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Chili Bar

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Spice up your next gathering with the ultimate comfort food station: a DIY chili bar. This fun and interactive party experience allows guests to customize their favorite bowl of hearty chili with various delicious toppings and sides.

Chili in a crockpot with lots of colorful toppings.Pin
DIY Chili Bar. Photo Credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival.

The best part about making this chili bar for a party is watching what guests add to their bowls. For sure, no one’s will be the same.

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Why should you make a chili bar for your next event?

Making a chili bar allows you to share your creativity. It will enable your guests to use their creativity to make their best versions of an epic bowl of chili. A chili bar can be an economical alternative to buying pizzas for your football party or other gathering. A chili bar is easy to serve to a large crowd and can make it ahead, so there is little last-minute work.

What you need

  • Chili: First and foremost, you need an epic chili recipe like our easy chili for a crowd: ground beef and chorizo chili. Cater to any vegetarians with a vegetarian chili. Make a white chicken chili or use ground turkey.
  • Various Toppings for Chili:
    • Guacamole: Use homemade or store-bought guacamole or sliced avocado.
    • Spicy Peppers: Dice or slice fresh chili peppers, like;
      • Jalapeño: Jalapeños are often spicy, so you will want to dice them finely.
      • Serrano: These peppers are generally a bit more mild compared to jalapeños. Slice them crosswise or dice them.
      • Crushed Red Peppers: Add a small bowl with dried, crushed red pepper flakes for those who like extra spicy.
    • Tomatoes: Fresh tomatoes are delicious on chili. Either buy cherry or grape tomatoes or dice a large tomato.
    • Cucumber: Sliced mini cucumbers will add some fresh crunch and mitigate some of the spicy heat from the chili or the toppings.
    • Onions: Sliced scallions (green onions) or diced white or red onions are all delicious with chili.
    • Radishes: Thinly slice fresh radishes or use store-bought or homemade pickled radishes to sprinkle on the chili.
    • Corn: Premium-quality canned corn is delicious when sprinkled on chili.
    • Cheeses: Serve at least two different cheeses. Good choices are queso fresco or cotija and mild or sharp cheddar cheese.
  • Dippers: Choose different things to dip into the chili.
    • Chips: Use a crunchy dipping chip, like Fritos or tortilla chips.
    • Cornbread: In our house, cornbread is an essential side for chili.
    • Potatoes: You could use French fries, tater tots, or baked white or sweet potato.
    • Hot dogs and buns: If some of your guests are fans of chili dogs, these are fun to add.
    • Grilled cheese sandwiches: Diagonally cut a sandwich into four pieces for an excellent presentation
  • Toppers:
    • Lime wedges: Lime will add a little acid to cut through the other heavy flavors.
    • Hot Sauces: A couple of different varieties of hot sauce are great for some variation.
    • Sour cream: Use regular dairy sour cream or Mexican creme.
Large bowl of chili with colorful toppings.Pin
Photo Credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival.

How to Make it

  1. We make our chili in the slow cooker. It’s a great idea to do so because when you serve the chili, you can keep it plugged in so it will stay hot.
  2. List the items you would like to use on your bar. Making a list will not only be an asset not only when shopping but also when serving.
  3. Chop the fresh ingredients and add them to small bowls or ramekins.
  4. Grate the cheeses and place them in bowls.
  5. Arrange the chili and the bowls of toppings on your table.
  6. Place bowls on one end of the table, and at the other end, place spoons, forks, knives, and napkins. Encourage guests to start at the end with the bowls.

Helpful Equipment

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you go to the link and purchase something at no additional cost to you. See FTC Disclosure here.

Large table set up with a chili bar with chili and toppings.Pin
Photo Credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival.

How to Store Leftovers

Storage: Cool the chili to room temperature. Store in airtight containers for up to three days. Store leftover toppings in airtight containers for two to three days. Place similar ingredients together, like the onions and the cheese.

Freezing: Freeze leftover chili in small, airtight containers for four to six months. You don’t want to freeze most toppings.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much should you plan per person?

Generally speaking, two cups of chili per person will be sufficient. You could increase that to three cups if you have many big eaters in the group. Think of small quantities for the toppings since most guests will only take a spoonful of this and that to top their chili.

When do you plan to make the chili?

Make a slow-cooked chili a day or two before you need it.

What types of chili can you serve?

You can choose your favorite chili. A meaty chili is perfect. Cincinnati chili is very popular. Some folks love beans in their chili; others do not, so make one of each. Make a white chicken or turkey chili. The choice is up to your imagination.

How do you keep the chili warm?

Serve the chili in your slow cooker. It will stay warm throughout your event.

More Grazing Tables

Black bowl filled with chili and various toppings.Pin
Photo Credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival.

That’s all there is to making an epic Chili bar. Grab your favorite toppings, make a delicious chili, and make your own for your next get-together!

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I hope you enjoyed the recipe today!

Enjoy. And have fun cooking!

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Connect with us through our social media ages! FacebookInstagramPinterestTwitter.

If you have any questions or comments, please ask in the comment section below. We’d love to hear from you!

I hope you enjoyed the recipe today!

Enjoy. And have fun cooking!

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Crockpot with chili and small bowls with various toppings.Pin

Epic Chili Bar

Spice up your next gathering with the ultimate comfort food station: a DIY chili bar. This fun and interactive party experience allows guests to customize their own bowl of hearty chili with various delicious toppings and sides.
See Step by Step Photos Above!Most of our recipes have step by step photos and videos! Also helpful tips so that you can make it perfectly the first time and every time! Scroll up to see them!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 10 hours
Total Time: 10 hours 40 minutes
Servings: 10 + servings
Calories: 399kcal
Author: Beth Neels
Cost: $4

Ingredients

For the chili

For the chili bar

  • guacamole
  • tomatoes
  • sliced or diced hot peppers
  • cornbread
  • corn chips
  • sour cream
  • cheese see notes below for a full list of possibilities

Instructions

  • Brown chorizo in a large heavy bottom frying pan with olive oil over medium high heat.. Break up and stir chotizo until nicely browned. Remove to Crockpot.
    2 links fresh Chorizo. removed from casings, 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Add more olive oil, if pan seems dry.
  • Brown beef in the same pan, until nicely browned. Again, remove to slow cooker.
    1 1/4 pounds ground beef
  • Brown venison in the same pan. Turning to brown on all sides. Remove to slow cooker or Dutch oven when browned.
    3/4 pounds Venison stew meat
  • Turn heat down to medium low heat. Sauté onion until translucent.
    2 cups Onion
  • Add garlic and sauté for a few more minutes.
    6-8 cloves garlic
  • Add jalapeños, chipotles and a few cups of tomatoes.
    1 Tbsp pickled jalapenos or 1 small fresh jalapeno chili
  • Let the tomatoes loosen the fond (the brown stuff) from the bottom of the pan. It should take 5 to 10 minutes on medium heat, Scrape all of the fond off the bottom of the pan.
    14 cups crushed tomatoes
  • Meanwhile, add the rest of the tomatoes and all the spices to the slow cooker.
    1/2 can (7 oz.) chipotle in adobo – chopped, 1 can black beans, drained, 1 can dark red kidney beans, drained, 1 can black eyed peas, drained, 1 tablespoon Chili powder, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon dried coriander, 2 teaspoon oregano, dried, 1 tablespoon Salt, 1 tablespoon Pepper
  • When the bottom of the Dutch oven is clean, transfer all of the ingredients to the slow cooker. Add drained and rinsed beans.
  • Heat the chili on high until the mixture comes to a low bubble, then reduce heat to low. Cook for a few hours on low, then cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight. This is an important step. If you have to have it for dinner the same night, it won’t be as good!
  • The next morning scrape off the excess accumulated fat off the top and discard. Return to slow cooker for about an hour until the chili comes to a slow boil.
  • Reduce heat to low and cook for another 5 hours or more. 8 hours won’t hurt it.
  • About 1/2 hour before serving, remove lid and stir in corn meal.
    1/2 cup Corn meal
  • Serve hot with cornbread and a side salad, if desired.

For the chili bar

  • Make the guacamole, if using.
    guacamole
  • Make the cornbread. Let it cool when it's done and cut it into squares.
    cornbread
  • Meanwhile, chop your choice of vegetables and add them to small bowls.
    tomatoes, sliced or diced hot peppers
  • Add dippers like corn chips to small bowls. Spoon the sour cream in a separate bowl.
    corn chips, sour cream
  • Grate cheddar or queso fresco. Place that in a ramekin.
    cheese
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Notes

Cooling the chili overnight makes it so much better! There is no comparison to chili that has been cooked one day.
Leftovers can be refrigerated for 3-4 days.
Reheat in the microwave or, covered, in a large pot until hot.
 
For longer storage, freeze for up to 6 months.
Thaw in refrigerator. Reheat per the above instructions.
See the instruction in the article for more tips and tricks!
Perfect garnishes for the chili bar:
    • Guacamole: Use homemade or store-bought guacamole or sliced avocado.
    • Spicy Peppers: Dice or slice fresh chili peppers, like;
      • Jalapeño: Jalapeños are most often fairly spicy, so you will want to dice them finely.
      • Serrano: These peppers are generally a bit more mild compared to jalapeños. Slice them crosswise or dice them.
      • Crushed Red Peppers: Add a small bowl with dried, crushed red pepper flakes for those who like it extra spicy.
    • Tomatoes: Fresh tomatoes are delicious on chili. Either buy cherry or grape tomatoes or dice a large tomato.
    • Cucumber: Sliced mini cucumbers will add some fresh crunch and will mitigate some of the spicy heat from the chili or the toppings.
    • Onions: Sliced scallions (green onions) or diced white or red onions are all delicious with chili.
    • Radishes: Thinly slice radishes or use store-bought or homemade pickled radishes to sprinkle on the chili.
    • Corn: Premium-quality canned corn is delicious when sprinkled on chili.
    • Cheeses: Serve at least two different cheeses. Good choices are queso fresco or cotija and mild or sharp cheddar cheese.
  • Dippers: Choose different things to dip into the chili.
    • Chips: A crunchy dipping chip, like Fritos or tortilla chips.
    • Cornbread: In our house, cornbread is an essential side for chili.
    • Potatoes: You could use French fries, tater tots, or even baked potato or baked sweet potato.
    • Hot dogs and buns: If some of your guests are fans of chili dogs, these are fun to add.
    • Grilled cheese sandwiches: Diagonally cut a sandwich into four pieces for a nice presentation.
  • Toppers:
    • Lime wedges: Lime will add a little acid to cut through the other heavy flavors.
    • Hot Sauces: A couple of different varieties of hot sauce are great for some variation.
    • Sour cream: Use regular dairy sour cream or Mexican creme.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 399kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 69mg | Sodium: 1360mg | Potassium: 1464mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 1495IU | Vitamin C: 35.2mg | Calcium: 161mg | Iron: 8.5mg
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This article was originally published on January 23, 2024.

Beth Neels

Author: Beth Neels

Title: Owner

Expertise: canning, game meat cooking, smoking

Bio:

Beth Neels is an entrepreneur, blogger, photographer, author, and recipe developer. She founded Binky’s Culinary Carnival in 2014, focusing on “Crafting delicious recipes with sustainable ingredients.” She has been featured in multiple online publications, including MSN, Reader’s Digest, Associated Press, and Parade.

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