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Can You Freeze Chili?

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By Kristin Henry-Dallager

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Chili is the perfect cold weather meal, it’s easy to make a large batch & provides tons of great nutrients … but how should you store it? And can you freeze it?

Can You Freeze Chili?

Yes, you can freeze chili for up to 3 months. Allow the chili to cool, place it in a freezer-safe container(s), and then transfer the container(s) to the freezer. (Full Instructions Below – Beans, No Beans, etc)

Does Chili Freeze Well? Yes

Can You Refreeze Chili? Yes

How to Freeze Chili

Chili

There are several types of chili, so we’ll cover the broadest types (bean & meat) here. Freezing it is similar to the method you would use for freezing most other sauce-heavy meals like bolognese or chili con carne:

Chili with Meat

  1. Cool: Allow the chili to cool to room temperature before freezing.
  2. Portion It: Portion the chili into freezer bags or airtight containers (leaving some space for expansion if using rigid plastic containers). I prefer plastic bags.
  3. No Air: Remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn.
  4. Label: Label the containers with the date to track freshness.
  5. Freezer: Store the containers flat to maximize space and allow for quicker freezing.

Chili with Beans

  1. Bean Texture: Beans can have a softer texture when frozen and thawed. If you’re concerned about the beans becoming too mushy, you can undercook them slightly before adding them to the chili. This step isn’t necessary unless you’re VERY particular about your beans.
  2. Cool: Allow the bean chili to cool to room temperature before freezing.
  3. Portion It: Portion your bean chili into freezer bags or airtight containers (leaving some space for expansion if using rigid plastic containers). I prefer plastic bags.
  4. No Air: Remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn.
  5. Label: Label the containers with the date to track freshness.
  6. Freezer: Store the containers flat to maximize space and allow for quicker freezing.

Chili with Meat & Beans

  1. Texture: Beans can have a softer texture when frozen and thawed. If you’re truly concerned about the beans becoming too mushy, you can undercook them slightly before adding them to the chili. This step isn’t necessary unless you’re VERY particular about your beans.
  2. Cool: Allow your chili to cool to room temperature.
  3. Portion It: Portion the chili into serving size freezer bags or airtight containers (leaving some space for expansion if using rigid plastic containers). I prefer these.
  4. No Air: Remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn.
  5. Label: Label the containers with the date to track freshness. The bags I use have a place to label them.
  6. Freezer: Store the bags or containers flat to maximize space and allow for quicker freezing.

WARNING

If your chili contains ground meat, such as beef, chicken or turkey, make sure the entire dish reaches at least 165°F.

3 Tips for Freezing Chili

Now you know how to freeze your Chili, we’ve got our Top 3 Tips which we strongly recommend following to have the best results:

Check the Seal Y’all
Chili is NOT something you want spilling in your freezer (if you know, you know). Ensuring the container you’re using is properly sealed is key! I use these, they’re my fav and haven’t let me down yet. If you’re still worried, place 2-4 of the quart size plastic bags inside this.

Add More Spice
Aromatic compounds that make your chili flavorful evaporate over time in the freezer. This makes your flavors less intense when you thaw the chili. If you know you’re going to freeze it, add a dash more of the herbs and spices to ensure your final chili is just as tasty as when fresh.

Expect Staining
If you use a rigid plastic container it’s going to stain. And if you have reuable plastic bags, they’ll stain also. Don’t use them if you’re worried about staining.

How Long Can You Freeze Chili?

You can freeze chili for up to 3 months. It can safely be frozen longer than that, but the quality will have begun to degrade.

Texture is the first thing to go, as meat and beans lose their firmness. We recommended tips above if you’re particularly worried about that.

Thankfully, if flavor has begun to degrade, you can always add a dash of chili powder and other herbs to freshen things up. Plus, a heavy dose of cheese, sour cream, and cornbread on top!

How Long Does Chili Last in the Fridge?

You can keep chili in the fridge for around 4 to 5 days when kept in an airtight container.

How Do You Defrost Chili?

The best way to defrost chili is to take it out of the freezer and place it in the refrigerator overnight. This allows it to thaw slowly. Alternatively, you can set it on the counter until it’s just able to be broken apart.

Once thawed place transfer to a pot and heat it over low-medium on the stovetop until hot and steaming throughout.

Alternatively, you can use the microwave and “zap it” in thirty-second increments at full power until warm. This should ensure that the chili gets heated through.

Can You Refreeze Chili?

Although it is possible to refreeze chili, you may find that the texture is ruined with repeating freezing. Instead, try to freeze it in individual portions to avoid the need to refreeze it in the first place.

WARNING

There is an increased risk of foodborne pathogens if you refreeze cooked meat that has risen in temperature above 40°F (4°C). This is your typical refrigerator temp.

Does Chili Freeze Well?

Yes, chili freezes incredibly well. In fact, it’s one of my “go-to” make-ahead meals for the middle of the school week during winter.

The reason for this is the same as all stews – the liquid takes the brunt of the freezer burn, ensuring that the solids remain in relatively great texture when thawed and reheated.

If you’ve still got questions about freezing chili or chili in general, then these may help:

Can You Freeze Chili With Sour Cream?

Although it will freeze, the sour cream will have a strange texture once frozen. Instead, try to freeze the chili without any toppings like sour cream.

Can You Freeze Chili With Kidney Beans?

You can! It’s possible to safely freeze chili with kidney beans.

Can You Freeze Bean Chili?

Yes! You can safely freeze chili with and without different beans.

Can I Refreeze Chili?

If your chili hasn’t thawed above normal refrigerator temps (40°F and 4°C) for over a day, you can safely refreeze it.

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