The Smart Cook’s Hack for Always Having Chili on Hand for Dinner

published Mar 22, 2018
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

If you’ve ever come home at the end of the day tired and hungry with a serious hankering for a warm, hearty bowl of chili, this smart trick is going to make you feel like a total genius the next time it happens. After making a lot of chili this winter, I learned a really smart trick that ensures I always have homemade chili on hand.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Freeze Chili in a Muffin Tin

The first step is to cook an extra-big batch of chili, by doubling (or even tripling) a recipe. Then the real trick here is how you freeze your chili, and there’s no smarter way than by using a standard-size muffin tin.

You’ll want to start with muffin or cupcake liners, which prevent the chili from sticking to the tin. Fill each cup all the way full, freeze the whole tin, and then add the individual cup to a large, zip-top freezer bag.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Why Muffin Cups Are My Top Choice for Freezing

1. They’e the perfect portion.

Here’s a fun fact you maybe didn’t know: Each well in a standard-size muffin tin holds 1/2 cup in volume. Freezing leftovers in large containers can be a real commitment; it can mean thawing way more than you need (or want) to eat. These small frozen cups give you so much more control over portion size, so you can always thaw just the amount you want.

2. They’re convenient.

Keeping these half-cup portions on hand means you can defrost just enough to mix in a pot of mac and cheese, add to a plate of nachos, or stuff into a burrito. Or heat the whole batch when you want to feed the whole family.

3. They thaw quickly.

Have you ever tried to thaw a freezer block of chili on the stovetop? I have, many times, and it always takes so much longer than I expect. Freezing chili in small portions also means it takes a lot less time to thaw or heat from frozen.

4. They travel well.

These little cups are also incredibly portable. If your schedule means eating some of your meals on-the-go, this approach is also for you. These individually portioned rounds of chili are wonderfully portable.

Our Favorite Chili Recipes to Double and Freeze