From tomatoes, vegetables, meat, onions, and more, almost every curry involves a decent list of ingredients and spices.
This is what makes curries so delicious and is consequently also what makes them go bad so fast!
How long does curry last in the fridge? Since there are many types of curries, you should follow the average storage time of 1-2 days for every recipe. The only way curries can last longer is if you freeze them, which increases their storage time to about 6-8 weeks or more.
Read below to learn more about how to extend the storage time of curry, some ways to store it, and how to tell if it’s gone bad!
Storing Different Types Of Curries
Curries are the backbone of Indian cuisine and are well-known around the world, as many regions have adopted different types of curries in their cuisine!
A great example of this is chicken vindaloo and butter chicken, which includes a type of curry made from chicken and a special spicy tomato and butter sauce.
Of course, there are many, many other types of curries but these two are great examples.
Curries typically include garam masala, whole spices, tomato gravy, onions, and are usually made using clarified butter or ghee. While this gives them an incredible flavor, it also makes them highly susceptible to spoilage!
The inclusion of cooked tomatoes and butter alone is enough to increase the rate of decay in the dish, let alone the chicken and cooked onions! This is why it is extremely important to store curries the right way.
Many people believe that curries can last a long time once they have been cooked and can be left out at room temperature for up to 6+ hours. This can’t be further from the truth!
Most curries can start to go bad after just 3 hours outside. Just like any other food, the curry should never be left over the counter or stove for more than 2 hours.
This is why it is always best to first make the curry and then wait for it to cool before moving it to the fridge.
Here are how long a few famous curries can last in the fridge, freezer, and at room temperature:
|Types of Curries||Refrigerator (40°F)||Freezer (0°F)||Room Temperature (68-72°F)|
|Butter Chicken||2 Days||2-3 Months||1 Hour|
|Chicken Vindaloo||2-3 Days||3-4 Months||1 Hour|
|Tikka Masala||2-3 Days||3-4 Months||2 Hours|
|Korma (meat/vegetable)||2 Days||2-3 Months||1 Hour|
|Jalfrezi||2 Days||2-3 Months||2 Hours|
|Saag||2 Days||2-3 Months||2 Hours|
|Kadhi||2-3 Days||3-4 Months||2 Hours|
How To Store Curry
The great thing about curry is that it can be stored in multiple ways.
Most of the time, the best way to store any curry is to shift it to an airtight container and to store it in either the fridge or freezer – but there are a few things that you need to keep in mind.
First, make sure that when you cook the curry, the leftovers are stored in the fridge within two hours.
Some curries shouldn’t be left out for more than 1 hour. This is because they may start to go bad early, depending on how hot the ambient and kitchen temperature is.
As a best practice, it is always better to let the curry cool down and to then shift it to the fridge to maximize its storage time. If you plan to serve the curry fresh, then we recommend making it at least 30-45 minutes before.
Strategies To Maximize Freshness And Minimize Cooking Times
There are a few strategies that you can use to keep the curry fresh for longer.
For example, in the case of butter chicken, you can leave the meat to marinate in the fridge for up to 4-5 hours. Then, when you wish to cook it, just add it with the rest of the ingredients and cook the curry within 30 minutes!
Similarly, different foods can be half-cooked or cooked in advance. In the case of Korma, the onions can be caramelized and crushed beforehand and then added to the meat with the rest of the spices.
This will bring down the prep time of the final dish from 1 hour to about 30 minutes or less!
You can also use pressure cookers or instant pots to bring down the preparation time of denser meats like lamb or beef. This will allow the dish to spend less time on the stove and therefore, it will also lengthen its storage time by several hours!
Storing Leftover Curry
Once you’re done eating, move the leftovers into an air-tight container (we’d recommend these ones). The container can then be stored in the fridge for up to 2-3 days, depending on the curry.
Again, the only precaution that you need to follow here is to not let the curry sit out for more than 2 hours at room temperature.
Remember, bacterial growth may begin after the 2-hour mark and the germs may grow exponentially every 20 minutes thereafter!
Here is how to store curry the right way:
- With a clean spoon, move all the curry from the cooking pot to a clean and dry container.
- Remove any garnish like cilantro or added ghee from the top of the food to make it last longer.
- Label the container with the date of when the curry was cooked and store it at the back of the fridge or in the coldest part of your refrigerator.
- After 48 hours, either consume the leftover by adding fresh garnish or move it to the freezer for long-term storage. To avoid freezer burn, make sure that the container is free of any residual moisture on the sides of the container.
A no-frost fridge will work best for storing any type of curry for the long term!
Thawing Stored Curry
There are several ways to heat curry. Here are a few popular methods:
Any type of curry can be heated in the microwave. If you wish to reheat frozen curry then it is best to first let it thaw in the fridge overnight and then to heat it in the microwave.
While you can directly thaw it in the microwave, this method may dry out the curry and may also cause the ingredients to overcook.
Oven heating isn’t preferred for curries as the heat may dry out the food but if you don’t have any other option then the best approach would be to put a foil over the curry and then heat it for about 10-15 minutes at 350°F.
Check the curry after 10 minutes and adjust the heating time accordingly.
This is the best way to quickly heat thawed or even frozen curry.
Put the curry in a non-stick skillet and add just a splash of water to keep it from drying out. You can alternatively add 2-3 tablespoons of water at the base of the skillet and then add the curry.
Let the curry heat for about 10 minutes at medium-flame with the lid open, in the case of thawed curry.
If you’re heating rock-solid, frozen curry then keeping the lid on during the initial heating process will make it melt faster.
Signs of Spoilage
Here are a few key signs to look out for:
Foaming Or Froth
A curry that develops a thick foam as it heats may indicate spoilage. The foam may start at the corners and then develop over the entire surface of the food.
Unless the curry includes an ingredient like baking powder or baking soda, it is best to just toss it!
Discoloration or molding of any color is a clear sign of spoilage. If this happens then you must discard the curry without trying to salvage it.
Other important signs include a foul odor, a thick slime, or a bitter or sour taste.
Curries can last much longer when they are stored properly which means that you can enjoy the same great flavor with more or less the same level of freshness, anytime!
Now that you know how to store curry in the fridge, here are a few related questions:
Can you store curry in a plastic bag?
Yes. Curry can also be stored in an airtight Ziplock bag. This storage method works best for curries with boneless pieces of meat because the bones on the meat may pierce the bag, especially if it is tightly packed.
However, this may compromise the quality and storage duration of the curry!
Can curry last longer than 48 hours?
This depends on the storage conditions and type of curry. For safety purposes, it is always best to consume any type of curry within 48 hours.
Since curries are made all around the world and in different ways, it is difficult to figure out a standard time for storage.
Also, while curries may be good for up to 4-5 days in the fridge, they might drastically lose their flavor and texture, especially if they contain cooked vegetables or meat.
Always check for signs of spoilage after 48 hours!
If you’ve ever wondered how fast someone could possibly cook butter chicken (one of our favorite curries!), please check out this video from Joshua Weissman!