Chili is the perfect fall food. It is warm in both temperature and spice, which provides a nice refuge from the impending cold weather. Maybe this is why it is considered a comfort food. When you think about how astonishingly low-effort making chili is, it seems like a great dish to serve your family after a long day, not to mention its versatility. You can make it vegan or Paleo or keto with a simple switch of ingredients, all without losing a hint of flavor. But does it make a full meal?
Just eating chili by the spoonful is great, but a side dish could make it even better. Depending on what you would like to complement your thick stew, you could add more flavors, texture, and even vary up the temperature a bit. Regional chili variations already have this covered. In the southwest. you might find chili sitting on a bed of corn chips. In Cincinnati, Ohio, you'd find it on a bed of spaghetti. Bread is a popular choice for sopping up the final few drops left in your bowl, or, on the other side, you could cleanse your palette with a crisp salad.
We went through some of our favorite food blogs to see what the experts were serving with their delicious pots of chili. Browse our recommendations below.
Straight from Chelsea's Messy Apron, we have a light pomegranate orange salad, which makes a great side dish. What makes it come together is its easy dressing, which “when tossed in the salad adheres to every part of the lettuce and all the ingredients infusing the whole salad with tons of great and fresh citrus flavor.”
Of course, we had to include a version of the Southern staple, and you can’t get much better than this fresh vegan cornbread from Faith Food Fitness. The key is replacing eggs with applesauce—who knew?
While most of the recipes on this list can be made independent from chili, Steph at I Am A Food Blog centered her brunch around the dish. Can you really go wrong serving chili on a base of cornbread fried in the waffle maker?
This wedge salad from Carlsbad Cravings is similar to one you may have had before, with expertly executed flavors and textures. This side dish with leave you satisfied, and it's the perfect contrast to a bowl of spicy chili.
Tieghan Gerard at Half-Baked Harvest says, “I like this bread paired best with homemade chili or gumbo, but it’s so good aside a roasted chicken, grilled steak or even leftover for breakfast.” Given its simplicity, you may very well opt to bake it over and over again.
To make this easy vegan coleslaw from Minimalist Baker, simply replace your dairy-laden sauce with cashews. The nuts are blended with maple syrup, vinegar, celery salt, mustard, and onion for a classic coleslaw dressing that’s mayo- and oil-free.
If you weren’t able to pack a punch into the chili itself, you can also incorporate more heat into your side. In this case, these apple chili biscuits from Hola Jalapeno have a spoonful of chili powder, which will play nicely with the sweet apples.
Balance your meal with a heaping of fruit—this winter fruit salad recipe from Carlsbad Cravings will be a crowd pleaser. The variety of fruit is wonderful by itself, but the sweet and tangy honey lime poppyseed vinaigrette really brings this fruit salad home.