Can You Freeze Chili?

Chili is one of the best dishes to make yourself, and it makes sense to make a lot at once to save both time and money. 

This also means you’ll have to eat it for every meal, or save it for when you’re having a party. Well, you don’t have to do either, because you can freeze it.

It’s a very comforting, warming dish which is perfect for when you’re feeling stressed or down, and only having to defrost and heat it instead of cooking it from scratch helps fantastically.

That said, there are millions of chili recipes out there, and depending on what ingredients are used, some work better than others once you decide to freeze it.  

Meat-based chili does tend to freeze a little better than vegetarian, but it depends on the vegetables you use, and any meat substitutes (see also Can You Freeze Jackfruit?) you include. 

Can You Freeze Chili?

You absolutely can freeze chili, and if you do it in the right way, and defrost it in the right way, it will taste nearly exactly the same as it would fresh. How many other dishes can you say will do that?

However, it’s best to freeze it on the day to make it to keep it at peak freshness. Chili which involves cream, milk, or cheese doesn’t freeze well, as the dairy reacts to being frozen much worse than a tomato-based chili (see also How To Freeze Jalapenos).

Depending on what you use in a vegetarian chili – beans such as kidney beans or other beans you can use as refried beans tend to work best, as they freeze well within chili and largely keep their texture and flavor.

Using vegetables that don’t freeze well to begin with – those with a lot of water content – may prove freezing the chili more difficult, so keep this in mind when you are making it.

It’s also worth mentioning that keeping chili in the freezer for more than 2 months will result in a disappointing chili. It will have freezer burn, which makes it much more difficult to defrost it well.

But how do you actually freeze chili?

How Do You Freeze Chili?

Always freeze your chili on the day you make it. This will not only prevent bacteria from growing and keep it safe to eat, but it will also retain its freshness, most of its texture, and the flavor.

But that doesn’t mean you should leave it in the freezer and forget about it. You need to use it within 2 months of freezing it, or you risk being sorely disappointed with a sub-par chili.

The best way to freeze it is in vacuum-packed freezer bags. There is a reason for this, for when you come to defrost it, or how you will defrost it. 

How Do You Defrost Frozen Chili?

For best results, freeze chili in vacuum-packed freezer bags. Then, put a pan of boiling water on the stove, and throw the whole bag in. No, really! This way, you won’t get any moisture loss, it won’t separate, and it won’t become dry and awful.

This neat trick will ensure that your chili stays the freshest and the tastiest it can.

If this isn’t possible, you can freeze it into an airtight, microwave-safe container, no problem. When it comes to defrosting it, put the frozen container straight in the microwave, for around 3 minutes, making sure you’re using the defrost setting.

Then, empty the contents into a pan and heat it until the texture becomes thicker, and the flavors start to come alive once more. 

You can also add more seasoning or more of the original flavoring ingredients to your liking. 

If it has gone watery, you can add some cornstarch to encourage it to thicken up.

When it comes to using your chili, there are endless possibilities. You can serve it in a bowl as it is, maybe adding some cheese to the top if you like.

You can also pour it over a dish of tortilla chips for some tasty nachos and add cheese and guacamole, or whatever your stomach is calling for.

Leftover chili also makes a great addition to burgers (see also Freezing Ketchup) and chili dogs, so experiment to see what you’d like the most!


While you can freeze nearly every type of chili you can think of, there are some which freeze much easier than others, and some don’t retain their flavor or even their texture very well.

It’s not recommended that you try to freeze white chili, as it doesn’t freeze or defrost well because of the amount of dairy it includes (one thing that you CAN freeze successfully which contains a lot of dairy is white sauce). You’re much better off eating this type of chili the day you make it instead.

Tomato-based chili does freeze extremely well, so you can make it next time with the great feeling that you’re doing something future-you will really appreciate, and isn’t that the best way of cooking?

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