The #1 question about my Pressure Cooker Ground Beef and Bean Chili recipe? “What if I want to use canned beans instead of dried?”
I dashed off a quick answer in the comments…“five minutes!”…but then it started to nag at me. Was five minutes under pressure enough time for the chili flavors to mingle?
Normally, cooking time is determined by how long it takes to cook all the ingredients through. Ground beef takes almost no time to cook. 4 The cooking time is based entirely on flavor. We don’t want a ground beef, bean, and chili soup, with each a distinct flavor; we want a chili, with all the flavors blended together, something greater than the sum of its parts. Time for some testing!
I bought beef, canned beans, tomatoes, and got out my pressure cookers. 5 The recipe was the same in all three until I locked the lid: sauté the onions and garlic, toast the spices, mix in the beef, then the liquids and the beans. Then I set one cooker to 5 minutes, one to 10, and one to 15 minutes, and let them pressure cook with a natural pressure release.
The results? Ten minutes is the Goldilocks zone. Five minutes is too short. The beans are the best in after five minutes - still having a little bit to them - but the rest of the ingredients don't quite come together, tasting like a beef and tomato and bean soup. Fifteen minutes is too long. I get a thick, chili flavor, but the beans are way overcooked, starting to melt away. Ten minutes is just right, a rich chili with beans that have absorbed the chili flavors. 6
Which brings me to my last two points: One, even the 5 minute chili was good - chili is hard to mess up. Two, chili is better if you make your own beans in the pressure cooker. Make the beans ahead and freeze them in 2 cup containers. That lets you pull beans out of the freezer, and they taste much better than canned. (And yes, I know that contradicts point one. Hey, who says I have to be consistent?)
Note: I took this video while making a version of this recipe scaled up for an 8 quart pressure cooker. I'm including it here because it's the same instructions; just use the ingredient amounts in the recipe on this page if you have a 6 quart pressure cooker.
Pressure Cooker Quick Chili (in an 8 Quart Pressure Cooker) [YouTube]
Recipe: Pressure Cooker Quick Chili with Canned Beans
- 6 quart or larger pressure cooker (I love my Instant Pot electric pressure cooker)
Pressure Cooker Quick Chili with Canned Beans
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 6-8 servings 1x
Pressure Cooker Quick Chili with Canned Beans recipe. What's the quickest way to get dinner on the table? Pressure cooker chili, of course.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ¼ cup chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 pound ground beef (Preferably 85% lean ground round or 80% lean ground chuck)
- 1 ½ cups water (or homemade chicken broth)
- 4 (14- to 16-ounce) cans of beans, drained (kidney, pinto, black, or a mix of beans)
- (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- Salt to taste
- Sauté the aromatics: Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in the pressure cooker pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions, garlic, and ½ teaspoon salt to the pressure cooker. Sauté the onions and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes.
- 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. Add the water and cook the beef, stirring often, until the beef just loses its pink color, about 3 minutes.
- Cook the chili: Stir the beans and crushed tomatoes into the pot. Lock the lid on the pressure cooker and cook at high pressure for 10 minutes in an electric PC or 8 minutes in a stove top cooker. Turn off the heat and let the pressure come down naturally, about 15 minutes. (Or, if you’re really in a hurry, high pressure for 12 minutes in an electric PC or 10 minutes in a stovetop, then quick release the pressure.) Remove the lid carefully, opening away from you – even when it’s not under pressure, the steam in the cooker is very hot.
- Season and serve: Stir in the black pepper, then taste and add salt if needed. (Canned beans tend to be salty, so I rarely need to add more salt.)
Troubleshooting scorching or overheating: I have one pressure cooker that runs hotter than my others, and it had problems with overheating in this recipe. (Overheat usually means the pressure cooker noticed that things are burning on the bottom of the pot.) If you have overheating or scorching in your cooker, add an extra cup of water to the recipe and make sure the bottom of the cooker is scraped well before stirring in the beans.
Homemade beans: If you have leftover pressure cooker beans, this recipe is a great way to use them up. Substitute 6 to 8 cups of cooked homemade beans for the canned beans.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: Pressure Cooker
- Cuisine: American
What do you think?
Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
Pressure Cooker Ground Beef and Bean Chili
Pressure Cooker Turkey and Black Bean Chili
Instant Pot White Turkey Chili
Pressure Cooker Beans: Basic Technique
My other Pressure Cooker Recipes
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Amy Davis says
Can you double it if you have the 8 quart instant pot?
Mike Vrobel says
Recipe for 8 quart here: https://www.dadcooksdinner.com/big-batch-of-quick-chili-in-the-8-quart-pressure-cooker/
This is the first recipe I've tried on my Instapot. I played a little bit fast and loose with the ingredients -- I used 2lbs of ground beef (browned separately so that I could drain the immense amount of drippings, I used 80% lean), cut the beans down to one can, added a diced bell pepper (just after putting in the onion and garlic), and added a can of drained corn (with the drained beans). Other than that, your spices and cooking times with the Instapot were dead on. The chili tasted awesome and it was ready go in less than an hour! Thanks!
This is the first time I’ve had my IP not come to pressure. I wonder if I did anything wrong. It smells pretty good though but it’s just boiling away in there.
Mike Vrobel says
Scrape the bottom of the pot. If too much of the beans sink to the bottom of the pot, and start to stick, it will go into overheat mode and not come up to pressure.
Wow this was surprisingly good! I am not a cook, just a Dad with children who don’t usually like it when I venture away from the grill. No complaints this time.
Aaron Friedman says
I just made the recipe this morning. It's really good considering how little work is required. Thanks.
I did feel compelled to add a Tbs. of fish sauce though.
Hi. I have a friend who makes her chili with stew meat instead of ground beef (on the stove top). Do you think I could try this with stew meat and still use canned beans? If so, would you cook it for 10-15 mins still? Have you tried something similar? Love your blog
Mike Vrobel says
Try this recipe:https://www.dadcooksdinner.com/pressure-cooker-pork-chili-with-beans/
We made this last night with ingredients we had on hand. It was delicious! We used 1 dark Mex. beer and some chicken broth for the water. Thanks for the great recipe!
Mike V says
Great! Glad you enjoyed it.
Will a double batch fit in the instant pot 6 qt?
Mike V says
No - a double batch is too much for the 6 quart.
Has anyone put cornbread mix on top while under pressure? I saw it for pot pie wondering if it would work for this
Loved this weeknight chili! Got hotter as days went by. Will definitely make again soon.
Do you really use 1/4 CUP of chili powder?
Mike V says
Yes, 1/4 cup means 1/4 cup.
When I see recipes that call for a tablespoon of chili powder I just laugh and laugh. 😀 I add a "cupped palm" full of chili powder and another of cumin to my chili and I love it.
This is a perfect fill-the-freezer chili for Summer. I kept a couple of small containers out for lunch this week, but a lot of it went straight into the freezer for those nights when I feel like chili, but don't feel like heating up the house to do it.
In the body of the recipe, where you say to add the seasonings to toast them, you include coriander and cloves. Those two spices don't seem to be in the ingredient list. How much of each should be added (I assume very little compared to the other amounts).
Mike V says
Sorry, cut and paste from a different chili recipe. I removed them from the ingredients list.
I actually added them to the recipe (tiny pinch of cloves, <tsp of coriander) and the chili was really good. Probably didn't hurt, may have added depth of flavor? (Coriander is cilantro, after all).
Addie Harper Calvitt says
Mike, from one of the pictures it appears you drained the beans. Can you confirm? Thanks!
Mike V says
Yes, drain the beans. I fixed that in the recipe, thanks!
I have had one of those pressure cookers for a couple years now, and I did not realize you could prop the lid open like you've done in your picture...
Mike V says
That is the best feature in the instant pots. When I use one of my other cookers, I always try to set the lid in the handle, and it takes me a few seconds to realize that it won't work...