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How Long Is Leftover Chili Good For? (Room Temp, Fridge, or Freezer)

Here’s how long leftover chili is good for, the best storage tips, and three delicious chili recipes to try!

Chili is a popular cold-weather dish that’s great for feeding a crowd. And there are plenty of delicious variations you can try.

There’s chili con carne, white chili, turkey chili, vegan chili, and more. And you can personalize your chili with your favorite toppings.

In our opinion, you can’t go wrong with sour cream, tortilla chips, cheddar cheese, or corn chips!

Most chili recipes include chili powder and other Tex Mex seasonings, kidney beans, tomatoes, onion, and sometimes shredded or ground meat.

And whether you make your chili on the stovetop, or in the slow cooker, you’ll want to make sure you can enjoy your leftovers.

After hours of cooking, that large pot of chili will need to be properly stored to avoid food safety issues or even food poisoning.

Luckily, we’re here to help!

Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about the shelf life of chili including how long leftover chili is good for in the freezer, fridge, and at room temperature.

And we also share the best food storage tips for chili and three delicious recipes!

How long is leftover chili good for?

Large bowl of chili with ground beef and kidney beans in a white bowl.

The shelf life of chili depends on the type of chili you’re eating! Homemade chili has fewer preservatives compared to store chili (canned chili).

And chili with ground beef has more opportunity for bacteria growth.

Homemade vs. Canned

Canned chili lasts longer than homemade chili, and it’s a great option for a quick meal.

For store-bought chili, check the expiration date and follow any instructions on the can. And if you have any leftovers, you can safely enjoy them for up to a week.

For homemade chili, follow the instructions and tips below!

NOTE: You should not eat canned chili if the can is bloated, leaking, or heavily dented.

Homemade At Room Temperature

The “danger zone” for perishable foods is between 40 and 140 degrees. At these temperatures, food is prone to bacterial growth.

And the longer food sits at room temperature, the more bacteria will grow.

However, chili can stay safe at room temperature for up to 2 hours before dangerous bacterial growth begins.

But, you should always store leftover chili in the refrigerator or freezer as soon as possible.

Homemade In the Fridge

Refrigerator storage is best for small portions of leftover chili. So, if you plan to enjoy the chili the next day or in a couple of days, you can place it in the fridge.

If properly stored, cooked chili with meat can stay good in the fridge for 3-4 days. And meatless chili can last as long as a week.

Homemade In the Freezer

For large amounts, consider storing chili in the freezer.

This is a great way to preserve food for a longer time period. And you can even plan to make extra chili to build up a stash of freezer meals.

Following a proper freezing method (at a temperature below 0 degrees), frozen chili can stay good for up to 6 months.

How To Store Leftovers

Assortment of frozen foods in freezer bags and airtight containers on wooden table.

For the refrigerator, the best way to store leftover chili is in an airtight container. A properly sealed container will preserve the flavor of your chili and keep other odors or contaminates in the refrigerator from affecting your dish.

Plastic wrap isn’t the best option because it’s not as airtight.

And it’s best to use shallow containers so the leftover chili cools at the same rate, and there are no hot spots.

For the freezer, use heavy-duty freezer bags zipped tight with as much air removed as possible. And try to freeze your chili flat, so it takes up less space once frozen.

How to Tell When It’s Gone Bad

Bad chili can make you sick and cause food poisoning. To avoid this, always check your chili for signs of spoilage before you eat it.

You should do this even if the chili is within the 3-4 days for the fridge or 6 months for the freezer.

Here are some simple ways to tell if chili is bad:

You should also note that just because chili doesn’t smell or taste bad after the recommended shelf life, that doesn’t mean it’s safe to eat.

Bacteria that cause foodborne illness may not always change the taste and smell of a dish. If your food is past the recommended time limit, it’s best to throw it out!

Reheating Leftovers

Hotdog on parchment paper with chili and cheese on top with fries.

If your chili is still good to eat, make sure you reheat the leftovers to an internal temperature of at least 165 before you eat it. It should be steaming and hot!

And if you only have a little bit of chili left, you can spoon it over eggs, on a hotdog, or on tortilla chips to make nachos!


Can you eat chili after 7 days?

It’s not recommended to eat leftover chili after 7 days unless it was stored in the freezer.

Properly stored chili without meat or dairy and canned chili stay good in the refrigerator for up to a week, or 6 months in the freezer. Chili with meat or dairy can stay good for 3-4 days in the fridge and 4-6 months in the freezer.

What happens if you eat old chili?

Eating old chili can make you sick, and in extreme cases cause food poisoning. This will depend on how much bacteria growth there is and the type of bacteria present.

If you experience vomiting, dehydration, or severe stomach pain, seek medical care right away.

Can I freeze chili after 4 days?


Chili can stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. So, you can safely store it in the freezer within that time frame as well. Just be sure to check the chili for signs of spoilage before freezing to make sure it’s good.

How long is chili good for in the freezer?

Leftover chili can stay good in the freezer for up to 6 months if properly stored.

Yummy Recipes to Try

Here are some delicious chili recipes to try. Enjoy a large bowl of one of the simple chili recipes below, or try the cheesy chili dip at your next party!

White Chicken Chili Recipe With Cream Cheese

Bowl of white chicken chili with cream cheese garnished with lime wedge and tortilla strips.

3-Ingredient Crock Pot Chili Cheese Dip

Chili cream cheese dip in small Crock Pot with tortilla chips and striped towel nearby.

Easy Spaghetti with Chili (Cincinnati Chili)

Fork and spoon in green bowl of Cincinatti chili topped with cheese and sour cream.

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