A Chili Cook-off Party

It's Hot, Hot, Hot...


In 1967 the first chili cook-off took place in the little town of Terlingua, Texas (now known as the "Chili Capital of the World").  There were only two contestants; one of them cooking chili with beans, the other without.  It was declared a tie.

You and your friends don't have to be chili cook-off pros to have fun with this party.  But, be warned... Once you tell your guests it's a competition with prizes, you can bet everyone will go to extreme lengths to win!

Just in case a few cooks get carried away with the habaneras, we suggest having milk on hand and a Soda Siphon for any flaming tongues.


Send out invites and ask guests to cook-up their best chili recipe and 'come on over' for tasting and judging.  Those guests not daring enough to compete will be asked to lend their talents as judges.



 Set the Scene

  • Set up a buffet table for chili tasting and judging. Ask contestants to bring their "best ever" chili in a crockpot, so it will stay warm throughout the party. 
  • Hang Chili Pepper Lanterns above the serving table.
  • Mini Neon Tasting Cups work well for tasting samples of chili, and are brightly colored to match the party theme.
  • Hang home made pepper swags.
  • Keep beer cold in this Cactus Cooler.
  • A brightly colored tablecloth in orange, yellow, red or green.


Chili Tasting and Judging - Label each chili pot with a number (do your best to keep the pots anonymous so the judges won't be influenced!).  You'll need at least three judges to sample and rate each chili.  Have numerous categories; such as, best overall, most original, hottest, best name (e.g., Fiery Gulch, Blazing Saddles), and most eye catching.  This will add to the fun and you'll be able to award multiple prizes. 

Fill a Chili Pepper Pinata with candy and let the guests take a whack at breaking it open.

 Party Favors

Everyone gets one- Chili Pepper Blinking Light Pins

Gummy Chili Pepper Candies


 Party Prizes

Best Overall Chili - Chili Champion Apron

Other Chili Prizes:

Dave's Gourmet Super Hot Crated Hot Sauce

Dave's Gourmet Chiles Shaker

Chili Madness Cookbook



Zucchini Bites

Cabbage Slaw

Corn Bread

Turkey Chili

Include condiments including; cheese, sour cream, onions, cilantro, baked potatoes.

Praline Carmel Ice Cream Puffs


An assortment of bottled beers.  Try an amber lager like Negra Modelo or Dos Equis Amber.  The sweet, caramel flavor goes well with chili.




In honor of the state where the 'Chili Cook-off' originated, play a little Don't Mess With Texas Music.