America’s 10 Top Chili Cook-offs
October 23, 2015
Love chili? These annual competitions are for you
America’s 10 Top Chili Cook-offs
Who doesn’t love chili? This stew is a thing of fierce devotion, and throughout out the country thousands upon thousands of home cooks and professionals alike have developed recipes that they’re incredibly proud of. Almost every state hosts annual chili cook-offs, and these are the 10 best.
Arizona State Open Chili Championship
For 37 years running, this festival, held in the city of Casa Grande, has brought out thousands of hungry Arizonans to sample dozens of different chilis, which sell for $4 per cup. It’s held every March.
Louisiana State Chili Cook-Off
The 10th annual Louisiana Chili Cook-Off will be coming to the LSU campus in Baton Rouge in March 2016, and last year 65 contestants competed in three categories: red chili, chili verde, and salsa. On average, 5,000 guests attend, and proceeds are donated to a local children’s hospital.
New Jersey State Chili & Salsa Cook-Off
Held each May for the last 26 years in Toms River, the New Jersey State Chili & Salsa Cook-Off is the state’s premier chili festival, with dozens of competitors annually. Both red chili (no beans allowed) and chili verde are judged.
Ocean Beach Street Fair & Chili Cook-Off Festival
More than 70,000 guests flock to this annual San Diego event, which also offers plenty of vendors, beer gardens, activities for children, a burger-eating competition, and live music on five stages. But the main event is definitely all about the chili, which is judged according to criteria including consistency, taste, color, smell, and meat.
Sertoma Chili Cook-Off
A whopping 75 different styles of chili are prepared by hundreds of different cooks during this two-day event, which has been held in Springfield, Missouri, every February for the past 34 years. Along with the chili, guests can look forward to live music on two stages, cold beer, and even a casino area.
South Carolina Chili Cook-Off Championship
Coming to downtown Belton on April 19 2016, the seventh annual South Carolina Chili Cook-Off Championship will bring together chiliheads from across the state, who will be competing for the titles of best red, verde, and homestyle chilis. There’s also plenty of live music, crafts exhibits and local artisans, and a chili eating contest.
More than 40,000 guests come to Snook, Texas, annually for Chilifest, which will be returning for its 24th year on April 15 and 16th. It’s all about the Texas-style chili here, and it’s also a great way to see some of the country’s top Country acts.
Texas Chili Cook-Off
Not to be confused with any actual cook-offs in Texas, the Texas Chili Cook-Off is hosted by the Texas Exes, and happens every May in New York City. As opposed to amateurs, participants are all Texas ex-pat restaurant chefs; last year’s line-up included chefs from restaurants including El Original Tex Mex, Javelina Tex Mex, Monument Lane, and Mable’s Smokehouse.
Tustin Street Fair & Chili Cook-Off
The town of Tustin, California, has hosted a chili cook-off every June for the past 31 years, and last year 50 teams competed for chili dominance. The fair also boasted live music, food vendors, beer and wine, three stages of live music, and activities for children.
World’s Championship Chili Cookoff
This cook-off is the top of the heap, hosted by none other than the International Chili Society. This year the 49th annual cook-off was held at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nevada from October 16-18. Winners of cook-offs from across the country as well as thousands of guests descend on the venue every year to take home titles for top homestyle, traditional red, verde, and salsa, with top prizes reaching $25,000.