How to Host the Best Homemade Chili Cook-Off

Chili is more than just a dish; it’s a tradition. Secret recipes are passed down from generation to generation. The “correct” special ingredients are hot topics of debate, and a victory at a cook-off will be brought up during family dinners for decades.

However, much like chili, planning a chili cook-off can seem simple on the surface, but there are many necessary moving parts underneath that make it feel just right. Make sure your homemade chili showdown goes off without a hitch with these simple chili cook-off ideas.

More articles you might like:

Chili cook-off party invitations

Promote your chili cook-off with themed invites. Make sure to include the details of the event so that your guests know what to expect and what to bring. Here are some things to consider when throwing a chili cook-off:

  1. Do you have enough outlets and power strips for everyone’s slow cookers?
  2. Do you have an area where people can drop off their chili anonymously?
  3. Do you have enough side dishes, or should people bring some of their own?

Print this design on 4″ x 6″ postcards for inkjet printers (8386) or 4″ x 6″ postcards for laser printers (5389).

After you customize the design, you can also choose “Let Us Print for You” to order custom-printed postcards.

DIY cook-off trophy ideas

As your guests start arriving, build up anticipation by having your trophies proudly displayed where everyone can see them. Along with your trophies and grand prize, make sure to add in some other chili cook-off decorations like baskets, chili peppers, and gingham tablecloths to create the right setting for the event.

There are many companies that can provide chili cook-off trophies, medals, and statuettes of chili pots, but a homemade prize can also be just as satisfying to win. Kitchen utensils, cooking supplies, and gift card bundles make for lovely prizes, especially with a personalized tag.

Print this design on Avery 22802 tags designed to work with either laser or inkjet printers.

After you customize the design, you can also choose “Let Us Print for You” to order custom-printed tags.

Chili cook-off rules and tasting

Now for the most important part of a chili cook-off: The Tasting. It’s easy for people to go overboard during the tasting process so try to provide small, disposable cups and spoons to keep everyone on a reasonable pace. Small palate cleansers like tortilla chips, pretzels and crackers can also be good sampling tools as well.

If your contestants have names for their chili, you can have custom tent cards printed ahead of time, or you can write each name on the day of the cook-off onto blank labels. Professional chili cook-offs will judge chili based on strict requirements (such as how finely vegetables are chopped and the use of beans), but the first rule of your cook-off should be to have fun.

Ballots for chili cook-off voting

Card ballots are time-tested, intuitive, simple, and perfect for food competitions. Once all of the votes are in, you can replace the tasting cups with bowls for people to really start chowing down. As everyone gets settled with larger meals, you can begin the process of counting the results and discovering the chili champion.

Announcing the grand prize winner

After you’ve finished tallying the votes, it’s time to make the big announcement. Start with the third-place winner and work your way up to the grand prize winner. Give each winner their prize and reward the chili cook-off champion with a customized apron touting their victory.

Check out our fabric transfers resource page to find the right transfer for your project as well as helpful tips and tricks.

To recreate our apron, print this design on Avery 8938 fabric transfer for light fabrics using an inkjet printer. Then follow the instructions here to apply to white or light-colored fabric. Make sure your fabric is either 100% cotton or a cotton blend.

We love making chili in the fall; how about you? Let us know in the comments! For more fun ideas for get-togethers, follow us on Instagram or check out our Pinterest to find your “Avery inspiration.”

Author: Ryan Han

If you have a question about an Avery product, there’s a good chance Ryan will know the answer. Originally hired in 2014, Ryan worked for years answering calls, responding to chats and collecting review data before he was given the opportunity to be a copywriter. With almost a decade’s worth of Avery knowledge, he now writes copy for product pages, articles, emails and wherever else a little punching up is needed. With a BA in Creative Writing from California State University, Long Beach, Ryan loves any chance he can get to tap into his more poetic side. Whether it’s a motivational quote on a planner cover or waxing lyrical about the near-mystical reflective properties of a new holographic label, Ryan has been a steadfast fan of Avery Products and Avery people. In his free time, Ryan loves to try out new skills and hobbies. He drew a webcomic for a few years, can build a computer, placed eighth once in a Tetris tournament and is trying to learn Spanish so that he can have conversations with his girlfriend’s madre.