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What Side Dishes Go With Chili? Top 10 Options

Here are the top 10 side dishes to go with chili (and a few more), plus what to do with leftovers, and yummy chili recipes to try!

While there’s nothing quite like a big bowl of chili on a cold winter night, it may be hard to know what side dishes go with chili.

Luckily, we’re here to help!

We’re sharing the best sides to go along with hearty chili including desserts and drinks.

You’ll also find some of our favorite chili recipes the whole family will love.

Keep scrolling for the top 10 chili side dishes (plus a few more)!

Chili 101

Cincinnati chili recipe in a pan.

Before we list the best side dishes to go with chili, here’s some chili 101!

Chili is a popular dish similar to a soup or stew that typically features beans, ground beef, tomatoes, and warm spices. You might include it with your game day fare or use it for a weeknight family dinner.

And while it’s favored during cooler months, you can enjoy it year-round, too.

It’s easy to make and there are endless variations and possibilities.

You can experiment with different flavors and heat levels. You can make a spicy chili, meaty chili, vegetarian chili, and so much more.

Below, are some of the most common chili ingredients, toppings, and preparations.

Common Chili Ingredients

Main Dish


  • Kidney Beans
  • Black Beans
  • Pinto Beans
  • Onion
  • Chicken or Beef Broth
  • Ground Beef
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Steak

Vegetables and carbs:

  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Tomato
  • Corn
  • Bell Peppers
  • Rice
  • Noodles
  • Green Chilies

Herbs and spices:

  • Chili Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Oregano

Favorite Toppings

  • Sour Cream
  • Lime Juice
  • Cilantro
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Tortilla Chips or Strips
  • Hot Sauce
  • Avacado
  • Jalapenos
  • Green Onions
  • Pico de Gallo

Popular Chili Preparations

  • Pumpkin Chili
  • Cream Cheese White Chicken Chili
  • Ground Turkey Chili
  • Beef and Bean Chili
  • Vegetarian Chili
  • Buffalo Chicken Chili
  • Cincinnati Chili

What To Serve With Chili

The Top 10 Side Dishes for Chili

Now that we’ve covered Chili 101, here are the best side dishes to serve with chili. Whether you’re looking for a lighter meal or a full-on feast, you’re sure to find the perfect side dish, below.

1. Cornbread

Pumpkin cornbread in small white baking dish cut into squares on wooden cutting board.

Cornbread is a classic side for any chili preparation.

The slightly sweet corn taste compliments chilis’ spiciness and it’s so yummy when crumbled over top.

You can enjoy chili with plain cornbread or other variations like cornbread with cheese and jalapenos or this pumpkin cornbread.

RELATED: How To Freeze Cornbread

2. Baked Potatoes

A sliced baked potato stuffed with melted cheese and green herbs on a white background.

You can also serve chili with a baked potato. You can either eat them separately or pour the chili over your potato.

You’ll find this popular combination in restaurants and fast food, so why not give it a try a home?

3. Salad

Large mixing bowl filled with spinach strawberry almond salad with feta cheese.

If you’re looking for a healthy side to serve with chili, you can’t go wrong with a green salad.

Here are some of our favorite salad recipes to try:

4. Biscuits

Several cheesy biscuits on wood cutting board with towel and dish of butter nearby.

A good homemade or store-bought biscuit is a great side dish for chili. You can use it to sop up the last few drops or take a bite between spoonfuls of chili.

You can try variations like buttermilk biscuits, cheesy drop biscuits, cheddar and chive biscuits, and more.

5. Bread/Breadsticks

Several Rhodes Rolls breadsticks with parmesan stacked on metal baking sheet.

If you don’t like biscuits you can try bread or breadsticks, instead. Here are some of our favorite bread recipes:

6. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Stack of three grilled cheese sandwiches on a white cloth and brown kitchen table.

If you’re looking for an extra comforting meal, you can serve grilled cheese sandwiches with your chili. They’re perfect for dipping, easy to make, and always a crowd-pleaser.

7. Coleslaw

Large white bowl filled with Cole slaw made with carrots and purple and green cabbage.

The cooling, crunchy texture of coleslaw makes it the perfect side dish for chili. If you don’t like traditional coleslaw, you can try other slaw preparations like Asian slaw, South Carolina slaw, and Brussels sprouts slaw.

8. Rice

Cafe Rio cilantro lime rice in white bowl surrounded by stems of cilantro and lime.

Many people enjoy their chili served with rice, either on the side or as the base of the dish. You can use plain rice or serve other rice variations like:

9. French Fries

A large pile of homemade French fries with green garnish on parchment paper.

French fries are another great side dish to serve with chili. You can usually find this pairing in restaurants.

But, you can certainly try it at home, too!

10. Onion Rings

A small white bowl piled high with crispy onion rings.

Onion rings are also a popular restaurant pairing for chili. Baked or fried, you can’t go wrong!

Other Great Options to Try

Now that we’ve detailed the top 10 sides, here are some other great side dishes for chili. They didn’t make the top of the list, but they’re delicious just the same!

Sweet Potatoes

Several baked sweet potatoes filled with chickpeas, broccoli, and cilantro on white background.

Instead of a regular baked potato, you can serve baked sweet potatoes with your chili. Or, you can get creative with other sweet potato recipes like:

RELATED: 43 Ideas for What to Eat with Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potato Fries

Large pile of sweet potato fries on parchment paper with ketchup.

You can also enjoy crispy sweet potato fries with your Chili. They’re the perfect blend of sweet and salty and much more nutritious than traditional fries.

Zucchini Fries

Thick zucchini fries with panko crust next to bowl of dip.

Zucchini fries are another great crispy and crunchy side dish for chili. They’re healthy(ish), and complement the flavors in chili.

You can enjoy them baked or fried.

Corn Salad

Corn salad with red onion, Mexican cheese, and cilantro on a plate.

One of the best vegetables to serve with chili is corn. Some chili recipes even include corn in the dish.

A simple corn salad with Mexican or Feta cheese, red onion, and cilantro is a perfect pairing.

Honey Butter Skillet Corn

Wooden spoon rests in black frying pan filled with honey butter corn.

You can also try honey butter skillet corn. It’s a great recipe to use up your food storage, and it’s so simple to make.

Fruit Salad

Large white bowl filled with fruits, including oranges, berries, and kiwi.

Here’s another delicious and healthy side dish to serve with chili.

Fruit salad is simple to make, and you can use your favorite fruits.

You can keep the fruit salad plain or dress it with a honey lime dressing, poppyseed dressing, or even whipped cream.

Cheesy Potato Skins

Close up of potato skins with bacon, sour cream, and green onion garnish.

If you’re enjoying your chili for a football party, potato skins are the perfect appetizer or side dish. They’re cheesy, delicious, and the perfect finger food for a crowd.

RELATED: 27 Delicious Football Dinner Ideas

Soft Pretzels

Close up of large soft pretzels with flaky salt on a wooden table.

You can also serve soft pretzels for game day.

Soft pretzels are great for dipping, but they’re also delicious on their own.

Potato Chips

Sliced and whole potatoes next to pile of homemade potato chips.

Crispy store-bought or homemade potato chips are perfect for snacking, dipping, and eating alongside chili.

If you’re tired of baked potatoes, give chips a try!

Jalapeno Poppers

Close up of jalapeno peppers with melted cheese and green garnish.

Jalapeno poppers include similar ingredients to chili with toppings like cheese, green onions, and bacon.

They’re the perfect spicy bite to enjoy with your favorite chili recipe.

Grilled Corn

Two grilled ears of corn with Mexican crema and green garnish on top.

We’ve talked about corn salad and skillet corn, but you can’t go wrong with grilled corn, too!

The grill brings out the sweetness of the corn and it’s so fresh and satisfying to eat with the hearty chili.

You can get extra fancy with toppings like Mexican crema, cheese, cilantro, and lime (AKA Mexican street corn).

Vegetable Kabobs

Several vegetable kebab skewers over aluminum foil with zucchini, bell pepper, and squash.

Vegetable kabobs are another great side dish for chili during grilling season.

Just remember to soak wooden skewers in water before putting them on the grill!

RELATED: Grilled Sausage Kabobs

Zucchini and Yellow Squash Casserole

White baking dish with zucchini and yellow squash casserole topped with parmesan and thyme.

This yummy zucchini and yellow squash casserole is a great side to enjoy during the summer months. You can use zucchini from your garden or store-bought works great, too!

Broccoli Salad

Broccoli cauliflower salad with cranberries, sunflower seeds, and bacon in white bowl.

Broccoli Cauliflower Salad with Bacon is a delicious cookout side that pairs well with chili. But you can also enjoy it year-round.

It’s a great contrast to chili with its sweet flavor and crunchy texture. And it’s so easy to make!

Cilantro Chickpea Salad

Bowl full of cilantro chickpea salad on wooden cutting board with fork.

This healthy Cilantro Chickpea Salad is a tangy and fresh side to serve with chili. And it’s an ideal recipe for summer!

Desserts and Drinks

To make your meal complete, here are some yummy dessert and drink pairings for chili we know you’ll love:

What To Do With Leftover Chili

Hotdog on parchment paper with chili and cheese on top with fries.

Now that we’ve covered the best side dishes to go with chili, here’s what to do with your leftovers!

Leftover Chili Recipes

If you don’t want to keep reheating the same old chili, you can repurpose it into other dishes. Here are some of our favorite ideas:

  • Chili Cheese Dogs (featuring hot dogs and melted cheese)
  • Chili Tacos
  • Nachos with Chili
  • Chili Quesadillas
  • Chili Mac
  • Breakfast Bowls (with chili, hash browns, and eggs)
  • Chili Cheese Lasagna
  • Spaghetti with Chili Sauce
  • Chili Cheese Fries
  • Chili Sloppy Joes
  • Burritos with Chili
  • Taco Salad

How To Store Leftover Chili

For the refrigerator, the best way to store chili is in an airtight container. A properly sealed container will preserve the flavor of your chili and keep other odors or contaminants in the refrigerator from affecting your dish.

Plastic wrap isn’t the best option because it’s not as airtight.

And it’s best to use shallow containers so the leftover chili cools at the same rate, and there are no hot spots.

For the freezer, use heavy-duty freezer bags zipped tight with as much air removed as possible. And try to freeze your chili flat, so it takes up less space once frozen.

How long does leftover chili last?

Assortment of frozen foods in freezer bags and airtight containers on wooden table.

How long is leftover chili good for? That depends!

The shelf life of chili depends on the type of chili you’re eating. Homemade chili has fewer preservatives compared to store-bought chili (canned chili).

And chili with ground beef has more opportunity for bacteria growth.

For store-bought chili, check the expiration date and follow any instructions on the can. And if you have any leftovers, you can safely enjoy them for up to a week.

For homemade chili, follow the instructions and tips below!

Room Temperature

Chili can stay safe at room temperature for up to 2 hours before dangerous bacterial growth begins.

The “danger zone” for perishable foods is between 40 and 140 degrees. At these temperatures, food is most vulnerable to bacteria.

Make sure to either keep your chili properly heated if you’re leaving it out, or get it into the refrigerator as soon as possible.


Refrigerator storage is best for small portions of leftover chili. So, if you plan to enjoy the chili the next day or in a couple of days, you can place it in the fridge.

If properly stored, cooked chili with meat can stay good in the fridge for 3-4 days. And meatless chili can last as long as a week.


For large amounts, consider storing chili in the freezer.

This is a great way to preserve food for a longer time period. And you can even plan to make extra chili to build up a stash of freezer meals.

Following a proper freezing method (at a temperature below 0 degrees), frozen chili can stay good for up to 6 months.

Reheating Leftover Chili

If your chili is still good to eat, make sure you reheat the leftovers to an internal temperature of at least 165 before you eat it. It should be steaming and hot!

How To Tell if Chili Has Gone Bad

Bad chili can make you sick and cause food poisoning. To avoid this, always check your chili for signs of spoilage before you eat it.

You should do this even if the chili is within the 3-4 days for the fridge or 6 months for the freezer.

Here are some simple ways to tell if chili is bad:


What vegetable goes well with chili?

Most vegetables pair well with chili. But, some of the most popular pairings are:

– Corn
– Zucchini
– Squash
– Potatoes
– Sweet Potatoes
– Onion
– Carrots

What finger foods go well with chili?

Chili pairs well with finger foods like:

– French Fries
– Sweet Potato Fries
– Zucchini Fries
– Onion Rings
– Jalapeno Poppers
– Potato Skins
– Corn Bread
– Biscuits
– Bread Sticks and Rolls
– Chips

What kind of sandwich goes with chili?

The best sandwich to serve with chili is grilled cheese. But, you can also enjoy deli sandwiches like this Turkey Sandwich with Avocado.

What’s something healthy that goes with chili?

Healthy side dishes for chili include:

– Green Salad
– Broccoli Cauliflower Salad
– Fruit Salad
– Grilled Corn
– Vegetable Kabobs
– Light Coleslaw

Yummy Chili Recipes You’ll Love

We’ve covered chili 101, the best side dishes to serve with chili, and what to do with leftover chili. Now here are some yummy chili recipes to try.

White Chicken Chili Recipe With Cream Cheese

Two bowls of white chicken chili in white bowls with blue plates underneath.

This White Chicken Chili recipe with cream cheese is perfect for a chilly evening. Just dump the 7 ingredients in your Crock Pot and in a few hours you’ll have a deliciously creamy chili ready for dinner!

Spaghetti with Chili (Cincinnati Chili)

Fork and spoon twirled around some spaghetti with chili all in green bowl.

Spaghetti with Chili, or Cincinnati Chili, features a meaty chili served over tender spaghetti and topped with sour cream and cheese. It’s a unique and hearty dish perfect for a cool evening!

3-Ingredient Crock Pot Chili Cheese Dip

Single Frito scoop chip in small Crock Pot of chili cheese dip.

You’ll just need 3 ingredients to make this delicious Crock Pot Chili Cheese Dip. It’s so easy to throw together you’ll want to serve it at all of your parties and potlucks!

I hope your family loves these easy chili recipes! If you make them, be sure to take a picture and tag me on Instagram with @ashcroftfamilytable and use the hashtag #ashcroftfamilytable!


And if you’d like to get a 4-week meal plan featuring my recipes, just enter your email in the form above and you’ll get it straight to your inbox!

What did you think of these side dishes to go with chili? Are there any good options we missed? Let us know in the comments!

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Pinterest graphic with text and collage of side dishes to serve with chili.