If you’re wondering what to serve with your chili, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, I list 45 of the most popular side dishes for chili.
In a rush? Here’s the short answer.
The best dishes to serve with chili are cornbread, baked potatoes, tortilla chips, mac and cheese, and coleslaw. For more veggie sides, serve grilled corn, pico de gallo, fried green tomatoes, or a shaved brussel sprout salad. For an odd but tasty side, try cinnamon rolls.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
Great flavor pairings for chili
Chili is a hearty beef dish (although you can use turkey to), it’s slightly spicy and the tomato sauce is packed with smokey, earthy aromatics.
It’s got Tex-Mex origins so you know it’s going to be delicious! It pairs really well with:
- Creamy flavors – creamy ingredients like cheese or sour cream are a classic pairing for chili because they help tone down and mellow out the spice.
- Fresh flavors – chili is a hearty, rich dish and bright flavors like citrus and fresh herbs balance that out and keep things from getting too heavy.
- Sweet flavors – another way to counteract spice is with something sweet. Pairing your chili with sweet flavors like honey or chocolate makes for a super comforting meal.
Related: alternatives for beer in chili
The best thing about chili is the spicy tomato sauce, so you definitely need something to help mop it all up.
That’s where starches come in. You can go plain with something like a baked potato, or you can go creamy and indulgent with something like mac and cheese.
Cornbread is THE side dish for a chili.
Its soft, moist crumb and delightful subtle sweetness pairs so well with a warm, comforting chili.
Make sure to save a bite of the bread to wipe your bowl clean at the end. YUM.
Why we love this recipe: it calls for pre-heating your pan to ensure crispy, caramelized edges.
Got some leftover chili?
Scoop a spoonful of it over a baked potato for a filling lunch.
The light, fluffy potato will soak up all of your chili’s goodness – so every bite is filled with flavor.
Psst… microwaving baked potatoes is quick, but nothing beats the oven.
Why we love this recipe: your oven does most of the work.
Cilantro lime rice
Looking for a traditional side for your chili?
Rice is the way to go.
But it doesn’t have to be boring.
This zesty cilantro lime rice will add some brightness to your meal and keep everything from getting too rich.
Why we love this recipe: this one-pot rice dish is made with easily accessible ingredients.
Don’t knock it ’till you try it definitely applies here.
Chili and cinnamon rolls are a classic pairing popular in some regions of the Midwest.
It’s sweet and savory, but taken to the extreme.
Why we love this recipe: you’re house is going to smell AMAZING.
Stovetop mac and cheese
This combination is the ultimate comfort meal.
It will be an indulgent meal, but everyone needs to treat themselves sometimes, right?
Psst… I like to mix the chili into the mac and cheese… it’s amazing with a side of garlic bread.
Why we love this recipe: everything comes together in one pot – you don’t even need to boil your pasta separately.
Chili and salads is a nice and refreshing pairing, especially during the summer months when a starchy side might be too much!
I like a salad with a creamy dressing (hello coleslaw), but zesty salads can be a treat too.
Shaved brussels sprouts salad
Take a break from your leafy greens and whip up this shaved brussel sprout salad instead.
And don’t sweat about the sprouts’ bitterness – it’s offset by the umami-packed parmesan and a zesty mustard vinaigrette.
This salad is just what you need when you’re looking for something light to pair with your chili.
Why we love this recipe: you only need six ingredients to whip up this salad (dressing included!)
Greek yogurt coleslaw
Coleslaw is my favorite veggie side to serve with chili.
Its cooling, crunchy texture is a nice contrast to the heat of your chili.
And it’s great if you’re cooking for a crowd.
Why we love this recipe: it uses Greek yogurt instead of mayo which shaves a few carbs off this slaw.
Southwest chopped salad
Give your regular chopped salad a major flavor boost with the addition of classic Southwestern flavors.
Aside from the romaine lettuce, It’s packed with sweet corn kernels, black beans, chopped tomatoes, and crunchy tortilla chips.
Then everything is tossed with a finger-licking good ranch dressing.
Why we love this recipe: it’s gluten-free, and the vibrant colors make this dish a feast for your eyes.
Toppers or dippers
Chili is a filling meal on its own so you don’t always need a big side to go with it.
Some fun topper options include pico de gallo, pickled jalapenos, or smoked guacamole.
And if the idea of a topper doesn’t excite you, what about something you can dip into the chili and scoop up some of the delicious sauce with. Tortilla chips are a traditional option.
Pico de gallo
Add a fresh bite to your chili with a topping of classic pico de gallo.
There’s no cooking involved with this, just a lot of chopping!
Pro-Tip: allow your salsa to rest for a day to let the flavors meld and develop better.
Why we love this recipe: this fresh salsa is easily customizable – if you want it sweeter, add more tomatoes. For a spicier bite, add more jalapeno peppers.
Flour tortilla chips
Setting up a chili bar for your game day party?
Whip up some flour tortilla chips for it – they’re an excellent crispy vessel to scoop up your tasty chili.
And don’t forget the guacamole!
Why we love this recipe: baked chips are so much healthier than store-bought chips.
Grilled cheese sandwich
This might sound a little strange… but just imagine dipping a gooey melted cheese sandwich into your hearty chili.
It definitely beats ketchup!
And it’s super easy to make – you probably already have all the ingredients you need.
Why we like this recipe: it features three kinds of cheeses – cheddar, gouda, and Havarti for maximum cheesy goodness.
If you want something fun, then this side dish is for you.
Creamy, cheesy, and crunchy – these jalapeno poppers will provide great depth of flavor and a little fiery heat to your meal.
Why we love this recipe: you can prepare these the day before, so it’s perfect for people who are short on time.
Bacon goes with everything – chili included.
Bacon crumbles are a great way to add some extra texture to an otherwise soft meal, and they add a nice hit of umami.
I have to warn you though… you’ll want to sprinkle these bacon crumbles on everything!
Why we love this recipe: it will last for two weeks in the fridge.
Sweet potato fries
These sweet potato fries are deliciously crispy and you can season them with whatever you want.
Kelly goes with a sweet-but-spicy mixture of chipotle powder and coconut sugar (or brown sugar if you can’t find coconut sugar).
But you can experiment. Sometimes I go super simple with just salt and pepper.
Why we love this recipe: they’re a crowd favorite.
Chili is packed with hearty beef (or turkey), but doesn’t have loads of veggies in it so you need something to add a bit of extra nutrition to the plate.
The best vegetables to serve with chili are Southern-inspired or Mexican inspired dishes like collard greens or Mexican street corn.
Simple, fresh choices like sauteed spinach or steamed broccoli are great too.
Grilled corn on the cob
Serving chili at your cookout?
Toss some corn on the cob on your grill for a great tasty side.
Fresh-off-the-grill corn on the cob is simply delightful, and it will add a fun element to your meal.
Why we love this recipe: you can pick from herb butter, garlic parmesan, or chili lime butter.
Instant pot collard greens
It usually takes hours to get these greens silky soft – but you can reduce the cooking time to 45 minutes with the help of an instant pot.
Serve this and the chili with a slice of cornbread for the ultimate southern meal.
Why we love this recipe: you can make it vegan by swapping the bacon and chicken broth for smoked paprika and vegetable broth.
Fried green tomatoes
These crispy treats are a staple in Southern cuisine.
Underneath the crunchy panko crust is a juicy, tangy center that will cut right through the rich flavors of your chili.
There’s no need for a dipping sauce when you have chili, but if you want one, ranch is a great choice.
Why we love this recipe: these are guaranteed crowd pleasers.
Mashed cauliflower and spinach
Looking for something light and healthy?
This recipe has your back – cauliflower is a great low-carb alternative to potatoes and spinach is a nutritional powerhouse.
Serve your chili over this mash for a complete and highly nourishing meal.
Why we love this recipe: you can indulge in this guilt-free.
What To Serve With Chili – Pico De Gallo
- 3-4 medium tomatoes
- 1/2 white onion chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and finely chopped, optional
- 1/2 cup cilantro chopped
- 1-2 tbsp fresh lime juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- Dice the tomatoes and onions into small squares. Finely mince the jalapeno and cilantro.
- Mix all of the ingredients into a bowl. If you don't like spice, add less jalapeno!
- Squeeze over the fresh lime juice and sprinkle in some salt and pepper to taste.
- For best results let the pico de gallo chill in the fridge for a few hours before serving.