Chili is the ultimate comfort food, full of warmth and flavors that just hit the spot. It's a dish that stands strong on its own, but why stop there? Complement that bowl of goodness with side dishes that are just as memorable.
Here are 17 amazing sides to pair with your chili that range from the classic to the downright unexpected. Each one brings something extra to the table, guaranteeing that your meal will be one for the books.
Looking for a quick answer?
The best side dishes to serve with chili are cornbread, nachos, guacamole, blooming onion, birria quesadillas, tostada, soft pretzels, tostilocos, garlic knots, sweet potato fries, jalapeño poppers, avocado salad, elote, rice and beans, chiles rellenos.
Now, let's get cooking!
Table of Contents
Cornbread is such a comforting classic when it comes to pairing with chili. But it's not just the taste that makes it a perfect match; it's also the versatility. Whether you like it sweet or savory, cornbread can be adapted to suit your taste buds.
Some like to add a kick with jalapeños, or perhaps some cheddar cheese to make it extra special. The sweetness of the cornmeal contrasts beautifully with the spicy and savory notes in the chili, creating a balanced mouthful every time. And let's not forget: cornbread is fantastic for soaking up those last drops of chili at the bottom of the bowl!
Why stop at one delicious dish when you can double up the fun? Nachos are not only great for snacking, but they also make a superb side for chili. Start with a base of tortilla chips, add layers of cheese, and you're already off to a good start.
But don't stop there; toppings like jalapeños, sour cream, and olives can make it even more exciting. And for a real flavor explosion? Drizzle some of your chili right on top of the nachos before adding the cheese. Melt under the broiler, and you've got a fusion dish that's downright addictive.
Guacamole adds a creamy, refreshing touch to the rich and hearty chili. Sure, you can serve it in a bowl with some tortilla chips, but why not get creative? Spoon some directly onto your chili or use it as a garnish. The freshness of the avocados, coupled with zesty lime juice and cilantro, can really elevate your chili meal.
The healthy fats in the avocado also help to tame the spiciness if your chili is on the hotter side, making each bite a balanced, creamy delight.
A blooming onion isn't just eye-catching; it's a full-on flavor spectacle. This deep-fried masterpiece is cut to resemble a flower, seasoned to perfection, and often served with a variety of dipping sauces. Imagine pulling off a piece of that crispy, golden onion and pairing it with a spoonful of your favorite chili.
The contrasting textures and flavors are simply divine. It's not a conventional side dish, but it offers a whimsical, tasty twist that is sure to be a conversation starter.
Birria quesadillas offer a sumptuous meaty experience that can hold its own next to a robust chili. The birria meat, slow-cooked until it's mouth-meltingly tender, is stuffed into a tortilla along with a generous helping of cheese. Then it's cooked until the tortilla is golden and the cheese is gooey.
But wait, there's more. That flavorful birria broth that you've got left? It's not just for show. Dunk your quesadilla into the broth for an explosion of flavor that perfectly complements the richness of a meaty chili.
A tostada is basically an open-faced taco, offering you a crunchy base to stack high with toppings. The crispness of the tostada shell offers a textural contrast to the heartiness of chili. It's an easy-to-customize side that everyone can enjoy.
Not your usual chili companion, but don't knock it until you try it! Soft pretzels bring a salty, doughy goodness that pairs surprisingly well with chili. Tear off a piece and dip it in the chili, or just enjoy it as a separate treat. Either way, it's a win-win.
Get ready for a flavor party with Tostilocos. These are bags of Tostitos chips opened up and loaded with a variety of toppings like cucumber, jicama, and lime juice. They offer a cornucopia of flavors and textures that can make your chili meal a full-blown fiesta.
9. Garlic Knots
Garlic knots bring a little bit of Italian flair to the table. These twisted bits of garlic-infused dough are brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with parsley, offering a delightful contrast to the bold flavors in chili. Plus, they're great for mopping up any leftover sauce in your bowl.
10. Sweet Potato Fries
Looking for a side that's a bit on the sweeter side but still loaded with flavor? Sweet potato fries are your answer. Their natural sweetness provides a delightful contrast to chili's savory depth. Add a sprinkle of sea salt and a dash of cinnamon for an extra flavor kick.
11. Jalapeño Poppers
Keep the heat coming with some jalapeño poppers! These spicy treats are usually stuffed with cream cheese or cheddar and then deep-fried to perfection. They add a burst of heat and a creamy interior that pairs well with the robustness of a good chili.
12. Avocado Salad
For something fresh and light, an avocado salad can be a wonderful companion to chili. Mixed with a simple lime dressing and tossed with fresh greens, this salad brings a different kind of richness that complements the hearty chili without overpowering it.
The tangy, crunchy texture of coleslaw offers a refreshing contrast to the dense richness of chili. You can go traditional with a mayo-based dressing or opt for a vinegar-based one for an extra tangy kick. Either way, it's a burst of freshness that lightens up the meal.
14. Rice and Beans
Get back to basics with a simple side of rice and beans. Not only do they make the meal more filling, but their relatively neutral flavors allow the chili to shine. Spice up the rice with some cilantro and lime for a bit of zesty flair.
15. Cheesy Garlic Bread
Because sometimes, more is more. If you're in the mood for a super indulgent meal, cheesy garlic bread is the way to go. The gooey, melted cheese and the crispy, garlic-infused crust create a harmony of textures and flavors that make each bite of chili even more satisfying.
Elote, or Mexican street corn, is a vibrant dish that brings its own set of exciting flavors. Grilled corn on the cob is slathered with mayonnaise, sprinkled with Cotija cheese, and given a dash of chili powder. It's a smoky, creamy, and spicy side that mirrors some of the flavor profiles in your chili, making each mouthful a celebration.
17. Chiles Rellenos
A bit on the fancier side but oh so worth it, chiles rellenos can be an excellent addition to your chili meal. These are poblano peppers that have been stuffed with cheese or meat, coated in egg batter, and then fried. The gooey interior and the crispy exterior, combined with the mild heat from the peppers, offer a delightful variety of textures and flavors.
What To Serve With Chili
- 1 chili
- Make the best sliders using your favorite recipe.
- Make a side dish from the list above. You can eat chili with cornbread, nachos, guacamole, blooming onion, birria quesadillas, tostada, soft pretzels, tostilocos, garlic knots, sweet potato fries, jalapeño poppers, avocado salad, elote, rice and beans, and chiles rellenos.
- Serve and enjoy a wonderful meal 🙂