Wondering what to serve with chili? The versatile and delicious chili has a lot of options that can work on its side, but the right pairing can do wonders for the overall taste and mouthfeel.
Of course, chili is good enough to stand on its own and doesn’t necessarily need a side. But there are times when you might want more servings or some side dishes and finger foods to go with the chili.
Let’s see what our best options are for serving food with chili.
17 amazing things you can serve with chili
This is the classic that has been paired with chili for a very long time. And for good reason! It’s slightly sweet, buttery goodness with a crumbly texture makes cornbread a wonderful companion for chili. The texture and mouthfeel of the combination is plain heavenly.
There is a lot of variation and variety in cornbread recipes. This gives you a lot of freedom to choose one that’s fit for your taste buds.
Thankfully, the texture-taste combo of cornbread and chili works, even with the variation of different recipes of both these dishes.
2. Cheesy bread sticks
Regular bread sticks will do just fine, but cheesy bread sticks is where the action is at! Try adding some toppings to the bread sticks for extra pizazz. When you’re ready, dunk those bread sticks into the chili and enjoy a hearty meal.
We love nachos, We love chili. Put them together, and what’s not to love?
According to Cook On Monday, nachos are as versatile as chili. And, there are countless ways to make nachos the way you like them. Tortilla chips paired with the right topping will go remarkably well with chili.
Besides, nachos and beans are already a legendary combination. These two dishes make a great pair.
4. Baked potatoes
Want something quick, easy, and filling to go with chili? Baked potatoes are your friend.
There’s plenty of room to add flavor and goodness with baked potatoes. Give them a topping of melted cheese and bacon, and you’ve got a delicacy in its own right. The melted cheese will gladly hold on to some veggies as well.
5. Sweet potato fries or French fries
Regular fries are a good side dish to enjoy with chili, but sweet potato fries can give the taste an edge. There are slight changes in the taste and texture between regular fries and sweet potato fries. Let your taste buds be your guide here.
Some people prefer to have their fries baked rather than fried, which works too. Given how versatile fries are, any preparation will work nicely with chili.
6. Onion rings
Onion rings are an excellent combo of crispy and soft texture. This beloved appetizer is best known as a bar food that goes well with drinks. Yet, it’s more versatile than just that. Keep it as a side dish for the chili and you’ll find yourself reaching for the onion rings all too often!
7. Soft pretzels
Pretzels are another beloved bar food. They’re also versatile enough to go with a serving of chili. The soft and salty touch makes for a great companion to chili.
Rice is one of the world’s most liked and consumed foods. This staple can find a way to go with most dishes, adding to their overall taste and texture. So, of course rice can go along impressively well with chili, too.
Pretty much all types of rice pair nicely with chili. Conventional white rice, brown rice, or different varieties — choose what you like. And, while plain rice works great, you can optionally try seasoning your rice for extra flavor.
Some of the best rice recipes that go with chili are Spanish rice, Mexican rice, lime rice, and even Chinese-style stir fried rice. You can also add some veggies to the mix to add another flavor dimension to complement your chili.
Tacos and chili? Yes, please.
Tacos give you so many options on flavor and ingredients, which makes things a whole lot easier. You could go with any taco of your choice, but here’s the most efficient option: Go with a classic taco and your chili toppings can double as taco toppings.
You could try something different and pair your chili with blackened fish tacos or buffalo chicken tacos.
Stretchy cheese quesadillas might be exactly the side you want for your chili. The basic ingredients are tortilla bread, cheese, and chicken. You can also spice things up with the addition of green chilis.
Same goes for the choice of cheese as well. Experiment with cheddar, jack, Mexican cheese, or pepper jack are all solid choices. If you have it available near you, try habanero cheddar and sriracha cheese for extra spice.
11. Fried pickles
Conventional pickles are good, but fried pickles are absolutely divine with chili. They’re salty, tasty, and add a remarkable texture. They’re great with chili and even as a standalone snack.
It does take a fair bit of effort to prepare fried pickles. Basically, you’ll need dill pickle slices covered in a layer of flour and bread crumbs. Then it goes right to the fryer. Try an air fryer for better, healthier results.
12. Grilled corn on the cob
Corn on the cob is a classic side dish (and snack). It’s an unlikely pick, but it pairs surprisingly well with chili. Grilled corn on the cob is also easy and satisfying to prepare. Just put some corn on the grill and let your grill do the work.
You’ll have to turn it to cook it evenly, but the cooking remains pretty smooth. Add some flavoring to go with your style, like some herb butter or chili lime butter. Salt works too.
Salads are a good companion to many dishes. With the large variety of salads and their versatility, matching a salad side dish to chili is usually no trouble at all. The simplest answer is fresh, hand-torn romaine lettuce, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, topped with a homemade vinaigrette. Your vinaigrette can be as easy as half oil, half vinegar, plus salt and pepper.
You could also try a salad with a Mexican flair, like this Chicken Black Bean Taco Salad.
14. Grilled cheese sandwich
Unlikely as this suggestion sounds, it’s actually pretty sound. A well-made grilled cheese sandwich makes for a lovely companion to chili. When you think about it, a grilled cheese is just a different form of quesadilla. And because it’s a hand-held dish, you can dip it into the chili for an extra flavor bomb.
15. Wine and other drinks
What’s a drink that works with hearty chili? You want something that’s as flavorful, but not too bold.
Traditional drinks served with chili include wine, sangria, and margarita. The preference usually goes to a fruity wine which can complement the taste of chili pretty well.
If wine isn’t your thing, there’s another crowd favorite you can use – beer. A cold glass of beer and a bowl of chili seems like just the thing that would make a great meal.
16. Fried green tomatoes
Fried green tomatoes are fairly popular in southern cuisine. So, the flavors of the dish already bear some family resemblance to chili, a Tex-Mex favorite.
Covered in panko crust, the fried green tomatoes are just the right combination of crunchy and juicy soft. Put them as a side for chili and you’d have a meal you will absolutely love.
Traditionally, fried green tomatoes are served with a dip. You can use a dip of your choice. Or, use your chili as a dip instead.
17. Cinnamon rolls
Okay, so here’s something that can be a bit controversial. Cinnamon rolls are a food we often enjoy, and so is chili. But pairing them together promises to be divisive. Those who love the combo swear by it, while others don’t see the appeal in this mix of contrasts.
Cinnamon rolls provide the sweet and chili delivers on savory. The best of both worlds!
Have fun choosing sides for your chili
There are so many fun side dishes to serve with chili! Go with the traditional combos of chili with cornbread, quesadilla, or tacos. Or add some brightness to the mix with a fresh green salad or grilled corn. You could also throw the rules out the window and pair your chili with a sweeter side like cinnamon rolls. The bottom line is: Play up chili’s comfort food profile by pairing it with other dishes you love. Go spicy, cheesy, bready, or sweet. Have fun with it and you’re meal’s sure to be a hit.