Nothing beats a bowl of piping hot chili on a cold winter night.
The combination of hearty beans, savory ground beef, and robust spices is comfort food at its finest.
While this dish is best served fresh from the stove top, there may be times when you don’t have time to prepare an entire pot.
If that’s the case, don’t fret; with just a few minutes in the microwave, you can enjoy the same rich flavor without all the fuss.
Here’s how to reheat chili in the microwave.
Transfer the desired chili into a microwavable dish, then add a few tablespoons of water or broth. Microwave the chili in 30 seconds intervals, occasionally stirring, until heated through or to 165 °F. Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave, and set it aside for two minutes before serving.
For more insights on the best ways to reheat your chili in the microwave, alternative reheating methods, how to serve and store it, and much more, please read on.
Is It Safe to Reheat Chili in the Microwave?
Microwaving is a safe way to reheat chili without sacrificing flavor and texture.
However, it’s not as easy as popping it in the microwave and hitting the start button. There’re a few precautions you should consider to ensure a successful reheating experience.
PS When referring to chili, I mean Chili Con Carne, a type of stew made with meat, pinto or kidney beans, chili peppers, tomatoes, and various seasonings. But don’t fret; any other chili type will work too.
For starters, the inclusion of meat in this Mexican dish complicates matters. Any meat, whether chicken, beef, or pork, is susceptible to bacteria that can cause food poisoning if not thoroughly heated.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends cooking ground meat and poultry until they reach an internal temperature of 145°F and 165°F, respectively.
On the other hand, leaving your chili in the microwave for too long will dry it out and burn it, ruining its taste and texture.
Remember, microwaves are notorious for uneven heating, resulting in some parts of the food being overcooked while others remain undercooked.
Striking a balance between these two extremes can be difficult, especially when dealing with many variables. You want the chili to have enough time in the microwave to heat up but not more than necessary.
A good rule of thumb that always works for me is to microwave my leftover chili in short bursts rather than one long period.
This allows me to monitor the progress and adjust the cooking time as needed to avoid overcooking.
Also, use a meat thermometer to ensure the chili reaches a safe internal temperature before removing it from the microwave.
Tips For Reheating Chili in the Microwave
Chili is delicious and perfect for a cold day, but it can be a bit of a hassle to reheat. Here are some easy tips for reheating it in the microwave without destroying it.
Use Only a Microwavable Bowl
I always reheat my chili or any other leftovers in a microwave-safe bowl. To be safe, avoid using plastic or metal bowls. For instance, plastics will melt when microwaved, leaching toxins into your food, whereas metals may spark and start a fire.
Luckily, most microwavable bowls can be identified by three squiggly lines on the bottom. But if that’s too much work, I suggest using ceramic or glass.
Choose a Large Enough Bowl
A big bowl allows the chili to heat evenly without burning at the edges. It also prevents nasty spills, especially while stirring. And if you’re making a large batch of leftover soup or stew, this is doubly important.
It’s the most critical aspect of the whole process, as moisture prevents your chili from drying out and becoming chewy and unappetizing.
I prefer adding chicken stock or tomato sauce instead of water to keep the flavor intact. Just be careful not to add too much liquid, as it could dilute the spices and ruin the taste.
Microwave in Short Bursts
Cooking or reheating food in the microwave has its downsides. One of them is the inability to control the temperature.
Microwaving demands uninterrupted attention, or your dinner ends up overcooked or burnt. Fortunately, reheating your chili in short intervals allows you to monitor, tweak, and stop the process accordingly.
As I previously stated, meat makes up a sizeable percentage of this hot dish. You want to ensure that all parts of your chili reach a safe temperature of 165 °F before consuming it to avoid food poisoning.
Thaw Your Chili
If you have frozen chili, thawing it first can significantly reduce the reheating time and prevent uneven heating.
There are various defrosting methods, and one of my favorites is leaving leftovers overnight in the fridge. Other options include putting your chilled chili in a Ziploc bag and submerging it in cold water for a few minutes or thawing it in the microwave.
How To Reheat Chili in the Microwave
Now that we’ve established that it’s safe to reheat chili in the microwave, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it.
- Transfer your desired amount of chili from the pot or container into a large enough microwave-safe bowl. If it’s frozen, leave it in the fridge overnight to thaw.
- Add two tablespoons of water or broth (depending on your preferred consistency) to your chili to prevent it from drying out. But if you like your chili thick and saucy, proceed directly to the next step.
- Pop the chili bowl into the microwave hit the start button, and reheat in 30 seconds increments on high.
- Remove the chili from the microwave every 30 seconds and thoroughly stir it to ensure even heating. Repeat this process until the chili reaches a safe consumption temperature of 165°F.
- Once the chili reaches the right temperature, carefully remove it from the microwave as it’ll be very hot. I suggest using oven mitts or kitchen tongs for this task.
- Let chili cool down for a minute before transferring it to your serving dish. If you prefer, garnish your hot chili with cheese, sour cream, chopped scallions, or any other toppings you enjoy.
Alternative Ways to Reheat Chili
If you don’t have a microwave or prefer not to use one, you can still reheat your chili on the stove, oven, or grill.
Let’s take a closer look at how each of these methods works.
Reheating Chili on the Stove
The method is straightforward; you only need a saucepan and a stove.
Start by transferring the chili from its container to the cold pan. Set the pan over medium-low heat and thin with chicken broth or water if necessary.
Stir the chili occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom. Once the mixture starts to bubble, remove it from the heat and set it aside to cool before serving.
It’s one of my favorite methods as it’s versatile and allows you to control the cooking time and temperature.
Reheating Chili in the Oven
Preheat your oven to 180°C. Transfer the chili to an ovenproof dish and add broth to thin. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring, until heated through or to a safe temperature.
While the method yields good results, I find it time-consuming.
Reheating Chili on the Grill
Contrary to popular belief, grilling chili will not produce a charred flavor. Instead, it’ll infuse your Mexican dish with smoky goodness.
To prepare, transfer the chili into a pot, add liquid or chicken broth, cover with a lid and place it on the grill. Cook it for a few seconds over low heat, occasionally stirring, until the mixture is piping hot.
What About Reheating Your Chili in the Slow Cooker?
While a slow cooker is an excellent food-cooking appliance, the USDA doesn’t recommend it as it exposes your chili to microbes that can cause foodborne illness.
You can only use the method to keep food warm after reheating it to 165 degrees Fahrenheit on the stovetop, microwave, or oven. Locate the warming setting on your slow cooker, and the chili will stay hot for hours.
Creative Ways to Eat Leftover Chili
Here are a few inventive ways to serve your chili that will warm even the coldest day.
- Add chili to leftover rice: Make a delicious meal combining chili with white or brown rice. I love topping it off with cheese, chopped green onion, and sour cream for a complete dinner. There is no limit to what you can do with this dish.
- Make taco salad out of chili leftovers: Layer taco ingredients like lettuce, tomato, salsa, black beans, and avocado in a bowl. Top with chili, shredded cheddar cheese, and diced green onions. You’re going to be so excited about how good this taste.
- Split open a baked potato and fill it with chili: Nothing beats a good old-fashioned baked potato, especially when topped with mouth-watering chili.
Cut your baked potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out the center so there’s room for plenty of chilies. Spoon leftover chili into the potato skins and top with shredded cheddar, scallions, and sour cream.
- Spice up scrambled eggs: If you’re not feeling quite creative to come up with new ideas, don’t worry. Simply scramble some eggs and pour them over a steaming pile of microwaved chili for a spicy breakfast any time of day.
How to Store Chili
You can refrigerate chili in an airtight container for up to 3-5 days or freeze it for up to 6 months.
However, you must adhere to the appropriate storage guidelines. Otherwise, your food may taste awful after reheating.
I always let my chili cool completely before storing it in an airtight container to avoid contamination. And when it comes to freezing this spicy dish, use a freezer-safe container and squeeze out as much air as possible. Label the container with the contents and the date you prepared it.
When you’re ready to eat the chili again, thaw it in the fridge overnight, reheat it in the microwave, or use the other methods I’ve mentioned.
Video on How to Freeze and Reheat Chili in the Microwave
Microwaving is an easy and quick way to reheat a bowl of chili without compromising its texture or flavor. However, the method requires close monitoring and constant stirring to avoid turning your dish into a chewy, burnt mess.
Make sure to add some liquid, preferably chicken broth, to keep it from drying out as it heats up. Once you’ve mastered the art of microwaving chili, you’ll never have it any other way.