Chili Cookoff Rules

Your team may arrive as early as 8am on cookoff day to set up. There will be a meeting of all teams at 9am. You will begin food prep and cooking at 10am (no sooner). For the Chili cookoff you will have three hours to cook (until 1pm). Chili turn-in time begins at 1:10pm. For the Dutch Oven and Boy Scout categories, you will have four hours (until 2pm). Turn-in begins at 2:10pm for these categories.

We will be following the Chili Appreciation Society International (CASI) rules for the chili cookoff porttion of our event. They are reproduced here.


A. CHILI COOKED ON SITE – All chili must be cooked from scratch on site the day of the cookoff. All chili must be prepared in the open (no cooking in motorhomes, etc.).

1.CHILI COOKED FROM SCRATCH – “Scratch” is defined as starting with raw meat. No marinating is allowed. Commercial chili powder is permissible, but complete commercial chili mixes (“just add meat” mixes that contain pre-measured spices) are NOT permitted.

2.NO FILLERS IN CHILI – Beans, macaroni, rice, hominy, or other similar ingredients are not permitted.

EXCEPTION: The Rowlett Strong Chili Cookoff will have a separate category for chili with beans. If your chili has beans, it will be judged separately (but otherwise using the same rules) along with other entries that have beans. No other “filler” allowed.

3.SANITATION – Cooks are to prepare and cook chili in as sanitary a manner as possible.

a.INSPECTION OF COOKING CONDITIONS – Cooking conditions are subject to inspection by the head judge or his/her designee and CASI Referee. (Failure to comply is subject to disqualification.)

b.COOKS MAY HAVE TO TASTE THEIR CHILI – At the discretion of the head judge or CASI Referee,chili cooks may be required to remove the lids from their chili cups and taste their chili before turning in for judging. (If a contestant refuses, his or her chili will be disqualified.)

B. ONE CHILI PER COOK – Each head cook is responsible for preparing one pot of chili that he or she intends to be judged and turning in one judging cup from that pot. No more than one judging sample can be taken from any one pot.

C. COOKS MUST SIGN NUMBER SLIPS – Chili cooks must sign their secret ticket slips in ink with their first and last names at the time cups are issued. A cook will not be eligible to win (place in the top 10), if their secret ticket is unsigned when presented. NOTE: Cooks must present their signed secret ticket to win.

D. PROTECT THE JUDGING CUP – Once judging cups have been issued, each head cook is responsible for his or her judging cup. Cooks must not remove or tamper with the ticket on the outside of the cups. Any marked or altered cup must be replaced prior to turn-in or it will be disqualified. (See Sections A.4. and 5. for cup replacement.)

E. FILLING CUPS – Cups must be filled to ¾ inch from the top of the cup or to the level designated at the cooks’ meeting.

F. CHILI TURN-IN – Chili will be turned in at the place and time designated at the cooks’ meeting or as otherwise designated by the head judge.

G. PYROTECHNICS – No chili contestant may discharge firearms or use any pyrotechnics or explosives at a chili cookoff. Contestants discharging firearms and/or using explosives or other pyrotechnics will be disqualified from the chili cookoff.

H. PENALTIES – Failure to comply with CASI rules will result in disqualification of an individual cook for the cookoff. Decisions of the official(s) are final. In case of disqualification, the CASI official monitoring the cookoff will immediately notify the head cook and give a reason for disqualification. In the event disqualification of a cup of chili occurs after judging has started, it is not necessary that the cook be located or given an explanation for the disqualification.


A single score takes into consideration the five criteria for scoring chili:

  • Aroma
  • Consistency
  • Red Color
  • Taste
  • Aftertaste

1. SCORING – Each cup of chili will be scored on its own merits with a whole number from 1 to 10, 10 being the highest. No pluses (+), minuses (-), fractions (½), or decimals (.5) will be taken into consideration.

2. EACH CHILI MUST BE SCORED – If a judge determines (by aroma, consistency, and/or color) that he/she does not want to taste a chili, that chili still must be given a score.

You can see the complete CASI cookoff rules and procedures guide here.

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