Instant Pot Chili Mac and Cheese combines the best of two beloved dishes for a truly outstanding yet quick-to-make comfort food. Make this one-pot meal on a weeknight for an easy, filling meal in under 30 minutes, including the time it takes for the pot to come to pressure!
Chili Mac and Cheese came up in conversation the other day with an old friend of mine the other day. We grew up in Wisconsin where this was not an uncommon dish on many Midwestern dinner tables.
My friend commented that, although she loves Chili Mac and would like to eat it more, she doesn’t make chili that often and, when she does, she doesn’t have enough left over to make Chili Mac and Cheese.
This stopped me in my tracks. It never occurred to me that a fellow Midwestern girl would simply add chili to mac and cheese and call it the same thing. Don’t get me wrong – I’m definitely not opposed to doing that and have done it myself, in fact – but I didn’t want her to miss out because she assumed that was the only way.
I told her that I have good news for her, and explained that you don’t have to make a big pot of chili first. In fact, Instant Pot Chili Mac and Cheese is such a simple dish to make and it’s ready in under 30 minutes, including the time it takes to bring the pot to pressure!
Needless to say, she was thrilled, so I scribbled down this Instant Pot Chili Mac recipe before we parted ways so she could make it that same night. Which is exactly what she did, and she called me that night to tell me how much she loved it and that she’ll be making it often from now on.
I immediately decided I needed to post the recipe here just in case there are others out there who need it. Instant Pot Chili Mac and Cheese is such a delicious, easy, and quick recipe that it needs to be in your dinner rotation always!
How do you make Instant Pot Chili Mac?
This recipe is so simple! Cook some onion and garlic in the pot, brown the ground beef, add chili powder and cumin, then tomatoes, beans, and chicken stock. Add the pasta, turn on the timer and pressure cook it on high for just 4 minutes. Top it with some cheese, allow a few minutes for it to melt, and serve.
It’s so simple and so filling, tasty, and comforting!
Can you freeze Instant Pot Chili Mac and Cheese?
Yes, you can! I’ll often double the recipe and freeze some in single-serving portions to have for lunch on busy work days. Use air-tight containers and freeze it for up to 3 months. The texture is best if you let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating, but it’s still good if you just can’t wait or have the time.
Instant Pot Chili Mac and Cheese Variations
- For Keto or Low-Carb: I make this version often as we try to eat as low carb as possible. It’s an easy swap, too: simply substitute the pasta for small bite-sized pieces of cauliflower and omit the beans (I usually use one whole head of cauliflower in place of the pasta). The timing, as well as when you add it to the pot, is the same so it really is a simple substitute. You can also check out these Instant Pot keto recipes for more ideas.
- Use black beans and add a can of diced green chiles for a more Southwestern-style flavor.
- Add 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper if you like it spicy!
- Add more vegetables, such as corn or chopped red bell pepper.
- Try serving it with sour cream and chopped green onion for toppings – it’s really good this way!
What can you serve with Chili Mac and Cheese?
I try to keep things pretty simple since you already have pasta and beef in the main dish. If I do serve this with sides, I usually opt for garlic bread and a vegetable, such as garlic snap peas or smashed brussels sprouts.
This recipe is also incredibly simple to make on the stovetop! If you’d like to give that version a try, check out our instructions for Easy One-Pot Chili Mac and Cheese.
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 lb ground beef
- 3 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 14.5-oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (can also use regular diced tomatoes)
- 1 15-oz can kidney beans
- 32 oz low-sodium chicken broth or stock (4 cups)
- 1 10-oz package elbow macaroni
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt (more to taste)
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or more!)
- 1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)
- Press "Saute" on your Instant Pot and set the temperature to "Normal". When the display reads "Hot", add the oil and, when it's shimmering, add the onion. Cook for 3-4 minutes until it's starting to soften. Add the garlic and cook one minute more. Add the ground beef, breaking it up as much as possible, and cook until there's no pink remaining, about 5 minutes. Drain the fat from the pot.
- Add the chili powder and cumin to the pot and stir well to incorporate.
- Gently stir in the tomatoes and beans, then pour in the chicken broth. Add the pasta and gently press it down to ensure it's completely submerged (DO NOT STIR).
- Close and lock the lid, taking care that the valve is set to "Sealing". Press "Manual" and set the timer for 4 minutes.
- When the time is up, release the pressure using the "Quick Pressure Release". Carefully stir to break up any pasta that might be stuck together.
- Add the salt and pepper, then taste and add more if necessary.
- Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top. Add the cover back to the pot and allow the cheese to melt for a few minutes..
- Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 796Total Fat: 37gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 131mgSodium: 1166mgCarbohydrates: 59gFiber: 10gSugar: 10gProtein: 58g