How Long Can Leftover Chili Last in the Fridge?

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

In this TheGrillingDad.com guide, you’ll learn: 

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

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.

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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 probably 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 3-4 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 a week

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.

The 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 survive 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 2 hours post-heating before it is stored in the fridge. This is a cooling-off period at room temperature, and it allows for the chili to stay fresh as well. If you were to take it to the fridge immediately after leaving the stove, it would warm the fridge very quickly, upsetting the temperature balance in the process. 

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.

Another trick is to use small shallow containers to store the chili. This serves to facilitate quicker cooling on the basis of the relationship between temperature gradient and volume. 

Lastly, endeavor to decant the chili before transferring it to the fridge. While this is not particularly an influential factor in determining its longevity or not, the solid-state of the chili will leave it less prone to invasion from microorganisms inside the fridge. 

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 probably 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, and it depends on the storage and preservation conditions that are used to secure it. It mostly depends on the means of storage 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. This temperature level can only be achieved in a fridge or any other place with a tendency to reach low temperatures. Most likely, the temperature of your kitchen or anywhere else falls short of this mark and can not sustain the freshness of the chili in the long run. 

So failure to find a sustaining temperature 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, an unsightly provision that’s never the desired outcome. 

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 easily give it away.

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 must have started to take shape in the container, and it should most likely be evident in the slimy texture of the chili, especially in the outer parts. 

As soon as you notice this, it would be best to accept that the situation could not be salvaged, not even by sub-zero temperatures, and should be properly discarded.

The smell is another factor that betrays it most times. 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. 

As soon as you get wind of this smell, it should be your cue to dispose of it Immediately. And if, on very rare occasions, the smell and the sight of it do not give it away, heating it will be the final straw.

You could even stir it before microwaving it, and you’ll probably unleash the rot with such force that you might be forced to leave the room. 

And as a last resort, and a particularly disturbing one, you can taste it to put all your doubts to rest.

I wouldn’t recommend this last option because of the risk of picking up a foodborne illness

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, you will typically keep it in a 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. 

Because of the assortment of ingredients required to make this dish, most people make their chili in large amounts.

And if you are serving to a small gathering, your pot or bowl of chili will retain a large part of its contents even after the tables are cleaned. To keep it fresh long after it has been served, you would typically store it in your fridge where it can be well tended to. 

However, many things can happen to your delicious bowl of chili before it makes its way into the fridge and even while it is there. This article intends to put a number on the time it takes for chili to remain fresh and edible while in your fridge.

The information that you get here will help you in your plans to keep your chili fresh and edible.

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

Shawn Hill

Shawn Hill

Hey, I'm Shawn and I run 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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