How Long Does Chili Last In The Fridge?

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

Chili is one of the most all-American treats you can have for dinner. As the food of cowboys, it’s a great go-to for almost any night of the week. If you’re like me, a single recipe of chili will be way more than you and your family can eat throughout the night. You’re going to have some leftovers, but how long they’re suitable for is up to debate.

Chili can only last 3-4 days if it contains meat, but chili made with beans can last 4-5 days. Storebought chili can last up to 1 week if you leave it wrapped and in the container. Vegetarian chili can last up to 7 days in the fridge because it has less of a risk for bacteria.

Chili that’s gone bad is a serious risk to anyone’s health, even if you’ve got a killer immune system and a cast-iron gut. If you want to protect your family from a trip to the ER, you’ll learn the basics about keeping your chili safe.

How Long Does Chili Last In The Fridge?

If your homemade chili has meat in it, you should not keep it longer than 3 or 4 days. However, if there is no meat in your chili, it will keep for up to 5 days.

Now, if you have storebought chili, this will last at least up to one week. Just make sure you seal the chili in a Ziploc bag or an airtight sealed container.

Can You Freeze Chili?

Freezing chili is considered the best way to extend its life, and if you freeze it, you will have about a month or two before you need to throw it out.

When freezing chili, make sure to use a solid, airtight container with at least one inch of space above the chili’s fill line. This is to ensure that your chili will remain airtight as the cold makes it expand.

To thaw your chili, transfer it to the fridge overnight. Then, heat it and eat it. To stay on the safe side, it’s best to heat your chili to 160 degrees prior to eating it.

Is It Safe To Eat Canned Chili After The “Best By” Date?

This is a common misconception that people have about “best by” dates. The dates that you see printed on the can are not necessarily expiration dates.

They are manufacturer-led recommendations that are designed to help ensure that you enjoy the chili while it tastes its best. Since the “best by” date is a recommendation for peak quality, it’s safe to eat the chili after that date.

What Could Happen If You Eat Expired Chili?

This all depends on what type of chili it is, if it’s been canned, and if it’s been opened. With that said, you should not risk eating expired food if you can avoid it. Here’s what you need to know:

  • A couple of days after the expiry date: If it was canned and left unopened, you probably won’t get sick if it’s a couple of days after the expiry date. Canned chili can last for three to five years before it goes totally bad.  You should be good to go as long as you don’t see any signs of spoilage.
  • There are a ton of pathogens that are meat-borne, and that means that chili can be a severe risk to your health. If your chili was left open, you could risk E.coli, E.perfringens, or botulism if you eat canned chili that was left open. Depending on the type of pathogen, you could experience food poisoning that could potentially kill you.
  • Spoiled chili: People who eat spoiled chili are likely to get stomach aches, nausea, and vomiting. This can last for anywhere from one hour to several weeks or longer, depending on the pathogen you get.

Some forms of food poisoning linked to homemade chili can land you in the hospital. Looking at you, E.coli…

How Can You Tell If Your Chili Is Spoiled?

Understanding if you are in peril all starts with checking for signs of spoilage. If you’ve kept your chili for a while, it’s best to err on the side of caution. If you’re just not sure if it’s still good to eat, watch for these signs below:

  • The chili smells bad. Trust me when I say that expired chili is its unique brand of awful in terms of stench. If it starts to smell slightly sour or rancid, discard it immediately.
  • There’s mold. You notice that there’s mold growth or that the chili has started to change in appearance. If you’ve frozen it, color-changing might happen depending on how much oil is in your chili. If it’s happening in your fridge chili, then you probably have a spoiled batch.
  • When you give it a taste test, it starts to taste foul. Chili that’s gone off will have an acrid, sour, or otherwise strange taste that can’t be ascribed to extra spiciness, then you have chili that is spoiled. Along with spitting out what you just ate, you need to throw out the chili.
  • There is a slimy film on the top of the chili. Chili, like beef, becomes slimy to the touch when it becomes spoiled.

How Can You Tell If Canned Chili Is Spoiled?

Believe it or not, you can tell if canned chili is spoiled before you even open it up. Chili that comes from a can that is bloated, leaking, or heavily dented should be considered spoiled.

This is because can damage the seal. If a can is bloated, it’s due to excessive bacteria growth that has taken place inside of the can. As long as the can is in decent shape (like how you fund it in the store) you should be safe eating it.

Tips For Storing Your Chili In The Fridge

Now that you know how long you can store chili in your fridge, it’s essential to know how to keep it properly.

  • Before you even think about storage, make sure that your chili has been cooked safely. Chili still needs to be heated to a temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Otherwise, you run the risk of having an E.coli infection in your chili.
  • Do not leave your chili out at room temperature for longer than two hours. Bacterial growth rates increase drastically between the temperatures of 40 to 140 degrees. Studies show that keeping food out at room temperature for more than two to three hours will cause it to run the risk of bacteria-caused food poisoning.
  • Use the right type of containers.  You want to store your chili in an airtight container like a baggie or a Tupperware item. Make sure that the container is airtight before you try to store it. Uncovered or non-airtight containers will increase the exposure you have to bacteria.

Related Questions

Why does vegetarian chili keep longer than chili with meat in it?

Meat has a higher rate of bacteria growth and a higher incidence of pathogens. This means that it has a faster spoiling rate than vegetables do.This, in turn, will put you at a higher risk of food poisoning than eating a bowl of chili made from vegetables of the same age.

How long does freeze-dried chili last on a shelf?

If you’ve got MREs or emergency prep supplies, then you probably have at least a bag or two of freeze-dried chili. The reason why chili is a popular emergency prep food is because it has a remarkably long shelf-life.The lack of water in the pack makes it easy to carry and also decreases the amount of pathogens found in the chili.Freeze-dried chili can last between 25 and 30 years as long as it is not opened. Once the chili is opened, you have approximately six to 12 months to consume the chili. To maximize its life, store your freeze-dried foods in their original packaging away from areas of high moisture.

Can I eat eight-day-old leftovers?
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), you should only keep any of your leftovers for no more than four days, and in some cases, five. The longer they stay in your fridge, the higher the chance that bacteria will grow on in.
While you could technically keep the leftovers longer, it’s best to get rid of them to avoid any possibilities of food poisoning.

See How Long Other Foods Last In The Fridge

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

More by Ossiana Tepfenhart