Rotel dip is a dish that is very easy to whip up: add your finely ground beef onto a heated pan, cook thoroughly and drain the fat that forms, empty the contents of a Ro-Tel over it, add in a generous amount of Velveeta cheese and cook until everything comes together into a creamy goodness.
But just like with every other food out there, there’s always a concern as to how long a rotel dip would last: outside the fridge, in the refrigerator and also in the freezer.
Many want to be able to make large batches of rotel dips and enjoy them for as long as they can!
So in this article, we’ll explain all there is to know about the longevity of rotel dip as well as provide practical tips on how to properly store it to ensure you’re always consuming the best and safest version possible.
Here’s How Long A Rotel Dip Is Good For
Rotel dip is good for a maximum of 2 hours outside the fridge after bringing it down from the heat, after which it has to be refrigerated. In the refrigerator, rotel dip is good for at least 3 to 5 days provided the dip is packaged in an airtight container and the refrigeration temperature is maintained at or below 40°F, whereas if stored in the freezer, rotel dip would keep indefinitely, but is best consumed within the first 2 months.
How Long Can Rotel Dip Sit Out?
When it comes to food in general, it is important to know the laid out rules and regulations (for preparation and storage) in order to make sure one isn’t skewing in the wrong direction and making decisions that are life threatening.
Food items like rotel dip that contain perishable commodities such as cheese, tomato and meat in them, they are never supposed to be left out for more than 2 hours after bringing them down from the heat, especially when the ambient temperature reads above 70°F, accoriding to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
But why is this so?
This is because as the food cools, it approaches a temperature called the DANGER ZONE which is a range of temperatures that bacteria: both spoilage and pathogenic, best thrive at. Their growth in a rote dip is further accelerated by the fact that the gravy-like medium serves as a perfect source of nutrients for them.
The danger zone as indicated by the USDA is 140°F – 40°F, and how hot the ambient temperature is would determine how long the food stays in this zone: the hotter it is, the longer the food is maintained within that range.
So what’s the fuss about bacteria growing in the medium?
You could get sick! That’s the fuss. If you have pathogenic bacteria growing in your dip, and you consume the food without heating it to the appropriate temperature (165°F) for at least 10 minutes, the chances of you falling sick dramatically shoots up.
And even when you heat up the meal, there’s always the chance that you’re not going to maintain it at the above temperature for the recommended duration, which means some bacteria can still persist and make it into your body system.
For spoilage bacteria, their own job is to make your food spoil, but they don’t really do much to cause illness, although specific varieties still can.
If your dip has sat out overnight, or even for longer than that, you should inspect it for signs of spoilage by looking out for the following: sliminess, rancid smell, odd looking cheese (or dip in general), and the growth of fuzzy looking entities on the surface — mold.
If you discover any of these signs, it’s best to discard the rotel dip to prevent food borne illness.
If you don’t want to refrigerate your rotel dip after making it, maybe because you’re serving the dip to guests at a party or gathering, then there are ways to keep it warm (at the safe temperature) to prevent the risks of food poisoning.
How To Keep Rotel Dip Warm After Cooking
Use the slow cooker
The slow cooker is literally one of the easiest ways to keep rotel dip warm for an extended period of time (about 2 hours or slightly more) without overcooking it or causing it to burn underneath.
To keep a rotel dip warm in a slow cooker, transfer the dip from the pan into the slow cooker and give it a nice stir.
Set the slow cooker on low heat, cover the slow cooker and (only open occasionally to stir the mixture so as to prevent the bottom from sticking to the base of the cooker or the cheese from clumping).
When the dip begins to change consistency i.e becoming too thick, it’s a sign it has overstayed in the cooker. If it still isn’t yet time to bring it down, adjust the thickness by adding in small amounts of cream or milk to thin it out.
Use a warming tray
Another great option you can try out is a warming tray, and here’s how to use it.
Transfer the dip to a heat-proof container or dish suitable for use on the warming tray and place it on it. Set the temperature to 200°F (if your warming tray allows for that) and let it do the magic.
Make sure to constantly stir the dip to prevent it from sticking to the bottom or the cheese from clumping together or separating.
As with the slow cooker method, if you notice your dip has started turning thick, stir in a little quantity of milk or cream in order to adjust it to the right consistency.
Keep the rotel dip on the warming tray for as long as 2 hours but never longer than that.
Use the oven
If you don’t have a slow cooker or a warming tray, then you can try keeping your rotel dip warm in an oven, but you have to be especially careful not to burn the food.
For this method, stuff in your rotel dip transferred into a casserole dish or any oven safe dish into an oven preheated to 200°F or 250°F.
Make sure to not close the oven door all the way to allow heat to escape which will help control the amount of heat produced. Allow the dip to cook slowly, making sure to check the dip to prevent burning and also to check the temperature of the oven to ensure that it’s only warm and not too hot.
It is best to keep rotel dip for no longer than 1 hour using this method, and note that the longer you keep the dip, the more likely its texture and even flavor is negatively affected. So time everything (from cooking the dip to serving it) in such a way that you only begin warming the dip when you are very close to serving it.
Put it in a cooler
If you’re hosting the party or gathering in a place where there isn’t going to be a warming tray, oven or crock pot, then you need an alternative way to keep the dip in a safe temperature.
What you want to do is first cool the dip after bringing it down from the heat by transferring it to a plastic container with a wide base and putting the base under iced water or even regular tap water while constantly stirring to release heat.
The dip should cool down to about 70°F within 2 hours. Next, package the dip and place it in a cooler with several ice packs around it to ensure a safe temperature is maintained.
How Long Is Rotel Dip Good For In The Fridge?
Rotel dip is good for at least 3 to 5 days in the fridge when it is prepared using fresh and quality ingredients and also packaged properly.
Starting out with bad quality ingredients spells out a quicker deterioration for your rotel dip even during storage. So make sure the meat, cheese and Ro-Tel tomatoes are all of good quality.
When it comes to storing rotel dip in the fridge, ensure to use an airtight container to seal it from air that can cause oxidation and lead to a loss of flavor and texture and also the growth of spoilage bacteria.
Some of the best containers you can use to store rote dip include glass containers that have tight fit lids, food grade plastic containers and vacuum seal bags.
To store rotel dip in the fridge, first cool the dip if it’s just coming down from the stove top using the ice bath method mentioned above i.e transfer the dip into a container with a wide bottom and submerged the bottom in an iced water.
Stir the dip constantly to allow heat to escape and transfer it to an airtight container when the internal temperature is around 70°F. Whatever you do, make.sure to not exceed 2 hours before you refrigerate it.
Next, transfer the dip to an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator so the temperature gets lowered from 70°F to below 40°F.
Store in the refrigerator for no longer than 5 days and before using them, make sure to check for the signs of spoilage using the tips we provided above.
For reheating, you can use the microwave or stove top, but make sure the internal temperature reads 165°F to ensure all bacteria that may have made it into the food during preparation for storage and also during storage are destroyed.
Reheating in the microwave
To reheat in the microwave, first transfer the dip into a microwave safe bowl and cover the top with parchment paper, wax paper or a microwave safe lid. Heat at bursts of 30 seconds (stirring in between) and measure the internal temperature with a food thermometer. Make sure it reads 165°F before removing it from the microwave.
Reheating on the stove top
On the stove top, reheat the rotel dip in a saucepan over medium heat first until it begins to boil, then over low heat until the internal temperature reads 165°F.
Make sure to stir constantly to prevent the dip from sticking to the bottom and sides of the pan if you’re using a pan that is not non-stick.
Can You Freeze Rotel Dip?
Rotel dip can be frozen indefinitely when packaged in an airtight container, but it is best to use it within the first 2 months for optimum quality.
Foods with dairy products in them tend to separate during freezing and become gritty, and they can also lose flavor and texture after thawing which is why it is recommended to avoid freezing them completely, or if you must, to use them early.
To freeze, prepare the rotel dip and put it inside the refrigerator as instructed above, and when their temperature falls to below 40°F, transfer the dip into a freezer safe bag or container, label with name of food and date of storage and freeze.
When it’s time to use it, thaw in the refrigerator and reheat as instructed above.
What To Do With Leftover Rotel Dip?
If you have leftover rotel dip, the most obvious thing to do with it first is to refrigerate or freeze it until you find the need for it later on.
However, there are also other interesting ways you can purpose leftover rotel dip, and we’ll be looking at some of them below.
- Use it as a topping or sauce for chicken tenders and wings, beef quesadilla, nachos, baked potatoes and pasta.
- Use it as a base for making soup or as an extra addition to soups such as potato soup.
- Add it to your sandwich
- Add it to mac and cheese
- Add it to scrambled eggs.