How Long Can Leftover Chili Last in the Fridge?

If you’re wondering how long chili can last in the fridge before going bad, you’re in the right place!

In this guide, you’ll learn: 

  • How long your chili can last in the fridge
  • Tips to maximize the shelf life
  • And much more!

How Long Does Chili Last in the Fridge?

Chili can last in the fridge 3-7 days depending on the type of meat in it, if any, and how quickly you refrigerated the chili after it was at room temperature.

NOTE: This article was reviewed by Melissa Macher, Registered Dietician and Food Scientist for safety and accuracy.

Factors Affecting How Long Chili Lasts

There are a few factors that play a role on how long chili can last in the fridge.

The most critical factor is if you made it with meat. Chili that is predominantly made with meat is bound to live for a lesser timeframe than that made without meat.

This is due to the material make-up of meat, making it more vulnerable to the decomposing action of bacteria. 

In this case, the chili is expected to last for a minimum of 1-2 days, during which time it is not expected to undergo any change to its quality.

The maximum timeframe that the chili is expected to last without undergoing any significant changes to its flavor or texture is 3-4 days

Another factor that plays a role is the duration of time between the chili leaving the stove and entering the fridge. The maximum allowed time is 2 hours, regardless of whether you made it with meat or not. This 2-hour period is a grace period, during which the prevalent temperature inhibits bacterial activity.

Room temperature can only keep the rot at bay for a maximum of two hours, after which it can no longer sustain the freshness of the chili. 

Is It Good To Keep Your Chili in the Fridge?

Well, where else would you rather have it? The fridge is the ideal place to keep your bowl of chili or bucket of chili–if you have a cold room.

The temperature levels that can be maintained in a fridge are just what your bowl of chili needs to stay fresh and microorganisms-free.

Most bacteria and other microorganisms that are the bane of your food can not propagate inside your fridge due to the prevailing temperature. 

If you had kept your chili anywhere else, perhaps, at your kitchen counter, you would walk into a bowl of your chili with a grimy spread of mold in the morning.

This is due to the action of bacteria, spurred on by the enabling environment that presents itself in the form of room temperature. 

Some Tips To Maximize The Shelf Life Of Your Chili

The shelf life of chili is the maximum duration of time beyond which it will lose its freshness and quality. For the chili to reach its full potential with respect to its maximum shelf life, some conditions must be fulfilled. Some of these conditions are as follows.

The chili should be allowed to stay for no longer than 2 hours post-heating before it is stored in the fridge. However, rapid cooling is better and you can speed up the cooling by placing the chili in small, shallow containers. This will allow the chili to get to a safe storage temperature faster, and avoid heating up the refrigerator with a large quantity of hot food.

The chili should be first stored in an airtight container before being secured in the fridge. This is to not leave the door open to any unwanted growth or entry of foreign material into the container.

Read Also >> How Long Does Ground Beef Last?

What Is Chili?

Chili is a spicy stew made chiefly with meat, alongside other ingredients that add flavor. These ingredients include but are not limited to beans, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, onions, jalapenos, or any other suitable seasoning for adding flavor to the dish. 

Short for chili con carne, chili is one of those foods that are delivered in large sizes for some reason that most can not place. While various sources place its origin in Mexico, others claim that it takes root in Texas. 

Can Chili Go Bad?

Yes, chili can go bad. When it goes bad, is dependent on how it is stored and how much time elapses between its last heating and its refrigeration. If you fail to refrigerate it two hours after it leaves the stove or microwave, you’re making it more likely to go bad.

This is because microorganism growth is encouraged at temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F. If you’re not actively heating it or storing it in the refrigeration, it will settle into this temperature range. This will leave your chili defenseless against microorganism attack. With bacterial growth and mold always on the prowl for exposed food, especially one with meat, you must pay keen attention to the storage needs of your chili. The fallout from such an attack is your chili covered in mold, which is gross and unsafe. 

How Do You Know If Your Chili Is Bad?

You’ll most likely know a bad chili when you see one, but if you can’t figure it out by looking at it, the aroma should give you a clue.

Bad chili shows up on the radar by the color first, followed by the texture. If you see your bowl of chili losing its color, as with a gradual wash-off or turning pale, this is the first red flag.

By this time, mold growth will have started to take shape in the container, and it should be evident in the slimy texture of the chili, especially in the outer parts. 

As soon as you notice this, you need to accept that the situation can’t be salvaged, not even by sub-zero temperatures, and should be properly discarded.

The smell is another factor that often betrays it. You should know what a good chili smells like and know when something is off when the smell hits your nostrils. Most times, the aroma of bad chili is intense, and it can not be mistaken for anything else in the room.

If you are even slightly unsure about the safety of your chili, don’t taste it, just throw it out. The risk of picking up a foodborne illness isn’t worth saving a few bowls of chili. 

Read Also >> How to Reheat Steak

Recap on Safely Enjoying Chili

Chili is a dish mostly made with meat, preferably beef, and other seasoning ingredients. It is every bit as delicious as it is delicate and can go from that tantalizing relish of meat or vegetable to a slimy mess of mold and distaste.

Whichever one you get overtime largely depends on the storage conditions you subject it to or the lack of it.

So if you want to keep your bowl of chili in good shape and taste long after making it, keep it in the fridge. 

The temperature levels that can be reached inside a fridge will serve to keep your chili fresh and edible, even after you’ve helped yourself to several rounds of this impressive dish.

However, chili has a lifespan, even inside a fridge. And as soon as this lifespan is exceeded, what follows suit is an unsightly spread of slime and mold in place of your savory dish. 

Hopefully, this article helped you place a timeframe for your refrigeration and informed you about the factors and conditions that play a part in the longevity of your dish of chili. 

So, what’s your favorite kind of chili? Let us know in the comments below! Thanks for reading!

If you want to learn more about grilling, check out these other helpful resources!

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Shawn Hill

Hey, I'm Shawn and I love this site. With a wife and 7 kids, I get most of my grilling practice from feeding my own family. I'm here to help you learn more about grilling, smoking, and backyard BBQ! With almost a decade of manning the grill and helping over 25,000 aspiring grill masters, you're in great hands! I've tried just about every type of grill, accessory, and gadget you can imagine. Because of that, I am here to help guide you to the best of the best and help you save time and money by avoiding the junk.

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