Iowa State Fair Chili Recipe: Best 5 Serving Ideas

Iowa State Fair Chili Recipe is the perfect dish for a casual party because it is super easy and versatile.

This recipe can be made in large quantities (enough to feed a crowd), but you should use your judgment as to the portion size per person.

You can make this dish in just 25 minutes, which makes it even easier! I also love this recipe because it’s both kids- and adult-friendly; pregnant women can also try it!

Best of all, experiment with different add-ins like ground beef, shredded cheddar cheese, jalapeno peppers, or hot sauce. This recipe is also very good for freezing, so you can make it ahead of time!


Iowa State Fair Chili Recipe

Prepare Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 10 servings

Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 Pound Browned Ground Beef or Ground Turkey
  • 1 can BUSH’S® Mild Kidney Chili Beans
  • 1 (14.5) oz Can of Diced Tomatoes (do not drain)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1⁄4 cup canola oil
  • 1⁄4 cup chile powder
  • 2 tbsp. paprika
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 Cup Water


1. Brown the ground beef in a large skillet. 

2. Add onion, garlic, and celery to the skillet and cook until soft and fragrant.

3. Add tomatoes, chili beans, water, and spices to the skillet and bring to a simmer over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until water has been absorbed into the chili stew. 

4. Season with salt, pepper, additional chile powder, or paprika as desired at this point in time (we like lots of flavors!) 

5. Serve and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts Per Serving

Total Fat14 g
Saturated Fat5 g
Cholesterol25 mg
Sodium786 mg
Carbohydrates20 g
Dietary Fiber5 g
Sugars4 g
Protein11 g

Excellent Source Of: Vitamin C, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Iron, Vitamin B6, Folate 

How Should I Serve State Fair Chili? Best 5 Serving Ideas

1.   With Bread

A bowl of warm, homemade, delicious chili is best served with crumbled buttered cornbread for a satisfying meal. Cornbread can also be made into individual muffins or mini-muffins for a quicker serving idea. Top warm corn muffins with shredded cheddar cheese, sliced avocado, and sour cream or salsa for an even tastier dish!

2.   As a Topper

A delicious topping for baked potatoes or French fries, this chili recipe is flavorful on its own, so you wouldn’t really need to add anything extra to it. It’s also great as a salsa dip! Just serve the mixture in individual cups with diced cucumber and onion rings alongside tortilla chips or sliced French bread/toast.

3.   As an Appetizer

Serve this chili recipe as an appetizer with silverware or in individual ramekins/cups. You can also top each serving with crumbled tortilla chips, sour cream, and shredded cheddar cheese for a delicious and easy-to-eat starter that your guests will love!

4.   With Spaghetti

Add some shredded cheddar cheese, sliced avocado, and sour cream to this chili recipe for a quick, tasty sauce that can be used over spaghetti noodles or chilled macaroni noodles. I like to use a whole wheat spaghetti noodle to add more nutritional value!

5.   With Eggs

This chili recipe can also be converted into a breakfast dish by substituting crumbled tortilla chips or diced bread for the main dish and serving it with scrambled eggs. Kids love this version of the recipe – eggs cooked like a traditional omelet (fluffy, not set) with chopped tomato, shredded cheese, onions, and salsa.

Iowa State Fair Chili Recipe
Iowa State Fair Chili Recipe

Are State Fair Chili Good For You?

This dish is rich in protein and can be enjoyed by all the family. The spices and chili beans contribute to a healthy heart and blood circulation, while the tomatoes and beans are great sources of fiber. This chili recipe is also a great source of iron and vitamin C.

Are State Fair Chili Kids Friendly?

You know that your kids will love chili at a fair when you have homemade meatball or turkey chili instead of the more traditional pork and beans they typically eat. Serve this dish, and they will love it, especially if they don’t eat meat so much!

Is It Suitable For Pregnant Women?

This recipe’s ingredients are safe for pregnant women (as long as you’re using fully cooked ground beef). The chilies are better for you because the body needs to build up its tolerance to the spiciness of chilies during pregnancy so that pain is lessened during labor.

The chili is good for you, but pregnant women would want to add more of the chili powder than the salt because it’s not as salty. Be sure to taste it and adjust the salt accordingly!  

Is It Suitable For A Home Party?

This dish is great served at a party, especially when it’s just you, your friends, and your family. It’s easy to make ahead of time so that you’ll have an extra meal in case your guests don’t want to eat much while they’re there. It freezes well, so you can use it as a last-minute side dish or a full meal for a party. 

Final Word

This is a great recipe that the whole family, especially kids, can enjoy. Something different doesn’t always have to be something unhealthy – try this delicious recipe with ground beef or turkey instead of pork in pork chili. 

My name is Naznin Aktar. I'm a healthy and active person. I believe in eating healthy, staying active, and getting all the rest my body needs. I also like to try new recipes, especially when they are delicious, so those are my recipes... Hope you like it! Thank you for your time!
Naznin Aktar