can you eat chili that was left out overnight

Chili is a hearty dish typically prepared in large quantities. It is customary to have leftovers, but can you eat chili that was left out overnight?

The origin of the immensely popular meal “chili with meat” can be traced to Mexico.

The primary components are black beans, tomatoes, ground beef, and chili peppers. Obviously, additional spices are frequently added.

Because there is beef in the dish, it is natural to feel concerned and ask, “Can you eat chili left out overnight?”

No, you should not eat chili left out for 12 hours or more because it cannot last longer than a couple of hours at room temperature. 

Can You Eat Chili That Was Left Out Overnight Or Not?

okay to eat chil left overnight

The guidelines for preserving vegetarian chili, handmade chili, canned chili, and chili con carne are all the same.

To prevent food poisoning, it is important to refrigerate chili within a couple of hours of serving it.

Before serving, reheat the food to an internal temperature of 165F.

It suggests that you should avoid eating chili if you leave it out overnight because the temperature change will spoil it.

It may not always be spoiled, but it is best to discard it if it stays out for an extended time.

Fact: Chili is popular and old, with the earliest descriptions coming from an 1828 journal. 

What are the Recommended Guidelines for Storing and Eating Chili?

the recommended guidelines

The United States Department of Agriculture recommends discarding any perishable food that has been out of the refrigerator for more than two hours.

The chili can be prepared in a slow cooker and left to simmer all night. The majority of bacteria and viruses are destroyed over a lengthy cooking process.

But, Clostridium perfringens can still infect the meal if it is not chilled correctly and then reheated.

As little as 6 hours after eating any left-out chili, you may start to experience symptoms including cramping and diarrhea.

The leftovers can be stored in the freezer for later use or consumed within 3-4 days.   

Why Can’t You Store Chili at Room Temperature?

why cant store it in room

First things first, let us discuss the differences between perishable and non-perishable goods.

Foods that spoil quickly include a variety of dairy products, proteins, and cooked grains and pastas.

On the other hand, non-perishable items include butter, bread, fruit, hard cheeses, and some veggies.

When it comes to storage, you can always store non-perishable items outside the refrigerator.

But that is not the case with perishable ingredients, especially what you find in your chili.

As chili is made using beans, meat, tomatoes, and spices, each of these items comes with a short shelf life.

Therefore, storing chili at room temperature is never a good idea. 

The Risk of Food Poisoning is Real

the risk of food poisoning

If the temperature of a bowl of chili is between 40-140F, bacteria like staphylococcus will begin to multiply in it in about two hours.

Staph bacteria are odorless, invisible, and resistant to high temperatures.

Because of this, you cannot eliminate them through cooking or recognize them by sight or scent.

Food poisoning can result from eating foods contaminated with germs. 


Food poisoning is more common than you might assume. Statistically speaking, every year 1 in 6 Americans will contract it.

The annual death toll is around 3000.

Fact: Chili is generally nutritious with its high fiber, protein, and iron content, but be sure to limit high-fat toppings like cheddar cheese and sour cream. 

Can You Reheat the Chili That Was Left Out Overnight?

can reheat the chili

Again, it is not a good idea, as it may already be spoiled and you may risk developing food-borne illnesses.

It is recommended that you keep perishable food at room temperature (over 90F) for no more than a couple of hours before consumption.

This includes the time they sit with you at the table while you eat.

Due to its perishable nature, chili should never be eaten after sitting out overnight.

And it would not make any difference to try to reheat it after it has stayed at room temperature for 7-8 hours.  

How Long Can Chili Sit Out Before Getting Spoiled?

 As mentioned already, the USDA recommends not keeping food at room temperature for longer than two hours.

This is because bacteria can multiply rapidly and become harmful at room temperature.  

The Danger Zone, where temperatures range from 40-140F, is an ideal environment for bacterial growth.

how long chili will get spoiled

More than two hours in a high-risk environment will allow the chili’s germs to multiply to dangerous levels.

It may still have a pleasant aroma after being out in the open for a while, but consuming it could make you sick.

Once you cross the threshold into the red zone, the heat of the chili can lose its zing.

Note: It should be kept on the stove to finish cooking if it has been out for more than 3-4 hours. 

How Long Can You Keep Chili in the Refrigerator?

Ideally, homemade chili with meat should be consumed within two days or refrigerated.

It is important to understand that spicy food contains capsaicin, which can irritate the digestive tract.

Moreover, when food is allowed to sit out at room temperature for longer than two hours, Staph aureus can grow on it. And it can also cause stomach discomfort.

However, you can store canned chili for longer. In this case, you can refrigerate it for up to a week.

And if you freeze it, you can store it for as long as six months. 

Important Consideration

the important consideration

The shelf life of meat and dairy-based chili is 3-4 days in the fridge, and six months in the freezer.

But, before you store it, you need to let it cool for at least two hours, until the internal temperature is under 140F.

Fact: The shelf life of canned chili is around a week after the expiration date has passed, so you can still consume it if it has just expired. 

How Long Can You Keep Chili Out After Cooking?

The meat in chili is cooked with spices and then served with rice. Do not let the chili sit out for too long or it will lose its flavor.

It keeps well in the fridge for a few days, and even longer in the freezer.

You should not leave chili out for longer than 4 hours after cooking. It is even better to refrigerate it after a couple of hours.

It is important to reheat the leftovers to a safe serving temperature of at least 165F.

You may keep it on the burner for up to six hours if you choose to serve it that way or in a slow cooker. 

Can You Leave Chili in a Crockpot?

Many people think that it is okay to leave chili out overnight when it is in the crockpot.

Is that true?

Well, it depends on different situations and many factors have a role to play here.

can leave chili in crockpot

For instance, it is not a great idea to leave it in the crockpot without electricity.

Without electricity, it is practically the same as leaving your chili at room temperature even when it is sitting inside the crockpot. 

There are higher chances of spoiling your chili if it is less acidic and you leave it in an environment where the temperature stays about 90F.

In this case, it only takes an hour for harmful bacteria to grow and contaminate your chili.

In case of no electricity, the temperature in your crockpot will go up. And leaving your chili inside for up to 9 hours is a surefire way of spoiling it. 


A crock pot will do nothing to preserve your chili if there is no electricity and it will practically fail within two hours.

Fact: Go for extra beans when you are unsure of how much chili you need, as these substantial bites make the meal bigger and also pack quite the nutritional punch. 


Can you eat chili that was left out overnight? While it may seem fine and even look tempting, you should avoid eating it.

Generally, meat and protein dishes should not stay outside for longer than two hours. The same holds for your meat-based chili.

If you really want to consume it later, you should wait for it to cool down a bit and then store it in the refrigerator.

But, again, it is always a better idea to consume it right away and not worry much about the leftovers.