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What to Serve with Chilli Con Carne Instead of Rice

If you’re looking for a chilli con carne recipe and want some good options for what to serve it with, look no further!

What to Serve with Chilli Con Carne Instead of Rice

We’ve got your list of the top 15 alternatives to rice that you can use to make your chilli con carne experience even more delicious.

See Also: How To Make Chili Without Tomato Sauce

What to Serve with Chilli Con Carne Instead of Rice?

Chilli Con Carne

Don’t have any rice on hand but craving some chilli con carne?

We feel you.

We’ve got you covered with a list of different foods you can use to sop up your chili instead of boring old rice:

1. Couscous

Couscous will give your chilli con carne the same heartiness that rice does, but adds a little more texture and some extra vitamins.

It’s a perfect way to keep your family from getting bored with the same old side dish.

To make couscous work in a meal with chilli con carne, cook it in water or broth until it’s tender (about 10 minutes), then drain out any extra liquid.

Make sure you don’t salt the water you cook it in—you want to leave the seasonings for later!

Then combine it with your chilli con carne, and top it all off with cheese or fresh sliced tomatoes.

One tip: If you don’t want to mix your couscous into the chilli con carne, serve it on the side instead. It goes great with sour cream and chives!

2. Quinoa

Quinoa is an easy swap in a meal.

While it’s not served in a bowl, like rice, it’s still a good absorber of flavours (just like rice!), so you can easily mix it in with or eat it as a side to your chilli con carne.

It works especially well when mixed with other foods, like beans.

You can even top off your meal with some salty cheese and crunchy tortilla chips!

Top tip: If you’re worried about how to cook the quinoa just right, try using a pressure cooker—it cooks the quinoa perfectly every time!

3. Orzo

This dish can be easily made in advance and heated up when you need it.

It’s also easy to make your own, which means you can add flavors like garlic or herbs to suit the taste of the rest of your meal.

Plus, eating orzo pasta can be a fun way to get more fiber into your diet without compromising on flavor!

4. Crispy chickpeas

Here is something that might help you mix it up a bit.

The next time you’re in the mood for chilli con carne, how about trying crispy chickpeas as a side dish?

You can make crispy chickpeas by heating oil in a pan, adding chickpeas, and frying them until they’re golden brown.

Then season them with salt.

To help the flavour go well with your chilli con carne, you could also add some spices like cumin seeds and smoked paprika before putting the chickpeas in the pan.

5. Zucchini noodles (zoodles)

Zoodles are a great option if you’re looking for something that’s both nutritious and light.

They are made from spiralized or shaved zucchini, which is naturally low in carbs.

You can make them by cutting the zucchini lengthwise, then taking a vegetable peeler to shave off thin slices.

Once they’re cooked, they taste like al dente pasta noodles.

You can easily incorporate zoodles into your chilli con carne meal by sautéing them in olive oil and garlic, accompanied by a sprinkle of salt and pepper for seasoning.

Tip: If you want to get fancy, consider using the zest of a lemon to really elevate the flavor!

6. Cauliflower rice

It’s not just for people who are trying to cut out carbs.

Cauliflower rice tastes amazing—light and fluffy and perfectly infused with any flavor you cook it with.

Just make sure when you’re cooking it that you don’t overdo it, which will turn your cauliflower into a mushy mess.

7. Mashed potatoes

Mashed potatoes are a great choice for chilli con carne when you’re getting sick of eating rice as your side dish.

See Also: 15 Sauces for Mashed Potatoes I Can’t Resist

When you use mashed potatoes, you get all of the benefits of the starch and texture that rice provides, plus a creamier coziness that can’t be replicated with other foods.

Mashed potatoes are also a great choice if you want to reduce your salt intake and not have to worry about balancing the rest of your meal—a serving of mashed potatoes has half the sodium of a serving of rice.

To make it work in your meal, let your mashed potatoes be the star by serving them right in the centre of your plate, with chilli con carne on top.

If you need to balance out the flavor, add some shredded cheese or chives.

A tip: Try making a batch ahead of time and keeping it in the fridge overnight—it will allow you to use up any leftovers from last night’s dinner.

8. Fingerlings

This is one of those foods that sounds weird but tastes amazing.

Fingerlings are small potatoes that look like little sausages, and they pair perfectly with your chili.

You can even get them in purple or yellow, if you want to add some color to your plate!

9. Crispy tortilla chips

If you’re getting a little bored of the same old side dish every time, crispy tortilla chips might be a fun alternative.

  • When to use this option: This works best with spicy chilli con carne. You can prepare your own tortilla chips by dicing up corn tortillas and frying them in oil, or you can just buy some at your local store.
  • How to make it work for your meal: In order to make crispy tortilla chips work for this meal, you’ll want to pair it with something cool and light. A cilantro-lime salsa goes very well with spicy food, so try preparing some ahead of time to serve alongside your chilli con carne and chips.

Tip: Use whole wheat tortillas for an even healthier meal!

10. Pita bread

Pita bread is nice and doughy, so it can stand up to the spiciness of chilli con carne.

It can also be cut into wedges like pizza slices, so your guests can use it as a tool to scoop out their portions.

Chilli con carne tends to be made with rich flavors, so if you make your own pita bread at home using whole wheat flour and oil, you’ll be adding a nutritious component to your meal.

11. Cornbread

Cornbread is a classic substitute for rice with chilli con carne.

It’s a great way to get the right amount of carbs to go along with your chilli and also adds a slightly sweet flavor that pairs well with the spices in the dish.

If you don’t feel like making your own cornbread from scratch, many grocery stores sell it pre-made in their bakery section or even in the freezer aisle.

12. Plain Ol’ Noodles

While plain ol’ noodles may sound a little uninspired, there are some occasions when it’s just the right thing.

If you’re doing a big cook-up for a potluck and want to throw something together fast that won’t break the bank, noodles can be a great choice.

For this meal, though, you’ll want to use more than any old noodle—you’ll want to use vermicelli rice noodles!

They’re thin, delicate, and absorb all the flavor of whatever they’re cooked with.

You can buy them in most Asian grocery stores or even online if you don’t have time to shop around.

In addition to being super light and absorbing all the flavor of your chilli con carne, they also add texture and some heartiness!

To make sure you’re getting enough of all the flavors in your meal, top your bowl with fresh cilantro leaves and lime wedges so that every bite has a freshness to it.

13. Flavorless Crackers

If you’re getting sick of the same old rice to go with your chilli con carne, why not try something completely different like flavorless crackers?

When to use flavorless crackers:

  • You want to spend less time preparing your meal
  • You’re looking for a crunchier texture
  • You have leftover crackers from another meal that you would like to make use of
  • You’re on a low carb diet

How to serve it:

A great way to make this work is by serving the crackers alongside some cheese and a dip.

For example, try setting up a platter with some cheddar, cream cheese and hot sauce.

That way everyone can pick and choose how much they want to put on their cracker.

Alternatively, you could add the cheese directly into the chilli recipe so it melts into the dish as it cooks.

This adds a creamy texture and an extra layer of flavour.

Tip: If you are using fresh crackers that are hard rather than soft then be sure to toast them first in the oven for 5 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius (350F). This will soften them up and make them more enjoyable to eat.

14. Crushed Rice cakes

Crushed Rice cakes

Why not step it up with crushed rice cakes?

You can just crush them up until they’re crumby and then mix the crushed rice cakes in the chilli con carne for an added crunch to your dinner.

Or if you want to get fancy, you can add some lemon juice or herbs to the crushed rice cakes before mixing them in.

This will make your dinner extra fresh!

Just be careful not to add too much oil or butter!

The trick is to cook the rice cakes on their own first before crushing them so that they get nice and crispy instead of soggy.

15. Naan Bread

Sometimes you just want to shake things up a bit.

Naan bread is a great alternative to rice as a side for chilli con carne: it’s easy to make, keeps well, and has the added benefit of being incredibly delicious!

It’s really simple to prepare naan bread: just roll out the dough and cook it on one side until it bubbles up.

Then turn it over and cook it until it browns on both sides.

There are plenty of recipes online if you need more details!

To serve, cut the naan into small pieces and lay them out around your bowl of chilli con carne. If you want to get really fancy, add some chopped coriander leaves on top!

Chilli Con Carne

What to Serve with Chilli Con Carne Instead of Rice

When choosing an alternative to rice with chilli con carne, you should consider a few things:
1. The nutritional content of the alternative. Are you looking for something that is high in protein, high in fiber, or low in carbohydrates? Or do you want something with a lot of flavor?
2. How the alternative fits into your cooking method. Some alternatives require cooking separately from the chilli con carne and others can be cooked along with it.
3. If it is readily available in your area. Some alternatives are more popular than others, and you may need to look for them at specialty stores if your grocery store does not carry them.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people
Calories 275 kcal


  • Couscous
  • Quinoa
  • Orzo
  • Crispy chickpeas
  • Zucchini noodles (zoodles)
  • Cauliflower rice
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Fingerlings
  • Crispy tortilla chips
  • Pita bread
  • Cornbread
  • Plain Ol' Noodles
  • Flavorless Crackers
  • Crushed Rice cakes
  • Naan Bread


  • Pick any of these rice alternatives to use with your Chilli Con Carne.
  • Prepare the rest of your delicious meal.
  • Be ready to munch in no time!
Keyword What to Serve with Chilli Con Carne Instead of Rice