What To Serve With Chili: 18 Tasty Side Dishes

Chili is a staple comfort food that’s perfect for any time of year. While the rich flavors of the dish itself are certainly enjoyable, finding the right accompaniments can elevate your meal to new heights. The key is to find items that complement and enhance the flavors of your chili without overpowering them.

When considering what to serve with chili, think about textures and flavors that will provide a contrast to the richness of the dish. For example, a warm, crumbly cornbread or a crispy sweet potato fry can add a delightful textural element. A fresh salad with crisp greens and juicy vegetables can also provide a refreshing contrast to the hearty chili.

Bread Sticks

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The mere thought of indulging in crispy breadsticks smothered in savory classic chili is enough to inspire many of us to jump into the kitchen and start cooking. Fortunately, creating homemade breadsticks from scratch is a relatively straightforward process. With this versatile recipe, you’ll not only be pleasing your family’s palate but also opening yourself up to endless possibilities for customization. Consider elevating your breadsticks with a rich garlic butter topping, adding a gooey cheesy twist, or going the extra mile by making them vegan-friendly using plant-based butter and oil. This recipe offers a wealth of inspiration for crafting unique breadstick creations that will surely become a staple in your household.

Baked Potatoes

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The humble baked potato is a versatile side dish that pairs well with countless meals. When it comes to complementing chili, a perfectly cooked baked potato can be the perfect accompaniment. To achieve the ideal texture, you’ll want your potato’s skin to be crispy and the insides light and fluffy.

The key to success lies in the baking process itself. By encasing the potatoes in a crust of salt – preferably sea salt – you can ensure that they emerge from the oven with a satisfying crunch on the outside and a fluffy interior. This is because the salt helps draw out excess moisture, resulting in a perfectly cooked baked potato.

To replicate this at home, start by coating the outside of your potatoes with olive oil before sprinkling fine salt evenly over them.

A bonus tip for chili lovers: leftover chili makes an excellent topping for a baked potato. Simply spoon it on and enjoy!

Sweet Potatoes

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Indulge in the comfort food trifecta by pairing a warm bowl of chili con carne with a baked sweet potato – an unbeatable combination that’s both satisfying and nutritious. While a classic baked potato is always a crowd-pleaser, its naturally sweet counterpart offers a delightful twist when served alongside rich, flavorful chili. The possibilities are endless, whether you opt for simplicity with just a pat of butter or get creative with your favorite toppings. And the best part? You can enjoy this match made in heaven without feeling guilty about the added carbs – after all, there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to a little sweetness.

Sweet Potato Fries

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While French fries may be the first thing that comes to mind when pairing with beef chili, consider giving crispy sweet potato pies a second glance instead. These flavorful bites are expertly seasoned and tend to vanish quickly – a welcome addition to any meal. Unlike soggy fries, these pies boast a satisfying crunch that complements the savory flavors of your chili perfectly. The sweet and salty fusion is an added bonus, making for a match made in heaven when enjoyed together.

Soft Pretzels

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Chili lovers, rejoice! Soft pretzels are the ultimate pairing companion that elevates the snacking experience. Their unique texture – crispy on the outside and soft within – makes them a perfect vessel for scooping up savory chili goodness.

The fun doesn’t stop there. You can shape these tender treats into traditional pretzel forms or slice them into bite-sized morsels, allowing for effortless dipping. This versatility adds an exciting layer to your chili bar, making it a hit with friends and family alike.

Grilled Cheese

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There’s something undeniably comforting about a grilled cheese sandwich, with its gooey melted cheese at the center. While traditional pairings often feature tomato soup, the combination is equally effective when paired with tomato-based chili. The creamy cheese and crispy bread provide a perfect contrast to the hearty, savory flavors of the chili, making for a satisfying snack or meal. To take it to the next level, consider adding a touch of butter or mayonnaise to the outside of the sandwich, and a secret ingredient: a smear of mustard on the inside of the bread before cooking. This simple trick adds an extra layer of depth and richness to the overall experience.


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While chili may be the ultimate comfort food for many, nachos are a close second in terms of universal appeal. The best part about nachos is that they cater to diverse tastes – whether you’re a meat-lover or a vegetarian, there’s a nacho out there for everyone.

When loaded with an assortment of vegetables such as corn, chili pepper, shredded cheese, bell pepper, and black beans, along with toppings like tomatoes and jalapenos, your average nachos can easily become a satisfying meal. And if you’re feeling lazy, don’t worry – canned beans are perfectly acceptable, just be sure to rinse them and let them air dry before adding them to the mix.

But it’s when paired with chili that nachos truly shine, elevating what could have been a humble dinner into a full-blown celebration. By combining these two culinary favorites, you’ll be creating a match made in heaven.


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When it comes to chili and cornbread, you’ve got a match made in heaven. The combination is so satisfying that it’s hard to imagine anything missing from the meal. However, if you’re looking to take things to the next level, there are a few tweaks you can make. For instance, you could opt for a sweeter northern-style cornbread that helps balance out the heat of the chili. And why not try your hand at some unique cornbread variations, like Mexican-inspired cornbread that pairs perfectly with a warm bowl of chili? Whatever you choose, be sure to serve it up with a generous pat of softened butter – it makes all the difference.

Chips & Guacamole

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When it comes to pairing a spicy meal with a cooling accompaniment, few options can beat the classic combination of chili and guacamole. The creamy texture and subtle nutty flavor of avocado perfectly offset the fiery heat of cayenne pepper or Mexican cuisine. In fact, this harmonious union is so iconic that even inspired food blogs like Inspiredtaste.net have dedicated recipes to bringing it together. With a simple yet satisfying recipe for homemade tortilla chips, you’ll be well on your way to creating an unforgettable dining experience. And don’t worry if time constraints mean store-bought chips are the way to go – this guacamole is more than happy to accommodate either option.


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While savoring the bold flavors of spicy chili, it’s essential to balance the heat with a refreshing accompaniment. Instead of relying solely on guacamole, consider preparing a nutritious coleslaw the night prior to cooking your chili. This recipe cleverly combines green and red cabbage, further enhanced by the shredded carrots that add a pop of color. The subtle tanginess from the apple cider vinegar provides a delightful contrast, although feel free to experiment with champagne vinegar or red wine vinegar for an intriguing twist. This idea is inspired by Houseofyumm.com.


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When it comes to Tex-Mex cuisine, tacos are a staple that rivals chili and nachos in terms of popularity. While we may be familiar with large chain taco restaurants, this recipe is all about creating authentic, homemade tacos to pair with your favorite chili. One way to elevate the dish is by making your own taco shells from scratch. This allows you to customize the flavor and texture to your liking. The taco seasoning in this recipe is another key component that sets it apart from store-bought options. Rather than relying on pre-packaged packets, you can use a blend of classic spices like chili powder to create a flavor profile that’s uniquely yours. To complete the Tex-Mex experience, be sure to serve your tacos with a squeeze of lime juice, a sprinkle of cilantro, and some chopped onion. A dollop of sour cream on the side is also a great addition.


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Quesadillas – a culinary masterpiece! Who wouldn’t be enamored by the simplicity and versatility of this Mexican dish? With just about any leftover meat, some cheddar cheese, and two tortillas, you can whip up a scrumptious meal in no time. But why stop there? The beauty of quesadillas lies in their adaptability – simply substitute the meat with grated cheese for a delightful vegetarian option. Whether you’re seeking an appetizer or side dish to accompany your chili, quesadillas are the perfect answer. Serve them with a creamy guacamole and sour cream dip, and you’ll have your guests raving. This crowd-pleaser is sure to satisfy even the heartiest of appetites.

Cheesy Potato Skins

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There’s something even more delightful than a fluffy baked potato – cheesy potato skins take the crown! One strategy is to plan another recipe using potatoes, like mashed potatoes, for the day before and save those wonderful skins for a later use, perhaps when deciding what to serve with chili. The reward is these delectable skins, boasting a crispy exterior seasoned with a savory garlic butter flavor. To elevate the experience, be sure to have a dollop of sour cream at the ready for dipping purposes.

Onion Rings

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Many people have their go-to fast-food chains for delicious hamburgers, often accompanied by crispy and mouthwatering fried onion rings. However, what’s surprising is that making these tasty treats at home is surprisingly simple. Whether you’re a fan of serving them alongside hot dogs or as a side dish to chili, homemade onion rings are incredibly versatile. The key to achieving the perfect flavor lies in using sweet onions or yellow onions, which provide a sweeter and milder taste compared to white onions that have a more pungent quality.


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When indulging in a hearty chili dinner, it’s essential to pair it with beverages that can hold their own against the rich flavors. A soda would be an unappetizing accompaniment, so it’s crucial to opt for drinks that complement the meal nicely. Sweet treats like sweet tea are an excellent choice, but don’t overlook traditional Tex-Mex favorites such as margaritas, sangria, and popular Mexican beers. These refreshing options will provide a perfect counterbalance to the bold flavors of the chili.

Fresh Salad

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While salads may not be the first thing that comes to mind when pairing with chili, they’re often a surprisingly great match. One of our go-to combinations is a fresh and wholesome tossed salad that complements the hearty, comforting bowl of chili perfectly. The key to a perfect salad lies in its versatility – a mix of different greens provides the foundation for endless customization options, allowing you to tailor the dish to your guests’ tastes.

Chips and Queso

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In the realm of Tex-Mex cuisine, chile con queso – affectionately dubbed ‘queso’ by enthusiasts – has sparked a debate that transcends borders, with even lawmakers weighing in on their favorite recipes. While opinions may vary, one thing is certain: this indulgent dip pairs majestically with a hearty bowl of chili. Whether you’re scooping it up with crunchy tortilla chips or ladling generous spoonfuls over your spicy chili, queso’s rich, velvety goodness promises to delight.


Gather your loved ones and get ready to delight in these scrumptious recipes! Whether you’re cooking for a small gathering or a larger group, these dishes are sure to please. Before we dive in, we’d love to hear from you – what’s your favorite way to enjoy good food with great company? Share your thoughts and let’s start cooking!

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