Can You Freeze Chili?

Can you freeze chili for later? Chili is satisfyingly delicious when made homemade in large batches. Large batches mean leftovers. That begs the question – can you freeze chili? Thankfully, you can freeze chili and heat it up later on when you need a quick satisfying meal that provides warmth and comfort.

There are different types of chili recipes and some will freeze better than others. Leftover chili dishes that seem to freeze well are ones made with ground meats such as chicken, turkey burger, and beef. Vegetable chili does not tend to freeze well and the vegetables tend to become so mushy that they become part of the chili sauce.

Chili stew
Image used under Creative Commons from Global Reactions

Can You Freeze Chili?

Vegetable chili is never best frozen so if that is the kind you have made up, it is best to eat as much up as you can the day you make it and place the leftovers in the refrigerator to eat up within the next few days for a quick satisfying lunch or dinner.

Other types of chili dishes that do not tend to freeze well are ones made from creams, milks, and cheeses to create a white chili. The flavors of white chili dishes tend to change drastically to the point they do not taste good. Tomato base chili seems to freeze the best and stay the freshest longest when kept in the freezer.

Chili kept frozen for longer than 2-months develops a freezer burn flavor and will mush up during the cooking process. Below is a simple guide on how to freeze chili properly.

Chili topped with cheese
Image used under Creative Commons from Navin75

How to Freeze Chili?

You can safely freeze leftover chili by scooping it into small portion freezer containers and placing them immediately into the freezer afterward. You should never freezer leftover chili if it is a day old.

Instead, always freeze leftover chili the same day you make it because it is fresher and will hold most of its delicious flavor and texture. The chances of harmful bacteria developing in it by freezing leftover chili the same day it is made preventing the likely hood of receiving food poisoning the next time you go to eat it.

With that said, anytime you freeze chili, it is best to eat it up within the first two months so it still contains the same fresh flavor and thick texture. The longer chili is kept frozen the more the flavor and texture changes.

Chili with mushrooms and peppers
Image used under Creative Commons from Rob Durdle

How to Defrost Frozen Chili?

The proper way to defrost chili is by taking it directly from the freezer and defrosting it in the microwave for about 3-minutes on the defrost setting. Next, you can empty out the chili from the containers into a saucepan and heat it up on medium heat until it is thick in texture with full satisfying flavor again.

If you do find the chili is a bit watery in texture and has lost a bit of its flavor you can add in a bit of cornstarch and seasoning. These help thicken and spice it up a bit, so it tastes just as delightful as when you first cooked it up.

After, you can serve it up hot and eat it as it is, or you can top it off with cheese or scoop it over tortilla chips and eat it that way. Sometimes leftover freezer chili makes the best chilidogs and burgers so go ahead and try these tasty meals out too with your leftover chili.

Chili with corn and beans
Image used under Creative Commons from John


Leftover chili made with a tomato base is the best type of chili to freeze. White chili and vegetable chili dishes do not freeze well.

The next time you have leftovers, go ahead and freeze it up the same day. Now that you know how to freeze chili, you can enjoy this dish at a later when you want something warm, spicy and comforting on a cool dreary day.