Potluck Chili for Many Occasions and Diets

I’ve just come from a church potluck dinner after a morning service with a baptism. We had a great attendance, good testimonies, and an all-around great Sunday morning.  The food was not the most important aspect of this, but it’s the topic of this blog. What do you serve a big group when you have different diets to cater for?

This noon meal was soup and finger food. We had five crockpots of soup and lots of sandwiches and savouries. This works well for our church. I always bring chili. Of course chili is as common as dirt in America.  It’s not common in New Zealand, but Kiwis seem to really like it and it goes every time I bring it.

But the great thing about chili is that you can easily adapt it to suit a wide range of diets. It’s easy to make and very filling. You may have your own recipe, but if not, here’s mine. I often call it my 8-can chili. Here are things to look for when you want to feed a crowd:

Gluten Free

This chili is easy to make gluten free. Just make sure none of your ingredients have wheat in them, especially the pasta sauce, baked beans, or seasoning.


One time I knew a vegan couple would be attending our pot luck. I simply took out enough for them before I added the ground beef and kept theirs hot in a small crock pot. Then I added the meat to the rest of the chili in the large crock pot.

Dairy Free, Egg Free

Chili works great for these diets as well.

Something Different

Make waffles using corn meal for part of the flour and use a little less sugar. My recipe is already gluten free. Pour chili over the waffles and top with grated cheese or the cheese sauce in my recipe and sliced olives.  This works well for lunches or youth group. You can make the waffles ahead of time and warm them in an oven when needed. A small crock pot works well to keep the cheese sauce warm until serving time.

Just be aware that the waffles won’t necessarily be gluten, dairy, or egg free or vegan unless you work to make them that. For dairy free or vegan the cheese sauce would need to be made with something like soy milk and soy cheese. To be gluten free the cheese sauce needs to be thickened with cornstarch (cornflour) that has no wheat in it, not  wheat flour.


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