Chili is one of the most popular foods in the United States. Each region seems to have a unique twist they put on the dish. Over the past few years, it looks as though the food has grown in popularity as well with events like chili festivals. Fortunately for chili lovers, there is one day a year when we can all come together and unite in our love for the delicious dish.

When Is National Chili Day

National Chili Day takes place each year on the fourth Thursday of February. Many people believe chili to be comfort food, particularly beneficial during colder months. This is perhaps one of the main reasons why the holiday falls on this day. Regardless of the reason why National Chili Day has grown tremendously over the past decade. It’s never too late to begin preparations for the next celebration.

The roots of the holiday are as ambiguous as the dish itself. No one seems quite to know when the holiday was first founded, much like no one seems to know who first created the recipe. Although many food experts believe the dish is American with Mexican roots, those of Mexican heritage tend to deny having anything to do with the meal.

However, what’s not up for debate is that chili became especially popular in the United States thanks to former President Lyndon Johnson. Chili was one of President Johnson’s favorite foods. When the Texan reached the national spotlight, chili became a national treasure. In fact, Texas legislators named chili the official state food in 1977.

Ways To Celebrate National Chili Day

​National Chili Day gives us an excuse to enjoy a piping hot bowl of our favorite chili dish or to surround ourselves with other chili lovers. It’s a day of good food and fun and is a day that members of our team look forward to every year. Below, you’ll find some of their recommendations for how to celebrate the holiday.

Of course, we value our readers and are always looking for thoughts and suggestions. If you have a way you prefer to celebrate the special day, we encourage you to share it with us below. Between the recommendations from our team and the comments from our readers, we’re confident that we’ll all be able to find an enjoyable way to enjoy the holiday next year.

Some things to consider include:

  • Enjoy your favorite bowl of chili
  • Attend a chili cook-off
  • Host a chili cook-off
  • Try a new dish
  • Contact your local bar

Enjoy Your Favorite Bowl Of Chili 

chili on bowl

Is there a more obvious way to celebrate the day? The best way to celebrate the day is to enjoy the dish itself. Begin your preparations beforehand, so that your chili is ready to eat come the fourth Thursday of February. What fun is it to spend the holiday preparing your food if you’re not able to enjoy it? Of course, that’s not to say that you can’t also cook chili on that day enjoy at a later date.

Chili freezes well, so you could celebrate the holiday by cooking enough chili to last you for a few months. We recommend cooking chili for a month or two, enough to get you through the cold of winter and into the warmer spring months. Many people on our team have said that although they enjoy eating chili, preparing a large Crock-Pot’s worth is one of their favorite things to do on that day.

When it comes to eating chili to celebrate the holiday, there’s no wrong time to enjoy the dish. Yes, that means that you can have chili for breakfast on National Chili Day. You can also have it for lunch, dinner, and dessert as well. Perhaps eat your lunchtime chili at a local restaurant, who may have a special that allows you partake in the festivities.

Attend A Chili Cook-Off

If you’re looking to spend the holiday surrounded by great company, attending a chili cook-off is an excellent way to do so. Using this website, you should be able to find a cook-off happening in your area. Cook-offs are a unique way for enthusiasts to come together and share their love of all things chili. You’ll also be able to eat copious amounts of food, likely ensuring that you won’t leave the day hungry.

Cook-offs tend to charge an admission that grants you access to the event. Once inside, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of chili enthusiasts serving their signature dishes. These chefs can range from professionals to amateurs, but they all share one thing in common – their love of chili. You’ll be able to talk with these chefs about their dishes, something for which they have tremendous passion.

The best part about a chili cook-off is that you can expand your palate. Each chef tends to put their flare or spin on a dish. Many times, the plates you try at a chili cook-off are unlike anything you’ve ever tried before. Simply put, this is our favorite way to celebrate National Chili Day because you can sample exciting and innovative chili dishes.

Lastly, because you are celebrating such a memorable holiday, these chili cook-offs tend to be the biggest of the year. Many vendors attend this event, giving away free promotional materials. Depending on your location, local brewers may also participate in the event, which could make the day even more enjoyable. If you’ve never been to a chili cook-off, this would be the time to do so.

Host A Chili Cook-Off

Another interesting idea to help celebrate the holiday is not to attend a chili cook-off, but to host one of your own. If you are not interested in spending money on the admission to a cook-off or prefer to steer clear of large crowds, this is a great alternative. Invite your family, friends, and neighbors over for a chili cook-off in your home or apartment for a night of fun.

To host a chili cook-off, have every guest bring their signature chili. Be sure that you set out a serving table large enough to hold everyone’s dish. Since many people will likely serve their chilis in a serving tray designed to keep them warm, be sure you have a power supply near the serving table. It may be worth your while to purchase an extension cord or power strip.

Try to get a headcount of your guests beforehand, so that other guests know how much chili to bring. You’ll want every guest to bring enough of their chili that every other guest can sample it. Additionally, ensure you have enough plate and spoons for everyone to sample each chili. Testing out of the same bowl could ruin the chili’s taste.

Lastly, consider providing a method to label each chili, such as index cards and markers. This allows everyone to see what they are going to eat before they eat it. This could help keep your guests safe, as the cards could list any potential allergens, such as nuts. The cards could also list who created the chili so that each chef can take pride in their work.

If you’re looking to have fun with your cook-off, you could have a vote at the end of the night. Each guest could write down their three favorite chilis. The chili with the most votes would be crowned the winner. Perhaps you could award them a prize, such as the right to host the event the following February!  

Try A New Dish

new chili recipe

Although the holiday is a great time to indulge in your favorite dish, we also believe it’s a fantastic time to branch out and try something new. If you do not attend a chili cook-off, we challenge you to cook at least one original chili for yourself each year. You may end up loving it and working it into your array of chili recipes. Sampling a new chili is a great way to celebrate the holiday each February.

This past year, our team tried the Cornbread-Topped Skillet Chili from Sally’s Baking Addiction. This was a unique chili for us because we did not cook it in a slow-cooker, but instead coked it on a stove top. Since many people prefer to put cornbread on top of their chili anyway, we found this to be a creative recipe that combined the best of both worlds. The dish was easy to make and was even more delicious.

Contact Your Local Bar

If you have a favorite bar or restaurant in your area, contact them to see if they are participating in the holiday celebrations. Although they may not be hosting an event like a chili cook-off, they could still be doing something to honor the traditions of the day. For example, they could have a special on their house chili, or they could introduce a new chili to celebrate the day.

We recommend reaching out to the restaurant beforehand. If you wait until the day of, it will be too late, as they won’t have time to make plans for the day. Although chilis are famous, not every restaurant is aware of the day on which Americans celebrate the dish. Giving them a heads up could allow them to make preparations for the day.