How to Set Up A Chili Bar (Chili Charcuterie)

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A chili bar party is an amazing way to take game day or casual gathering to the next level! Put together an amazing DIY chili bar or this show-stopping chili charcuterie board and impress your friends! One of the best things about this is the majority of it can be made the day before! All you have to do is assemble everything the day of your party – it’s a stress-free (and DELICIOUS) way to entertain!

Overhead shot of a chili bar or chili charcuterie board with bowls and spoons.

Ready for a super fun way to spice up your next game day or large gathering?! Try setting up an easy, but IMPRESSIVE chili bar or chili charcuterie board!

Start with your favorite chili recipe (here’s mine…and my other fave is this easy chicken chili) a bunch of your favorite chili toppings, and call it a day! The best part is, everything can be prepped the day before, so all you have to do the day of your party is sit back and enjoy a hot bowl of chili with good friends and family!


  • A great way to feed a large crowd in a fun, festive way!
  • A chili bar party is the perfect, stress-free way to entertain during the big game or Superbowl!
  • A fantastic option for fall or cool-weather gatherings.
  • Perfect for adults (and chili-loving kiddos!) at a kid’s birthday party!


You’ll need the following items to set up your chili bar or chili charcuterie board:


Step 1: A good chili bar starts with GOOD HOMEMADE CHILI! This is my favorite, classic chili recipe. It’s simple, easy and everyone LOVES IT!!

Large pot of classic chili with a wooden spoon.

Step 2: Transfer your chili to a large serving bowl (or leave it in the pot or Dutch oven) and place it in the center of your board–or in the center of your table. You can also use a slow cooker turned to KEEP WARM and keep your chili there so it’s warm all day.

Begin placing your favorite toppings around your chili (I like the chili to be the CENTERPIECE!). I like starting with the smaller bowls and items, then filling in larger items. There is no right or wrong way to do this– just start placing items.

Tip: Spread out the colors so you don’t have green items or red items together.

Overhead shot of a chili bar or chili charcuterie board.

Step 3: Add bowls and utensils to your chili bar or charcuterie board–don’t forget little spoons/forks for the toppings and a big ladle for the chili! Make sure you have enough bowls and utensils for everyone to grab a second bowl (good-quality paper bowls work well if you’re having a large party).

Overhead shot of a chili bar or chili charcuterie board with bowls and spoons.

Setting up a chili bar or chili charcuterie board may seem like a lot of work…so just prep ahead! Prep most of your toppings the day before. You can even make your chili the day before and pop it into the slow cooker the morning of your party. This way, you’ll have plenty of time to mingle (and EAT!) with your guests!


Favorite Toppings: These are my favorite “classic” chili bar toppings. See this list of the 50+ Best Toppings for Chili if you want more ideas!

  • Cheese: Cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack, and pepper jack are perfect!
  • Sour Cream or Greek yogurt
  • Green onions
  • Tortilla chips or Fritos
  • Avocado slices
  • Lime wedges
  • Hot sauce

Delicious Sides: Chili + toppings don’t require any side dishes, but here are some fun additions to your chili bar:

  • Hot Dogs: Chili dog anyone?!
  • Baked potatoes or baked sweet potatoes: Delicious with chili and cheese over the top!
  • French Fries or Tater Tots: Even the kids will appreciate chili spooned over fries! Hint: Lots of melty nacho cheese on the side makes it even more irresistible!
A large bowl of chili with all of the toppings around it.


  • Prep Ahead: Nearly EVERYTHING, including the chili recipe, can be prepped the day before. Store cut items like onions, jalapenos, and shredded cheese in small baggies in the fridge and just place them in bowls the day of your party.

  • Pick a Few Interesting Toppings: People typically love trying unique things when the item is ready and available! Consider a couple of non-traditional items such as bacon crumbles or maple syrup to add some zing!

  • Consider Your Guests: If your guests are vegetarian or have food allergies (such as dairy), consider separating those items from the rest of the toppings and/or making a pot of chili without meat.

  • Consider BYOT (Bring Your Own Topping!): Another fun idea is to have each guest bring their favorite topping to share OR assign them a topping to bring! This not only helps YOU out, but guests are also sure to have their favorite chili toppings on hand!

  • Utilize the Slow Cooker: If you know guests will linger for more than a few hours, keep your chili in the slow cooker on WARM. Also, you can make your chili the day before. The next day, simply transfer it into your slow cooker and warm it on LOW a few hours before guests arrive.


This is my absolute favorite chili recipe: Easy 3 Bean Chili! It’s a hearty chili made with ground beef, 3 kinds of beans, and has just the perfect amount of mild spice–it’s a crowd-pleaser for sure!


What is the best way to keep chili warm?

The best way to keep your chili warm is in a crockpot on the LOW or KEEP WARM setting.

Another way is to use a large round chafing dish such as this one.

Can I prep my chili bar ahead of time?

Yesssss!!!!! You can make the chili the day before then just pop it in the crockpot a few hours before your guests arrive — chili is ALWAYS more amazing the next day!

Also, gather all of your toppings and pre-chop everything (onions, lime wedges, etc). All you have to do on the day of your party is lay everything out and you’re good to go!

A bowl of chili with lots of toppings around it set up on a chili charcuterie board.
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