Instant Pot chili is what you make when the classic chili cravings are strong but time is short. It's what you make when you still want your chili to taste like it simmered on low all day, but you didn't have time to get the slow cooker going before work.
If you've got an hour to make dinner, from start to finish, and your heart is set on a pot of meaty beef and bean chili that tastes like it cooked all day, skip the stovetop and pull out your electric pressure cooker — everything you desire in a bowl of chili is waiting for you at the end of the Instant Pot rainbow.
What the Instant Pot Can Do for Your Chili
Pressure cooking can do a whole lot of good for your next bowl of chili. There are the practical benefits, like giving you all-day flavor in a fraction of the cooking time and being able to brown the ground beef right in the pot, but pressure cooking also means you can use dried beans. Dried beans not only release their starch to thicken the stew as they cook, but also flavor the stew's base. They're soaked overnight for better texture and even faster cooking.
For Your Information
- Soak the beans for eight to 12 hours for faster cooking.
- Cook the chili on HIGH manual pressure for 15 minutes and natural release for 15 minutes.
Key Steps for Instant Pot Chili
- Use dried beans. Using dried beans benefits the cook and the chili. Dried beans are less expensive than canned beans and allow you to harness the flavor of the beans for a better pot of chili. Cooking the beans in the chili also releases some starch into the cooking liquid, naturally thickening the chili. Soak the beans for eight to 12 hours for faster, more even cooking.
- Make your own chili seasoning. Yes, you can totally buy chili seasoning, but making your own gives you total control over the quality of spices and the amount of heat from the chilies. It takes about five minutes to make chili seasoning, and you won't use it all here, so you'll have some left over for another recipe.
- Make sure you have enough liquid. One of the challenges of cooking stews in an electric pressure cooker is that especially thick dishes, like chili, can prevent the cooker from reaching pressure or the bottom of the insert can scorch. This recipe has an additional cup of beef liquid to ensure the pot comes to pressure without burning.
- Use beer, broth, or water. This isn't so much a technical insight, but a flavor one. Beer or beef broth add more flavor to the chili — beer brings some sweetness and acidity, while broth makes for a heartier stew. Ultimately, choose what works best for your grocery budget (read: don't buy a whole carton of beef broth to use a cup here when you can just use water as needed).
- Cook for 15 minutes and natural release for 15 minutes. Cook the chili on the manual setting on HIGH for 15 minutes — it will take about 15 minutes to come to pressure. Then let the Instant Pot release its pressure naturally for 15 minutes. This makes the total cook time about 45 minutes.
Serving Instant Pot Chili
This is a little trick learned from other rich soups like French onion: A splash of vinegar added to the chili pot just before serving makes the whole pot more balanced. It helps the tang of the tomatoes, but it also brings out their sweetness and cuts the richness of the beef.
From there you can top the chili to your heart's delight. A little sprinkling of green onions or finely chopped red onion, a dollop of Greek yogurt, or a flurry of chip crumbs are all good, but with a simple and tasty chili that comes together this quickly, you might not need any toppings.
How To Make Instant Pot Chili
Serves 6 to 8
What You Need
- For the chili seasoning:
chile powder, such as ancho chile
chipotle chile powder
dried Mexican oregano
- For the chili:
dried kidney beans
chili seasoning, homemade or store-bought
1 (28-ounce) can
1 (6-ounce) can
beef broth, beer, or water
apple cider vinegar
- For serving (optional):
Shredded cheddar cheese
Chips or crackers, such as Fritos, tortilla chips, saltines, or oyster crackers
Thinly sliced green onions
6- to 8-quart
electric multi-cooker, such as an Instant Pot
Measuring cups and spoons
Chef's knife and cutting board
Colander or fine-mesh strainer
Stiff spatula or wooden spoon
Soak the kidney beans. The beans have a slightly better texture if you can soak them overnight. Sort the beans by spreading them out into a single even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and removing any shriveled beans or debris. Transfer the beans to a large bowl or container and cover with 1 inch of water. Cover and let soak at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours. Drain the beans and rinse.
Make the chili seasoning. Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk with a fork to combine.
Brown the ground meat. Add the olive oil to the insert of a 6- to 8-quart multi-cooker. Using the sauté function, heat until shimmering. Add the ground beef and use a stiff spatula or wooden spoon to break the meat up into large pieces. Sprinkle with the salt and let the meat brown undisturbed for 4 to 5 minutes. Break the meat up into smaller pieces and continue to cook until mostly cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes more.
Add the beans, tomatoes, and broth in the pressure cooker. Add 1/4 cup of the chili seasoning (reserve the rest for another batch of chili or other use), the drained and rinsed beans, diced tomatoes and their juices, tomato paste, and liquid of choice. Stir to combine. Lock on the lid and set the steam valve to seal.
Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. Set the pressure cooker to manual, HIGH pressure, for 15 minutes. It should take about 20 minutes to come to pressure.
Natural release for 15 minutes. Leave the pressure cooker to "naturally release" for 15 minutes, then open the steam valve to release any remaining pressure. Uncover and stir the chili.
Add the vinegar and serve. Add the vinegar and stir to combine just before serving with toppings if desired.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.