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How Long Does Chili Last in the Fridge? Your Chili Storage Questions Answered

Close up shot of chili topped with cheese with corn bread muffins in the background.
MSPhotographic / Shutterstock

Nothing warms you up better on a cool night than a hot bowl of your favorite chili! Chili is a staple of American cuisine with countless variations depending on the region it’s cooked and the chef’s personal preference.

Personally, I enjoy a simple chili seasoned well with ground beef, onions, and tomatoes, simmered in a large pot for hours and topped with saltines and cheese. Whatever your preferred chili recipe, properly storing it is essential.

Have questions on how long your favorite pot of chili will last? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

How Long Does Chili Last on the Counter?

Close up bowl of chili with wedge of cornbread.  Chili is only good at room temperature for a maximum of two hours.
Aimee Lee Studios / Shutterstock

Once cooled below 160 degrees, you shouldn’t leave chili at room temperature for more than two hours. Any longer than that could expose your chili to harmful bacteria growth. So once you take your chili off the heat, make sure you store it in the fridge or freezer within two hours.

How Long Does Chili Last in the Fridge?

Open fridge full of leftovers and produce.  Chili can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Andrey Popov / Shutterstock

Homemade chili, as long as it is properly stored in an airtight container, can last 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator before going bad. If you made a vegetarian chili, it will be good for up to a week in the fridge.

As such, I would plan ahead and only put in the fridge what you think you will eat in the next few days.

Can you Freeze Chili?

Frozen leftovers in the freezer.
Ahanov Michael / Shutterstock

Yes, in fact, I think leftover chili tastes better than it does fresh as the flavors have more time to meld together. You just need to make sure you store it properly in freezer bags or freezer containers that are airtight.

Regardless of the container you are using, make sure to portion your leftovers out to convenient portions for reheating. If using freezer bags, make sure you press out as much air as possible prior to sealing.

How Long Does Chili Last in the Freezer?

As long as it is properly stored, you can expect your chili to last up to six months in the freezer. As always, the sooner you eat it the better to avoid freezer burn. I would also use a deep freeze if possible as frequent bursts of warm air from the opening and shutting of the freezer door may decrease how long it will last.

What is the Best Way to Reheat Chili?

Close up of a pot of chili simmering on the stove.  The best way to reheat chili is on the stove
Amelia Martin / Shutterstock

The best way to thaw your frozen chili is by placing it in the fridge overnight. If using freezer bags, I would put the whole bag into a large bowl to thaw to avoid any potential leaking in your fridge as it thaws.

Once thawed, place your chili in a pot and heat on the stove at medium-low heat. Make sure to stir frequently as tomatoes tend to heat unevenly.

If you don’t have time to thaw overnight, you can run warm water over your freezer bag or container until your chili breaks free from the container. You can then dump directly into the pot and heat on medium-low heat.

You can also reheat thawed chili in the microwave. This is the quickest option and generally takes around a minute, though I would stir halfway in between. I would also make sure you cover your bowl to avoid chili splattering in the microwave.

How to Tell if Chili Has Gone Bad?

Close up of chili in a red bowl.  You can easily tell if chili has gone bad by looking at it's appearance, texture, smell and taste.
Joshua Resnick / Shutterstock

You can see if your chili has gone bad by checking its appearance, smell and taste.

If you notice that your chili has a slightly off texture or color, it has probably gone bad. Also, if you notice any signs of mold, throw it out!

Also, if you notice any unusual oder that smells off, I would get rid of it.

Finally, if you take a spoonful of leftover chili and it doesn’t taste right, don’t finish. Leftover chili should taste just as good or better than fresh chili. If it doesn’t, get rid of it. As I always say, when in doubt, throw it out!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is chili good for you?

In general, chili is healthy for you as it generally contains healthy ingredients. As there are many variations of chili, their health benefits vary based on the ingredients used. You can make it healthier by using leaner beef or chicken as the protein and by using healthier toppings.

Will reheating chili that has gone bad make it safe?

Unfortunately, reheating chili that has gone bad will not make it safe to eat as the heat will not kill several strains of bacteria.

How long does canned chili last in the fridge?

If you have leftover canned chili, you should treat it as you would leftover homemade chili and only keep it in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Also, make sure you transfer the chili to an air-tight container (not the original can) before putting it in the fridge.

Final Thoughts on How Long Chili Lasts

In my opinion, chili is one of those foods whose leftovers taste better than it does fresh. When making chili I always make sure to cook a lot and store it to enjoy another day. I hope you have found this article helpful! Happy cooking!

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