How to Thaw Chili

One of the most common leftovers, chili is a great food to make in a large batch, freeze, and thaw whenever you decide to eat it. 

Frozen chili can be thawed in a number of ways, including in the refrigerator, using lukewarm water, via stovetop, or in the microwave. The quickest and easiest method to thaw chili is in the microwave, especially when pressed for time, and any of these methods will work well.

Thawing Chili in a Refrigerator

This is the most time-consuming way to thaw chili, so it’s best used when you know you’ll want to eat chili at least a day in advance.

Place your chili in the refrigerator and leave it overnight. It should get to a point where it’s warm enough to heat up over the stove or in a microwave. 

The best part about this method? If you don’t want to eat it the day you originally planned, you can always leave it in the fridge for another day and it won’t go bad!

Thawing Chili Using Lukewarm Water

Another method to thaw chili that, while less time-consuming than the refrigerator, still takes a few hours.

Place your container of chili in a large pot or bowl of lukewarm or warm water. You should make sure there is enough water in the bowl to cover the chili container entirely, or at least cover the chili in the container if it’s not full.

Let the chili sit in the water for 3-5 hours. At this point, it should be thawed enough to heat up thoroughly in the microwave or on the stove. 

Tip: flip the container of chili and change out the water every hour or so – this will speed up the process!

Thawing Chili On the Stove

Unless you’re thawing the entire container of frozen chili, you’ll need to somehow chisel off a chunk of frozen chili, and thaw on low heat on your stove.

This method works best if you are in fact thawing the entire container of frozen chili. Just take your chili out of the container (if you’re having issues with this, run the container under hot water for a minute or two, to separate the chili from the container) and place it in a suitable-sized pot or saucepan.

Turn your heat on low, and place a lid on the pot to trap the heat. This will speed up your thaw process considerably. Once your chili has reached more of a liquid form, you can turn up the heat on the stove to reheat your chili more quickly.

Thawing Chili in the Microwave

Thawing chili in the microwave is by far the easiest and quickest way to thaw chili. It’s best if you originally freeze your chili in a microwave-safe container. This way, you can easily pop it in the microwave straight from the freezer.

It’s best to run your chili container under hot water for about a minute so the chili separates from the container wall. Then, you can either continue thawing in the original container, if microwave safe. You can also transfer the chili to a large microwave-safe bowl to thaw.

Heat your chili on high, for 5 minutes, stopping after each minute to give the chili a quick stir. This ensures that your chili will heat evenly, and won’t burn or scald on top.

Helpful Tips and Tricks

  • Frozen spicy chili loses its heat over time in the freezer. To mitigate the loss of flavor, add spices or chopped-up peppers as you thaw and reheat your chili.
  • If you’re using a dairy topping such as sour cream or cheese on your chili, don’t put it on until after you’ve thawed your chili. If your chili already has dairy mixed into it, do not thaw it via microwave – your dairy has the potential to separate from the rest of the chili.
  • When originally making your chili, freeze your leftovers in multiple, portioned containers. That way, you can just grab and go when you’re looking to thaw and reheat for one meal.
  • Once chili is thawed, it’s best to not refreeze it. Only thaw the amount of chili you’re looking to eat at that time. If you must refrigerate your chili after thawing and reheating, discard if still not eaten after 2 days. 

Chili is good any time of the year and can keep in your freezer for a number of months. It’s so easy to thaw, that you can have it practically any time you want. Happy eating!