This healthy freezer chili can be made up to 3 months in advance, freeze chili fully cooked, or uncooked! Either way, it’s delicious!
My self-proclaimed maternity leave was where my love affair with freezer food started.
The fact that I had over 25 healthy recipes prepped during my maternity leave and ready to go for me when I got home from the hospital with Baby K was game-changing. I seriously don’t know what we would have eaten if I hadn’t done that. Definitely not anything healthy that’s for sure!
How to Freeze Chili
You have two options to freeze chili (cooked or uncooked), but we will get to that in a second. Because regardless of which you chose, there are a few variables you need to consider.
Liquid expands in the freezer! Liquid expands by 30-40% when it freezes, and you need to account for that when you pick your container to freeze food in.
Chose ziplock bags vs. freezer-safe containers wisely. Freezer bags lay flat. Therefore they freeze and defrost quicker. However, if you plan to freeze and then cook without defrosting, you’ll want to consider the shape of the pot, slow cooker, or instant pot you will use to prepare your chili.
Labeling is a MUST. You’ll need a permanent marker or label maker to label your containers/bags with the date, contents, and how long it’s good for. From experience, don’t go to all the trouble of making a meal ahead of time only to throw it out a few months later because you have no recollection of what it is.
Toppings can’t be frozen. All of the suggested optional toppings are better fresh and should not be frozen. I suggest writing which toppings you would like on the bag or container when you freeze the chili. That way you’ll remember the extra ingredients and plan accordingly.
Option 1: Freeze Cooked Chili
Your first option to thoroughly cook your healthy chili and then freeze it. I have two sets of recipe instructions for this particular chili.
Once it’s cooked according to one of those recipes, you’ll need to cool it fully. Give it at least four hours before you transfer the chili to a freezer-safe container. To defrost it, transfer chili to the refrigerator and then microwave to reheat. Whenever you reheat anything ever it should always be to 165F, including this chili!
Option 2: Partially Cook & Freeze
In this option, you’ll need to cook the ground meat ONLY. Cook it on a pan with oil until fully browned, but do not overcook!
Next, you’ll add the ground meat with the veggies and chicken broth in a freezer friendly bag or container (see tips above.) At this point, I would write on the bag “+2 cans of tomato sauce” because you’ll need to add two cans of tomato sauce with the contents of the bag. So this way, you’ll know when you pull it out of the freezer that you need those canned items, preventing you from making a pissed off trip to the grocery store.
When you are ready to cook your freezer chili:
- Cook from frozen in the Instant Pot by pressuring cooking 10 minutes and letting it fully naturally release. Do not pass the PC max line.
- Cook from frozen in the slow cooker by cooking on high for 6-8 hours. (I have not tested this method.)
Looking for something delicious to serve with your chili? My healthy cornbread recipe always receives RAVE reviews and is 100% freezer friendly!
Let me know if you make this one, tag @hungryhobbyRD on insta I love to see my recipes in your kitchen, it makes my whole day!
Healthy Freezer Chili
- 1.5 lbs 99% lean ground turkey
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- 1 tbsp avocado oil
- 1 can no salt added red kidney beans, rinsed 15 ounces
- 1 can no salt added black beans, rinsed 15 ounces
- 1 green bell pepper deseeded, deveined, chopped
- 1 jalapeno OPTIONAL - see notes
- 15 ounces cubed butternut squash
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 can no salt added diced roma tomatoes 15 ounces
- 2 cans tomato sauce 15 ounces each
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2-4 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp salt more as needed
- Option 1: Full cook your chili in the Instant Pot or Slow Cooker. Let the chili cool in the fridge for 4 hours then transfer to a freezer container or bag and store for up to 3 months. Make sure to leave enough room for the liquid to expand by 30-40%. Defrost under refrigeration and then reheat in the microwave.
- Option 2: Fully cook the ground meat. Then add the ground meat, onion, beans, pepper, squash, diced tomatoes, chili powder, salt, and chicken broth in a freezer friendly bag. Before cooking, add two cans of tomato sauce. Cook from frozen in the IP by pressuring cooking 10 minutes and letting it naturally release. Cook from frozen in the slow cooker by cooking on high for 6-8 hours. (I have not tested this method.)
- Add 1 chopped jalapeno to cooking. Add it at the same time you add the beans and green pepper.
- If you need to keep it mild for others but want a spicy version for yourself here is what I did: I added sprinkles of cayenne pepper the first night I ate it. But, when I went to store it I split the leftovers into TWO containers. In my container, I placed jalapeno slices on top. The next day when I went to eat it I removed the jalapeno slices but the chili was PLENTY spicy and delicious!