Instant Pot chili mac is the ultimate comfort food! It combines the goodness of homemade chili with macaroni and cheese in one easy meal. This easy Instant Pot dinner is made with ground beef, cheese plus pantry items and comes together in under 30 minutes. Let me show you how to make your new favorite dinner.
With the kids home more now, I have started to make meals I know we can easily heat up for lunch. It’s a lot of pressure to have meals for them 3 times a day, 7 days a week. So I try to help everyone out and make a big enough dinner that we have leftovers that they can heat up themselves.
Of course, that dinner also has to be kid approved in order for my plan to work. And we can only have chicken nuggets and plain mac and cheese so many nights. That’s when you get creative and combine two kid approved foods together for one easy meal.
What is chili mac?
Chili mac is short for chili macaroni and cheese. It combines elements of classic chili such as the beans, meat and tomatoes with the goodness of macaroni and cheese. My version is made in the Instant Pot so it all comes together in under 30 minutes.
This recipe can easily be double for a larger family or to have more leftovers on hand. We are a family of 6 and we always have leftovers that everyone loves the next day.
Chili mac ingredients
The beauty of this recipe is that you don’t need very many ingredients to make this hearty meal. Meat and cheese are the only fresh items and the rest come from your pantry. To make this recipe you will need:
- ground beef
- canned diced tomatoes
- kidney beans
- chili powder
- garlic powder
Ground beef – You will need 1 pound of ground beef for this recipe. You can easily sub in ground turkey or pork as well.
Canned tomatoes – Two cans of diced tomatoes are needed here. You can use plain or your favorite variety of diced tomatoes. I like the ones with the garlic and onion added in sometimes.
Kidney beans – The great debate, do you put beans in your chili? I like beans in my chili because it gives to more flavor and texture and beefs up the meal a bit. You can omit if you are a no bean chili type of person. I used red kidney beans but any canned bean will work.
Macaroni – Macaroni noodles are what I used for my Instant Pot chili mac. You can use whatever you have on hand or your favorite noodle.
Spices – The spices that I recommend are chili powder, cumin, garlic powder along with salt and pepper. This gives the dish a nice flavor but not much kick. If you like a spicier chili add in some red pepper flakes.
Cheese – A mild cheddar works best in this recipe, but can be substituted. I recommend getting a block of cheese and grating it yourself to ensure that the cheese melts evenly.
How to make chili mac in the Instant Pot
The best part of this recipe is that it all made in your Instant Pot! No extra dishes needed for this easy Instant Pot dinner! You will need a knife, cutting board and can opener though.
Step 1: Turn your Instant Pot to saute and add the butter along with the diced onion. Saute for 5 minutes or until soften.
Step 2: Add in your ground beef and spices. Continue to cook until there is no more visible pink to the meat. You don’t have to totally cook the meat since it will cook while the Instant Pot works.
Step 3: Add in your diced tomatoes along with their juices. Just pour them right in. Next, add your drained beans.
Step 4: Pour in your macaroni and top with the water. I like to push down my pasta into the water to make sure it cooks thoroughly.
Step 5: Turn the valve to SEALING and set the Instant Pot to high pressure for 5 minutes. Do a quick release once the Instant Pot is done cooking.
Step 6: Remove the lid and stir in your grated cheese in batches. Make sure the batch before has melted before adding the next handful. Once all the cheese is melted, spoon into bowls and enjoy!
Stove-top method – You can also make this chili mac on the stove! You can find the full instructions for stove-top chili mac HERE.
Slow cooker method – You can make it in the slow cooker too! Check out slow cooker chili mac HERE.
Side dish suggestions
I love that this chili mac is a meal in itself, but you can also add:
How to store leftovers
To store any leftovers, place in an airtight container or even a plastic bag. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days. You may want to add a bit of water or broth when re-heating to thin out the noodles a bit. Re-heat in the microwave.
Can I freeze Instant Pot chili mac?
You can! Place cooled chili mac in a plastic bag and remove all the air. Lay it flat in your freezer until it hardens. Store for up to 3 months in the freezer.
To re-heat, defrost in the fridge the day-of. Heat in the microwave on the stove top adding a bit of broth or water to thin it out.
Other Instant Pot pantry meals
Looking for other Instant Pot meals made mostly with pantry items? Here are some of my favorites:
- 1/2 large onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes with juice
- 1 (14.5 oz) can red kidney beans, drained
- 2 cups macaroni
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups mild cheddar grated from a block
- Turn your Instant Pot to saute for 10 minutes and add the butter then the diced onion. Cook the onion under soft, about 3 minutes.
- Add in the ground beef and the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Crumble the beef while cooking and stir in the spices. Cook for about 5 minutes or until no longer pink on the outside.
- Pour in the diced tomatoes with juice, the drained kidney beans and the macaroni noodles. Add the water and stir everything together.
- Move the valve to SEALING and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. It'll take about 10 minutes to come to pressure before it starts cooking.
- Do a quick release when the cooking is done.
- Remove lid, stir everything together and add the cheese. Working in batches, stir in the grated cheese making sure the batch before melts evenly before adding the next.
- Give a final stir, spoon into bowls and enjoy!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 265Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 55mgSodium: 343mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 18g
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