This Instant Pot Chili Mac is a one pot meal the family will love! With a little spice, lean ground beef, whole grain macaroni and lots of cheese!
I know lots of kids are back to school already, but here we still have a few weeks to go.
I’m starting to get the itch to go back to regular weeknight meals, dinners around the table (not that I’m hating on our daily picnics!), early bedtimes and routine. Anyone else?
We’re no stranger to chili mac around here, and it’s one of our favorite meals!
What to love about chili mac:
- It’s hearty — with ground beef, beans, and whole grain macaroni it’s got loads of fiber and protein to keep everyone going when life is crazy.
- It’s comforting — perfect for a rainy day, a cloudy day, or just a day when only cheesy carbs will do
- It’s easy — with just a couple things to chop and brown, it’s a true one pot meal made completely in the Pressure Cooker in just a couple minutes!
- This Instant Pot version is mostly hands off (after the browning) and cooks in 2 minutes, meaning you can set it and forget it for a few minutes while you put your feet up!
Tips for making Instant Pot pasta:
Since I started making pasta in the Instant Pot I haven’t gone back! It’s so quick and totally hands off, making for easy one pot pressure cooker meals on a regular basis.
There are a few tricks to it though, and I’ve found that a lot of recipes call for way too long a cook time for pasta, resulting in an unappetizing mushy mess and then people are hesitant to try again.
Let me tell you, it can be done, and it can be done well! The secret?
A shorter cook time.
I understand the general rule of them is half of the cook time listed on the box.
I’m going to be bold enough here to say that I think this is, in fact, generally incorrect. That cook time is way too long.
For most short cuts of pasta, 2 minutes is plenty, and if you like your pasta very al dente, even 1 minute is likely enough for some cuts.
How to lighten up this Instant Pot Chili Mac:
- Use ground turkey instead of ground beef for a lighter meal
- Up the veggies — try adding mushrooms, chopped carrots, more peppers, zucchini, really anything you think would go well! The cook time is short enough that most chopped veggies will be fine.
- Use low fat cheese instead of full fat cheese
Tools you’ll need for this Instant Pot recipe:
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- I use a 6 quart Instant Pot with bluetooth for most of my recipes — I know that things sometimes cook differently in the 8 quart.
- You’ll need some good hard utensils to scrape the bottom after browning to ensure you don’t get a burn message. I love a good wooden spoon!
Instant Pot Chili Mac
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon chili powder (2 if you like it spicy!)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 3 cups low sodium beef or chicken broth
- 1 can red kidney beans or black beans rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups tomato pasta sauce
- 340-375 grams whole grain macaroni (about 12-13oz)
- 1/2 cup low fat milk
- 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- Turn the Instant Pot to saute. Cook ground beef, onion and red pepper until beef is browned. Drain any juices.
- On saute, add chili powder, salt, garlic and cumin. Cook and stir 1 minute.
- Add broth and scrape the bottom to ensure any stuck on bits are removed.
- Turn Instant Pot off and stir in beans.
- Top with pasta sauce (spread over the top but don't stir) and macaroni. Press pasta down into the liquid and spread into an even layer, but don't stir.
- Put the lid on, turn the valve to sealing, and select Pressure Cook or Manual for 2 minutes.
- When the cook time is over, do a controlled release of the pressure (slowly release the pressure by holding the valve slightly open but not all of the way).
- Remove the lid and stir -- some macaroni may appear dry or stuck together but once you stir it will be perfect.
- Stir in milk and cheese until cheese is melted. Serve.