The Ultimate Chili Dinner Menu
Feed a hungry crowd with this robust dinner menu made easy by tackling most of the preparation in advance.
Kick Back and Relax
If a gathering of friends and family looms on your horizon, place a pot of chili on the sideboard, surround it with simple make-ahead accompaniments, and let this no-fuss buffet practically serve itself. We've crafted a special menu for easy entertaining, so hosts and chefs alike can enjoy the night too.
Rustle up a pot or two of chili that will serve a gang and can be made ahead and reheated before serving. After all, many chilies are even better the next day. Round out the menu with our selection of trustworthy sidekicks such as coleslaw, cheesy breads, creamy spinach dip, and brownies.
Read More: Throw a Chili Cook-Off Party!
This recipe has been a staff favorite since we first tried it 13 years ago. It's rich, savory, and super creamy, with a nice hit of garlic. We made a few small tweaks—increased the amount of spinach and decreased the mozzarella to lower the sat fat to an acceptable level. If one dip isn't enough for your crowd, add our Caramelized Onion, Gruyère, and Bacon Spread to the menu too. For an extra homemade touch, prepare a batch of our perfectly toasted Baked Pita Chips.
Take our word for it, these poppers, filled with garlic, cream cheese, and bacon, are a must-serve appetizer at your next party. For a healthier, fresh alternative to the popular breaded and fried version, turn to our Grilled Stuffed Jalapeños recipe.
Deviled Eggs with Pickled Onions
Be sure to offer finger foods like deviled eggs that guests can enjoy with a drink in one hand. Steaming produces perfectly cooked, easy-to-peel eggs every time. You can cook the eggs and prepare the filling two days in advance, but wait to fill the whites until the day you plan to serve them.
Guacamole with Fish Sauce
This super simple recipe stars perfectly ripe avocados—there's no need for tomato or other flavor distractions. You want the avocados' richness to shine next to the tangy zip of lime and cilantro and their flavor to deepen with savory fish sauce. While it may seem like an unlikely ingredient, the fish sauce adds a wonderfully salty and complex flavor profile to the dish. Prevent the avocado from browning and take it to an event by placing it in an airtight container and pressing plastic wrap directly over the top. Serve with whole grain tortilla chips or pita chips.
Black Bean Hummus
This dip has a southwestern kick that everyone will love. For a bit of extra flavor, stir in jalapeño pepper and lime juice.
For picky eaters, step away from the packaged ranch dip and offer a homemade alternative: our Roasted Garlic and Chive Dip. You can prepare this all-purpose spread up to a day ahead. Serve with cauliflower and broccoli florets, carrot and celery sticks, and bell pepper strips.
Lemony Kale Salad
Jalapeño-Cheddar Corn Muffins
These hot and spicy cheddar-pepper muffins are sure to give you a little taste of fire. Seed the jalapeño for less heat. You can also use fresh corn kernels in place of the frozen corn. Parmesan Corn Muffins or Bacon, Onion, and Cheddar Corn Muffins can also be a great pair for chili. See More: Our Favorite Corn Muffins; How to Make Corn Muffins
Tequila Slaw with Lime and Cilantro
Grab a bag of packaged coleslaw mix, and you've saved yourself the time of slicing cabbage and shredding carrots. A splash of tequila adds spirit and complexity (we urge you not to leave it out), while lime juice perks up earthy cabbage. We're not kidding. This bold, interesting side dish is ready in just five minutes—what's not to love?
Yeast Dinner Rolls
One dough recipe yields five roll variations. To prepare ahead of time, shape, bake, cool completely, wrap in heavy-duty foil, and freeze for up to eight weeks. Thaw and reheat (still wrapped) at 350° for 12 minutes or until warm.
For a cheesier bite, our quick and savory Basic Beer-Cheese Bread pairs well with chili and is ideal for any dinner party. Our Cheesy Cauliflower Biscuits also deliver a garlicky-cheddar punch that is entirely gluten-free and contains fewer calories than the contents of a traditional bread basket.
Grilled Corn on the Cob
Grilled in its husk, the corn takes on a wonderful, lightly charred flavor while its sugars caramelize and intensify. Soaking in salted water lightly seasons the corn and helps keep it moist as it grills. Then, since the silks have been removed, just peel and enjoy.
Classic Beef and Bean Chili
Nothing says “party” like a good pot of chili—even if it turns out to be just the company of two and not a party of six or ten. Steaming bowls of meaty, spicy chili are the ideal way to please everyone and only dirty one pot in the process. The deep, slow-simmered flavor in this recipe happens in just an hour or two on your stovetop.
A wee bit of canned chipotle chiles goes a long way in infusing this chili with rich, smoky flavor and a hint of heat. This recipe proves that hearty chili doesn’t necessarily mean meat on the ingredient list.
Colorado Green Chili
A panful of char-roasted fresh green peppers gives Colorado chili its distinctive hue. You can sub sweet green bell peppers for Cubanelles if you prefer. Look for masa harina—the traditional thickener in this chili—in the supermarket's international aisle or in Latin markets. Serve with brown rice, if desired.
Cincinnati Turkey Chili
Ladle bowlfuls of inspired midwestern chili for your next casual dinner party or football gathering. Make-Ahead Tip: Freeze individual portions of leftover chili for up to 2 months; thaw overnight and reheat over medium-low heat.
Texas-Style Chili with Brisket
Texas chili is purely beef-driven: no beans allowed. This version boasts smoky, complex, deep flavor from a mix of dried chiles and chili powders, while corn flour gives it extra body.
White Chicken Chili
Oven-roasting fresh chile peppers builds complexity. A combination of diced chicken and ground pork amps up meaty flavor. Half-and-half and creamy avocado topping make the broth velvety.
Classic Fudge-Walnut Brownies
These fudge-walnut brownies are so decadent tasting, you won't believe that they're lower in fat than traditional brownies. Large chocolate chunks create big, luxurious pockets of melty chocolate in the brownies—YUM!
Take your typical brownie dessert to the next level with our Chocolate Turtle Brownie Sundaes. Warm and gooey turtle brownies meet creamy vanilla frozen yogurt drenched in a drool-worthy fudge sauce. Licking your screen yet? This dessert is perfect for any occasion and will always leave you and your guests begging for seconds.
Pumpkin lends a unique and mouthwatering spin to the classic custard layered dessert with a soft caramel top. This flan is convenient—it can be made in advance and kept refrigerated until ready to serve. If you already have leftover sweet potatoes that have been simply prepared and minimally seasoned, our Sweet Potato Buttered Rum Flan will do the trick too.
Mexican Wedding Cookies
Frozen Peanut Butter Pie
Is there anything better than peanut butter and chocolate? Didn't think so. When the weather is warm, and even when it's cold, this frozen pie is a definite crowd pleaser.
German Chocolate Mousse
A twist on a family favorite, this mousse is even more decadent and satisfying than a German chocolate cake. Top off the rich mousse with toasted pecans for a tasty and pretty garnish.