As a seasoned chef with years of experience in the kitchen, I know firsthand how important it is to store food in a way that maximizes shelf life and ensures its safety.
One question that many home cooks often ask me is: how long does chili last in the fridge? I have done weeks of research to provide you with all the information you need to know to store and enjoy leftover chili safely.
The basis of any good homemade chili is meat, and if you're looking for high-quality, hormone-free meat to use in your chili, be sure to check out our ButcherBox meat delivery review.
Here’s what you need to know.
- Chili can last for up to four days in the fridge.
- Always refrigerate leftover chili within two hours to prevent bacterial growth.
- Check chili's texture, smell, and taste before eating it to ensure it hasn't gone bad.
4 Methods On How Long Does Chili Last in the Fridge
Generally speaking, cooked and uncooked chili can last up to 4 days in the fridge. On the other hand, vegetarian chili can stay in the fridge for up to a week.
It is crucial to remember that according to safety guidelines, all perishable foods should be refrigerated within two hours of cooking or preparation .
1. Uncooked Chili
If you've made a large batch of homemade chili and haven't cooked it yet, the chili can last in the refrigerator for up to four days.
This spicy stew should be kept in an airtight container or sealable plastic bag in order to stay fresh.
When storing uncooked chili con carne, keeping it at a safe temperature is essential.
The "danger zone" for meat is between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, so you should keep the chili at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This will prevent harmful bacteria growth and food poisoning .
2. Cooked Chili
Once you've cooked your dish with ground beef or turkey, you can make the chili last in the fridge for up to four days if stored properly.
To store cooked foods like chili, transfer them to a shallow container and let them cool to room temperature before putting them in the fridge.
Before refrigerating extra chili con carne, it's essential to let it cool down to room temperature. Hot dishes can raise the temperature inside the fridge, leading to bacterial growth and spoilage for all the foods stored inside.
That said, do not leave your chili out more than two hours after cooking. Once the chili has cooled down, it should be refrigerated promptly to minimize the time in the danger area.
Read More: Beef and Bean Chili Recipe
3. Vegetarian Chili
Another caveat to the question of how long you can store chili is that vegetarian chili generally lasts longer than meat-based chili. This is because it does not contain the proteins found in meat.
Vegetables and chili powder do not spoil quickly like meat. With proper precautions and stored correctly, this type of chili can last in the refrigerator for up to a week.
4. Canned Chili
Canned chili lasts until the “good by” date on the can as long as you don’t open it and it is kept in cool, dry storage conditions.
The shelf life of chili in a can is longer than either fresh or frozen chili due to the canning process.
Do not eat canned chili if the can is dented or bloated, as this can be a sign of spoilage. Also, do not eat expired chili, as it may cause food poisoning.
"Leaving food out too long at room temperature can cause bacteria to grow to dangerous levels that can cause illness."
- U.S. Department of Agriculture
How To Keep Chili Fresh Longer
Here are some tips for storing chili properly so it stays fresh and safe to eat.
1. In the Fridge
If you don't plan on eating the chili in the next few days, you should store leftover chili in the fridge to make it last longer.
The best place for storing chili is in the coldest part of your fridge, towards the back, or on a lower shelf. The chilly temperatures will keep bacteria from growing.
Make sure to properly seal the container or bag in which you're storing the chili. A sealed container makes it so no air can get in and cause the chili to spoil faster.
Read More: How Long Does a Turkey Keep in the Fridge
2. In the Freezer
When freezing chili, ensure it's in freezer-safe containers or bags. Date the container or bag, and use the chili within six months for optimal texture and flavor.
Both vegan chili and meat-based chilis have an indefinite shelf life in the freezer, but they can lose their flavor over time.
The best way to thaw frozen chili is in the refrigerator overnight. However, if you are in a hurry, you can also defrost it in the microwave or a pot of cold water.
This method doesn't risk recooking chili like the microwave. However, you have to be careful to keep the chili in an airtight container and change the water every 30 minutes so that the temperature does not enter the danger area.
Once it's defrosted, use the chili within four days. You should reheat to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit for beef chili and 165 degrees Fahrenheit for turkey chili . You can use a slow cooker, microwave, or stovetop to reheat chili and get a delicious meal.
How To Tell If Chili Has Gone Bad
Examining your chili before you eat it is an excellent way to double-check the effectiveness of your storage. This is crucial to remain safe from foodborne illness.
Harmful bacteria and other microorganisms can spoil chili quickly and cause food poisoning.
Using your senses is the best way to tell if chili has gone off. Check the chili's texture and smell before eating it. If the chili has a slimy texture, smells sour, or has a bad odor, it's best to discard it. If the chili has a discolored appearance or visible mold, it's unsafe to eat.
Unfortunately, because chili is so flavorful, your taste buds can fool you into thinking that a dangerous chili is still edible. This is particularly true if you add sour cream or other ingredients that can mask the sour smell or taste.
Cooking chili that has gone bad will not make it safe again. So, discard chili that has a foul smell or is past its expiration date rather than taking the risk.
How Long Chili is Safe to Sit Out Before It Is Bad?
Chili is safe to sit out for no more than 2 hours at room temperature before it is bad since harmful bacteria can quickly grow if the dish is left out for longer.
Why Does Chili Get Better in the Fridge?
Chili gets better in the fridge because giving it time to rest allows the flavors to meld and intensify, resulting in a more flavorful dish when you eat chili.
Can You Freeze Chili With Beans and Meat?
Yes, you can freeze chili with beans and meat, as long as it is properly stored in a freezer-safe container or bag and consumed within 6 months for optimal safety and flavor.