


  • This chili is a life changer. You can store it in the refrigerator for up to five days. You can also place it in an airtight container once completely cooled and place it in the freezer. It can then last anywhere between 3 to 6 months.

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Tips & Tricks

  • This taco salad also works great to prep in advance by using mason jars. Simply add your cooled off chili at the bottom, top with the cheese, tomatoes and lettuce. Keep your tortilla chips and sour cream on the side. Packed like this, your salad can be made 2-3 days in advance and conveniently enjoyed at work.
  • To make this recipe healthier, you can use low-fat cheese and fat-free sour cream. You can also rinse your beans as the liquid they are stored in contains lots of sodium. You can also substitute the dairy products with vegan alternatives.
  • Extra-lean ground beef is also a healthier alternative to regular beef. You can even use other lean meats such as turkey or chicken. A vegan alternative would be lentils.
  • Use baked tortilla chips as opposed to fried chips. You can make your own tortilla chips by cutting up plain tortillas, seasoning them with salt and olive oil and baking them at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes or until crispy.

How do you assemble Wendy’s taco salad?

To assemble Wendy’s Taco Salad, begin with a base of Wendy’s side salad. The next layer consists of Wendy’s small chili, evenly distributed across the salad. Add a crunchy element by crumbling Wendy’s tortilla chips over the top. Finish by garnishing with shredded cheese, sour cream, and salsa. Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly before consuming to ensure a balanced flavor in every bite.

Does Wendy’s still make the taco salad?

Yes, as of my most recent information, Wendy’s still makes the Taco Salad. However, menu offerings can vary by location and time, so it’s always a good idea to check with your local Wendy’s or their official website for the most up-to-date information.


Wendy’s Taco Salad is a flavorful and satisfying meal that is sure to delight your taste buds. It combines fresh vegetables with hearty chili and cheese, creating a balanced dish that caters to your nutritional needs. Recreating this recipe at home allows you to control the ingredients and portions, making it a healthier alternative to fast food.

So why not give it a try? You might find that this becomes one of your go-to meals when you crave something filling yet nutritious.

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