Can You Freeze Chili? (YES! Here’s How)

Chili is a spicy stew made up of various ingredients such as garlic, onions, tomatoes, cumin, kidney beans, beef, and chili powder. There are many ways to cook it, and it’s usually served as a garnish, side dish, or on its own. Chili is often cooked in big batches for get-togethers, but you may be wondering if you can freeze chili for later consumption?

You can freeze chili to extend its shelf life. It can be frozen for up to six months but aim to consume it within three months so as not to compromise its freshness and taste. Tomato-based chilis freeze well, but creamy, cheesy, and vegetable chilis lose much of their taste and texture when frozen.

In this article, I will talk about how you should freeze chili, how long you can keep it frozen, and which types of chilis don’t freeze well. I’ll also discuss different ways to thaw frozen chili and why it isn’t a good idea to refreeze chili.

I’ll even talk you through my go-to chili recipe, so you can enjoy this sumptuous, easy-to-prepare dish whenever you like.

Bowls of Chili: Can you freeze leftover chili

How To Freeze Chili

It’s essential to freeze chili on the same day it’s cooked. This helps ensure that your chili’s taste and texture won’t be compromised once it’s thawed. Freezing it the same day it was cooked will also help avoid harmful bacteria growing on your food. You’ll want to store your chili in airtight bags or containers to seal in freshness. 

Here are the steps for freezing chili:

  1. Bring your chili down to room temperature.
  2. Scoop out leftover chili into freezer bags or airtight food containers. Make sure you portion them nicely, so you’ll only defrost a bag/container or two at a time.
  3. Seal the bags/containers.
  4. Label the bags/containers with the current date.
  5. Stack them up neatly in the inner part of the freezer.

Chili can stay in the freezer for up to six months, but it’s recommended that chili be consumed within three months. Within this period, its taste and texture will pretty much be preserved. You’ll enjoy your chili as though you cooked it that same day. 

Are All Kinds of Chilis Good To Freeze?

There are different kinds of chilis, each depending on your preference, cultural background, or simply what you’ve been used to. Chili is typically cooked in big batches with the intention of consuming the leftovers at some other time. Freezing chili is pretty standard, but there are types of chilis that don’t do as well in the freezer.

Not all chilis do well in the freezer. Tomato-based chilis are perfect for freezing. Vegetable chilis may not do as well because the veggies may turn mushy and end up blending with the sauce. Creamy and cheesy chilis are also not ideal for freezing. Their taste and texture may change once thawed. 

It’d be best to cook smaller batches, so there wouldn’t be too much leftover when it comes to vegetable, creamy, and cheesy chilis. Instead of freezing, store them in the fridge and consume them within three days. Use airtight containers to retain freshness, taste, and texture.

Bowl of chili: Can I freeze chili

How To Thaw Frozen Chili

On those busy days when you just don’t have time to cook, your frozen chili will be a great go-to meal. You can eat it on its own. It also tastes great with any of the following: 

  • Bread
  • Nachos
  • Chips
  • Rice
  • Hotdogs
  • Burgers
  • Noodles
  • Fresh vegetables

All you have to do is thaw it, reheat it, and you’re good to go! You can defrost chili in the fridge, in water, on the stove, or if you’re in a rush, in the microwave.

How To Thaw Frozen Chili in the Microwave (10-15 Minutes)

Thawing frozen chili in the microwave is the easiest and fastest way to go. This is for those days when you simply have no time to cook, you’ve run out of food, or you suddenly have visitors at your doorstep. This is how you do it:

  1. Take a serving or two from your freezer and run them briefly under hot water to detach the frozen chili block from the container
  2. Transfer the chili into a microwavable bowl.
  3. Place the bowl in your microwave and set it on defrost.
  4. Check every minute or so if it has completely thawed. Stir often.
  5. Once it’s thoroughly thawed, continue to heat through until it’s ready to eat.
  6. Serve.

How to Thaw Frozen Chili on the Stove (10-15 minutes)

Optionally, you could thaw it on the stove instead:

  1. Empty the frozen chili into a saucepan and heat it on medium heat until you achieve the desired texture. Stir regularly.
  2. Add in a bit of cornstarch to thicken the sauce if the chili is a bit too watery for you.
  3. Sprinkle in some seasoning if you want to improve the flavor.
  4. Remove from heat, place into bowls, and serve.

How To Thaw Frozen Chili in the Fridge (Overnight)

Thawing frozen chili in the fridge may take a long time, but this allows the chili to slowly adjust to the changes in temperature. The chili doesn’t become too watery or soggy with this method. This is for days when you expect company the next day. Here are the steps:

  1. Place a bag or two of chili from your freezer into a large bowl (the bowl will catch any condensation or leaks).
  2. Place the bowl inside the fridge and leave it overnight.
  3. Check your chili the next day, and it should be soft, thick, and appetizing.
  4. Transfer the thawed chili into a clean bowl and microwave it, or into a saucepan to warm it over medium heat.
  5. Sprinkle some seasoning to improve the flavor.
  6. Add a bit of cornstarch to thicken the sauce if the chili is too soupy.
  7. Serve.

How To Thaw Frozen Chili in Water (2-3 Hours)

Thawing frozen chili in water allows it to gradually transition from a solid to a semi-liquid state. The result is less watery chili. This method is for days when you have some time to spare for cooking but prefer to just take things easy instead. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Fill a large container with cool water (do not use warm or hot water).
  2. Take a serving or two of chili from the freezer and place (still in the bag) in the container. It’d be best if the chili is fully submerged.
  3. Check every few minutes and flip the chili over to thaw all sides evenly. Replace with fresh, cool or cold water before the water reaches room temperature.
  4. Transfer the thawed chili into a clean bowl for microwaving or into a saucepan for warming over medium heat.
  5. Sprinkle seasoning to improve the flavor.
  6. Add cornstarch to thicken the sauce if the chili has too much liquid.
  7. Serve.

Can You Refreeze Frozen Chili?

You shouldn’t refreeze chili because it’ll lose too much of its original taste and texture. This is why you freeze chili in small batches. This strategy will allow you to defrost only what you’ll consume at any given time, and you’ll get to enjoy chili as if it was cooked that same day.

Delicious bowl of chili: Freezing chili con carne

How To Cook Classic Tomato-Based Chili (Ready to Freeze)

Classic homemade chili is delicious, satisfying, and even nostalgic for some. Chili brings me back to nippy Saturday mornings when my family and I would sit around our living room, each enjoying a bowl of chili as we talked and laughed. Here’s a classic, tomato-based chili recipe reminiscent of those days. It’s something that you might like to try:


  • Olive oil, 1 tablespoon (15 mL)
  • Garlic, 5 cloves, chopped
  • Red onion, 1 medium-sized, diced
  • Ground beef, lean, 2.20 lbs (1 kilo)
  • Cumin, 1 teaspoon (5 mL)
  • Brown sugar, 1 teaspoon (5 mL)
  • Salt, ½ teaspoon (2.5 mL)
  • Black pepper, ground, ½ teaspoon (2.5 mL)
  • Cayenne pepper, ¼ teaspoon (1.25 mL)
  • Tomato paste, 1 tablespoon (15 mL)
  • Chili powder, 1 teaspoon (5 mL)
  • Tomatoes, diced, 1 small can
  • Kidney beans, 1 small can, drained and rinsed
  • Beef broth, 1 cup (250 mL)
  • Tomato sauce, 1 small can


  1. Heat some olive oil in a saucepan.
  2. Add garlic and sauté until golden.
  3. Put in some chopped onions and sauté until translucent.
  4. Add ground beef, occasionally breaking it apart with a wooden spoon. Cook for about 10 minutes or until it turns golden brown.
  5. Season with cumin, brown sugar, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Mix well.
  6. Stir in the tomato paste and chili powder. Mix well.
  7. Add diced tomatoes and kidney beans. Mix well.
  8. Pour in the beef broth and tomato sauce. Mix well until all ingredients are combined.
  9. Simmer for about 20 minutes until you’re satisfied with the texture. Stir occasionally.
  10. Let the chili rest for about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to marry.
  11. Serve.

You might also want to provide toppings for your chili. We like sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped green onions, and diced avocados. Pair your chili with crackers, nachos, or chips for a yummy snack. Eat it with rice, noodles, or bread for a satisfying meal.

Check out this video for another easy freezer meal chili recipe.

Can You Freeze Chili – Final Thoughts

Chili is a satisfying, delicious dish that conjures up memories of homemade meals, family gatherings, and potluck parties with friends. Freeze it in batches on the same day you cook it so that flavors are locked in.

This way, you enjoy chili as a go-to meal for busy days or when you simply want some comfort food. Make sure you freeze it properly to enjoy the same satisfying taste and texture for weeks to come.