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How To Reheat Chili – I Test 4 Methods [Pics]

This article was updated on 22nd September 2023 for clarity and to incorporate new insights.

Chili is super easy to make in bulk (I do it all the time). But what’s the best way to reheat chili without affecting its taste or texture? I experimented with four different reheating methods to find out.

The best way to reheat chili is on the stove. Pour your leftover chili into a cold pan and reheat over medium heat, stirring frequently. If the chili has thickened overnight, add a splash of water or stock until it reaches your desired consistency.

How I tested reheating chili

One Wednesday evening, I made a big pot of chili and portioned out several servings to reheat later.

Note: When I say chili, I am talking about the dish also known as Chili Con Carne, but any type of chili will reheat equally as well.

I tried the following reheating methods:

  • On the stove: My favorite method.
  • In the oven: OK for larger portions.
  • In the microwave: Good for single servings.
  • In a slow cooker: Not recommended.

Chili reheating tips

The chili will dry out in storage, so you’ll need to add some moisture to it when you’re reheating it. I recommend going for stock, apple juice, or even diluted red wine instead of water to add more flavor.

To make the leftovers less boring, serve them in a different way to the day before. Serve it over a hot dog instead of rice, or look at all these ideas on what to serve with chili.

Reheating chili on the stove

Time: 4-5 minutes

  1. Transfer chili to a cold pan.
  2. Set over medium heat, stirring frequently.
  3. Add water or stock a tablespoon at a time if needed to loosen the sauce.
  4. Heat until piping hot and serve. A serving should take 4-5 minutes.

Keeping the heat at medium and stirring frequently reduces the chance of the chili catching on the bottom of the pan and burning. It also helps larger portions heat more evenly.

I like to taste-test my chili as it’s heating and decide if it needs any extra seasoning. Sometimes I even stir some grated cheese into the mix (YUM). And for a really decadent treat fry some bacon in the pan before adding the chili.

Results: The stove was my favorite method for reheating leftover chili. It’s the most versatile method because you can reheat any portion size. And you have the most control in terms of how fast the chili heats and its consistency.

Reheating chili in the oven

Time: 15 minutes (one portion)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2. Transfer chili to an oven-safe dish, spread it out, and add a tablespoon of water or stock per portion.
  3. Cover it tightly with foil, or use a lid.
  4. Heat in the center of the oven (15 minutes for small portions, up to 45 minutes for large quantities), covered, until heated through.

Note: these timings are very approximate and will depend on the size of your oven.

Towards the end of the heating process, I like to take the foil off and add some grated cheese. Then pop the chili back into the oven uncovered for a few minutes so the cheese can melt. If you want crispy cheese, you can broil it instead.

For larger portions of chili you’ll want to stir the mixture halfway through heating, but don’t be tempted to check on it too often. Every time you open the foil you’ll let precious moisture out.

Results: The chili came out of the oven tasting fine, but I’m a very impatient person and found the process too slow. I’d only use it if I had no hobs free on my stove. 

Reheating chili in the microwave

Time: 3 minutes

  1. Put 1-2 portions of chili into a microwave-safe dish or bowl.
  2. To loosen the sauce add 1-2 tablespoons of stock or water per serving of chili. 
  3. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp paper towel.
  4. Heat on HIGH for 60 seconds.
  5. Stir, then heat in 30-second intervals until hot (up to 3 minutes total)

Shorter time periods help ensure you don’t overheat the chili and end up with tough meat.

If you’re serving the chili with rice, feel free to add the rice into the bowl along with the chili and heat it at the same time.

Results: The microwave is great for heating single servings of leftover chili. It’s fast and easy, and the chili tasted fine.

Reheating chili in a slow cooker

While slow cookers are an excellent option for making chili in the first place, I do NOT recommend using them to reheat chili. A slow cooker would take too long to reheat the chili and could potentially leave it in the unsafe zone for bacteria for too long. 

However, you can reheat chili in the oven or on the stove and then transfer it to the slow cooker to keep it warm until you’re ready to serve. Lots of slow cookers come with warming settings that will safely keep food hot for up to two hours.

How to store chili

Allow the chili to cool slightly before storing it in an airtight container in the fridge. The chili will last 4-5 days. 

Aim to have the chili in the fridge within 2 hours of it being cooked. If it’s going to take too long to cool down, transfer the chili into smaller containers or submerge the pot in an ice bath. 

Note that sometimes chili can stain plastic containers, so I prefer to use glass ones. Or you can use a trick I learned from YouTube and spray the plastic container with cooking spray before putting the chili in. This will provide some protection against staining.

Can you freeze chili?

Chili freezes exceptionally well, which is why it’s a popular choice when people are stocking up on freezer meals. The texture may change a little while in the freezer, but usually not enough to be noticeable. 

How to freeze chili:

  1. Transfer room-temperature chili to freezer bags.
  2. Remove air and seal.
  3. Lay flat on the freezer shelf until frozen.
  4. Use within six months.

You can also freeze chili in plastic or glass airtight containers, but freezer bags are easiest and take up less room.

Removing the air is an important step to reducing the chances of freezer burn ruining your chili. If you’re using an airtight container, cover the top of the chili with a layer of plastic wrap so there’s no air gap.

How to thaw and reheat frozen chili

I recommend thawing frozen chili overnight in the fridge. Place the bag on a plate or in a large bowl, just in case of unexpected leaks. You can also thaw the chili by filling your sink with cold water and setting the bag in the water. Check and flip the bag over periodically until it’s thawed.

Lastly, you can use the microwave, but I find you tend to end up with overcooked meat. If you do use the microwave, use the DEFROST setting and break up any large chunks as soon as possible.

If you have no time to thaw the chili, you can reheat it straight from frozen on the stove. To use the stove, set it to the lowest heat and place the chili in a heavy-bottomed pan along with 2-3 tablespoons of water. Once the chili melts, you can turn the heat up to medium.

Psst… If your chili is stuck in an airtight container, you can get it out by briefly running the container under the hot tap.

How To Reheat Chili [Tested Methods]

In this short recipe, I show you the best way to revive and reheat your leftover chili.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: chili, chili con carne, reheat chili
Prep Time: 0 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 7 minutes
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 101kcal


  • 1 portion chili chili con carne, etc
  • 1 splash water optional


  • Transfer chili to a cold pan.
  • Set over medium heat, stirring frequently.
  • Add water or stock a tablespoon at a time if needed to loosen the sauce.
  • Heat until bubbling and serve.


Keeping the heat at medium and stirring frequently reduces the chance of the chili catching on the bottom of the pan and burning.
It also helps larger portions heat more evenly.
I like to taste-test my chili as it’s heating and decide if it needs any extra seasoning. Sometimes I even stir some grated cheese into the mix (YUM).


Serving: 100g | Calories: 101kcal

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