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Spice It Up: Craft the Ultimate Chili Board

January 12, 2024


It’s not just a meal- it’s an experience.

In a world where personalization is key, the latest trend in get-togethers is the build-your-own chili board.

Whether you’re seasoned at hosting and aiming to impress your guests, or just looking for something to accommodate a variety of tastes, creating your own chili board is a fun and exciting option. From game-day eats to birthday gatherings, family game nights and simple get-togethers, a chili board is sure to be a hit.

If you’re not sure where to begin, read on. We’ll give you suggestions for chili bases and toppings, plus we’ll guide you through setting up a show-stopping chili board. No matter if your crowd leans toward classic toppings, or craves bold, adventurous combinations and options, we have you covered. But don’t feel like you have to follow our lead – get creative and try new combinations and flavors. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to this hot trend.

Building your own chili board is all about presenting a variety of options and letting your guests customize their bowls to their liking. Your toppings and sides don’t have to be extravagant or complicated either. In fact, here are some tips to help you create an uncomplicated and memorable build-your-own chili board.

Chili Base:

Start with several options for the base. A good rule of thumb is to offer up a milder-heat chili for those who are sensitive to heat levels and a spicier option for guests who love the heat of chili. For the latter, reach for Hormel® Chili Hot with beans. Other great ideas for bases are: Hormel® Chili with Beans, Hormel® Chili with No Beans, Hormel® Plant-Based Chili with or without beans, Hormel® Chunky Beef Chili and Hormel® Chili Homestyle with Beans. And don’t forget about Hormel® Chili 100% Natural* White Chicken Chili with beans for something entirely different! (*Minimally processed. No artificial ingredients.)

Toppings Galore:

Be sure to provide an assortment of toppings – something for everyone. Popular and somewhat classic choices include shredded cheese, sour cream, sliced green onions, diced tomatoes and sliced jalapeños. But don’t stop there. Consider adding more flavors, such as Herdez® Refrigerated Traditional Salsas and Chi-Chi’s® Salsa Con Queso. Shake it up further by including crunchy options like tortilla strips, corn chips, mini cheese crackers or even extra spicy rolled tortilla chips.

Carb Options:

Offer a variety of carbohydrates to accompany the chili. These can be a nice base for topping with chili, a side dish or even something to dip and scoop your chili up with. Some of our favorites are jalapeno corn bread muffins made with Chi-Chi’s® Sweet Corn Cake mix, Hormel® Macaroni and Cheese Pasta, onion rings, potato puffs or rounds, French fries, garlic bread made with Herb-Ox® bouillon, or even whole baked potatoes.

Spice it Up:

Don’t forget the hot sauce, fresh and pickled jalapeños, Herdez® Jalapeno Chilis and chopped chili peppers for those who like an extra kick! Consider having a station with different spice blends so guests can customize – and experiment with – the flavor profiles of their bowls.

Protein Variety:

Offering a variety of protein options is easy with Hormel® Chili products. For starters, consider a plant-based option like Hormel® Plant-Based Chili with or without beans. Other ideals for alternative protein chilis are Hormel® Chili Turkey with Beans and Hormel® Chili 100% Natural* White Chicken Chili. Craving a hearty, chunky protein option? Grab Hormel® Chili Angus Beef for 100% angus beef chunks.

Freshness Boost:

Add a cool flavor boost to your board with options like Wholly® Guacamole or Wholly® Avocado Chunks, sliced avocados, a zesty pico de gallo, and fresh red onions. Offer lime wedges for a burst of citrus that can enhance the flavors.

Serving Essentials:

Label each chili base to guide your guests. Recipe cards can be a nice touch, too, with suggested combinations. Or host a competition for the most creative bowl. Whatever you do, remember plenty of essentials, like ladles, bowls, spoons, tongs and napkins.

Decor and Atmosphere:

Gathering to cheer on your favorite team into the playoffs? Celebrating a birthday? Interested in staging a midwinter pick-me-up? Whatever the reason for your chili-board masterpiece, why not add some fun props to your display?

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So, there you have it – the keys to crafting your own build-your-own-chili-bowl board. It’s all about mixing and matching, experimenting and creating a board that will inspire your guests to create their own masterpieces. From classic comfort to bold and spicy, the possibilities truly are endless.

And as your guests dive into their customized creations, the smiles and satisfied nods speaking volumes, take pride in knowing you’ve put together a chili board that‘s warming their hearts … and bellies.

Make it for The Big Game

Entertaining friends during The Big Game? Take regional specialties from Kansas City and San Franscico and make a Hormel® Chili Board that will impress your guests. The best part about the chili board is it takes less than 30 minutes to assemble and can be done in just five easy steps!

Step 1: Start with a board large enough to accommodate two large bowls or pots of Hormel® Chili (one with beans and without beans) that has plenty of room to include accompanying ingredients and side dishes.

Step 2: Once you’ve placed your pots of Hormel® Chili on the board, next fill in around the bowls with toppings and such as shredded cheeses, sour cream, chopped onions and salsas. The options are endless!

Step 3: Add some staples from each participating team market:

Kansas City – BBQ burnt ends, cheese slippers, bite-size cinnamon rolls, fries, corn bread

San Francisco – Sourdough bread, Oysters on the half shell, tater tots, Cheese dip or queso

Step 4: Garnish your board with your favorite chips and veggies, which are always great for dipping! Some classics are carrots, celery, cucumbers, cauliflower, broccoli, cherry tomatoes and veggie dip. Crackers and cheese cubes are a great option, too.

Step 5: Finally, have fun decorating the board with team colors, napkins, toy helmets and footballs. Let the board tell the story of the football action unfolding on screen.