Forget freezing leftover chili in little plastic baggies. Save time and money by freezing these 10 chili recipes without any cooking ahead of time. Simply combine the meat, beans, sauces and spices, and freeze!
My friends hosted their annual “chili cookoff” on Saturday and it was so much fun. I was going to enter a new chili recipe in the contest, but I forgot to buy ground beef and didn’t realize it until the last minute.
Luckily, I still had a bag of Mexican chili frozen from my ground beef freezer prep day. I thawed the beef in the microwave and cooked it in a pan on my stovetop with the rest of ingredients and a can of beans. Guess what? I won!
I used to cook my ground beef for freezer crockpot chili, but then I realized that step is completely unnecessary. Freezing the meat raw saves a ton of time in the kitchen. It also means I can stock up on ground beef when it’s on sale and stock my freezer with different kinds of homemade chili. Not only will the freezer meals last up to three months, the chili cooks for the first time out of my freezer and doesn’t taste like leftovers at all. Wahoo!
If you’re not used to combining raw meat with other ingredients, let me assure you that it’s perfectly safe. According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, freezing to 0 °F inactivates microbes present in food (like bacteria, yeasts, and molds). Both the “low” and “high” settings on crockpots bring food well over the 160°F recommendation for cooked ground beef, so you’re good to go. (You can find more info on crock-pot.com.)
You can freeze chili recipes made with chicken and ground turkey too! In fact, my freezer-to-crockpot chicken chili is the most popular recipe in my 15-Minute Freezer Recipes cookbook.
Ready to give it a try? Here are 10 chili recipes that my family gives two thumbs up.
Ten Chili Recipes That You Can Freeze Without Any Cooking Ahead of Time
- Mexican Beef Chili with Cornbread Topping
- Mexican Chicken Chili with Cornbread Topping
- Crockpot Taco Chili
- Turkey and Black Bean Chili
- Beef and Black Bean Chili
- Beef, Lime, and Cilantro Chili
- Beef and Beer Chili (I wait to add the beer until the day-of-cooking.)
- The Sweeter Side of Mommyhood’s “Perfect Chili Recipe“
- White Chicken Chili (from How To: Simplify)
- The Chicken Chili from my cookbook
To prepare for the freezer, simply combine all ingredients in a gallon-sized plastic freezer bag, remove as much air as possible, and freeze for up to three months. When you’re ready to eat, thaw in your refrigerator overnight and cook in your crockpot for 6-8 hours on “low” (or until the meat is tender and cooked through). Enjoy!
Questions or comments? Please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!
So I have a question about #6. This post is about NOT precooking . The instructions at the link have you brown the ground beef as the first step. Based on this post, could you NOT brown the beef and add it all to the slow cooker fresh (without bagging it up for freezing, then thawing and cooking)? Hope that makes sense. I just want to know if you put raw ground beef and the other ingredients in the slow cooker if it turns out well.
Yes, absolutely. I used to precook my beef but then I learned it’s unnecessary.
So great! I love chili because it’s easy to make and freezer friendly, but get bored with the basic beef/turkey recipes. This is really helpful 🙂
just found u
Do you notice your recipes being greasy because you were not able to drain the grease from the ground meat? I love the idea of not having to cook the meat first, but don’t like the thought of eating the grease!
I can’t explain it, but it’s never been a problem for us. Maybe because I try to buy lean meat? Even 80% ground beef is fine though.
Awesome, thank you! I’ll buy lean meat just in case!
At what stage are you breaking your meat apart, beginning when you dump, stir the meat or at the end try to break it up after cooked? Just wondering what works best so there are not large chunks of meat. We prefer ground turkey and I know it’s softer. I’m definitely going to give this a whirl with a copycat wendy’s chili recipe and freeze it. I work all day and wouldn’t be able to stir the meat after 8 hours. I’m wondering if it’s best to stir vigorously at the beginning maybe when I prep the freezer bag?
I break it up after cooking. If you want to break it up when you dump it in the crockpot make sure it’s completely defrosted. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to do.