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Chili is one of our favorite winter comfort meals. Whether it’s authentic Texas chili, chili with beans, vegetarian chili, turkey chili, or spicy 5-alarm chili there’s often a dilemma: what to do with the leftovers? Instead of reheating the same bowl of chili, why not get creative and transform those leftovers into mouthwatering meals that will surprise your taste buds? Here are twenty leftover chili recipes that are not only easy to prepare but will also make you look forward to having extra chili on hand.
How To Store Leftover Chili
Storing leftover chili properly is essential to maintain its flavor and safety for future consumption. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to store leftover chili:
Allow the Chili to Cool: Before storing, let the leftover chili cool down to room temperature. Hot food can raise the temperature inside the refrigerator, potentially affecting other items.
Choose the Right Container: Use airtight containers or resealable plastic bags designed for food storage. Ensure they have a tight seal to prevent air from entering. Divide the chili into smaller portions if you plan to use it in smaller servings.
Label and Date: Label the container or bag with the contents (“Chili”) and the date when it was prepared. This helps you keep track of how long it’s been stored.
Fill Containers Properly: Leave some space at the top of the container or bag because chili may expand when frozen. This prevents the container from cracking. If using a bag, squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing it.
Store in the Refrigerator: If you plan to use the leftover chili within 3-4 days, place it in the refrigerator. Keep it in the main part of the fridge, not in the door where temperatures can fluctuate.
Store in the Freezer (for Longer Storage): If you don’t plan to use the chili within a few days, store it in the freezer for longer shelf life. Freeze chili in a container or bag suitable for freezing. Consider using a vacuum sealer for even better preservation. It’s a good idea to portion the chili into single servings before freezing if you anticipate using it individually. Chili can typically be safely stored in the freezer for 2-3 months.
Reheating: When you’re ready to enjoy your leftover chili, thaw it in the refrigerator if it’s frozen. You can also reheat it from frozen, but it will take longer. Reheat the chili on the stovetop over medium heat or in the microwave, stirring occasionally until it’s thoroughly heated. Ensure it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
Avoid Thawing and Refreezing: If you’ve frozen leftover chili, try to use it all at once when you decide to thaw it. Repeated freezing and thawing can affect the texture and quality of the chili.
What To Do With Leftover Chili
Leftover chili can be incredibly versatile and can be transformed into various dishes. Here are some creative leftover chili recipes:
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