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Pressure Cooker Chili Mac

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


Pressure Cooker 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
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 pound ground sirloin (85% lean)
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans red 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
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • More salt and pepper to taste (if needed)

Garnish (all optional)

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


  1. Sauté the aromatics: Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in the pressure cooker pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. (In my Instant Pot, sauté mode adjusted to high.) Add the onions, bell pepper, garlic, and 1/2 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 sit for 30 seconds, then stir into the onions. Add the ground beef and stir to coat with the onions and spices, scraping 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.
  3. Pressure cook for 4 minutes with a quick pressure release: Stir the rinsed and drained beans, elbow macaroni, crushed tomatoes, and water into the pot. Sprinkle in 1 teaspoon of salt. Poke down any pieces of pasta sticking up out of the water - if they’re not submerged, they might not cook. Lock the lid on the pressure cooker and cook at high pressure for 4 minutes (both in an electric pressure cooker or stove top pressure cooker) then quick release the 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.
  4. Season and serve: Stir in the black pepper, then taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. (Canned beans tend to be salty, so I rarely need to add more salt.) Serve, 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.)
  • Overcooked pasta: If you like your pasta al dente, don’t pressure cook the pasta. 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 quick-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