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4 Ways to Reheat Frozen Chili (A Step-By-Step Guide)

Have you frozen some homemade chili and don’t know how to heat it again? Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to freeze and reheat your favorite chili!

How many of you love making chili and soup during the cold Winter months?

It’s one of my staples, honestly. A huge bowl of homemade chili with dinner rolls or cornbread. The perfect comfort meal.

Did you know you can actually freeze chili? It’s one of the easiest freezer meals, because you can make a large pot of chili and dump all the ingredients into freezer bags and freeze it flat!

Once it’s frozen though, how do you reheat it? Below, I give detailed instructions on different ways to get your chili out of its frozen state, and how to make your chili taste just as good as when you first made it.

A bowl of chili with text "How to reheat frozen chili"

The best way to reheat frozen chili

The short answer, and the best method in my opinion: Thaw in the fridge overnight, and heat in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes. Stovetop heating seems to work best, for the best quality and short cooking time.

What kind of chili are we talking about?

There are SO many different types of chili. For this post, the type of chili I reference is a standard chili made with cooked ground beef or other meat, a tomato sauce, and beans or no beans.

The following methods are for already-cooked chili that’s been frozen. If you have raw meat in your chili, you need to cook it fully first and not follow the instructions below.

Any kind of chili will work, though. Even vegetarian chili. But I wanted to make that distinction first, that this chili needs to be cooked beforehand.

Sweet potato black bean chili in a gallon-sized freezer bag

How to freeze chili

First off, how do you even freeze chili? The freezing process is pretty easy!

The first step is to make sure your chili is room temperature before freezing. If you put hot chili in the freezer, it could start to thaw the foods around it and you’ll have a mess on your hands.

My favorite way is using gallon-size ziploc bags. You can lay the bags flat in the freezer and will save lots of space.

You can also freeze the whole recipe in an airtight container, or freeze in individual portions in a plastic container. That’s actually a great way to fill your freezer with quick grab-and-go lunches.

Just make sure you label everything you put in the freezer! Add the recipe name and the date you added it to the freezer. So many times I’ve just thrown foods in without labeling, and I’m stuck guessing what the food actually is.

How long does chili last in the freezer?

Typically, the shelf life of most soups and chilis is 3 months once it’s in the freezer. It’s still safe to eat after that, but you risk your food getting freezer burn.

When I make extra chili, I put it in the freezer to eat later in the month. Almost none of my frozen food is in there for 3 months, so I usually don’t have issues with the taste or texture of the chili!

Should I thaw the chili first?

For the best results, I recommend letting the chili thaw overnight before reheating. This will ensure more even cooking, and less cooking time.

The best option for thawing is to place in the fridge overnight. That’ll let it thaw evenly. If you’re short on time, you can also let the bag of chili sit in a bowl of warm water in 10-15 minute increments. Once it’s thawed a little, you can then break up the chili into smaller chunks and reheat.

In a pinch, I’ve also thrown the frozen block of chili in a pot and slowly let it cook down. It’s not pretty, but it works.

What I DON’T recommend is leaving the chili to thaw on the counter for a long time (I’m talking hours). Your food may enter the “danger zone”, which is a temperature range between 40 and 140 degrees F. This is where harmful bacteria can grow, and make your chili unsafe to eat.

The last thing you want is food poisoning!

Cooked chili in a large pot

How to reheat chili on the stovetop

Thaw the frozen chili in the fridge overnight. When ready to cook, dump the chili into a large pot and heat on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the chili is fully heated through.

This, in my opinion, is the best and easiest way to reheat chili. The stovetop heats the chili evenly, and seems to have the best quality once reheated.

A microwave sitting on a counter

How to reheat chili in the microwave

Thaw the chili in the fridge overnight. Pour an individual portion into a microwave-safe container, cover loosely with a lid, and microwave in 30-second increments, stirring each time.

This might be the fastest way to reheat chili. And it’s convenient, especially if you’ll be reheating this at work where there’s only a microwave.

Because of the high power, the microwave doesn’t heat evenly. You have to keep stirring and reheating, so it’s hard to know exactly when the chili’s ready. So it might seem like the microwave takes less time, but it may not!

Cooked chili in a slow cooker, and a ladle scooping out chili

How to reheat chili in the slow cooker

Thaw the chili in the fridge overnight. Pour the entire recipe into the slow cooker, and cook on LOW for 3-4 hours until completely heated through.

This method takes the longest, with a few hours of cooking, but is more hands-off. You can leave the house for a few hours and come back to a delicious dinner.

How to reheat chili in the oven

Reheating chili in the oven helps it to heat evenly and it keeps its taste and texture quite nicely.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Place the chili (Either frozen or thawed) into an oven-safe dish and cover with aluminum foil.
  • Bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on the frozen status and how much you’re reheating. Check it after 20 minutes, and stir and heat more if it needs to.
  • Remove from the oven and let it sit for a few minutes before serving.
Cooked sweet potato chili in a bowl

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should you freeze chili?

Chili is one of the easiest meals to freeze! You just dump it into a bag or container and it’s ready to freeze.

Also, leftover chili seems to taste better after it’s been sitting awhile. So either the next day, or a month from now when you take it out of the freezer. The flavors have time to blend together and it just tastes amazing.

Does chili still taste good after being frozen?

Most definitely! Keep it towards the back of the freezer where the air can’t get to it and form ice crystals.

I use my freezer meals within 3 months of freezing them. It’s around the 3-month mark that I start to see freezer burn.

What containers are best for freezing chili?

Get yourself some sturdy containers! Rubbermaid makes containers that are meant for the freezer, so those can be a good option.

Some people prefer glass over plastic due to health concerns. Foods like chili and spaghetti sauce don’t usually stain glass containers, so that may be another good reason to use glass.

Favorite chili recipes

Are you looking for some new delicious meals to add to your rotation? Try these recipes on your next meal plan! These are tried-and-true: Whether it’s chili con carne, chili with kidney beans or white beans, my family’s loved them all!

I love serving chili with sour cream, shredded cheese, and even crumbled tortilla chips on top. Try them for yourself!

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