Toppings Are The Key To Serving Up An Epic Chili Bar For Dinner Guests

Whether you're accommodating a large group for dinner or anticipating a handful of picky eaters, setting up a diverse chili bar is an easy and fun approach to mealtime. With different tolerances for heat and preferences for chili toppings, organizing an array of condiments, cheeses, vegetables, and other garnishes can help ensure that your guests' palates are all satisfied and their bellies are all full.

Once you've made a pot of your favorite chili recipe, set out bowls filled with shredded cheese, chopped chives, diced tomatoes, crackers, and hot sauces. Offer a tray of freshly baked cornbread next to the spread and let guests pick and choose ingredients to create the perfect flavor combinations that suit their individual appetites. Because chili recipes can offer so many different kinds of flavors, you'll have less stress as the chef and host if you allow your guests to make some of the flavor and pairing choices for you.

Prepare ingredients in advance

For a hassle-free spread, plate ingredients in advance so guests can easily scoop, drizzle, and sprinkle items on top of their bowls of chili. Diced onions and pre-cut limes can be covered with saran wrap and stored in the fridge until just before serving. Consider organizing ingredients in groups so that guests can easily choose between scoops of sour cream or Greek yogurt, Fritos or tortilla chips, extra flakes of red chili pepper or jalapeño slices, and drizzles of hot honey or sriracha. Also consider grouping meat items like bacon bits and sausage crumbles in a section apart from vegetarian-friendly additions like sweet potato cubes and sweet corn. And finally, place dishes of salsa and guacamole at the end of the spread for guests to use as dip.

If you'd like to encourage guests to get experimental with their bowls of chili, offer additional add-ins like cocoa, balsamic vinegar, whiskey, espresso, and maple syrup for flavor combinations that are unique and delicious. Your thought-out chili bar will become the talk of the party, and you may find yourself repeating the spread for subsequent events.