What to Serve with Chili: 18 Tasty Side Dishes

Few things are more comforting than a big bowl of chili on a cold winter day. Most people see their favorite chili recipe as a meal right by itself. However, if you want sides for chili that will make chili feel more like a meal, you may be wondering what to serve with chili.

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Chili Con Carne

Homemade chili is full of ground beef and tomato sauce, plus nutritious veggies like tomatoes and chili beans or kidney beans. But you can also round out your chili supper with breads, appetizers, and sides. What goes with chili? Let’s dive in and explore some of the best options for what to eat with chili.

Source: Tastesbetterfromscratch.com

1. Bread Sticks

Just the thought of dipping breadsticks into saucy classic chili is enough to make most of us run to the kitchen and start cooking.

The good news is that breadsticks aren’t that difficult to make from scratch.

Breadsticks go great with nearly any meal, so once you’ve mastered the art of making them, you’re going to suddenly be very popular with your family.

We love this recipe because it offers ideas for making your breadsticks unique. For example, you can go with a garlic butter topping, make cheesy breadsticks, or even make them vegan by using vegan butter and oil.

Source: Loveandlemons.com

2. Baked Potatoes

A baked potato seems to go with just about any meal, doesn’t it? So of course, baked potatoes also work beautifully as chili sides.

To make the perfect baked potato, you want your potato’s skin to be crispy and your insides light and fluffy.

Want to know the secret to make perfect baked potatoes? Here it is: baking them in a crust of salt, preferably sea salt.

Seriously, the salt on the skin changes everything and makes a world of difference. What happens is that the salt draws the moisture out of the potato, giving you a perfect fluffy baked potato.

To create baked potatoes like this, coat the outside of your potatoes with olive oil, then sprinkle fine salt all over them.

Bonus tip: if you have leftover chili, it’s great spooned onto a baked potato!

Source: Loveandlemons.com

3. Sweet Potatoes

If the idea of a baked potato with your chili sounds awesome but you’re watching your carbs, we have the perfect solution for you.

A baked sweet potato is a special treat all by themselves, but when you serve them as a side with your bowls of steaming chili con carne, they’re a sure hit.

Serve a delicious sweet potato with nothing but butter, or you can use all of your favorite toppings.

These potatoes are so naturally sweet that you don’t need to add honey, but we won’t be mad at you if you do.

Source: Gimmesomeoven.com

4. Sweet Potato Fries

When you’re wondering what to eat with beef chili, your mind may go to French fries (and that’s totally OK if it’s what you want!).

However, give these delicious crispy sweet potato pies a second look. They’re seasoned perfectly and will disappear quickly.

No one wants a soggy fry, and these fries are as crispy as can be.

You get the perfect combination of sweet and salty with this tasty snack, and they go beautifully with your chili.

Source: Preppykitchen.com

5. Soft Pretzels

If you love soft pretzels (and who doesn’t?), you will be delighted to learn that they are one of the best things you can eat with chili.

Because they are a bread that is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, soft pretzels are ideal for dipping in your savory and saucy bowl of chili.

Here’s what makes these so fun. You can make them in the traditional pretzel shape, or you can cut them into bite-sized pieces for easy dipping.

Soft pretzels make a wonderful addition to your chili bar.

Source: Spendwithpennies.com

6. Grilled Cheese

Very few things are more comforting than a yummy grilled cheese sandwich with melted cheese.

While grilled cheese sandwiches traditionally are served with tomato soup, they also go well when served with your tomatoey chili.

You and your guests can dip these toasty sandwiches into your chili with abandon, and the cheese will ooze and get even creamier.

Make these with butter or mayonnaise on the outside, and here’s a special secret. Smear a bit of mustard on the inside of the bread before cooking it.

Source: Fivehearthome.com

7. Rice

Chili con carne is a high-protein meal, so if you want to sneak in some tasty carbohydrates, consider rice.

You can make a bowl of fluffy plain white rice, but we highly recommend that you give this easy Spanish rice recipe a try.

As it turns out, it’s just as easy to make this Spanish rice as it is to make plain white rice. And you can make it in your rice cooker, so it practically cooks itself. This rice goes great with white chicken chili, too, and also pinto beans.

Source: Damndelicious.net

8. Nachos

What’s the one Mexican food that everyone loves as much as they love chili? Nachos. However you serve them, nachos are always a hit.

The best part is that there is a nacho for everyone. You can even make your nachos vegetarian if you want to.

When you add vegetables like corn, chili pepper, shredded cheese, bell pepper, and black bean to your nachos, along with toppings that include tomatoes and jalapenos, you’ve got the makings of a full meal.

Note: it’s totally OK to use canned beans for your nachos. Just rinse them and allow them to dry a bit before topping your nachos with them.

However, paired with chili, naches round out those steaming bowls and turn dinner into a feast.

Source: Blessthismessplease.com

9. Cornbread

If you’ve got chili and cornbread, you definitely have a full meal that’s fit for a king. In short, you can’t go wrong with cornbread.

Besides traditional southern cornbread, you can also make a northern version of cornbread that has just a touch of sweetness. The sweetness will serve to take some of the bite out of the chili’s spiciness.

To really go to the next level, consider making some cornbread variations. For example, Mexican cornbread goes great with chili.

Be sure to serve your cornbread with plenty of butter that has been softened to room temperature.

Source: Highheelsandgrills.com

10. Chips & Guacamole

If you make a spicy chili, you and your guests will enjoy something that will cool you off while you’re enjoying all of that spice.

What’s the best thing to cool off while eating hot chili, cayenne pepper, or Mexican food? Guacamole or avocado, of course.

You will love this recipe for guacamole and homemade tortilla chips.

If you don’t have time to make your own chips, that’s totally fine. This recipe works just as well with store-bought chips.

Source: Inspiredtaste.net

11. Coleslaw

When you’re eating spicy chili, it’s nice to have a cold dish to take the heat off.

Guacamole is great for that, but if you want to get in some great nutritious vegetables, whip up a batch of coleslaw the night before you cook your chili.

This recipe uses a combination of green and red cabbage and the shredded carrots make it even more colorful.

The dash of apple cider vinegar gives it a zesty fresh note. However, you can substitute champagne vinegar or red wine vinegar for something interesting and unique.

Source: Houseofyumm.com

12. Tacos

Besides chili and nachos, tacos are arguably one of the most famous Tex-Mex meals on the planet.

Also, there are those famous taco restaurant chains. But that’s not the kind of tacos we’re talking about here.

When you make tacos as one of the sides for chili, you want them to be deliciously authentic.

It’s super easy to make your own taco shells, for example.

And the taco seasoning in this recipe? Sublime. There’s no need to buy the handy little packets. Whip out your chili powder and other classic ingredients, and you’re ready to go.

Be sure to serve these up with limes, cilantro, and chopped onion for an authentic Tex-Mex experience. Some sour cream on the side doesn’t hurt, either.

Source: Cookieandkate.com

13. Quesadillas

Aren’t quesadillas miraculous?

You can take just about any meat that you have leftover, add a bit of cheddar cheese, and slap it all between two tortillas and you have a delicious meal in minutes.

Also, there’s no law that says you have to have meat in your quesadillas. You can make these yummy Mexican treats with just grated cheese if you want.

If you’re looking for an appetizer or sides for chili, look no further than the beloved quesadilla. The crowd at your chili supper will thank you.

Dipped in guacamole and sour cream, these are perfect to serve with hearty chili.

Source: Spenswithpennies.com

14. Cheesy Potato Skins

Do you know what’s even better than a fluffy baked potato? Cheesy potato skins.

One thing you can do is plan another recipe for the day before that uses potatoes for something like mashed potatoes.

However, save those wonderful skins because you’re going to use them to make these delicious cheesy potato skins when you’re deciding what to serve with chili.

These decadent skins are super crispy and the outside is seasoned with a delicious garlic butter flavor.

Be sure to have sour cream on hand for dipping.

Source: Realhousemoms.com

15. Onion Rings

Some awesome fast-food hamburger restaurants have amazing fried onion rings. Depending on where you live, you probably have your own favorites.

But did you know that it’s crazy easy to make homemade onion rings right in your own kitchen?

Onion rings aren’t just great to go with hot dogs and hamburgers. You can also serve onion rings as a side dish with chili.

The secret to the best homemade onion rings is to use sweet onions or yellow onions. The white onions are a bit more pungent.

Source: Gimmesomeoven.com

16. Drinks

When you’re enjoying a chili dinner, you certainly need some beverages that can stand up on their own.

After all, chili is a hearty meal, and we wouldn’t dream of serving it with something like a soda.

The best drinks for serving with chili are sweet drinks like sweet tea. However, don’t forget about traditional Tex-Mex favorites like margaritas, sangria, and some of the popular Mexican beers.

Source: Spendwithpennies.com

17. Fresh Salad

Is there anything that a salad doesn’t make better?

If you’re stumped for what to serve with chili, you can’t go wrong with a simple fresh salad. Chock full of wholesome fresh vegetables, this recipe for tossed salad is one of our all-time favorites.

A variety of different greens is key to the perfect salad, although you can keep it as simple as you like.

But isn’t that what makes a salad perfect? It’s completely customizable and can be tailored to the individuals you’re serving.

Source: Recipetineats.com

18. Chips and Queso

A beloved Tex-Mex favorite, chile con queso (or just “queso”) is so popular that the fight for the best queso recipe has even been battled in the halls of Congress.

We’re not taking sides or anything, but what we know is that queso goes great with a big bowl of chili.

You can eat your favorite cheese dip with your chips, or you can add delicious spoonfuls of it over your chili. Either way, you’re in for a treat.

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community.
She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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