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A bowl of chili mac topped with green onions and pickled jalapenos

Instant Pot Chili Mac Recipe

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 quarts of chili mac 1x


Instant Pot Chili Mac - chili and elbow pasta, together in a one-pot pressure cooker meal.


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, trimmed and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 pound ground sirloin (85/15, aka 85% lean)
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (or 4 cups homemade beans)
  • 1 pound dried elbow macaroni pasta
  • 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cups water (or chicken broth)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Garnish (all optional)

  • Hot sauce
  • Diced onions (or green onions)
  • More diced red peppers
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Pickled jalapeños
  • Minced cilantro


  1. Sauté the aromatics: Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in an Instant Pot set to Sauté mode - high. (Use medium-high heat in a stovetop PC). Add the onions, bell pepper, garlic, and ½ teaspoon salt to the pressure cooker. Sauté until the onions soften, about 5 minutes.
  2. Toast the spices and cook the beef: Make a hole in the center of the onion mix and add the chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Let the spices sit for 30 seconds, then stir into the onions. Add the ground beef and stir to coat with the onions and spices, using a flat-edged wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Cook the ground beef, stirring often, until the beef just loses its pink color, about 3 minutes. (Make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot while cooking the beef or it will burn - stir and scrape the bottom often.)
  3. Everything in the pot: Stir the rinsed and drained beans, elbow macaroni, crushed tomatoes, and water into the pot. Sprinkle in 1 teaspoon of salt. Scrape the bottom of the pot one last time to make sure nothing is sticking. Poke down any pieces of pasta sticking up out of the water - if they’re not submerged, they might not cook. 
  4. Pressure cook for 4 minutes with a 5 minute natural release: Lock the lid and cook at high pressure for 4 minutes (Use Manual, Pressure Cook, or Pressure Cook - Custom mode with an Instant Pot.) When the cooking time finishes, let the pressure come down naturally for 5 minutes, then quick release the remaining pressure in the pot. Remove the lid carefully, opening away from you – even when it’s not under pressure, the steam in the cooker is very hot.
  5. Season and serve: Stir in the black pepper, serve with your favorite chili toppings, and enjoy!


“I quick-released the pressure and starchy liquid started spraying out! Help!” Carefully close the pressure release valve (protect your hands, please, that spraying liquid is very hot). Let the cooker cool down for about 5 minutes, then try again. (This sometimes happens in pressure cooking - quick-releasing the pressure causes the chili mac inside the pot to burst into a boil, and the liquid starts boiling out of the valve.) If you have a pot where you can open and close the pressure valve without burning your hands with the hot steam, you can pulse the steam vent to gradually reduce the pressure. To do this, open the pressure valve, and close it the moment it starts spitting starch. Wait about 30 seconds, then repeat until all the pressure is gone - eventually, it will stop spitting starch and you can just leave the valve open. Pulsing the pressure lowers the pressure slowly, while keeping the liquid in the pot just below the boiling point.

Precise pasta: If you are picky about your pasta, and want it perfectly al dente, don’t pressure cook the pasta. (It can come out a little soft, which is fine by me for Chili Mac, but if it bothers you, read on.) Make the recipe as described, but hold back on the elbow macaroni. Pressure cook everything else, increasing the time at high pressure to 10 minutes. After releasing the pressure, remove the lid, set the pot to Sauté mode, and stir the pasta into the liquid in the pot. Cook the pasta until al dente - check your box of pasta for the timings - and then continue with the season and serve step.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Weeknight Dinner
  • Method: Pressure Cooking
  • Cuisine: American