Instant Pot chili recipe with a southwestern kick of flavor! Let your multi-cooker do all the work, from sauteing the ground beef to pressure-cooking the dried beans, which tenderizes them in a fraction of the time.
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When you’re craving a good chili, break out your pressure cooker! Traditional methods require time to soak the beans overnight, followed by hours of cooking on the stovetop. To significantly reduce prep and simmer time, use an electric pressure cooker like the Instant Pot. Using this all-in-one vessel, you can use multiple techniques to develop more flavor compared to a slow cooker.
The Instant Pot allows you to enhance the taste of each ingredient by browning the beef, sauteing the vegetables, and blooming the spices. Then the mixture of beans pressure cooks until tender and creamy. Make each bowl customizable with your favorite toppings like sour cream, shredded cheese, green onions, or slices of spicy peppers.
How to cook chili in the instant pot
The Instant Pot allows you to saute and pressure cook the chili ingredients in one vessel. Using the saute function, the onions and garlic cook first in the hot olive oil. Next, add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. The spices then combine with the meat.
Tomato paste adds a little sweetness and concentrated flavor. The dice bell pepper, jalapenos, dried beans, and liquid ingredients go in last—the chili cooks using the manual function on high pressure until the beans are tender. Make sure to use a natural release of the pressure cooker, as a quick release would cause the tiny bits of food and liquid to splatter out of the release valve.
For a flavorful chili, use 80% lean ground beef. It typically comes from the chuck (shoulder region of the cow), which gets very tender when the muscle tissue is broken down. The higher amount of fat also adds more richness to the texture.
A 90% lean ground sirloin will also work, but the chili will be slightly drier due to the lack of fat. Adjust the consistency with more beef broth as needed. For a poultry substitute, either ground turkey or chicken would work nicely in this recipe.
Using a mixture of spices
The secret to my chili recipe is using the right combination of smoky, savory, and spicy seasonings. I use chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, chipotle chili powder, salt, and pepper. I like using dried spices because of their concentrated flavor and intense aroma. That means a little goes a long way, but we don’t want to be shy with our chili.
Blooming the spices in olive oil and beef drippings draws out more fat-soluble flavors that have been locked in during the drying process. I also use fresh chopped jalapenos to add more heat. For depth, I use brewed coffee to add a slight bitterness and roasted flavor that compliments the savory ingredients. A small amount of cocoa powder will also add that light astringent note. If you’re not a coffee fan, beer works too. Otherwise, you can use beef stock or broth.
Use a trio of beans
To add various colors and textures to this chili, I use different types of beans. I prefer to use equal amounts of red kidney beans, black beans, and beige speckled pinto beans. Dried beans can take hours to cook to soften the skins and create a creamy center. However, using the high-pressure cooking setting on the Instant Pot offers up a quick solution in just under an hour.
High pressure elevates the cooking temperature
This makes for rapid tenderization with no pre-soaking necessary; just around 33-minutes and you’ll have soft legumes that hold their shape. When testing the recipe, I notice the larger kidney beans require a few additional minutes of cook time.
Therefore the cooking time is calculated based on the minimal time needed to cook the larger size bean thoroughly. Otherwise, they will taste slightly underdone compared to the other varieties. You can always add the lid back on and pressure cook a few minutes longer if needed.
What about canned beans?
You can substitute canned beans for dried beans, although I recommend draining and adding them after pressure-cooking the ground beef. This will allow them to simmer on the saute setting until warmed through. Canned beans will disintegrate and get mushy if pressure-cooked for too long. It’s best to limit their time in the vessel.
Affordable and nutritious
Instant Pot chili is not only a comforting meal, but it also provides balanced nutrition that doesn’t cost a lot to make. Dried beans are cheap and have a long shelf life. They’re a great pantry staple when you need to add a source of protein and fiber to any meal. This chili uses lean ground beef, but ground chicken, turkey, or even crumbled firm tofu can be swapped to change up the flavor.
More chili recipes
The chili can burn if there are any pieces of food or spices stuck to the bottom of the pot before pressure cooking. To prevent this, scrape the bottom of the pot well and stir before putting on the lid. Ensure enough liquid is in the pot so that the chili doesn’t start to burn soon after, it will thicken as the beans cook.
This specific setting for beans or chili will cook at high pressure. This will cook for 25 minutes on the “less” setting or 30 minutes on the “more” setting. I recommend naturally releasing for 15 minutes before fully releasing all of the pressure.
Yes! If heated too long, the beans will start to break down. the legumes will “blow out” of their surrounding skin, lose their shape, and turn mushy. Cook the chili just until the beans become tender and creamy.
Ways to thicken the chili
Both beans and tomato paste can help to thicken the chili. As the beans cook, they release some of their natural starches into the simmering liquid. I also find that as the chili sits before serving, the beans absorb more moisture from the liquid in the pot. Adjust the consistency as needed by adding more beef broth or heating up the chili when ready to serve.
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Instant Pot Chili
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup diced yellow onion, ¼-inch dice
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 ½ pounds ground beef, 80% lean
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon chipotle chili powder, optional
- 6 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup diced red bell pepper, ¼-inch dice
- 2 tablespoons minced jalapeno pepper, seeds and membrane removed
- ½ cup dried kidney beans, rinsed
- ½ cup dried black beans, rinsed
- ½ cup dried pinto beans, rinsed
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cups unsalted beef broth, or beef stock
- ½ cup coffee
- Heat Instant Pot – Select "Saute" on the Instant Pot. Allow the device to heat up, it will indicate "Hot" on the display when ready.
- Cook Aromatics and Beef – Add olive oil, then once hot, add the onions and garlic, saute for 1 minute. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink, make sure to break the meat into smaller chunks, 6 to 7 minutes.
- Add Seasonings and Vegetables – Add the chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste, stir and cook for 1 minute. Add bell peppers and minced jalapenos, cook for 1 minute. Add rinsed kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, and coffee. Stir to combine, scraping any food from the bottom of the pot.
- Cover Instant Pot – Press "Keep/ Warm/Cancel" on the Instant Pot. Make sure that the release valve is in the "Sealing" position. Place the lid on, turn and lock.
- Pressure Cook – Press the "Manual" button on the Instant Pot on high pressure, and then set the timer to 33 minutes using the "+" or "-" buttons. It will take about 15 minutes for the pot to heat up and build pressure. You will see some steam release from the lid, and then the time will start on the display.
- Release Pressure – Once cook time is complete, allow the pressure to naturally release for 15 minutes.
- Open Lid – Use an oven mitt or towel to slowly and carefully twist the steam release handle on the lid to "Venting" position. The initial release will spray some moisture around the pot so be careful. Remove the lid, opening the top away from you as steam will be released.
- To Serve – Stir the chili and taste. Season with more salt, pepper, chili powder, or chipotle chili powder as desired. If desired, add more beef broth for a thinner chili consistency. Serve with desired toppings.
- Serving Size: 1 cup (8 ounces)
- Topping Suggestions: Sliced chili peppers, sour cream, cheese, sliced green onions, cilantro, or avocado.
- Using Canned Beans: Add in a total of 4 ½ cups of cooked beans after you pressure cook the meat for 15 minutes instead of 33 minutes. Select “Saute” and cook until the beans are warmed through.
- Coffee Substitution: Decaffeinated coffee can be substituted. Instant coffee can also be used, follow the rehydration instructions from the manufacturer.
- Protein Substitution: Ground turkey, ground chicken, or crumbled firm tofu can be substituted for ground beef.
- Storing: Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Freeze in a resealable bag for up to 3 months, and defrost before using.
- Reheating: Cover and microwave on high in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until hot. Alternatively, reheat on the stovetop over medium heat.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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