The overall wages paid out by the Blues in the Champions League-winning year ending June 2012 actually fell by £18million to £171million - compared to Manchester City who saw their wages break through the £200million barrier.
Chelsea announced last year they had made a profit of £1.4million - the first time they had finished in the black in the Roman Abramovich era.
The accounts also reveal that, aided by some one-off items, Chelsea also achieved a wage bill reduction for the first time since Abramovich took over in July 2003.
It reflects a big effort by the club to trim costs in their bid to comply with UEFA's financial fair play rules.
The numbers of playing and coaching staff dropped by 89 in 2011 to 69 in 2012 but Chelsea's wage bill is still ahead of Manchester United's £160million total by £11million.
The exceptional items in 2011 included a one-off £6.4million payment to the taxman as part of a deal on image rights, and money paid to former manager Carlo Ancelotti and his coaching team.
Those payments stopped after Ancelotti was hired by Paris St Germain and led to a credit of £4.7million into Chelsea's accounts from money they had set aside to cover those costs.
Alan Shaw, Chelsea's club secretary said in a statement published in the accounts: "The introduction of the UEFA financial fair play regulations from the 2012/13 season provides a significant challenge.
"The football club needs to balance success on the field together with financial imperatives of this new regime.
"The results recorded in this financial year put us in a good position to meet the assessment criteria for the initial periods."