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)!
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
- Kidney Beans
- Black Beans
- Pinto Beans
- Chicken or Beef Broth
- Ground Beef
Vegetables and carbs:
- Bell Peppers
- Green Chilies
Herbs and spices:
- Chili Powder
- Onion Powder
- Garlic Powder
- Sour Cream
- Lime Juice
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- Tortilla Chips or Strips
- Hot Sauce
- 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.
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
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?
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:
- Chicken Caesar Salad with Pasta
- BLT Salad With Avocado
- Persimmon Salad with Goat Cheese and Oranges
- Ultimate Winter Green Salad
- Spinach Strawberry Salad with Almonds
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.
If you don’t like biscuits you can try bread or breadsticks, instead. Here are some of our favorite bread recipes:
- Cheesy Breadsticks like these Rhodes Rolls Breadsticks
- Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
- Cheesy French Bread
- Refrigerator Mashed Potato Rolls
- No-Knead Crescent Rolls
6. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
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.
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.
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
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
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!
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:
- Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Apples
- Slow Cooker Sweet Potatoes and Apples
- Sweet Potato Crunch Casserole
RELATED: 43 Ideas for What to Eat with Sweet Potatoes
Sweet Potato Fries
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 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.
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
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.
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
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
You can also serve soft pretzels for game day.
Soft pretzels are great for dipping, but they’re also delicious on their own.
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 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.
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 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
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 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
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:
- Cinnamon Rolls
- Apple Streusel Bars
- Key Lime Pie
- Lemon Bars
- Tres Leches Cake
- Fried Ice Cream
- Pink Fluff
- Apple Cider
- Meyer Lemonade
What To Do With Leftover Chili
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?
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!
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:
- Bad smell
- White or green mold spots
- Texture changes
- Bad taste
Most vegetables pair well with chili. But, some of the most popular pairings are:
– Sweet Potatoes
Chili pairs well with finger foods like:
– French Fries
– Sweet Potato Fries
– Zucchini Fries
– Onion Rings
– Jalapeno Poppers
– Potato Skins
– Corn Bread
– Bread Sticks and Rolls
The best sandwich to serve with chili is grilled cheese. But, you can also enjoy deli sandwiches like this Turkey Sandwich with Avocado.
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
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)
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
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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