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How to Plan the Best Chili Cook-off with Free Printables

Easy ideas to organize and plan a chili cook-off party. Get our free printables to help you throw an amazing event.

Do you love chili?

Do you like to host get-togethers with your friends or family?

Are you a bit competitive?

If you answered yes then I think you’re going to love this blog post.

Hosting a chili cook-off party is a super fun way to gather your friends, family, neighbors, or whoever you’d like to a friendly little cooking competition.

So what exactly is a chili cook-off party?

The idea of a cook-off party is that each guest or family makes a batch of their favorite chili recipe to enter the contest.

Then at the party, your guests will sample each recipe and vote for the one they like best.

Everyone will bring enough chili for all the guests in attendance to taste each recipe.

And since all of the guests will be bringing their best homemade chili with them, there won’t be as much cooking and preparing for you as the host.

We’ll chat more about those details later in this post and I’ll share some simple ideas to plan a winning chili cook-off.

And to make it even easier I’ve got an amazing printable bundle that has everything you need to get this party started!

Some of the items used in this post include affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no added cost to you. You can read our full affiliate disclosure policy here.

How to Plan a Cook-off Party

all the printables laying on wood table for chili cook off before cutting and assembling

The first thing you’ll need to do is download our printable bundle when you start planning your chili cook-off event.

How to Access The Chili Cook-Off Printables

All our printables can be found in one place, our VIP Subscriber Printable Library.

To download any of our printables, you’ll need to go to the printable library
and then enter the password we emailed to you when you subscribed. Be sure to check your spam folder if you didn’t get the welcome email.

The Chili Cook-Off Printables are in the Entertaining section of the library.

This bundle has everything you need from invitations to scorecards to decorations and more.

The printables are all designed to be printed on standard-size paper.

I’d suggest printing on cardstock so they are a bit sturdier than regular copy paper.

AnnMarie using paper cutter to make tented recipe cards

Each of the designs is created to easily be cut out along the solid lines with a good pair of precision detail craft scissors.

However, if you have a paper cutter then it will save you a little time to cut them out.

How to Invite Guests to a Chili Cook-Off

blogger filling out printable invitation with pen on table

First, you’ll need to decide how many people you want to invite to your chili cook-off.

Think about the space you have to hold this event and what you’ll do in case of bad weather if you plan it outdoors.

The fall is a perfect time to host a chili cook-off if you want to do it outside.

Think sweaters and flannels with a bonfire and a hot cup of homemade chili.

If you have enough room indoors then winter is another great time to gather some friends for a friendly contest.

There’s nothing better than a warm bowl of chili when it’s cold outside to heat things up.

Once you decide on your guest list you can either send invitations through the mail, use an online email service or even text your guests to invite them to your party.

If you want to send an invitation we’ve created a fun postcard-sized invite that you can download and print out on white card stock.

Then just fill in the details and send it off!

What to Serve at Chili Cookoff

large stock pot on wood trivet with tented lettered card in front

Print out these small tent cards to place in front of each chili pot or container to distinguish between recipes.

Make sure that you have an area large enough to set out all of the stock pots, crock pots, and serving dishes.

You can use your kitchen table or counter space to place all the chili pots.

Or even line the containers up on a folding table so that you can keep the chili recipes separate from the toppings, drinks, and paper products.

S2M tip: Use a trivet or hot plate under each pot to protect your table top surfaces.

Containers of chopped avocado, cilantro, shredded cheese, & blue tortilla chips in a basket in front of a crockpot of chili

Since each guest or family will be bringing the main dish you can concentrate on the toppings, sides, and beverages.

I’ve included some suggestions below to help you plan.


  • shredded cheese
  • sour cream
  • avocado
  • onion
  • peppers
  • jalapenos
  • cilantro
  • tomatoes
  • scallions
  • lime


  • cornbread
  • tortilla chips
  • Fritos
  • tater tots


  • beer
  • water
  • soda

How to Judge a Cook-Off Contest

official cook off rules in wood frame

In your chili cook-off bundle, there will be an official rule printable that can be trimmed to fit in an 8×10 picture frame.

Then the frame can be placed on a table beside your tasting cups or the chili dishes.

All the guests will taste each homemade recipe and give it a score from 1 to 5.

Here’s a fun way to score:

  1. Keep working on it
  2. Ok
  3. Not bad
  4. Almost perfect
  5. Ahhh…YES!
page of four rule cards for chili cook off

I’ve also included a page of four small rule cards that can be used in addition to the large one.

Or if you prefer you can just give each person one of these to hold onto while they’re tasting.

woman holding clipboard with score card and sample cups

The scorecards are created to have room for six small tasting cups on one card.

Using clipboards gives your guests a surface to hold the sample cups while tasting and writing their scores.

Everyone will be judging each recipe for appearance, aroma, taste, and spice.

Then tallying the scores to figure out their favorite chili recipe.

Since the judging is being done by everyone, you can enter your best chili recipe too!

Looking for a new chili recipe to try? We’ve got you covered with three amazing options:

How to Award the Winning Chili Recipe

supplies to make trophies for chili cook off

1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prize ribbons are also included in the download of printables for your party.

You can attach these ribbons to anything you choose to present the winners of your cook-off contest.

Wood spoons are an affordable and fun idea to give as prizes.

Just trim each paper prize ribbon then, punch a hole in the top and tie it to the spoon with twine or decorative ribbon.

How to Decorate for a Chili Cook-off Gathering

printable decorations for a chili cook off party

Using all of our matching printables in the bundle unifies your theme and gives you instant easy party decor.

The simple black and white design with a pop of red is perfect for a chili cook-off get together.

The bundle also includes a DIY banner that’s easy to assemble and hang over your table.

I just cut out the individual pennants then punched two holes with a 1/16″ paper punch in the top and thread each with jute twine to make the banner.

Since it’s really light weight I was able to hang it with tape to the wall.

I’ll be sharing more of how I decorated my space for this chili cook-off party so stay tuned to see the tablescape I styled.

Plus six incredible new chili recipes!

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collage of product images to decorate and plan a chili cook off

Sources: clipboards | white card stock paper | paper trimmer | 2 oz. sample cups | 1/16″ paper punch | detail scissors | jute twine | 8×10 photo frame | wood spoons

Don’t forget to download your chili cook-off printables HERE!

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment!

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