Chili is one of the ultimate comfort foods. It’s good year round, but the cravings happen the most during the cold months. It can lift your spirits and warm you down to the core. But if you’ve found yourself in a situation where you have far too much to eat before it goes bad in the fridge, you’re probably wondering if it can be frozen.
Well, good news. Chili lends itself quite well to freezing. It’s simple and stress-free. Just pour it into a freezer-safe container and pop it into your freezer – and you’re done!
Does Chili Freeze Well
This is actually a great meal to freeze, since it’s mostly liquid it’ll freeze up easily and keeps for quite awhile.
All you need to do is pour and freeze. There’s not much else to it thankfully. You can make multiple batches, or a massive pot of chili and divy out your desired portions then freeze the remainder.
Luckily, chili is also one of those magical foods that tastes amazing fresh, but tastes even better the next day. The only thing you’ll need to keep in mind is that there’s a slight texture change after thawing, especially if you have veggies and beans in your recipe.
Best Way to Freeze Chili
Cool it Down
The first step to freezing your chili is to bring it down to room temperature. If you freeze it while it’s still hot, you can partially thaw the food items around the container of chili and change the taste and texture of it.
Freezing in a Bag
If you’ve got some heavy duty freezer-safe ziploc bags, they’ll be perfect for this job. This is probably the best way to store your chili – or any type of liquid based meal – for those without a lot of space. You can flatten the bag and make it easier to store and stack with multiple bags.
Spread your chili out into multiple bags, 1-2 servings per. This will help you speed up the later thawing process. A smaller portion of chili will require less time to thaw than a big chunk. Plus you won’t have to worry about what to do with the excess after thawing.
Put the bags on a flat baking sheet and freeze for about 2 hours. Once they’re nice and flat, you can remove the baking sheet and stack the chili bags however you need.
If you don’t have any freezer-safe bags, but you’ve got some air-tight, freezer-safe containers you can use those instead. They won’t be as good for saving space, but you can be sure they’ll remain protected from the air inside the freezer.
Contact with air is what causes freezer burn, which will absolutely ruin your dish, so you’ll need to be sure the chili won’t come into contact with the air in the freezer.
How to Thaw Frozen Chili
This is the best and simplest way to thaw chili. It’s the safest as well.
Grab the container you chose to freeze your chili in and transfer it to the fridge. Let it stay there overnight ideally, or at least a few hours until it’s softened up.
Once it’s soft, you can go ahead and pop it into the microwave or pour into a pot on the stove to heat it up and serve.
If you’re in a bit of a time crunch, but still have some time to spare, you can thaw the chili in room temperature water in your sink or on the counter.
Fill a bowl with slightly warm water – not hot! – and place your container of chili in it. It should soften up over a few hours, and will then be ready to reheat.
If time is not on your side and you have a small window to thaw and eat your chili, the microwave isn’t a terrible way to go.
Run the bag or container of chili under a stream of hot water for a minute or two, just long enough for it to detach from the surface of the chosen container.
Pour out the frozen chili onto a microwave safe container or bowl and blast on high for up to 5 minutes. Stir every 30-60 seconds to spread the heat more evenly. Serve immediately once it’s reached your desired temperature.
How Long Does Frozen Chili Last
Once it’s been cooked, chili will last about 3 days inside the refrigerator. If you’ll need to store it longer than that, it’s time for the freezer.
When frozen and stored properly, you can keep chili in the freezer for up to 6 months without losing any quality in taste or texture.
So as you can see, chili is not only a fantastic choice for comfort food, it’s easy to freeze and have again and again over the next few weeks or even months after making your first batch.
Don’t be afraid to store it in the freezer, it’ll save you from potentially wasting the chili if you’ve made more than you can finish within the 3 day safety window.