How Long Does It Last in Fridge & Freezer?

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John Bird here, former chef at New York’s iconic Boat Basin Cafe. Today, I’m sharing my expert tips on storing chili to keep your leftovers tasting as fresh and flavorful as the day they were made.

How long does chili last in fridge? + 5 Storage Tips & Much more!
How long does chili last in fridge pin

How long does chili last in the fridge?

How long your chili lasts in the fridge depends on the type.

Here’s a quick breakdown based on my experience:

Chili TypeFridge Life (Max)
Homemade Chili3-4 days
Canned ChiliUp to 1 week
Vegetarian Chili3-4 days

Homemade chili spoils faster due to its fresh ingredients and lack of preservatives. At the Boat Basin Cafe, we made our chili fresh daily to ensure optimal flavor and safety.

Storing Chili in the Fridge

  1. Cool It Quickly: Chili should reach below 40°F within 2 hours of cooking to prevent bacterial growth. Use shallow, sealed containers for rapid cooling. This was a golden rule in our cafe kitchen.
  2. Choose Airtight Containers: Airtight packaging blocks contaminants and keeps chili fresh. Our go-to: Zilpoo food storage containers.
  3. Keep Your Fridge Cold: Set the temperature to 40°F or below. Use a thermometer to check it regularly, as bacteria multiply faster at higher temps. Food safety was always priority #1 for us.
  4. Reduce Moisture: To slow bacterial growth, simmer chili uncovered to evaporate excess liquid or stir in a cornstarch slurry before storing. Chef’s secret for extending fridge life!

Freezing Chili Leftovers

How Long Does It Last in Fridge & Freezer? 1
ong chili black board

Too much chili? Freeze it! Chili can be frozen for up to 6 months. Divide it into single or family-sized portions in freezer-safe containers or bags. Pro tip from my barista days: Freeze some in ice cube trays to easily add chili flavor to future dishes.

To reheat, thaw frozen chili in the fridge overnight. Then heat to 165°F on the stove or in the microwave, per USDA guidelines. This kills bacteria, but not toxins, so frozen chili is best enjoyed within 4-6 months.

Chili Gone Bad FAQs

How to know if chili is bad?
How to know if chili is bad

Can chili get moldy?

Yes, chili can develop mold, even in the fridge. If you see any mold growth, even small spots, discard the entire batch immediately.

Does slimy chili mean it’s gone bad?

Absolutely. If your chili has turned thick, slimy, or developed a watery texture, it’s a sure sign it’s spoiled and should be tossed out.

What does spoiled chili smell like?

Spoiled chili will often have a foul, rancid smell. If it doesn’t smell appealing anymore, it’s best not to risk it. As we used to say at the cafe, “When in doubt, throw it out!” Food poisoning is never worth the gamble.

Chili Storage FAQs

Can I eat chili that’s been in the fridge for 5 days?

As a chef, I’d say vegetarian chili may be okay, but always toss meat chili after 3-4 days. Better safe than sorry with leftovers.

Does freezing chili make it last longer than refrigerating?

Absolutely. Freezing halts bacterial growth completely, while the fridge only slows it. Frozen chili stays good for 4-6 months.

Is it safe to freeze chili with beans or dairy?

Definitely! Bean and dairy chilis freeze perfectly. Just thaw and reheat thoroughly. We always kept some bean chili on hand in the Boat Basin Cafe’s freezer for busy nights.

How long will chili last in the freezer?

In my experience, frozen chili tastes best within 4-6 months. It remains safe longer but quality may decline.

“The key to safely storing chili leftovers is all in the cooling process,” advises chef Jenn Louis, a sentiment I wholeheartedly echo from my Boat Basin days. “

Get it from steaming to below 40°F as quickly as possible – that’s where shallow containers and fridge temp really come into play.”

For more expert guidance on food storage safety, visit the USDA’s Food Safety Guidelines.

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