There's nothing better than a fresh, hot pot of chili. But chili can also be surprisingly delicious leftover, after its individual flavors have had time to mingle and take on new depth and complexity. If you've been wondering how to put that container of chili in the back of your refrigerator to good use, you'll be excited to know that it can be used in a variety of different dishes. Each brings its own special combination of ingredients and flavors to create a unique rendition of the versatile Tex-Mex comfort food.
Method 1 of 3:Reheating Chili
1Transfer the chili to a medium-sized pot or saucepan. Whatever cookware you use should be spacious enough to reheat however much chili you plan on cooking with. Spray slow cookers and nonstick pots and saucepans with cooking spray to keep the reheated chili from sticking when it gets hot.
For smaller servings, you can also microwave a single bowl at a time.
Only use as much chili as you need to make a given dish—refrigerating and reheating chili multiple times will cause it to lose its freshness faster.
2Add half a cup of tomato sauce or chicken stock. Chili thickens as it loses moisture in the refrigerator, so a splash of liquid will help return it to its original consistency. Be careful not to add too much liquid, or you could inadvertently make it soupy. Stir the liquid into the chili thoroughly before you begin heating it.
Using tomato sauce or savory chicken stock as opposed to water will keep from diluting the rich flavor of the chili.
If you prefer your chili extra thick, skip this step and reheat as usual.
3Heat the chili for 10-12 minutes. Turn on the cooktop to medium-high heat. Keep an eye on the chili as it warms up, stirring once every few minutes. When it begins the bubble continually around the edges, it's ready to serve.
Stir the chili from the bottom of the pot to better distribute heat.
The chili will be ready to eat when it's warm, but you can also leave it to simmer for about half an hour more to revitalize the individual flavors.
4Eat reheated chili by itself. Once your chili has been warmed through, ladle up a big bowl and savor it for a second time. This is the simplest way to get more enjoyment out of a batch. Chili keeps well in the refrigerator, so you can keep using it until the last of it is gone.
Garnish a bowl of chili with tasty add-ons like cheese, sliced scallions, sour cream or corn chips.
Did you make this recipe?Leave a review
Method 2 of 3:Finding Creative Ways to Serve Leftover Chili
1Put together a quick chili-cheese dip. Heat the contents of a jar of queso in the microwave, then combine with leftover chili. Feel free to add diced onions, tomatoes or green chiles for a chunkier dip. Serve with tortilla chips, or use it to smother burritos or enchiladas.
To save a little time and money, you can also stir together a melted block of Velveeta cheese and can of Rotel before adding the chili.
Stash leftover dip in the refrigerator in an airtight Tupperware container and use within 2-3 days.
2Make chili dogs. Nestle your wiener of choice into a freshly heated or toasted bun. Spoon chili over the hot dogs. Finish with chopped onions, shredded cheese, mustard, pickle relish or any of your other favorite hot dog toppings.
Set up an assembly-line style toppings bar for your hot dogs so picky eaters can create their own.
Chili dogs are a welcome addition to any cookout, picnic or Superbowl party.
3Heat up easy chili nachos. Layer hearty tortilla chips with reheated chili, refried beans, cheese and jalapeños. Microwave or broil until the cheese is melted and the nachos are piping hot. Add a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cilantro and dig in.
Nachos make the perfect afternoon or late-night snack.
4Stuff yourself with loaded chili-cheese fries. Pair crinkle-cut fries or thick potato wedges with a gooey mixture of homemade chili, cheddar cheese and diced green onion. Microwave, bake or broil for a couple minutes to melt it all together. Offer ranch dressing for dipping.
Serve chili-cheese fries as a companion for a platter of hot wings or a juicy patty melt.
Don't forget to grab a fork. You're going to need it!
5Spice up an ordinary baked potato. Chili can make an excellent extra for a steaming-hot spud, especially alongside other favorites like crumbled bacon, shallots, cheese and sour cream. In fact, a chili-topped potato can be hearty enough to serve as a meal itself.
Instead of a plain baked potato, try working leftover chili into another form, such as twice-baked potatoes or crispy potato skins.
Did you make this recipe?Leave a review
Method 3 of 3:Incorporating Chili into Entrees and Other Dishes
1Have chili huevos rancheros for breakfast. Lightly crisp corn tortillas in a shallow oiled skillet. Slide one or two fried eggs on top and smother the whole concoction with chili. Huevos rancheros makes a quick, filling breakfast to throw together on frantic mornings.
Garnish with a drizzle of crema, a few slices of avocado or a spoonful of salsa fresca.
Serve huevos rancheros with a side of Spanish rice and black beans.
2Bake a Frito pie. Grease a deep baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Shake out a bag of corn chips into the bottom of the dish. Pour on the leftover chili and sprinkle generously with handfuls of shredded cheese, then bake until rich and gooey.
A Frito pie makes a solid last-minute dinner idea since it requires a minimal number of ingredients and can be prepared in a single dish.
Once it's baked, you can refrigerate and feast on a Frito pie for days.
3Try Cincinnati-style chili. Cover spaghetti or vermicelli noodles with leftover chili for a unique regional take on the dish. You can enjoy Cincinnati chili as-is or enhance it with toppings like cheddar cheese, onions and mixed beans.
For a more authentic version of Cincinnati chili, simmer the chili with a dash of cinnamon, allspice, cloves and cocoa.
This is also a great way to stretch a small amount of leftover chili into a complete and satisfying meal.
4Whip up a tamale casserole. A variation of the classic shepherd's pie, start with a base of chili and pile on flavorful veggies like black beans, corn and peas. Spread your favorite cornbread batter over the mixture with a spatula. Bake or broil until the cornbread topping is a sizzling golden brown.
Modify your tamale casserole however you desire, using flavorful ingredients like seared ancho chiles, tomatillos or chorizo.
Try making individual servings using muffin tins or deep ceramic ramekins.