Making chili but not sure what to serve with it? Here are the best sides to go with chili, from moist and tender cornbread to sweet potato fries.
Chili is always a hands-down hit in our house. But what to serve with it? Of course there’s the standard choice: cornbread. (And we must say, Easy Vegan Cornbread to die for!) But outside of cornbread, it’s harder to find a natural choice. Do you try a green salad? Balance a bowl of chili with a plate of something else? What are the best sides to go with chili?
Alex and I have wondered this: while we usually go with the typical cornbread, we wanted to branch out. So, we’ve brainstormed our 10 best sides to go with chili! And it was harder than we thought! Each item has got to complement chili with a comforting vibe, but also contrast it at the same time. Here’s what we came up with! This list is especially perfect for entertaining, if you’re hosting a chili night or chili cookoff party.
What are we missing? What sides do you serve with chili?
10 best sides to serve with chili
First up: THE best side to serve with chili! You may not have thought cornbread was life changing…until now. This tender, moist vegan cornbread tastes the Jiffy box, but 100 times tastier. If you don't normally eat plant-based foods, hear us out. It doesn't matter that this recipe doesn't use dairy. It's SO delicious, you'll never notice, and neither will any of your friends or family members.
Take it from one of our readers, Lisa: "Your cornbread was easy and delicious! It was sweet and tender and was the perfect balance with the salty, spicy chili I made. I will definitely make it again!”
Next up in our sides to serve with chili: baked sweet potato fries! The sweetness of the potatoes is the perfect antidote to hearty, savory chili. These fries are lightly crispy on the outside, perfectly seasoned, and lusciously sweet on the inside. Pop a batch in the oven while the chili simmers.
Love dipping your fries? Try our homemade honey mustard. The combination of sweet potatoes and tangy honey mustard is hard to beat!
How about a little contrast of fresh veggies for a hearty chili? Topped with a creamy homemade Caesar dressing and crispy cornbread croutons, this kale Caesar salad recipe is one salad you won’t want to stop eating! The dressing is fabulous, it's delightfully creamy with a little kick of horseradish. And the crispy cornbread croutons — well, let’s just say not too many made it onto our salad. You could use our Vegan Cornbread or Jiffy cornbread copycat muffins: and you can also serve leftovers as a bonus side dish!
Buttermilk biscuits with hot honey? Yes, please! Ready for the flakiest, most buttery and tender biscuits? This buttermilk biscuit recipe is a true gem—and all your friends will ask for your secrets. You might have only thought of cornbread as a side to go with chili, but biscuits are where it's at. Step it up by adding our spicy honey: it takes only 5 minutes to make and the sweetness takes it over the top.
If you're serving chili for a crowd, these Mexican baked sweet potatoes would be a great festive looking side! The sweet potatoes are baked until tender, then covered with black bean salsa and tangy cilantro sauce. Since the chili has a healthy dose of beans, another option would be to top with our Best Salsa Fresca instead. The contrast of the lightly sweet potato with the tangy and spicy toppings can't be beat! Pop them in the oven while the chili is simmering.
Let's talk about crisp veggies again: how about a straightforward, tasty salad to go with your chili? This one is perfectly balanced and goes with just about anything. Fresh leafty greens are topped with red and green onions, radishes, and carrots, and our favorite: jarred pepperoncini for some tang and a little heat. Add Homemade Croutons for some crunch and our Creamy Avocado Dressing and prepare to be amazed.
Ever tried delicata squash? It's a unique oblong variety that cooks quickly with no need for peeling, and has a sweet, buttery taste that’s similar to a sweet potato. Here's the perfect way to make it into a side for chili: as fries! Cut it into half-moon “fries” and serve it with this homemade buffalo sauce. It's a huge crowd pleaser!
What’s a popover? It's kind of like a dinner roll, but on the inside it’s custardy and filled with air! The name comes from literally “popping over” the sides of the pan. It’s perfect as a side for chili. And the recipe is easy to memorize: so you can whip them up while you have chili simmering on the stove!
Are you ready for fall-est, coziest, simplest side to go with chili? This Pumpkin Yogurt Fruit Dip, served with crisp thin slices of apple. This dip tastes like everything you love about the season: pumpkin, maple, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. And it takes only 5 minutes to stir together. And it’s a healthy snack that you can feel good about eating. The sweetness and tang of the apples and yogurt are the perfect counterpoint to chili.
And to round out our sides to go with chili: another crisp salad! This shaved Brussels sprout salad tastes like a bowl of vibrant confetti, and will leave you glowing from the inside out. It’s a study in contrasts: feathery shaved Brussels, the pop of pomegranate seeds, and the bright crunch of the apple. It’s vibrant and colorful, covered in a lightly sweet vinaigrette: the perfect pair for a big bowl of chili!
Want a chili recipe to go with those sides? Just in case you’re still looking for a favorite, here are all our best chili recipes:
- Best Vegetarian Chili: classic, lightly spicy and so good!
- 3-Bean Healthy Chili Recipe: stars a trio of beans and healthy quinoa
- Quinoa Vegan Chili: a hearty vegan option
- Mango Black Bean Chili: using mango brings a unique sweetness
- Creamy White Chili: features white beans and a creamy base
- Best Sweet Potato Chili: this all-star recipe features tender potatoes
- Vegan Crockpot Chili Recipe: got a slow cooker? This one’s easy to prep
Here’s the best side to go with chili: cornbread! This tender, moist easy cornbread recipe will become your new go-to. It tastes like box mix, but 100 times tastier.
- 1 1/2 cups medium grind cornmeal (fine grind also works)
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 cups 2% milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Use coconut oil to liberally grease a 9 x 9″ pan.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, and sugar.
- Whisk together the milk and apple cider vinegar in a liquid measuring cup. Melt the butter, then pour both the milk and butter into the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan.
- Bake about 30 minutes until the center has firmed up and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan completely, about 30 minutes. Then run a knife around the edges and invert. Cut into 16 squares and serve. Store any leftovers at room temperature covered with a towel for about 3 days, or in a sealed container at room temperature for about 5 days.
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Sides to Go with Chili, Best Cornbread, Easy Cornbread, Cornbread Recipe
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.