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Chilli is a delicious and spicy dish that originated from Mexican cuisine and has become popular in a wide array of countries around the world. The basic process for making chilli is so simple and customisable that many home cooks and chefs have their own special secret recipes for making it. In such a scenario, these people will likely have a solid idea of how they like to serve their chilli (whether it’s con carne or sin carne). However, when taking your first steps into the world of making your own chilli, you may wonder, what to serve with chili?
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What Is Chili?
Chilli as mentioned above is a dish that has its origins in Mexican cuisine. However, it has also often been linked with Texan cooking and as such is often referred to as a Tex Mex dish. The dish itself is a spicy, rich and hearty stew that primarily consists of minced meat, chilli peppers and tomatoes with common seasonings including cayenne, onions, garlic and cumin. Additionally, many variations of chilli will often include kidney beans, however, these are a controversial additional as they are not seen as being authentic to the spirit of the dish.
The resulting dish is rich and diverse with an assortment of contrasting tastes and textures. These include the smokey and spicy (how spicy varies greatly per recipe) chilli, the savoury and meat, tangy tomatoes and soft yet crunchy veggies such as onions and potentially beans.
Truly this combination of flavours and sensations makes for a wonderful treat that will practically make your taste buds sing with delight. These are so delicious and diverse that many people will often be happy to have a simple bowl of chilli by itself. That said though, there are plenty of great options you can choose from to make your chilli experience even more scrumptious.
What Goes With Chili?
As mentioned above chilli is a wonderfully flavourful dish that has deep cultural roots in Texan and Mexican cuisine along with an array of delicious textures and tastes. These delightful characteristics all bounce off of each other in an assortment of ways that makes for a truly diverse eating experience. A fact that is all the more remarkable considering how simple the fundamental method for making chilli really is.
With this in mind then, you may be wondering how to tackle the idea of pairing chilli up with other dishes, since it is somewhat self-sufficient. As such, a lot of options for sides to have on chili night will either have more simple or neutral flavours or layered and distinct ones that mirror or heavily contrast those found in your chilli. No matter what though, your side options should always compliment the main dish in some manner.
What To Serve With Chili?
After reading the above information, you may find yourself already conjuring up a delicious array of sides to pair with your new special chilli recipe. However, you equally may find yourself drawing a bit of a blank and struggling to think of some truly exciting side dish ideas for your chilli. Fortunately though, like with other dishes in Mexican cuisine such as enchiladas or fajitas, there are a wide variety of possible sides for you to choose from. That said then, some of the best options for chilli side dishes include:
- Tortilla Chips
- Ground Beef Tacos
- Corn Bread
- Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
- Cheesy Potato Skins
- Baked Potatoes
- French Fries
- Onion Rings
When wanting to stick to the Mexican theme then some tortilla chips make for an excellent choice of side dish as they are excellent for dipping into the spicy and saucy stew that is your main dish. Not only that though, they will also add some extra texture and taste to your meal with their crispy crunch and light corn flavour.
Additionally, though, they can be topped with some delicious salsa, guacamole and sour cream to add some extra tangy, creamy, smooth, rich and refreshing flavours and textures to the meal. Naturally, this works perfectly because both tortilla chips and the chilli will pair excellently with these deliciously and diversely flavoured dips.
You can even take this a step further by making your tortilla chips into a full-blown nachos dish by adding even more toppings. Some great options include dips such as the sauces mentioned above, along with melted cheese and maybe jalapenos and green onions for extra spiciness and crunchiness. Nachos will work as an appetizer, or you can top them with the chilli itself and/or some extra meat such as pulled pork if you wish to make a feat that is a particularly rich and hearty meal.
Ground Beef Tacos
In a similar vein to the idea of topping some nachos with your beef chili, another excellent way to serve it is in some tacos. This is especially true when if you’ve got a little bit of leftover chili from cooking some the previous day. This is especially true if topped with some sour cream and shredded cheese as it makes for an incredibly simple, quick and most importantly delicious lunch.
The result of doing this is fantastic as the spicy and savoury chili will be beautifully contrasted by the soft but crunchy texture of the tacos Additionally, the sour cream will add a wonderfully smooth and creamy feel to meal whilst some shredded cheddar cheese adds some sharpness.
Of course, if you’re already comfortable with making a favourite chili recipe then your own tacos should be a piece of cake. Making them fresh will give you that fresh out the oven warmth and allow you to give them some wonderful extra flavour. Some great options for doing so of course being to use chili powder or taco seasoning.
Sticking with the corn theme, cornbread is truly one of those foods that will go well with pretty much everything. This is especially true with chilli though since it can add an extra light sweetness that contrasts and compliments the spicy and savoury stew no matter what spin you’ve put on the dish in question.
Truly, this is an incredibly easy side dish to make from scratch too and can be flavoured in a variety of ways. Although one recommendation we have is to use buttermilk in order to give your cornbread a wonderfully crumbly texture.
When pairing it with some chilli though, there are some ways to turn this from a good side dish to a great one. One particularly great option though is to incorporate a little chilli powder along with some jalapenos and a strong shredded cheese into the cornbread. The result of doing so will be fantastic as the spicy and cheesy cornbread will both contrast and reflect the chilli in a layered and delicious manner.
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
D you want to get straight to the point and have as much melted cheese on the side of your chilli meal as you physically can? Of course, you do, as such the classic grilled cheese sandwich is exactly what you need to make your desire into a reality,
The beautiful thing with the grilled cheese though is that not only are they easy to make, they’ll also pretty much always be an instant hit. Additionally, no matter what kind of cheese is your favourite, your cheese toasty will always be delicious. This is true of course whether it’s a fruity Wensleydale or a mature cheddar.
There are also plenty of potential options you can explore to add a little something extra to your grilled cheese though. Tomatoes, bacon, thick-cut ham, jackfruit and a variety of other great options will add a diverse array of flavours to the grilled cheese that will contrast wonderfully with your signature chilli.
Cheesy Potato Skins
For another delicious side option in a similarly cheesy vein though, some cheesy potato skins will make for the perfect pairing with your chilli. Additionally, they are super convenient when you’re planning on making mashed potatoes in the near future and wish to avoid waste as these will give you a delicious way to use the potato skins.
When baked with a generous amount of cheese and bacon with a garlic butter seasoning, these cheesy potato skins will add deliciously earthy, salty, savoury, garlicky and of course cheesy flavours to your meal. Not to mention the fact that they will also be perfect for dunking into your chilli with the fantastically crispy texture softening slightly when mixing with the sauce of your chilli.
If you have another side planned for your main though, these can also make for a wonderful starter dish, especially when served with some dips for dunking. Naturally, some excellent choices when serving it in this manner include salsa, guacamole and sour cream.
Just as demonstrated by the prior option, potatoes and chilli can make for a delicious combination. Naturally then, a dream combination of delicious dishes baked potatoes alongside a generous amount of spicy chilli. The reason is that the layered flavours and textures of the chilli will be excellently contrasted by the earthy flavours, along with the aforementioned crispy skin and fluffy middle of the potato.
In addition to this though, the beauty of the baked potato is that they serve as the perfect vehicle for fillings, with one great option being to top the spud with your chilli. However, some other classic examples of this are butter, cheese, bacon or even some sauces like the aforementioned guacamole, salsa and sour cream.
Obviously, authentic baked potatoes will be cooked in the oven. However, you can also use an air fryer for a delicious and low maintenance way of preparing them. When doing so, first rub your potatoes in some olive oil and salt and then cook for forty minutes.
To put a slightly different spin on things though, you can easily follow the same principle as outlined above but with sweet potatoes. Baked sweet potatoes of course add that extra syrupy sweetness to the equation that will pair well with the spicy chilli. Additionally, though, the potato will be somewhat firmer and whilst still slightly fluffy will provide any initial soft crunch.
Sticking with the potato theme, another great option to pair with your chilli is a portion of potato fries. This is because they provide those wonderfully delicious salty and earthy flavours that pair perfectly with the textures and tastes of your chilli. Additionally, they have wonderfully crispy and fluffy textures that make them particularly perfect for dunking.
Your fries can be enhanced or modified in a number of ways though to make them even more perfect to serve with chilli. First, sprinkling garlic powder and grated parmesan cheese atop them will add extra flavour. Alternatively, though, cajun or taco seasoning can add some extra kick. Meanwhile, how you choose to cut your fries will also make a difference. Thinner fries will of course be crispier, however, thicker fries that are cut like wedges will inevitably be more fluffy.
Additionally, like with the aforementioned baked potatoes, you can make some baked sweet potato fries instead of making regular potato fries. Again, making fries with sweet potatoes instead of the regular ones will mean they have more of a sweet flavour and crunchy texture. However, they will pair just as well with chilli whilst simultaneously being extra crispy fries guilt-free.
Like french fries, some deliciously crispy onion rings make for the perfect side to dunk into your chilli. These provide some wonderful crunch and tangy flavour from the onion. Meanwhile, the batter adds a delicious crispy texture and can be flavoured in an assortment of ways such as with beer batter onion rings
When mixed with the sauces from your chilli, will also cause the onion rings to become slightly soggy whilst still maintaining their distinct crispiness. The result of this is a wonderful assortment of tastes and textures for you to enjoy.
Additionally, If you elect to make some homemade onion rings then, you can truly make them especially perfect for your hearty chili dinner. Making them at home is easy to do and means you can decide how much you coat each ring with batter, along with allowing you to season them to more perfectly complement your spicy chili.
Of course, when talking about sides to pair with a Mexican dish like chilli, it would be a gross oversight to not recommend that you serve it with a side portion of rice. Of course, though, the beauty of a versatile dish like rice is that it is an extremely customisable side that can be made to have very simple flavours or quite complex ones.
On the simple end of the spectrum, one fantastic option is to serve a simple bowl of steamed brown or white rice. This works brilliantly as it will allow the flavours already present within the chilli to really stand out on their own whilst extra texture of fluffy and absorbent nature of rice further diversifies the overall mouthfeel.
However, the benefit of serving a more varied and flavourful rice dish that reflects or heavily contrasts the flavours of your chilli is that it makes the overall meal far more flavourful, complex and nuanced. Mexican rice (also known as Spanish rice) or black beans and rice or black rice are all excellent options in this regard as they each bring something new to the dish whilst also partially reflecting what is already there.
Answered: What To Serve With Chili?
When deciding on what side dish or dishes to serve with your chili, there are truly a wide array of options that are open to you. Of course, sides that you can dip into the already flavourful stew such as onion rings, cheesy potato skins, tortilla chips or a grilled cheese sandwich all work perfectly. However, more traditional accompaniments such as rice, baked potatoes or cornbread can also play a vital role in crafting a delicious meal.
Now that, you’ve got some options at your disposal though, the next step is of course to try serving some of the sides mentioned above when you next prepare a delicious batch of chilli. Of course, these are just the tip of the iceberg as there are a whole host of other options out there that you can try out.
As such, don’t be afraid to mix and match our suggestions with some ideas of your own. After all, you know your own pallet better than anyone else, and besides you never know, your crazy idea may just become a new favourite.