California Chili CookOffs or Cook-Offs


California Chili Festivals

California's chili "roots" come from the Old West trails where cowboys and miners through ingredients into a hot iron skillet or big pan to make a hearty meal that they could share around a camp. The dish usually contained beef or meat and some beans to stretch the food, providing the feeling of being full and satisfied.

A great Western comedy film, Blazing Saddles, poked fun at a group of cowboys around a campfire and the effects that a round of chili had on them when they all had gas. Yes, chili is known for that! Some chili recipes and contests don't contain beans, the gas-producing ingredients, but in most chili contests beans are part of the recipe. Some contests and categories are only open to professional, licensed restaurants and kitchens, but most include a public category in which you can sign up and enter. The rules normally specify that you must bring your ingredients and cook a large quantity to provide enough samples for the attending public. Often the samples the public, which usually pays a fee to taste, will receive a small paper cup size sample with a plastic spoon to taste it, and usually they get to vote for a people's choice award.

There are several types of chili contests--those that pay a fee to participate in the International Chili Society competition, and community based contests or special events where contests winners will not move onto additional contests. Chili Contests are great stand-alone events but normally include entertainment such as bands, games for kids, vendor booths and sponsors.

Chili Cookoffs

CALIFORNIA CITY:  Desert Rat Regional March 30, 2019. American Legion Post 476 California City, CA | ICS competition,

BAKERSFIELD: Annual Amestoy's Chili Verde Cook Off March 31, 2019, 11 a.m.  Mento Buru performs 2-5 p.m. at one of Bako's best afternoon parties. Admission: $10. Location: Amestoy's on the hill 2303 River Blvd, Bakersfield, CA.  Registration, sponsorship: (661) 378-2569

MURPHYS: Annual Chili Cook Off April 6, 2019, 1 p.m.
Murphys Historic Hotel
Murphys, CA
10 cans of food or $10 per taster, $20 per team |

RED BLUFF: Red Bluff Round-up Regional April 13, 2019. In front of Courthouse Red Bluff, CA | ICS competition,

SANTA CLARITA: Cowboy Chili Cook-off April 14, 2019  Cowboy Festival at Hart Park Santa Clarita, CA | ICS competition,

PORTERVILLE: April 27, 2019, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Porterville Chili Cook-Off, part of the Iris Festival.
Main Street
Downtown, Porterville, CA

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO: Swallow's Inn Chili Cook-off May 4, 2019. Swallow's Inn San Juan, Capistrano, CA | ICS competition,

AUBURN: Auburn Chili Cook-off May 4, 2019. Gold County Fairgrounds Auburn, CA | ICS competition, Traditional Red Homestyle Chili Verde

THOUSAND OAKS: May 5 2019, 12-5 p.m.
$20 or Kids 10 and under are FREE! Chili is included until it's gone! Chili tastings end at 3pm for judging. Car Show
sampling delicious chili, listening to LIVE bands on 2 stages, gazing at the coolest cars in the valley, tasty food court with gourmet food trucks (food not included) and hanging out with the family in the FREE kid zone at the park on the grounds of the Thousand Oaks Conejo Creek North Park. This year's Thousand Oaks Rotary 43rd Chili Cook Off & Craft Brew Festival promises to please. 12pm to 5pm. | ICS competition,

CASTRO VALLEY: Chili Cook-off at Rowell Ranch Rodeo May 10, 2019, 5 p.m.
Chili Cook-Off The Rotary Club of Castro Valley annually hosts the  Chili Cook-off at Rowell Ranch Rodeo Park.
9711 Dublin Canyon Blvd.
Castro Valley, CA |
Chili Cook-Off The Rotary Club of Castro Valley will once again be hosting its Annual Chili Cook-off at Rowell Ranch Rodeo Park! 

REDLANDS: Cruise for Sight Regional Chili Cook-off May 11, 2019. Sylvan Park Redlands, CA | ICS competition, Traditional Red Homestyle Chili Verde

CAMPBELL: Orchard City Chili Cook-off May 11, 2019. St Lucy Church and School Campbell, CA | ICS competition, Traditional Red

LONG BEACH: California State Championship Chili Cook-off May 11, 2019. Queen Mary Long Beach, CA | ICS competition, |
 The official California-State-Certified Chili competition is sanctioned by the International Chili Society (ICS), welcoming 30 of California's top chili teams to compete for cash prizes. The California State Championship Chili Cook-Off will feature chili styles from traditional red, homestyle, chili verde, and veggie offerings.

CAMPBELL: 2nd Annual Orchard City Chili Cookoff Saturday, May 11, 2019 - 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
St. Lucy Church & School
2350 S Winchester Blvd
Campbell, CA 95008 |
The 2019 Orchard City Chili Cookoff professional and amateur cooking competitions, an auto raffle, a beer garden for adults, and live music for all ages. Parking and admission are free. Chili tastings and beverages available for purchase, along with other food offerings.  Cost: $0-35

RIVERSIDE: Inland Empire Chili Cook-off May 25, 2019 Arlington Village Riverside, CA | ICS competition,

TWAIN HARTE: Twain Harte Area Chamber Chili Cook-Off May 25, 2019, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Third Annual Memorial Day Weekend event held on Meadow Lane in front of Sierra Cellars, and behind 7-Eleven, Twain Harte, CA. Chili Cooking starts at 8 a.m. Beer and wine for sale. $5 tasting 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.  $25 chef booth registration, or (209) 586-4482 | Vendor booth opportunities:

Sponsors of this event at Adventist Health Sonora, Black Oak Casino Resort, The Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau and Evans Investments. Proceeds benefit Chamber events and the Twain Harte Fire Department.   

AVALON: Catalina Island Chili Cookoff May 25, 2019, 1-5 p.m.
South Beach Avalon, CA 
$22.85, |
Annual Catalina Island Chili Cook-Off includes live music and sampling  the best chili Catalina Island has seen. A day of food, fun, and sun. Chefs from around the country will compete for the best of 3 different types of chili. There will also be a local salsa competition.

McKINLEYVILLE: Pony Express Days Chili Cook-off May 29, 2019 (likely date)
McKinleyville, California
Part of the annual Pony Express Days celebration.

HUNTINGTON BEACH: Huntington Beach Elks Chili Cook-off June 1, 2019.
HB Elks Lodge
7711 Talbert Ave.
Huntington Beach, CA
ICS competition,

COLMA: Molloy's 39th Annual Uncle Bo Chili Cook-off June 2, 2019  Historical Old Molloy's Colma, CA | ICS competition,

TUSTIN: The 35th Annual Tustin Street Fair and Chili Cook-Off Sunday, June 2, 2019, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Old Town Tustin
El Camino Real & West Main Street
Tustin, CA  | ICS competition,  Admission is free,
The Tustin Street Fair and Chili Cook-Off will take to the streets of Old Town Tustin with the famous Chili Cook-Off, craft booths, non-profit food vendors, entertainment, kids area, music and much more.
Carnival attractions
Commercial vendors
Craft booths
Family friendly contests
Family fun zone
Non-profit food vendors
Salsa competitions
Wine and beer booths
World's largest one-day Chili Cook-Off

HUNTINGTON BEACH: Huntington Beach Chili at the Beach June 15, 2019, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Main Street
Downtown Huntington Beach, California
Merchant restaurants cook chili
$ taste ticket
Annual Chili at the Beach Chili Cook Off and Salsa Tasting Contest on the Saturday of Father's Day weekend includes  vendors, musical entertainment on 2 stages and roving street performers.  Boys and Girls Clubs of Huntington Valley is this year's beneficiary. Attendance is free but unlimited chili and salsa tasting tickets are not.  

TEMECULA: Pechanga Microbrew Festival and Chili Cookoff  June 15, 2019
45000 Pechanga Parkway
Temecula, CA (event posted on

CAMBRIA: Chili Cook-off and Classic Car Show June 15, 2019, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Vet's Hall
1000 Main St.
Cambria, CA
$10 chili tasting | car show free to see,
(805) 927-3624
Come to the cool central coast and enjoy some local flavors! The Cambria Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce the return of their Chili Cook-off (12-3 p.m.) and Classic Car (10 a.m.) Gates  open at the Pinedorado Grounds for the Chili Cook-off, which  features chefs cooking up their private chili recipes. Sales of beer, wine and ice cream available.

TRABUCO CANYON: Cook's Corner Regional Chili Cook-off June 15, 2019.
Cook's Corner Bar & Pub
19152 Santiago Canyon Road
Trabuco Canyon, CA
ICS competition,
If you were there last year you know how much fun it was, and if you weren't there last year maybe you should check it out.

WILLOW CREEK: Chili-off on Father's Day June 16, 2019, 12-2 p.m. Compete with your own recipe or come sample the chili entries and vote for the one you like the best! Venue Willow Creek China Flat Museum 38949 CA-299 Willow Creek, CA 95573 + (530) 629-2653 

SAN DIEGO'S OCEAN BEACH: The 40th Annual Ocean Beach Street Fair & Chili Cook-Off Festival June 22, 2019,10 a.m.-8 p.m.
More than 70,000 visitors will attend the Street Fair & Chili Cook-Off features art, beachfront entertainment, shopping, and more. Entry to the Street Fair is always free! The Chili Competition featured tastings from amateur entrants competing for the titles of Hottest Chili, Judges' Award, and Grand Prize: People's Choice Award.  Annual Street Fair, Stages of Continuous Live Music, Artists Alley, Children's Area, Beachside Beer Garden & Spirits, Food Vendors and Local Restaurant Fare, Unique Handcrafted Merchandise: Clothing, Accessories and More

FILLMORE: July 4, 2019 July 4th Fillmore Chili Cook-off & Beer Fest Downtown Fillmore / Central Park Fillmore, CA | ICS competition,

PALO ALTO: City of Palo Alto Chili Cook Off and Summer Festival Thursday, July 4, 2019, 12- 5pm
Mitchell Park, 600 E. Meadow Drive, Palo Alto
The judges will award over $2,000 in cash and prizes to the Best Chili |

BIG BEAR LAKE: July 13, 2019 Big Bear Lake Chili Cook-off Bartlett Events Area Big Bear Lake, CA | ICS competition,

HOLLISTER: Street Festival, Car Show and Chili Cookoff Saturday, July 20, 2019, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. The Hollister Downtown Association invites all to enjoy: 2 stages of live entertainment and music, FREE Admission and parking, FREE watermelon, Lots of fabulous vendors, Downtown restaurant and merchant sidewalk sales and specials, Food concessions, Lots of raffle prizes, New car and specialty car displays, Kids Zone, 200+ fabulous vehicles on display and Street Festival Chili Cookoff

CYPRESS: Cypress Festival Chili Cookoff and Car Show July 27, 2019
Oak Knoll Park
Cypress, Ca
Annual Cypress Community Festival Chili Cook Off is part of a day of great entertainment, kids zone, vendors, car show and lots more!

CASTRO VALLEY: August 10, 2019 Hopping Jalepeno Castro Valley Moose Lodge Castro Valley, CA | ICS competition,

SAUSALITO: 40th Annual Chili Cook-off Saturday September 21, 2019, 11:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Dunphy Park
Music by Firewheel
Unlimited Tasting wristbands $12
VIPS will be selling food for those not into chili
Rec'ers will be selling beverages
Tasting starts at 12:00 p.m.
Dog Friendly
Chefs Wanted! - Applications for chefs open August 1, 2019 at 9:00 a.m.
Chef Table/Tent rentals begin on August 1, 2019, 9 a.m.
This year's theme is "The 60's"

SAN FRANCISCO: The Great San Francisco Chili Cook-Off, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at Marina Green.  Taste a variety of chili from 30+ professional and amateur teams competing for the Best Chili in the Bay along with craft beer and wine, music, and outdoor games. Original Joe's, Credo, The Dorian, Hardwood Smokery, San Francisco Brew Co. and Palm House (to name a few) are on site, too. The family dog is also welcomed. Proceeds from this event support at-risk Bay Area youth, organized by the Guardsmen, a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Since 1947, the Guardsmen have supported Bay Area youth by providing attendance to summer camps and educational scholarships. Tickets & chili competition registrations:

SUNSET BEACH: Chili Cookoff September 2019 TBA
Community Center,

WRIGHTWOOD: Wrightwood Chili Cookoff October 12, 2019, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Wrightwood Chamber of Commerce
$ chili tasting 
event is held at the Community Building and parking lot, 1275 Hwy 2 (between the Banks). Event hours are 11am to 3pm. For a small fee attendees can sample locally made salsas and chilis, then vote for their favorite for the People's Choice cash prize.

SUTTER CREEK: Sutter Creek Chili Cookoff and Car Show October 13, 2019, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Chili Tasting
Over 100 cars and chili chefs fill Main Street during this special event.

SANTA CRUZ: Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Chili Cook-Off Saturday, October 26, 2019

BRAWLEY: Chili Cook Off  November 2, 2019, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Location: Main St. Plaza Contact Information: Jessica Solorio Event Coordinator 760-344-3160,

CORONA: The Fire and Ice Chili Cook-off and Craft Beer Festival February 29, 2020 
Corona-Norco Family YMCA
1331 River Road
Corona, CA 92880
Texas Red Chili, Mexican Verde Chili, Restaurant Chili, People's Choice Chili, and Best Beer. Chili from dozens of competitors who are sharing their expertly crafted gourmet chili recipes with beer from approximately 25 local craft breweries -- Unlimited Beer Tasting or VIP Unlimited Beer Tasting ticket required. Live music and entertainment Kids play area 



Petaluma Great Chili Cook-off on hold till 2020
Petaluma, CA

DIXON: Grillin and Chillin Chili Cookoff July 21, 2018, 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Part of the annual Car & Truck Show and Rib Cookoff, the street event features vendors, musical entertainment, cool cars and more. Cookoff is not a member sanctioned event but uses similar guidelines for the contest.

ARCADIA: Winner's Circle Chili Cookoff  February 2019
Santa Anita Park
285 W Huntington Dr
Arcadia, California
Chili cooks "Light your Fires" and join us at the iconic Santa Anita Park for the start to the chili competition year. With stunning Santa Anita Mountains set as the backdrop and the thrill of thoroughbred horse races all afternoon, this one day International Chili Society (ICS) event will feature competitions in: Red Chili, Green Chili, Salsa, People's Choice and Most tasted.

DUNSMUIR: Coyote Chili Cook-Off February
Sponsored by the Dunsmuir Chamber of Commerce and the Dunsmuir Rotary

CORTE MADERA: Chili Cook Off Sunday, August 18, 2018  
Chili tasting 12:30-1:30 pm: Pre-game activities including Fast Pitch, Home Run Derby, and more 1:30 pm: Ball game between Central Marin Police Authority and Corte Madera Fire Department

OAKDALE: Oakdale Tourism Chili Cookoff Oakdale Saddle Rodeo Grounds Oakdale, CA
 General Cookof  on Friday Sept 30, KAT Country 103 will present a western concert in the Rodeo Grounds Arena at 7pm

San Jose Flea Mkt Chili Cookoff San Jose Flea Market San Jose, CA July 23, 2016 District

Western Regional Del Mar Race Track Del Mar, CA August 6, 2016 Regional

Camarillo Hospice Regional Chili Cookoff Camarillo Ranch House Camarillo, CA September 4, 2016 Regional

REDLANDS: Cruise for Sight Car Show and Chili Cookoff Sylvan Park Redlands, CA June 4, 2016 |

SAN DIEGO: So-No Fest & Chili Cook-off December 2, 2018, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Chili Sampling, Craft Beer Food Trucks, Music and more. 32nd & Thorn St., San Diego, CA

Iowa Hill Chili Cookoff May 12, 2018
Hillbilly Chili Cookoff
Don't git no gooder! Pie Contest, Live Music, too.
Iowa Hill Fire Station
3350 Iowa Hill Rd.
Placer County, CA

Greenville Gold Diggers Day Chili Cookoff
Gold Diggers Day- Weekend Celebration in Greenville includes a parade, street fair, prospectors, and a chili cook off.

Rough and Ready Secession Day Chili Cookoff September 25, 2016
Rough and Ready Chamber of Commerce
P.O. Box 801, Rough and Ready, CA 95975

On the final Sunday of September, locals and visitors from around the area come to Rough and Ready to enjoy our annual Chili Cook-off. Formerly a sanctioned event, the town decided, in 2004, to secede” from the International Chili Society and do it Rough and Ready Style, with Rough and Ready Rules! Now, any individual or group can sign up to cook their version of the world's best chili. Starting at 11:30, tasting kits are sold for around $5, allowing visitors to sample each pot and vote for their favorite. Cookers win cash prizes for best chili, while guests enjoy the fun and laughter of the Fruit Jar Pickers, shop at the crafters' booths, participate in the Hoot ‘n Holler contest, enter the prize raffles and watch our town Blacksmith exhibit his talents.

Columbia Annual Fiddle & Bango Contest & Chili Cook-off!  Columbia Chamber of Commerce
Held at the gazebo in Columbia State Historic Park. More than 40 musicians compete for prizes in the following categories: fiddle, banjo, vocal, guitar, mandolin and miscellaneous. The grand prize is a gold nugget, and there are cash and gift certificate prizes in each category. Bring lawn chairs, hats and sunscreen. .

Costa Mesa's Halecrest Park Annual Chili Cookoff
3107 Killybrooke Lane
Costa Mesa
Free admission

Events are not guaranteed. It is your responsibility to confirm before going.

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