Instant Pot Chili Mac

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 17 minutes
Servings 6 1 1/3 cup servings

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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!

instant pot chili mac and cheese overhead on two blue plates on white background with blue towel

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!
instant pot chili mac on blue plate close up with fresh parsley in the background
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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.

instant pot pasta with chili in pressure cooker being scooped in a metal spoon

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:

These are affiliate links, which means I get a few cents if you click through and make a purchase.

  • 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!
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Instant Pot Chili Mac

4.89 from 34 votes
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!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Total Time 17 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Main Course
Servings 6 1 ⅓ cup servings
Calories 590cal


  • 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.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 590cal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 107mg | Sodium: 1375mg | Potassium: 865mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1870IU | Vitamin C: 31.3mg | Calcium: 482mg | Iron: 5.5mg
Keywords chili mac, instant pot pasta

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Meet Ashley

My name is Ashley Fehr and I love creating easy meals my family loves. I also like to do things my way, which means improvising and breaking the rules when necessary. Here you will find creative twists on old favorites and some of my favorite family recipes, passed down from generations!

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Reader Interactions


  1. Mike Sitler says

    This recipe was amazing, I made two double batches. I could not find whole wheat elbow macaroni I used larger whole wheat Penne macaroni. Since I used larger pasta and a double batch I pressure cooked for 3 min. Came out perfect, Thanks for the recipe Ashley!

  2. Pete Butorac says

    I have never left a review on any food recipe site but for this one I have to!! I had my doubts about the pasta being done in that short of cooking time, but it came out perfect!! Will do it again for sure. Now I’m putting it in my freeze dryer to use for camping and backpacking.

    • Lee says

      Glad to hear someone thinking of this for freeze-drying – exactly what we’re looking at the recipe for. Seems perfectly suited for it if made with extra-lean beef and the fact it calls for broth rather than oil is great. We tried 2 tablespoons of chili powder in our last batch of actual chili and it was murderously spicy – nice to see this ‘lower’ level of chili spice recommended! 🙂 Thought this would also go great with a package of sour cream powder in the wilderness.

    • The Recipe Rebel says

      Hi Robert, I’m sorry to hear you had trouble with the recipe. The timing has worked well for myself (and others) so I wished it would of been a hit for you too.


    Ashley, I have made this before and love it. I made it today and want to freeze it so that I have it ready for company in 2 weeks. It’s in a 9×13 glass pan. What do you think I should reheat it at once I’ve thawed it so that I don’t dry it out, but it will be nice and hot?


    • The Recipe Rebel says

      Hi Claire, so glad you enjoy the recipe! I haven’t tried it but, maybe 350 F. ?? It might need to be covered as well. I would definitely keep an eye on it. If you decide to experiment, let me know how it goes!

  4. Lisa says

    I can’t wait to try this! Would you suggest changes if I use regular macaroni instead of whole grain? There can be “some resistance” to WG pasta around here … 🙂

  5. Janet says

    Made this exactly as called out except I used bow tie pasta since that was all I had on hand. This was excellent and a huge hit with my family! Will be in my regular rotation!

  6. Jacqueline Whitsitt says

    Simplistic Perfection! 5 mins to brown meat and veggies, 1 min to dump in rest – 17.5min to come to pressure and 2 min cook!
    30mins Dinners done! This made such prefect pasta texture, you nailed it on the 2mins. We have enough to eat tomorrow night and make 2 prepped lunches for hubby!

    Thinking 2 cans of beans may do next time!


  7. Nichole Salinas says

    I was so worried about making pasta in the instant pot after a previous disaster. This turned out perfect! I was out of ground beef so I cut up brats and used a green bell pepper, and this turned out delicious. Kids loved it! Even had seconds! I didn’t add salt since brats already have quite a bit.

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