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How to Create Your Own Chili Bar Buffet

Entertain at Home With a Chili Bar

Chili is one of my favorite foods to entertain with; not only can it be prepared ahead, but it's incredibly adaptable. So for my last dinner party, I chose to take things to the next level with a dress-it-yourself chili buffet. After all, if one can create a bangin' bloody mary or hot dog bar, why not a DIY chili version, too? To learn more about creating one yourself, read more.

  • Mix it up with two types of chili. I offered both a meat and a vegetarian version; both were made ahead, and kept warm in slow cookers at the table.
  • Vary the base as well as the toppings. Serve cornbread on the side, or cilantro-lime rice. Offer Fritos for make-your-own Frito pies, and pasta for those who go the route of Cincinnati-style chili. Oyster crackers would be great, too.
  • Go crazy on top! I laid out everything from chopped red onions and scallions to sour cream and shredded cheese to pickled jalapeños and lime wedges. Or try something ridiculously over the top — like bacon!
  • Be sure beverages are apropos for the occasion. To start off, I passed around tumblers of pineapple margarita. Once guests sat down at the table, they were greeted by an ice bucket full of California beers.
  • Don't forget ambiance. Set the spread on top of a red checkered tablecloth, or scatter tea candle votive holders around the table for a little extra flair.

Ever created a make-your-own bar at home while entertaining? If so, do share your tips below!

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