This Instant Pot Chili Mac and Cheese is a quick and easy dinner idea for busy weeknights! Make it with ground meat or vegetarian. It only takes 5 minutes to cook it in your pressure cooker!
INSTANT POT CHILI MAC AND CHEESE
Forget the plain mac and cheese. This Instant Pot Chili Mac is packed with ground meat, beans and tomatoes. It’s saucy, cheesy and flavorful. You can easily adapt it to your likings. It only takes one pot and 5 minutes of cooking under pressure to make this macaroni which makes it perfect for busy weeknights and lunch made ahead of time and served through the week. It’s 100% kid-approved but you can always increase the amount of spices to make it even hotter.
Instant Pot Chili Mac and Cheese Ingredients:
- macaroni (or any bite-size pasta)
- ground meat (turkey or beef)
- olive oil
- green bell pepper
- 1 can green chiles
- 1 can kidney beans
- 1 can tomato sauce
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- chili powder
- dried oregano or Italian seasoning
- water or water and chicken stock combo
- cheddar cheese
How to make Instant Pot Chili Mac and Cheese?
This pasta dish is very easy to make. Follow the standard method of making a pasta dish in the Instant Pot:
- saute garlic and onion with seasoning
- brown the meat,
- add pasta and liquids,
- add tomatoes last, if using,
- pressure cook for 4 to 5 minutes (depending on the pasta and recipe).
Step 1: saute veggies
Add oil to hot Instant Pot insert and saute garlic, onion and bell pepper for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir often. Add seasoning and stir in well. Saute for 1 minute. This activates the seasoning so the dish is flavorful.
Step 2: mac and liquids
Add beans, green chiles and stir in well. Add macaroni and water and push the pasta with a wooden spoon so it’s as submerged in the liquid as possible. Add diced tomatoes and tomato sauce and DO NOT STIR.
Step 3: add cheese
Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Release pressure and stir well. Let the dish sit in the Instant Pot for at least 5 minutes. Stir again. Sprinkle cheese on top. Place lid back on and let the cheese melt while you set the table.
Expert Tips for the Best Instant Pot Chili Mac:
- add seasoning to sauteed veggies: this is my secret to making flavorful soups, pasta dishes, etc in the pressure cooker. The heat activates the spices and makes the dish truly flavorful.
- deglaze: you need to add liquid to the pot to deglaze the bottom or the dish can burn. Simply add a little bit of water called for in the recipe and scrape any cooked-on bits with a wooden spoon.
- add tomatoes as the last ingredients and do not stir; the tomatoes and sauce can scorch the dish.
- let it sit: I always recommend letting any pasta dish sit for about 10 minutes after cooking. It allows the excess liquid (needed for pressure cooking) to evaporate. You will end up with a perfect pasta every time.
- frozen beef: if your meat is still frozen, follow my Instant Pot Taco Meat recipe.
Can I make this dish ahead of time?
Yes! Chili Mac is great made ahead of time. Some say it tastes even better the next day. You can also place it in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 4 months.
Instant Pot Chili Mac and Cheese Variations:
- vegetarian: skip the meat and add mushrooms and 1/2 cup of red or green dried lentils.
- gluten-free: if you are familiar with cooking gluten-free pasta in the Instant Pot, feel free to use it in this dish.
- no beans: skip the beans if you don’t like to use them.
More Instant Pot Pasta Recipes:
Check out my Instant Pot Guide for Beginners, filled with all the info you need to get started with your new appliance! Seeing BURN message on your IP? Read my Instant Pot Burn Message post to learn why and how to save your dish. For more Instant Pot recipe, feel free to browse our Instant Pot category.
If you like this recipe and make it, snap a photo and share it on INSTAGRAM! Tag me @crunchycreamysweet so I can check it out and leave a comment! 😀
Quick and easy dinner idea for busy weeknights! Make it with ground meat or vegetarian. It only takes 5 minutes to cook it in your pressure cooker!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- 3/4 cup diced green bell pepper
- 1 lb ground turkey or beef
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 15 oz can red kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 4 oz can green chiles
- 2 cups macaroni pasta
- 2 cups water see notes
- 8 oz can of tomato sauce
- 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese see notes
- Make sure the stainless steel insert is in your Instant Pot. Press "saute" setting and wait until the display shows HOT.
- Add oil, garlic, onion and bell pepper. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often.
- Add cumin, chili powder and oregano to vegetables and saute for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add meat and cook until done, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.
- Press "cancel/off" button. Add 1/2 cup of water to the Instant Pot and scrape any cooked-on bits from the bottom of the pot. This will prevent the burn message and ensure all the flavor is in the dish.
- Add beans and green chiles and stir in.
- Add macaroni and remaining water. Push the pasta down with a spoon into the liquid.
- Add diced tomatoes in the center of the dish. Pour tomato sauce over diced tomatoes. Do not stir!
- Place lid on the Instant Pot, set the valve to sealing position.
- Make sure the Instant Pot is set to cook at high pressure. Press "manual" setting and set the timer to 5 minutes.
- The Instant Pot will beep and start coming to pressure. It can take about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Once the timer is done, press "cancel/off" button and wait 1 minute. Switch the valve to venting position.
- Carefully open the lid away from your face.
- Stir the macaroni. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
- Stir again and sprinkle cheese over the chili mac.
- Close the lid and let the cheese melt, wait 5 minutes.
You can use 2 cups of water or 1 cup of water and 1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock.
You can use cheddar cheese or a mix of cheddar and pepper Jack cheese.