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Pressure Cooker Cincinnati Chili

Pressure Cooker Cincinnati Chili

Pressure Cooker Cincinnati Chili

I’m a little nervous about today’s post. Chili has devoted fans. The kind of people who put “fanatic” back in fan. And, while I’m an Ohio boy, I’ve never been to Cincinnati. So, some people could view this recipe as blasphemous…not quite blasphemous as an Ohio boy posting a Texas chili recipe, but close.

I don’t care. I love Cincinnati chili. When I was working my first job out of college, a group of us would go to Skyline Chili once a week for lunch. It was the high point of my week, which probably tells you how that job was going for me.

Cincinnati chili is very saucy, which is good, because it is used to top a plate of spaghetti, and is then topped with a pile of shredded cheese. Think of it as closer to spaghetti sauce than a bowl of Texas red. It is served in five different “ways”, each ingredient layered from the bottom:

  • One way – chili (usually called “a bowl of chili”)
  • Two way – spaghetti topped with chili
  • Three way – spaghetti, chili, cheese
  • Four way – spaghetti, chili, onions, cheese
  • Five way – spaghetti, chili, beans, onions, cheese

I’ve been trying to get the mix of spices right for years; here’s my current best guess. I use my pressure cooker to speed things up. And…and…I’m not sure I should admit this, but…I like to cook the beans in the chili. Why cook them separately when I can cook them with the spices, and add to the flavor? This makes me a Cincinnati chili heretic, of course. Look out, here come the angry mob, straight up I-71!
*No pressure cooker? No worries. Check the notes section for regular stove top instructions.

Recipe: Pressure Cooker Cincinnati Chili



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Pressure Cooker Cincinnati Chili

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Prep Time: 8 hours
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 8 hours 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 1x


Pressure Cooker Cincinnati Chili recipe – a taste of the queen city from your pressure cooker in about an hour.



Brined Beans

  • 1 pound dried red kidney beans, sorted and rinsed
  • 3 quarts water
  • 3 tablespoons table salt (or 6 tablespoons kosher salt)


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 (14 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Other ingredients and condiments

  • 1 pound dried spaghetti, cooked according to package directions in salted water
  • 8 ounces (4 cups) finely grated cheddar cheese
  • Minced onions
  • Oyster crackers
  • Hot sauce (I use Frank’s red hot, but it’s milder than what they serve at Skyline.)


  1. Brine the beans: 8 hours before cooking (or the night before), sort and rinse the kidney beans, then cover with 3 quarts water and add the salt. Soak the beans at room temperature until it is time to cook, then drain and rinse carefully.
  2. Sauté the aromatics: Heat the vegetable oil in the pressure cooker over medium-high heat until shimmering, then add the onions, garlic, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt to the pressure cooker. Sauté the onions and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Toast the spices and cook the beef: Make a hole in the center of the onion/garlic mix and add the chili powder, cumin, coriander, cocoa powder, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, and bay leaf. Let sit for 30 seconds to toast the spices, then stir them into the onions. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring and breaking up any clumps, until the beef just loses its pink color.
  4. Cook the chili: Stir the drained and rinsed kidney beans into the pot, then pour in the water, and add the crushed tomatoes on top. (Do not stir; the tomatoes may burn if they get to the bottom of the pot.) Lock the lid on the pressure cooker and bring the cooker up to high pressure. (Read your fine pressure cooker manual for how to do this). Cook at high pressure for 20 minutes in an electric PC, 15 minutes in a stovetop PC. Let the pressure come down naturally, about 15 minutes. Stir in the cider vinegar and brown sugar, then add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve the chili: Put a layer of spaghetti on the plate, top with a generous layer of chili, sprinkle on the minced onions, then heap on the cheese. Pass the oyster crackers to sop up the thin sauce, and hot sauce for anyone who wants to add some heat.
  • Category: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: American


Brined and rinsed kidney beans

Brined and rinsed kidney beans


Sauté the onions and chili powder

Sauté the onions and chili powder


Cook the beef until it just loses its pink color

Cook the beef until it just loses its pink color


A plate of five way - spaghetti, chili, beans, onions and cheese

A plate of five way – spaghetti, chili, beans, onions and cheese


*No pressure cooker? No worries. Cook the recipe in a dutch oven, following the instructions. In step 3, instead of pressure cooking on high, bring all the ingredients to a boil, cover the pot and move it to a 350*F oven for 2 hours, or until the beans are tender. Remove from the oven, and season to taste.

*Even quicker pressure cooker chili: If you have pre-cooked beans, you can use them instead of dried. Skip the brining step. In step 4, cook the chili for 5 minutes under high pressure. Rinse the beans, and serve them with the chili on top of the

*As with most stews and chilis, this recipe freezes well. I freeze it in 2 cup containers for future lunches.

What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts:
Pressure cooker pork chili with beans
Pressure Cooker Turkey, Chorizo and Bean Chili
My other pressure cooker recipes

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Filed under: Pressure cooker


Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.


  1. Karina Sigler says

    Hello, my husband is questioning the amount of chili powder in the recipe. Does it really call for 1/4 cup. He was raised in Ohio and thinks it will make it too spicy. Please advise.

  2. Mike says

    I noticed you aren’t draining the beef at all. What type of ground beef are you using? I would think standard 80/20 would come out pretty greasy. I guess since you sauteed in the spices in the meat the only thing you could do would be to chill the chili after cooking and then skim the fat off the top? Or maybe taking the fat out of the chili is considered sacrilege?

  3. Kali says

    I grew up in central Kentucky, and left when I joined the military. I always get the craving for a 5 way and cheese coney when I’ve been away from home too long, and they don’t have anything like skyline/gold star in Southern California. I made this for my family today, and we really enjoyed it. I tweaked it just a little by leaving out the water and instead using 2 cups of sweet red wine, and an extra can of tomatoes. It turned out a little too thin and didn’t quite have the taste that I remember so next time I will just use 1 cup of dry red wine. Thanks for posting.

  4. Renee says

    My husband hates beans. If I want to skip them entirely, do I just cook at pressure for 5 minutes?

  5. Tiffany says

    Wow!! You nailed the recipe!! We just finished eating and it was a delicious blast from the past. I lived in Cincinnati for years, and I loved eating at Skyline!! It been 15-20 years since I enjoyed a 5 way!! Thank you for sharing, this will definitely be a family winter favorite from here on out in our family.

  6. Dan McGrew says

    Hope you make extra to put on a hotdog bun and top with mustard, onions and cheese.

  7. love your site! i assume its 1.5 lbs of grd beef and not 3 right? you have it listed twice.

  8. says

    Ok. So I love the recipes I try from your site. This one makes me miss the midwest. I can’t wait to try it. I love my pressure cooker.

  9. oh yes gonna make this soon as it cools off a little more. My college roommate was from Cincy and we used to try and make the 5 way back in the day.

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