I love making easy, cheesy, Instant Pot Chili Mac with Cheese recipe any time I need a simple one pot, easy weeknight meal! Measuring a few spices and dumping in a few ingredients makes this a one pot supper your family will love!
I guess it’s because we always have a freezer full of beef in our garage freezer. That’s what happens when you raise cattle plus have lots of busy weeknights!
And this is also why I love a good Instant Pot recipe! Let's get talking about Instant Pot Chili Mac!
Ingredients in Instant Pot Chili Mac
As with so many of my recipes, this easy dinner recipe qualifies as one of our pantry meals, which means it uses ingredients you already have in your spice cabinet and pantry.
- Olive oil - you'll only need this if you're using super lean ground beef. Our beef tends to have enough fat content, so I don't add it to the meat when I'm browning it.
- Ground beef - you could also use ground pork or ground turkey
- Diced tomatoes - I used to use Rotel tomatoes (you know, the kind of tomatoes with green chiles) but modified it to regular tomatoes when the kids started eating it. We have a picky eater...do you happen to know any of those??!?
- Elbow pasta - another pasta shape that works well is small shells. Anything bite size works here!
- Water - I use water because the spices and tomato give plenty of flavor, plus it keeps the sodium and calories down. You can substitute beef broth if you’d like, though.
- Spices - chili powder, cumin, salt, onion powder, black pepper and just a touch of cayenne pepper...if you want it!
- Cheese - lots of cheese in fact! I use sharp cheddar cheese because I'm a firm believer that that more cheddar is better.
Why you’ll love this Instant Pot Chili Mac Recipe
It’s easy - I feel like I could just state that and do a 'lil mic drop! Chili Mac made this way is a one pot meal, just the same as my Stovetop Chili Mac recipe. But instead of having to simmer on the stovetop, it cooks in four minutes giving you a hearty meal without much effort.
It’s the ultimate comfort food - As far as comfort food goes, this has everything our whole family loves, while still being relatively wholesome.
It saves on dishes - Everything cooks in your Instant Pot. You don’t have to boil water cooking your macaroni noodles or dirty an extra pan browning your ground beef.
Only one dish to wash...can I get an AMEN??
It’s family friendly - Our family loves this meals and there are lots of ways you can customize it. More on that in a sec.
How to make Chili Mac in the Instant Pot
If you're new to cooking with your Instant Pot, never fear! It's easy to cook in. One thing to keep in mind as you get started is this...it takes time for your pot to come up to pressure, about 8-10 minutes in most cases.
Then the cooking time starts. I always like to point that out for meal planning purposes. We once had a pot roast at 9 pm before I understood how the Instant Pot universe worked.
Okay, let's get started!
Step 1: Cook beef. Break the ground beef into pieces along with the onions. If you don't have one of these meat chopper tool thingys, you're missing out. Seriously, it's so nice to break up the pieces as they cook!
If you have grease after you cook your beef, drain it. If your have lean beef, you may not need to drain it.
Step 2: Add ingredients + stir - add your pasta, the canned goods, seasonings, and water. Give everything a little stir and add the lid. Make sure the silicone ring is inserted in your pot before you put the lid on.
Step 3: Cook under high pressure. Remember, it's going to take a few minutes to come to pressure, and then it will start cooking for the four minutes. Once it's done cooking, you'll vent the pot by pushing the button to let the steam out.
Keep the pot away from under your kitchen cabinets so the steam doesn't gather there. It doesn't affect your chili mac but it does affect your cabinetry!!
Step 4: Add the cheddar cheese and serve. Stir in the lovely cheese and let it hang out for a few minutes to thicken into a cheesy, perfect sauce. Serve it up!
What to serve with chili mac
Our daughter (and my husband) like to add a dollop of sour cream to their chili mac. I like it straight up.
We usually end up serving microwaved frozen peas alongside this dinner. Not very inventive, but it's efficient!
Recipe Tips & Variations
- Switch up your cheese - try pepper jack cheese for a little kick or Colby Jack for a milder version of the cheddar. Similarly, you can use Rotel style tomatoes or tomato sauce to spice things up.
- Add chopped zucchini or green pepper
- Use ground turkey or ground pork to make this recipe
- Turn it into Instant Pot chili mac with beans by adding a can of rinsed and drained kidney beans or black beans.
- Make it have all the food groups - add mushrooms, diced carrot, chopped zucchini or bell pepper...you get the idea. If you added shredded carrot, you could probably sneak it in and the kiddos would never notice.
How to store leftovers
Leftover chili mac is just as good the next day. Refrigerate in an airtight, freezer-safe container and it’ll keep for 3-4 days.
How to make this a field meal
We all have our busy times on the farm when we can use an easy meal. Heck, it's probably easier to count the non-busy times on one hand.
Anyway, consider making this ahead of time and freezing it in a glass container. You can grab it as an easy field meal and reheat it in a heated lunchbox plugged into your truck or tractor.
Seriously, it's a thing!
How to make chili mac for meal prep
This easy chili macaroni recipe can be made as part of your weekly meal prep. I’d recommend you brown the ground beef ahead of time and measure your spices.
When it comes to cooking time you just need to add everything to the pressure cooker and get cooking!
Other dinner recipes you’ll enjoy
For when you forget to thaw: Instant Pot Frozen Ground Beef
I hope you love this Instant Pot version of chili mac! Leave a review or comment below, I'd love to hear from you!
Instant Pot Chili Mac
- 1 lb ground beef
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 14.5 ounces petite diced tomatoes
- 2 cups elbow macaroni uncooked
- 3 cups water
- 1 Tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- Set Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker to saute. Add ground beef and and onions and cook, breaking up with a spoon until meat is cooked through. Drain grease and return the coked ground beef mixture to your pot.
- Add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT CHEESE, and stir to combine. Add the lid to your pot and seal. Set to pressure cook for 4 minutes.
- When the cooking time is complete, do a quick release by venting your pot.
- Add cheddar cheese and stir to combine. Allow to sit for 4-5 minutes before serving. Your chili mac will thicken as it sits.