There is no such thing as a small batch of chili. So, you might be wondering how to freeze chili so it stays fresh and delicious.
The good news is that most types of chili freeze very well, and you can keep them in the freezer for a surprisingly long time.
Of course, you need to take steps to ensure it stays fresh. And there’s a trick to thawing it properly too.
But don’t worry, I have you covered!
Below I’ve gathered all the info on how to freeze chili and tips on how to reheat it like a pro.
How To Freeze Chili
Chili freezes incredibly well! And if you play your cards right, it will take up less space in your freezer.
- Let the chili cool completely.
- Transfer it into an airtight, freezer-safe container or bag.
- Freeze for up to six months.
Freezer bags are super handy because you can lay them flat and stack them. That way, they don’t take up a ton of room.
And in case you’re wondering why the chili has to be cold: placing hot chili in the freezer warms the temperature of the other food inside.
That’s how bacteria spreads.
So, be sure to let it cool for a few hours before putting it in the freezer.
Does Chili Freeze Well?
Whether it’s a meaty chili or vegetarian chili, it freezes incredibly well. Although, some types of chili freeze better than others.
- Tomato-based chili freezes better than cream-based chili (like chicken chili).
- Meaty chili with sausage and ground beef in a rich tomato sauce is the best candidate for the freezer.
- The only chili that suffers once it hits the freezer is chilis loaded with lots of veggies.
- While freezing a veggie chili won’t affect the flavors, the once-crisp veggies become a little mushy when they thaw.
- It will still taste delicious but will be a little mushier than you remembered.
Another thing to keep in mind is the texture of the dish. If the chili is watery before freezing, it’ll be every worse when it thaws.
Check out my post on how to thicken chili to make sure it’s nice and thick before freezing!
How Long Can You Freeze Chili?
Chili won’t go bad once it hits the freezer but has a ‘best by’ date.
You can store your chili in the freezer for 4 to 6 months, and it will still stay fresh and delicious.
After that, the textures start to change.
Chili stored in the freezer for up to 12 months is still perfectly safe. But it will become a little mushy and won’t have those same fresh textures it once had.
Tips for Freezing Chili
Follow these simple tips and tricks to ensure that your chili is as tasty as the day it simmered on the stove.
1. Label it! Those freezer bags have boxes for writing for a reason, so use them!
Label the date that you put it in the freezer (to give you an idea of when you can use it up) and any descriptions that will be helpful.
If your chili was surprisingly spicy, write it on the label. Your future self will thank you.
2. Store in freezer bags and lie flat. Freezer bags won’t enhance the flavor of your chili, but they will make your life a little easier.
Fill the freezer bag until it’s 2/3 full, and ensure the zipper is locked up tightly.
Lie the bag of chili flat, and then pop it in the freezer. This will save you oodles of valuable freezer real estate.
3. Freeze it on the same day you made it. Placing food in the freezer is like hitting Ctrl+S on your meal.
If it’s fresh when it hits the freezer, it will be fresh when you take it out.
4. Let it cool completely. Don’t cook a pot of chili, and then immediately place it in the freezer.
If you place hot chili in the freezer, it’s more likely to become freezer burned.
Ideally, let your pot of chili cool down to room temperature before loading it into a freezer bag.
5. Freeze smaller portions. The last thing you want to do is refreeze chili.
Storing it in smaller freezer bags allows you to thaw what you need.
Using smaller freezer bags is also a great way to perfectly portion your meals, which is great when counting calories.
How to Thaw Frozen Chili
Expertly freezing chili is only half the battle.
Once it’s frozen, the next step in recreating fresh chili magic is thawing it correctly.
You can take a few different avenues; I’ve gone into some detail below on the best methods.
In the Fridge. Thawing it in the fridge is the no-fuss method.
Take it out of the freezer, pop it in the fridge, and that’s it! Keep in mind, however, that this method takes some time.
Let it sit overnight to ensure it thaws evenly.
Using Water. Placing your chili in cold water speeds up the process but requires more diligence.
Fill a bowl with cold water, and place the chili inside.
To eliminate the potential for bacteria to grow, make sure that you change the water every 30 minutes.
In the Microwave. If you don’t have time to wait for your chili to thaw all day, the microwave is to the rescue!
It’s not the best method and will make your veggies a little soggy, but it’s certainly the fastest.
Set the microwave to the defrost setting, and thaw according to the weight.
Best Methods for Reheating Chili
Once it’s thawed and ready to be reheated, there are a few ways to reheat your delicious chili.
Stovetop. If you have the time, the stovetop method is the best way to reheat chili.
Place thawed chili into a heavy saucepan, and set the heat to medium.
Stir frequently to ensure the bottom doesn’t burn, and heat until it reaches the perfect temperature.
Microwave. Again, the microwave isn’t the best method, but it’s certainly the quickest.
Ideally, you’ll want to reheat your chili in smaller batches.
Place the chili in a small, microwave-safe dish, and cover it with a paper towel.
Nuke it for a minute, stir, and continue until warm.
Oven. The oven method is a little more time-consuming but perfect when you want to reheat a large batch of chili.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, place the chili in a large oven-safe dish, and cover it with foil.
Bake the chili for 15-30 minutes, checking in frequently to give it a good stir.
Can You Refreeze Chili?
Yes, you can refreeze chili. Should you? Probably not.
Every time chili hits the freezer, it loses some of its original textures, especially if it’s a veggie-rich chili.
After a trip in the freezer, the veggies become mushy.
You lose many original crispy textures if you freeze, thaw, and refreeze your chili.
And if it’s a creamy-based chicken chili, the flavors also suffer.
Refreezing chili is perfectly healthy, but it won’t taste as good.
To avoid the carousel of thawing and refreezing large chili batches, try to freeze them in smaller portions.
Instead of using a gallon freezer bag, try placing it in smaller quart freezer bags and heating only what you need.
Chili Recipes We Love
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