As delicious as chili is, there’s no simple way to describe its taste. It has many spices and seasonings, each contributing a distinct layer of feel and flavor. Specific recipes also make add-ons or changes, like using pork instead of beef or adding chocolate, that impact this dish’s final profile.
But regardless of how you choose to make your chili, one thing doesn’t change – it’s best enjoyed with toppings and side dishes. Thus, I’ve compiled 20 fantastic recipes to give you an idea of what to eat with chili.
Crackers are a fantastic partner to chili. They taste plain or subtle, so there’s nothing to overwhelm the rich flavors. Instead, the contrast is in the textures. You can feel that when you scoop some chili into your saltine crackers, pop them into your mouth, and enjoy the tenderness and crunchiness coming together. You can achieve that effect with either store-bought or homemade crackers, so take your pick!
Saltine crackers are popular, but you can also try chili with these homemade oyster crackers. They’re smaller and puffier than saltines, so they are not the best for scooping. But that also makes them the best for popping into your mouth! Aside from that, they also have rich, buttery flavors, which is another layer added to your chili meal or snack experience. Moreover, they’re cost-efficient, like homemade saltines!
It goes without saying that tortilla chips should be on this list. Like crackers, you can serve them on the side and use each chip as a scoop for the beans, meat, and sauce. Another option is to crush them and spread the pieces on the chili as a topping. Either way, it will surely bring exciting and crunchy textures that are incredible against the chili’s tenderness.
Can you imagine dunking your buttery biscuits into a bowl of rich and flavorful chili? If that image excites you, you should bring it to life by making and enjoying both dishes at home! When you do, consider following this recipe for homemade cheddar biscuits. Although the classic buttery ones are great, the sharp cheddar flavors of these biscuits are just impeccable, even essential, with the chili.
Aside from tortilla chips, the leading tandem to chili is cornbread. This Southern favorite has a gorgeous golden color and tastes sweet and buttery. It also has soft and fluffy textures perfect for absorbing the chili’s flavors. However, while the classic cornbread is divine, you might appreciate this jalapeno cornbread better with chili. The spicy flavors of both dishes make them a match made in heaven.
Chili is well-recommended with different types of bread, like dinner rolls and no-knead ones. However, for a change, give this honey beer bread a try. It is yeast-free and calls for six ingredients: all-purpose flour, baking powder, fine sea salt, honey, beer, and butter. Most of those items will likely be in your pantry or kitchen already, giving you more reason to try making it!
You’ll love focaccia if you like your bread with a fluffy, pillowy texture and incredible flavors. The downside is that making this bread takes time and effort. For instance, this recipe calls for a refrigeration period of 18 to 24 hours so the dough can rest and rise. However, this particular step gives focaccia its quality, so if you’re willing to invest time, it’s worth it!
The grilled cheese and tomato soup duo is terrific, but you can swap the soup for chili if you want to switch things up. That way, you’d have a fantastic snack, with the sandwich’s cheesiness complementing the chili’s intensity. Also, the toasted bread would absorb the chili’s flavors and sauce, further incorporating the two. Lastly, grilled cheese is so effortless and quick to make, so it’s perfect for any day!
Instead of keeping your bread on the side, you can have it as a topping with these garlic croutons! You can make them out of stale bread, thus helping you avoid food waste and transform dull old loaf into an exciting and flavorful treat. These croutons are initially crusty and crunchy, but the chili sauce slightly softens them. Hence, they and the chili’s fantastic flavors melt on your tongue.
10. Nutella Brownies
Brownies are typically a dessert; thus, this suggestion might have taken you aback. But hear me out – chocolate is the secret ingredient to many impressive chili recipes. The sweetness cuts through the intense savoriness and spiciness, adding a unique layer to all that complexity. It also helps balance all those distinct tastes and ingredients. That said, you can see how Nutella brownies make sense with chili.
11. White Rice
No meal is more complete than chili spread over a plate of warm and fluffy rice. Not only that, it’s one of the easiest meals to have. Cooking rice is effortless and quick, as you’ll need only grains and water. Moreover, the only learning curve is the ratio of rice to water. But with this recipe and some practice, even that will become a breeze for you.
12. Baked Potatoes
Steaming hot and fluffy baked potatoes with chili on top is mouthwatering. But if you don’t have an oven, can you even taste how amazing that duo is? Fortunately, the answer is yes. Using only an air fryer, you can have great-tasting baked potatoes within 45 minutes. Then, once you get them out of the air fryer, just slit the potatoes open and pour chili into the cavity.
13. Potato Skins
Some recipes, like mashed potatoes, call for the flesh only. However, that doesn’t mean you should be quick to throw away the skins. Why? Well, you can use them to make great appetizers! These appetizers are hollowed-out potatoes with a thin layer of flesh left behind. You can fill that hollow with cheese, bacon, scallions, sour cream, or, best of all, some hot and rich chili.
14. Jalapeno Poppers
Are you hosting game day? If you are and you want some fiery energy across the room, serve rich and hot chili. But if someone in the crowd doesn’t find it spicy enough, don’t worry. You can always bring out a tray of creamy and meaty jalapeno poppers. These treats and your chili result in a compounded spice level that’s excellent for kicking off a party.
15. Chili Dogs
Chili dogs are grilled hotdogs in a bun with the chili poured on top. Like in this recipe, the latter is usually bean-free, but you can always try it with beans. You can also stop at just the beans and sausage, but if you want the best flavors, you have to go all in with the toppings. Choices include green onions, mustard, cheese, peppers, and onions – frankly, anything you like.
16. Cheese Fries
Have you ever had loaded fries? Those are French fries topped with various ingredients, like cheese, scallions, jalapenos, bacon, and more. Those added elements contribute exciting flavors and textures that make your fries more filling and tasty. Thus, you can also use chili, this cheese fries recipe, and other favorite toppings to make your version of loaded fries, which is hearty, meaty, rich, and spicy.
17. Onion Rings
Like other side dishes in this article, onion rings promise crisp and crunchy textures. But what sets it apart is the distinctly sweet flavor of onions that bursts into your mouth with every bite. That sweetness is a fantastic addition to the complexity of chili. Thus, instead of serving your onion rings with simple condiments, swap those for a heartwarming bowl of chili.
Chili is a well-loved dish in Texas and Mexico. Thus, it’s not surprising that it’s often paired and used as a tasty dip or side dish for quesadillas. They are toasted tortillas stuffed with cheese, corn, flavorful spices and seasonings, and meat, like beef or chicken. However, they can also be meatless, like vegetable quesadillas. This recipe guides you on how to make all three types.
Another Mexican treat many enjoy with chili is burritos. They are flour tortilla rolls stuffed with rice, meat, corn, cheese, seasoning mix, and refried beans. However, instead of using refried beans, some swap them for chili for spiciness and smokiness. But if you’d rather keep your chili separate, that’s alright too. In that case, you can enjoy it as a side dish or dip for your burrito.
The final dish in this article is also a Mexican delicacy, and probably the most famous of them all: tacos. Many types of tacos exist, so feel free to serve your chili with your favorite. You can also modify the recipe so the chili is incorporated into the shell’s filling instead of you having to eat it as a side dish or pour it as a topping.