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How Long Does Homemade Chili Last? Does it Go Bad?

Homemade chili is a comforting and hearty meal that is perfect for cold winter days or whenever you need a bit of warmth and deliciousness in your life.

But like any other food, homemade chili has a limited shelf life, and it can go bad if not stored or handled properly.

In this article, we will explore how long homemade chili lasts, what factors affect its shelf life, and how to tell if it has gone bad.

Homemade chili can last in the refrigerator for up to four days and in the freezer for up to three months. The quality of chili can degrade over time, so it’s important to store it properly and follow food safety guidelines to avoid any health risks.

What is Homemade Chili?

Homemade chili is a stew that typically includes ground beef, chili peppers, onions, and tomatoes.

The dish originated in the American Southwest and has become a popular comfort food across the United States and around the world.

Chili can be customized to suit individual tastes by adjusting the level of spiciness, adding different types of beans or vegetables, or using alternative sources of protein instead of ground beef.

Chili is a perfect meal for batch cooking and meal prep, as it can be prepared in large quantities and stored for later use. But how long can you keep homemade chili before it goes bad?

How Long Does Homemade Chili Last?

The shelf life of homemade chili depends on several factors, including the ingredients used, the storage conditions, and the methods of preparation. Here are some general guidelines to help you determine how long your chili will last.

Refrigerated Homemade Chili

Homemade chili can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days, provided that it is kept in an airtight container. The temperature in the refrigerator should be maintained below 40°F (4°C) to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

It’s essential to reheat the chili thoroughly before eating it, ensuring that it reaches a temperature of 165°F (74°C) to kill any bacteria that may have developed during storage. Discard any chili that has been left at room temperature for more than two hours or has an off odor or appearance.

Frozen Homemade Chili

Homemade chili can also be stored in the freezer for up to three months. Freezing is an effective way to extend the shelf life of chili, and it allows you to enjoy a homemade meal long after it was prepared. For best results, freeze chili in airtight containers or freezer bags, leaving some headspace to allow for expansion.

When reheating frozen chili, it’s important to defrost it fully in the refrigerator before heating it. This will ensure that the chili is heated evenly and prevents the growth of bacteria. Reheat the chili thoroughly, ensuring that it reaches a temperature of 165°F (74°C) before eating it.

How to Tell If Homemade Chili Has Gone Bad?

Homemade chili can go bad if it is left at room temperature for too long, stored improperly, or kept for too long in the refrigerator or freezer. Here are some tips to help you determine whether your chili has gone bad.

Look for Mold

If you notice any mold on the surface of your chili, it’s an indication that it has spoiled and should be discarded immediately. Mold can be green, white, or black in color and can develop anywhere on the surface of the chili.

Check for an Unpleasant Odor

If your chili has an unpleasant odor, it’s a sign that it has gone bad and should not be consumed. Spoiled chili can have a sour, rancid, or rotten smell that is easily detectable.

Examine the Appearance

Spoiled chili can have an unusual appearance, such as a slimy or discolored texture. If your chili looks off or unusual, it’s better to be safe than sorry and discard it.

Taste the Chili

If all else fails, tasting your chili can help you determine whether it has gone bad. Spoiled chili can have a sour, bitter, or off taste that is easily noticeable. If your chili tastes unusual or unpleasant, it’s best to discard it.

Tips for Storing Homemade Chili

Proper storage is essential to ensuring the longevity and safety of homemade chili. Here are some tips to help you store your chili correctly.

Refrigerate or Freeze Immediately

Homemade chili should be refrigerated or frozen immediately after it has cooled down. Leaving chili at room temperature for more than two hours can increase the risk of bacterial growth and spoilage.

Invest in Airtight Containers

Air is the enemy of freshness. Invest in airtight containers or freezer bags to keep your chili fresh and free from contamination. Ziplock bags or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids are ideal for storing chili in the fridge or freezer.

Label and Date Your Chili

Label and date your chili containers before storing them in the fridge or freezer. This will help you keep track of the age of your chili and avoid consuming spoiled or outdated food.

Reheat Thoroughly

Always reheat your chili thoroughly before eating it, ensuring that it reaches a temperature of 165°F (74°C). Use a food thermometer to check the temperature, as guessing can lead to foodborne illness.


Homemade chili is a delicious and satisfying comfort food that can be enjoyed for days or even months after it was prepared. Proper storage and handling can help prolong its shelf life and prevent foodborne illness. Remember to follow food safety guidelines, label and date your chili, and discard any chili that has gone bad. Enjoy your homemade chili with peace of mind, knowing that it’s fresh, safe, and flavorful.

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Jenny has always been passionate about cooking, and she uses her platform to share her joy of food with others. Her recipes are easy to follow, and she loves giving tips and tricks to help others create their own unique culinary creations.