I love chili! And I love experimenting with chili recipes. Spicy, sweet, white, chicken, turkey, simmered all day or even made in a slow cooker. This Instant Pot Chili is my new favorite.
All chili recipes have their own merits and I refuse to believe that there is one singular best chili recipe. But not all chili recipes are created equal.
While I do have my own quick chili recipes that are good, I prefer my chili to simmer for hours upon hours letting the flavors marry and develop. However, I don’t always have the luxury of time (or foresight.) The Instant Pot solves that problem.
It isn’t “instant”, but it is darn near close and develops levels of sophisticated flavor in less than an hour with little hands-on time.
Why You’ll Love This Instant Pot Chili
Nothing beats a warm bowl of chili on a cold day, and these are the reasons why this flavorful chili is the best!
- Family favorite – This easy Instant Pot chili recipe is one that the whole family will enjoy.
- Easily customizable – You can take the original recipe and change it up to your family’s liking.
- Freezer friendly – This chili freezes really well in a freezer-safe container. That makes it perfect for meal prepping!
This great recipe has a simple ingredient list. While it looks long, they can all easily be found at the local grocery store.
- Vegetable oil– Or other neutral oil.
- Yellow Onion– Yellow onion gives the most flavor and chili needs that punch! Red or white can also be used if that is what you have on hand. Feel free to increase or decrease volume based on personal preference.
- Garlic– Always use fresh garlic, the bottled kind is sweet and this is a spicy chili recipe. Add more if you are like me and measure garlic with your heart!
- Green Bell Pepper- I prefer green for my chili recipes, but if you like red, orange or yellow for a touch of sweetness, go for it.
- Fresh Jalapenos– These add the punch that a chili needs. Seeding tames the heat a tad. Make sure to wear gloves while handling the peppers or you could find yourself with burning fingers. If you are a heat-seeker, use a spicer chile pepper.
- Lean Ground Beef– I also lean beef so I don’t have to fuss with draining off the fat. If you choose to use a higher fat content, you may need to pour it into a colander and drain off excess fat to not have a greasy dish.
- Crushed Tomatoes- This is the tomato base. Plain tomato sauce can also be used, but I like the texture in crushed tomatoes.
- Black Beans & Kidney Beans– People have strong feelings about beans in chili and my feelings are that I like them! They add flavor, creamy texture and also loads of fiber. Use one, both or none.
- Dark Brown Sugar- Sugar in chili? Yes! Most have sugar or chocolate to balance out the spice and acidity. Dark brown also has molasses which provides a unique and delightful flavor undertone.
- Chili Powder– Chili powder is a blend of several types of dried ground chiles with the supreme function of flavoring chili stews. If you prefer just one type of chile like an ancho or chipotle, use just that prime flavor.
- Crushed Red Pepper– For the added spice!
- Cumin– Nutty, warm and earthy, this adds a fun flavor to the chili.
- White Pepper- Milder than black pepper, I like it to not overwhelm the other flavor notes. Black pepper can be used.
- Coarse kosher salt- This brings out the natural flavors in all of the elements. If using fine salt, reduce to half the volume.
- Pepper Jack Cheese– For topping, but feel free to use a different type of cheese.
How to Make Instant Pot Chili
The best part of this delicious chili is how quick and easy it is to make!
1. Prep the Pot. Set the Instant Pot to saute function and add the vegetable oil.
2. Saute. When it is hot, add the onion, garlic, bell pepper and jalapenos. Saute for 3-4 minutes or until slightly softened.
3. Brown Beef. Add the ground beef, breaking into pieces for 1-2 minutes until it starts to brown.
4. Add Other Ingredients. Stir in the tomatoes, both types of beans, brown sugar, chili powder, crushed red pepper, cumin, white pepper and salt.
5. Cook. Lock the lid, set vent to “sealed” and use the manual setting in high pressure for 20 minutes. Allow for natural release, approximately 20 minutes.
6. Serve & Garnish. Stir the chili well and then ladle into soup bowls and top with the shredded pepper jack cheese.
Substitutions and Variations
There are so many fantastic ways to make chili and one of the best is YOUR WAY so I implore you to make swaps and substitutions.
- Protein– This recipe uses ground beef, but ground chicken, ground turkey or even bulk sausage (ground pork) can be used. Swap out the whole pound or use a combination of them. Try buying a pound of “meatloaf mix” which commonly includes veal.
- Heat– This recipe already makes a pretty tangy chili, but you can take it up a notch further by using even hotter peppers. You could also add red pepper flakes. Check the scoville scale to see which will meet your taste bud needs.
- Bean Free– Chili without beans isn’t chili in my book, but feel free to leave them out if you prefer. I would recommend doubling up on protein, tomatoes, onion and bell pepper to have enough volume to make the same number of servings.
- Toppings– The ultimate way to make chili variations is with the toppings, so we’ve provided you with a long list of options.
- Stove top – While this recipe is exclusively written for the Instant Pot, I also have a great chili recipe that you can make on the stove.
- Omit the sugar – Sugar helps to balance out the acidity, but it isn’t necessary. If you are looking for a more natural sweetener, try using agave nectar or honey instead.
How to Serve This Pressure Cooker Chili Recipe
Serve chili in a bowl, topped with your favorite garnishes such as shredded cheese, sour cream, green onions, and any other toppings you prefer. I personally believe that it needs to be covered with an obscene amount of shredded cheese.
Best Chili Toppings
There are so many great options for topping a big bowl of chili, but here is a list of my favorite toppings.
Feel free to mix and match these toppings based on your personal preferences.
Chili in Instant Pot Storage
Storing chili made in an Instant Pot is relatively straightforward.
Cooling the Chili: Once the chili is cooked in the Instant Pot, allow it to cool at room temperature for about 1-2 hours. Avoid leaving it out for an extended period.
Refrigeration: Transfer the leftover chili into an airtight container or multiple smaller containers, ensuring there is enough space for expansion. Instant Pot chili can be refrigerated for up to 3-4 days. Remember that the flavors will continue to develop!
Freezing: If you want to store chili for a more extended period, consider freezing it. Place the cooled chili in freezer-safe containers or heavy-duty freezer bags, leaving some room for expansion. It can be frozen for 2-3 months.
Thawing and Reheating: When ready to eat the stored chili, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat it on the stovetop or in the microwave until hot.
Additionally, if your chili recipe contains ingredients that don’t freeze well (like dairy products or certain vegetables), you might want to exclude those from the initial preparation and add them fresh when reheating the chili.
Chili Instant Pot FAQs
The chili setting on an Instant Pot is a pre-programmed cooking setting designed to cook chili and similar dishes easily. It typically uses high pressure and a specific cooking time to ensure the ingredients in the chili are thoroughly cooked and flavors are well-infused. The temperature and pressure settings are optimized for chili recipes.
Our recipe doesn’t need the chili button, so you are good to go!
The secret to good chili lies in achieving a well-balanced combination of flavors and textures. Start with high-quality, fresh ingredients, and focus on building layers of taste. Browning the meat and sautéing the aromatics (onions, garlic, etc.) will add depth to the dish. Choose a blend of chili spices that complements your taste preferences, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different chili pepper varieties.
Don’t overlook the importance of toppings; they can elevate the overall experience. The key is to taste and adjust as you cook, finding the perfect balance of heat, sweetness, acidity, and umami.
Cooking chili helps to develop the flavors faster, but this can also be achieved by letting it sit overnight in the fridge. Hubby always claims it is better the next day!
Chili taste is in the eye of the beholder and based on what type of chili you are making. For example, Texas Chili, Cincinnati Chili (Skyline) Hot Dog Chili or Garbage Plate Chili are all vastly different.
Generally speaking, chili tastes like chili due to its signature combination of ingredients, including chili peppers (like chili powder or fresh chilies), beans, tomatoes, ground meat (often beef), and a blend of aromatic spices.
More Instant Pot Recipes
- Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Instant Pot BBQ Brisket
- Instant Pot Beef and Broccoli
- Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
- Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs
- Instant Pot Meatballs
Instant Pot Chili Recipe
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup yellow onion , chopped
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 green bell pepper , seeded and chopped
- 2 jalapenos , seeded and minced
- 1 pound ground beef 90% lean
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 15 ounces black beans , drained and rinsed
- 15 ounces red kidney beans , drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 cup pepper jack cheese , shredded for topping
- Set the Instant Pot to saute function and add the vegetable oil.
- When it is hot, add the onion, garlic, bell pepper and jalapenos. Saute for 3-4 minutes or until slightly softened.
- Add the ground beef, breaking into pieces for 1-2 minutes until it starts to brown.
- Stir in the tomatoes, both types of beans, brown sugar, chili powder, crushed red pepper, cumin, white pepper and salt.
- Lock the lid, set vent to "sealed" and use the manual setting in high pressure for 20 minutes. Allow for natural release, approximately 20 minutes.
- Stir the chili well and then ladle into soup bowls and top with the shredded pepper jack cheese.
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.
I am excited to share that I just joined a fun, new group of bloggers that love to celebrate, what? FOOD!!! We’ll be gathering the best blogger recipes around for popular food holidays and sharing them with you. This month we are celebrating National Chili Day (February 23rd). Check out these and few more of my favorites and tell me WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO MAKE CHILI in the comments!
Celebrating Food Hearty Chili Recipes:
- Taco Chili– An Italian In My Kitchen
- Taco Chili– Simply Stacie
- Chicken Enchilada Chili– Creations by Kara
- Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili – Real Mom Kitchen
- Slow Cooker Chili– Pretty Providence
- Creamy White Chicken Chili– Crumb
- Sweet Potato Chili– Namely Marly
- Pork Verde Chili – The Baker Upstairs
- Instant Pot Turkey Lentil Chili– 365 Days of Slow Cooking + Pressure Cooking
- Slow Cooker Turkey Chili– My Mommy Style
- Instant Pot Turkey and Bean Chili– Supergolden Bakes
- Jalapeno Popper Turkey Chili– Premeditated Leftovers
- Award Winning Crockpot Chili– Heather Likes Food
Even more fabulous chili recipes!
- Blue Ribbon Award Winning Chili
- Simple Chili
- Red Beef Chili – Made with whole steak!
- Chili Verde
- Easy Chili
- Award Winning Crockpot Chili– Wishes and Dishes
- Maple Bacon and Ham Baked Bean Chili– Big Bear’s Wife
- Slow Cooker Southwestern Chili– Eazy Peazy Mealz
- Easy Turkey Chili– Sugar and Soul
- Crockpot Weight Watchers Chili– Real Housemoms
- Chicken and Bacon White Chili – Bread, Booze, Bacon
- Buffalo Chicken Chili– Go Go Go Gourmet
- Paleo Pumpkin Chili– My Suburban Kitchen
- Easy Black Bean Chili– That Skinny Chick Can Bake