Chili con carne is an all-time favorite. If your family loves this hearty stew, you might think of cooking it in bulk and save some for later. So, can you freeze chili for later meals?
Absolutely, yes! Chili freezes wonderfully and preserves its tasty flavors for up to 2 to 3 months.
In this article, we share a simple step-to-step guide to freeze and reheat chili for future meals. We also have another article about freezing peppers if you’re looking to preserve jalapenos and other hot peppers.
How To Freeze Chili
Chilli con carne is a popular comfort food loved by many. Although everyone may have their own favorite recipes, its classic recipe usually calls for ground beef, kidney beans, tomatoes, hot peppers, and loads of aromatic spices.
No matter if you’re a vegetarian or meat-eaters, you can freeze either meatless vegetarian chili or a regular one prepared with ground meat or turkey.
You can pack the dish in various types of containers as long as they are durable and designed for freezer storage, such as a freezer bag, freezer-safe plastic container, or mason/ glass jar.
If you’re freezing a huge batch, we recommend freezing it in freezer bags because this technique allows you to stack the packages and make room for other food items.
Here is our simple step-to-step guide to freezing chili for later meals!
1. Cook chili as usual and let it cool promptly. There is no need to add garnishes such as fresh cilantro, sour cream, or grated cheese. Add them later when it’s time to serve.
2. Portion it out and pack it in a freezer bag. If you’re freezing for several meals, it is highly recommended to divide it into serving sizes. This way, it takes less time to defrost, and you don’t need to deal with leftovers.
3. Flatten out the bag and expel as much air as possible from the container.
4. Label with the name, amount, and cooking or freezing date.
5. Stack the packages in a tray and flash freeze for 2 hours or until completely frozen.
6. Once frozen, remove the tray, lay the frozen packages in a flat layer, and organize them to save your valuable freezer space.
7. Freeze for a long term and make sure to keep the freezer’s temperature at 0 °F or lower.
How To Defrost and Reheat Frozen Chili
When it’s time to serve, simply defrost frozen chili in the refrigerator the day before or overnight. Put it in a large bowl and let it soften up slowly.
Don’t thaw or leave it at room temperature for more than 2 hours to prevent spoilage and compromise its safety.
Refrigerator thawing is the safest and easiest method. Plus, if you have unused portions, you can safely refreeze them without having to reheat them first. Keep in mind that refreezing may change the texture drastically, though.
Shortly before serving, reheat it in a pan over low to medium heat until it is bubbly and hot. If you have no time, you can also directly reheat frozen chili on a stovetop. Add some water, reheat it thoroughly, and serve!
How Long Can You Refrigerate and Freeze Chili?
Leftover chili can be refrigerated in a sealed container for 3 to 4 days. If you want to eat it later on, consider freezing it. This comfort food is best enjoyed within 2 to 3 months, although it may remain safe after that.
The main enemy with long-term freezing is freezer burn, and the flavors might have slowly gone. So, it is best to enjoy your favorite dish while it’s still fresh and delicious.
Sure, you can. If you plan to freeze the dish, we recommend freezing the noodles (spaghetti or macaroni pasta) and the chili separately. Cook the pasta slightly undercooked, so it won’t be too soft after reheating.
Chili is a perishable food and should be refrigerated at least two hours after cooking and an hour if the room temperature is above 90 °F. Leaving out foods at room temperature for too long will increase the chance of food poisoning due to bacterial contamination. (*)
According to the FSIS USDA, leftovers should be refrigerated for 3 to 4 days. For long-term storage, try freezing it. If you have a week-old chili, it may not be worth it anymore. It probably doesn’t taste great, and it might make you sick because some harmful bacteria may survive and grow at a slower speed in the refrigerator.
If you love having chili for a weeknight dinner, you should consider cooking it in a big batch and freeze it. This hearty stew freezes well and makes an excellent candidate for delicious freezer meals.
Freezing prepared dishes is a no-brainer. It is also a great way to save money and time for meal prep and preserve leftovers. Follow our simple guide above to freeze and reheat chili for ready on-the-go lunch and dinner!
See more: What goes with chili
*image by Irrin0215/depositphotos