Instant Pot Chili Mac is super-quick to make and flavor-packed! It is what I make when I want serious flavors and don’t have much time. This recipe takes all the flavors of the chili mac you grew up on and elevates them into a delicious crave-worthy meal. Comfort food at its best!
It doesn't matter what time of year it is, I always look for meals that will please the whole family.
Instant Pot Chili Mac is one of the easiest and most delicious weeknight meals you can make.
The best part is that it's ready in about 30 minutes!
This dish is perfect for a busy family on the go. Trust me, your kids will love it! (Mine sure do - we make this recipe at least three times a month!)
I hope you enjoy this Instant Pot Chili Mac recipe!
Ingredients for Making Chili Mac in the Instant Pot
- Ground Beef: Use ground beef that is at least 80% lean. To make this lighter, use ground turkey in this Instant Pot chili mac recipe.
- Onion: I prefer to use a white or yellow onion in this recipe, but you can use any onion you have on hand. Just chop it up into small pieces, so it cooks evenly.
- Red Pepper: I like adding red bell pepper to my Chili Mac for a bit of sweetness and color. Just make sure to seed and dice it before adding it to the Instant Pot. You can omit it if you don't have one on hand.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic is best in this recipe. However, you can use ½ teaspoon of garlic powder if that's all you have on hand.
- Chili Powder: This is the crucial ingredient that will give this Chili Mac Instant Pot recipe its flavor. I like to use a combination of mild and hot chili powder, but you can use any chili powder you want. You can start with one tablespoon and add more to taste.
- Cumin: Cumin is another crucial ingredient in this recipe. It will give your Chili Mac a bit of a smoky flavor. Just make sure to use ground cumin and not cumin seeds.
- Oregano: I like to use dried oregano in this recipe, but fresh is fabulous if you have it on hand. Use one tablespoon of chopped fresh oregano in place of the dried.
- Salt: Adjust the amount of salt to your liking. (Just remember- pasta needs salt for its flavor!)
- Smoked Paprika: This is my secret ingredient in this recipe. It will give your Chili Mac a bit of a smoky flavor without making it too spicy. Just make sure to use smoked paprika and not regular paprika.
- Black Pepper: I like to use freshly ground black pepper in this recipe, but you can use any kind of black pepper you have on hand.
- Beef Broth: Use beef broth in this recipe because it gives the Chili Mac a bit more flavor and keeps the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the Instant Pot. Two and a half cups of water could be substituted.
- Tomatoes: I like to use canned diced tomatoes with green chiles in this recipe because they add a bit of spice and flavor. However, you can use any kind of diced tomatoes you have on hand. Just make sure to drain them before adding them to the Instant Pot.
- Tomato Sauce: I like to use tomato sauce in this recipe because it adds a bit of acidity and sweetness.
- Elbow Noodles: I like to use elbow noodles in this recipe because they are the perfect size for scooping up all the delicious chili and are easy to get cooked through.
- Shredded Cheese: I like cheddar cheese in this recipe because it melts well and has a great flavor. Feel free to use your favorite cheese.
Tips & Tricks
- Drain if you have a lot of oil after browning the ground beef and cooking the vegetables.
- To save time, you could use purchased chili seasoning.
- If you don't have an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, you could easily make this recipe on the stovetop. Just follow the directions up until adding the pasta. Cook the pasta separately and then add it to the chili when it is done cooking.
- For super cheesy chili mac in the Instant Pot, you could add 1 cup of shredded cheese on top when serving.
- If you want a bit more of a spicy flavor, you could add ½ teaspoon of chili powder or smoked paprika. A ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper also works. Or, you could add some diced jalapeños when cooking the vegetables.
- To make this dish even heartier, a can of drained kidney beans or black beans can be added on top of the pasta.
Chili Mac and Cheese in the Instant Pot is a meal by itself. It is excellent, served with a side salad and cornbread.
Other serving suggestions include:
- A dollop of sour cream on top
- Green onions on top
- Diced avocado on top
- A side of tortilla chips
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can make this in the slow cooker. Just follow the directions up until adding the pasta. Cook on low for four hours.
Cook the pasta separately and then add it to the chili when it is done cooking.
Yes, you can make this in the oven. Just follow the directions up until adding the pasta. Cook the pasta separately and then add it to the chili.
Transfer to a casserole dish.
Top with additional cheese and bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes.
Chili mac is a dish that has its roots in the American South. It is a simple dish that was created to make use of leftovers.
The dish gained popularity in the 1930s and 1940s as a way to stretch limited food resources during the Great Depression and World War II.
Chili mac is a dish that combines chili and macaroni, and cheese. Macaroni and cheese is a dish that typically consists of only pasta and cheese.
Tools Needed to Make Instant Pot Chili Mac and Cheese
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Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
You can reheat using the saute' mode on your Instant Pot, in the oven, or the microwave.
How to Make Instant Pot Chili Mac
For the full recipe with measurements, see the recipe card at the end of the post.
First, start by setting your Instant Pot to saute' on high.
Next, add the ground beef, onion, and red pepper.
Cook until the ground beef is browned, and drain any excess fat if desired.
Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, paprika, and black pepper. Cook for one minute.
Add ½ cup of the broth and scrape the bottom to remove any stuck-on bits. (This is important to prevent getting the burn signal.)
Pour the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce without stirring, and then pour in the remaining 2 cups of broth. Again, do not stir.
Add the elbow noodles, and press down to ensure they are submerged in the liquid.
Close the lid, and set the valve to sealing.
Cook on high pressure for 3 minutes. Quickly release when the time is up by carefully moving the valve to vent. (There will be a lot of steam.)
Stir well until the sauce begins to thicken.
Add cheese and stir until it melts.
Top with additional cheese, and enjoy!
Instant Pot Chili Mac with Ground Beef
- Instant Pot
- 16 ounces ground beef
- 1 chopped onion
- 1 red pepper seeded and diced
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
- 1 ½ tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2 ½ cups beef broth divided
- 10- ounces canned diced tomatoes with green chiles
- 15- ounces tomato sauce
- 1 pound of uncooked elbow noodles
- 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese divided
- Set your Instant Pot to High saute.
- Add the ground beef, onion, and red pepper.
- Cook until the ground beef is browned. Drain any excess fat.
- Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, paprika, and black pepper. Cook for one minute.
- Add ½ cup of the broth and scrape the bottom to remove any stuck-on bits.
- Pour the diced tomato and tomato sauce in without stirring, then pour the remaining 2 cups of the broth. DO NOT STIR.
- Add the elbow noodles, and press down to ensure they are submerged. (But do not stir.)
- Place the lid on your pot, and select manual pressure cook. Set the timer to 3 minutes.
- When the time is up, do a quick release.
- Stir well until the sauce begins to thicken.
- Add 1 ½ cups of the shredded cheese and stir until it melts.
- Top with additional cheese, and enjoy.