Instant Pot Chili Mac made with lean ground beef, elbow macaroni and lots of cheese is an easy dinner for busy weeknights or whenever you are craving the ultimate comfort food. This chili mac recipe is easy weeknight meal your whole family will love!
I am all about easy weeknight dinners right now, and this Instant Pot chili mac recipe is a family favorite. It's right up there with Instant Pot Creamy Shells and Beef, Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meat Sauce, Cheeseburger Macaroni and Ground Beef Stroganoff.
Basically, I just added elbow pasta and shredded cheese to our favorite chili recipe, which is a very mild pressure cooker chili recipe. It's the perfect combination for a delicious dinner that's like homemade Hamburger Helper -- way better than the boxed stuff!
If you're looking for easy easy Instant Pot recipes, this pressure cooker chili mac and cheese is for you! Not only is it super easy to make, but it also makes a LOT of everyone's favorite comfort food.
This creamy mac takes minutes to prepare and is perfect for game day or a potluck!
You only need a few ingredients to make homemade chili mac. Most of them are pantry ingredients or already in your refrigerator:
- Lean ground beef
- Elbow macaroni
- Kidney beans
- Shredded cheese -- sharp cheddar, mild cheddar, Colby Jack, or cheddar blend
- Bell peppers -- I used yellow, but orange or green peppers are fine.
- Onion -- yellow or white
- Diced tomatoes
- Tomato sauce
- Beef broth or water
- Olive oil
- Sea salt, black pepper, chili powder, garlic powder
How to Make Easy Instant Pot Chili Mac and Cheese
First, add the olive oil to the bottom of the pot, and brown your ground beef on the saute mode. next, add the spices, and cook until no longer pink.
I use lean beef, so I usually don't have to worry about draining the grease. You can drain the excess fat off if you want, but be sure to season the meat after you drain it.
Next, add your chopped onions and bell peppers. I don't like to sauté these first, because I don't want them too soft.
Then, turn the saute function off. Be sure check to make sure no food is stuck to the bottom of the pot.
There shouldn't be, but you can add a little bit of the beef broth (or water) and deglaze if necessary to avoid the burn notice.
Now, add the macaroni, beef broth and remaining ingredients. Don't stir it -- You don't want the burn notice!
Place the lid on the pressure cooker, and set the cook time to 4 minutes on high pressure. Your electric pressure cooker will take a few minutes to reach pressure, so total cooking time depends upon your appliance.
After pressure cooking for just 4 minutes do a quick release. If the Instant Pot starts spraying liquid, do a gradual quick release.
Use a wooden spoon or long handled spoon to release the pressure in short bursts by turning the release valve off and on.
Now, give the chili mac a good stir so that everything is well combined. Then, add your shredded cheese, 1 cup at a time.
I love Colby Jack cheese for chili mac because it makes it extra creamy -- more like mac and cheese.
You can add some sharp cheddar cheese for extra flavor or use pepper jack for extra spice. If I'm rushed, I'll throw in some packaged cheddar blend!
Top this hearty meal with sour cream and extra cheese if you like. It's really a one pot meal, so serve with crackers or crusty bread or dinner rolls, and you're good to go.
Change up this easy Instant Pot recipe by using taco seasoning and black beans for Mexican flavors.
Add cayenne pepper, red chili flakes, sliced jalapeño peppers or green chiles for extra spice.
Use a different pasta shape. Any short pasta works here. Use ground turkey for a more healthy meal.
How to Store and Reheat
Store leftover chili mac in an airtight container in your refrigerator. it should keep well for 3 to 4 days.
Place in a freezer-safe container and freeze for longer storage. Or, share this pasta dish with a neighbor for dinner tonight!
You can turn the leftovers into a casserole. Just spoon into a baking dish, top with cheese, and bake until hot and bubbly.
Instant Pot Chili Mac
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1½ pounds lean ground beef
- 1½ teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons Chili Powder
- 1 large bell pepper seeded and chopped
- ½ yellow onion diced
- 2 cups macaroni noodles uncooked
- 3 cups beef broth or water
- 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 16-ounce can kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 2½ cups Colby Jack cheese shredded
- Hit SAUTE on the Instant Pot, and when it reads Hot, add your olive oil and ground beef, and start to crumble it up with a spatula
- Add the sea salt, pepper, garlic powder and chili powder, and cook until beef is no longer pink
- Stir in the onion and pepper, make sure there are no brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot ( deglaze with a little beef broth if there is) then hit CANCEL to turn pot off
- Pour macaroni over meat mixture, then add beef broth, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and beans over macaroni. Do not stir
- Place lid on pot, make sure vent is at sealing position, then hit PRESSURE COOK for 4 minutes
- Pot will take a few minutes to reach pressure, then start cooking. When pot beeps, do a gradual quick release. When pin drops, remove lid, stir ingredients together, then stir in cheese, 1 cup at a time
- Chili mac will start to thicken as it cools down
Nutrition information is estimated. Please do your own calculation to fit special diets.
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Recipe first published in 2019 and updated in 2021