With so many variations of chili, the possibilities of what you can eat with it simply depends on how adventurous you are. You can stick with tried and true toppings and sides, like cheese and cornbread, but if you’re willing to try something new or unusual, you might find a new way to take your chili to the next level.
Top It Off
While you can always top off your chili with classic toppings like shredded cheese, diced onions and sour cream, consider more adventurous toppings, too. Spice things up with a sprinkling of chopped jalapenos or hot chili peppers. Add savory flavor with a handful of chopped bacon, or get a little fancy and use fried pancetta. Top with a few cloves of roasted garlic if you’re a garlic lover, or crumble hash browns over for a chili cheese fry effect. You could also crush your favorite potato or corn chips over your chili. Instead of plain sour cream, add a dollop of creme fraiche or yogurt and mint sauce.
Pour It On
Chili isn’t always eaten alone. Indulge and pour it over your french fries and top with shredded cheese. Fill up a baked potato with chili or pour it over hot dogs for chili dogs. For a baked potato twist, try serving chili over sliced red or purple potatoes. Instead of regular hot dogs, try the chili with a spicy sausage. Some like to eat their chili over a bowl of white or brown rice. Try serving over other grains you might like, such as a bowl of bulgur, barley or cooked lentils. You could also serve chili Cincinnati-style, which is served over pasta.
Cornbread is a perennial favorite to serve with chili. If you want to serve cornbread, take it up a notch by adding jalapenos to the batter or adding honey for extra sweet cornbread. You could also wow guests by serving the chili in a bread bowl. Once they get close to the bottom, guests can tear off the bread at the top to dunk in the chili. Another idea is serve the chili between hamburger buns, as an elevated version of sloppy joe sandwiches.
You may want to serve a lighter side option, to lighten up the hearty chili. Consider any type of salad greens with light, oil-based dressings, such as a spinach, romaine or kale salad. For a more interesting spin, make a cabbage salad with red and green shredded cabbage, carrots and thinly sliced apples, served with an apple-cider vinaigrette. You can also make a cold corn salad, combining cooked corn with cherry tomatoes, onions, olive and and vinegar. Place in the refrigerator until its fully chilled.
References and ResourcesDairy Farmers of Washington: Build Your Own Chili Bar
The Party Dress Magazine: Chili Bar for Friends
Serious Eats: Chili for Chili Burgers, Chili Dogs or Chili Fries
Eating Well: Cincinnati Chili
King Arthuf Flour: Bread Bowls With Chili: Souper Bowls fo the Super Bowl
Bon Appetit: Chili-Cheese Sloppy Joes
Mel's Kitchen Cafe: Summer Corn Salad
The Kitchn: Side Dish Recipe for Chili: Apple Cabbage Salad with Cider Viniagrette