Scrumptious Instant Pot Chili Mac made with lean beef, bell pepper, tomatoes, cheese, and classic seasonings for rich, bold chili flavor. This no-fuss dinner recipe is on the table in 30 minutes!
Instant Pot Chili Mac (also made for the stove) combines the comfort and convenience of pasta and chili. This easy, 30 minute, one pot dinner allows you to simply saute onions, garlic, and ground beef, then dump in other ingredients, and go do stuff! It's frugal, feeds a small army, and isn't dinner from a box! It's another family favorite like my Taco Pasta and Lasagna Soup, all of which help you crush weeknight dinner.
Instant Pot Chili Mac Ingredients
Ingredient amounts are included in the printable recipe below.
- olive oil - or preferred cooking oil
- onion - use white, yellow, or red onions
- bell pepper - use yellow, red, or green bell pepper
- garlic cloves - you can use 1 tsp garlic powder in place of raw garlic.
- ground beef - I like to use a 90/10 lean ground beef for this recipe
- canned diced tomatoes - or any canned tomatoes
- tomato paste - you can sub an 8 oz can of tomato sauce *see recipe footnote
- chili powder and cumin - essential seasonings for chilli mac
- salt and pepper - add these to taste
- water - or cooking broth
- uncooked macaroni noodles - if subbing a different pasta noodle, make sure it's similar thickness to prevent overcooking, especially for Instant Pot Chili Mac
- cheddar cheese - I use minimal cheese for this recipe but you are welcome to add more.
How to make chili mac in the Instant Pot
Full recipe instructions are in the printable recipe below.
- Sauté onions, bell pepper, garlic, and beef in the Instant Pot on ‘saute’ setting (I use the 6 quart Duo). Deglaze as needed.
- Add diced tomatoes (with the juice), tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, and salt. stir to combine. Then add water (or broth) and macaroni, pressing macaroni to submerge it.
- Pressure cook on high pressure for 2 minutes with a full 10-minute natural pressure release.
- Stir to combine ingredients. Fold in cheese, serve, and devour!
How to make chili mac on the stove
Full recipe instructions are in the printable recipe below.
- Heat olive oil in a 3.5 quart soup pot on med-high heat.
- Add onions, bell pepper, and garlic to the pot. Sauté until tender, stirring as needed (about 5 minutes).
- Add beef and continue sautéing until no longer pink, stirring as needed.
- Add tomatoes, tomato paste, seasonings, water, and macaroni noodles to the pot. Increase heat to high and bring everything to a boil for a few minutes.
- Reduce heat to simmer all ingredients until pasta is cooked through (10-15 minutes).
- Stir in cheddar cheese and devour!
Frequently asked questions
Can I add beans to chili mac? You sure can! You can use any beans you'd use with chili. Just drain the beans and add them at the same time you add the diced tomatoes.
Can I use substitute the macaroni with other pasta? Yes, you can use other pasta shapes in chili mac. For thicker pasta (penne, rotini, rigatoni, etc), follow the recipe as it is written. For thinner pasta (classic shells, spaghetti noodles), subtract 1 minute from the pressure cook time and follow the recipe accordingly.
Does chili mac have cheese? I've made this recipe with and without it. I love it either way. If I don't use cheese, I'll stir in a little half and half or milk at the end to make it creamy.
Can I make chili mac ahead? Absolutely! You can make it ahead and reheat the whole pot when it's army-feeding time. Or you can meal prep it into portions and reheat as needed. Either way, to reheat, add a splash of water, broth, or milk, and heat via stove or microwave.
Try these easy dinner recipes
- Instant Pot Chicken Burrito Bowl
- Air Fryer Rotisserie Chicken
- Instant Pot Tuna Casserole
- Easy Beef Stroganoff
- Easy Chicken Thighs
- Taco Pasta for Instant Pot or Stove
- Lasagna Soup for Instant Pot or Stove
Instant Pot Chili Mac (with stove instructions)
- 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
- ½ medium Onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- ½ medium Bell Pepper (any color), diced (about 1 cup)
- 3 cloves Garlic, minced
- ½ pound Lean Ground Beef (uncooked), use more if desired
- 1 (15 ounce can) Diced Tomatoes, don't drain
- ½ (6 ounce can) Tomato Paste, *see recipe note
- 2 tablespoons Chili Powder
- ½ teaspoon Cumin
- ½ teaspoon Sea Salt
- 2 ½ cups Water, or broth
- 8 ounces Dried Macaroni Noodles
- 4 ounces Cheddar Cheese, shredded (about 1 cup) *see recipe footnote
Chili Mac Instant Pot Instructions
- Select "Sauté" on the Instant Pot and add OLIVE OIL.
- When the display reads "Hot", add ONION, BELL PEPPER, and GARLIC. Sauté until tender, stirring as needed.
- Add BEEF and sauté until cooked through, stirring as needed. Drain any excess fat. Add a splash of broth and scrape any brown bits off the bottom aka deglaze the pot.
- Add TOMATOES with their juice and use a flat-ended utensil to remove any brown bits from the bottom of the pot (aka deglaze).
- Stir in TOMATO PASTE, CHILI POWDER, CUMIN, and SALT.
- Add MACARONI to the pot and don't stir, then WATER (or broth), pressing macaroni under the water to submerge.
- Secure lid, turn pressure valve to "Sealing" position. Press "Cancel" then select "Manual" or "Pressure Cook” for 2 minutes on HIGH pressure. *see recipe note
- When cook cycle is done, allow a FULL 10-minute (NPR) natural pressure release. Don’t rush the NPR so the pasta can finish cooking.
- After 10 min, carefully turn the pressure release valve to "Venting" position to release any steam.
- Remove the lid and stir the Chili Mac until ingredients are well-combined. Stir in CHEDDAR CHEESE. *see recipe note
One Pot Chili Mac Stove Instructions
- Heat OLIVE OIL in a 3.5 quart soup pot on med-high heat. Add ONIONS, BELL PEPPER, and GARLIC and sauté until tender, stirring as needed (about 5 minutes).
- Add BEEF and continue sautéing until it's no longer pink, stirring as needed.
- Stir in DICED TOMATOES (with juice), TOMATO PASTE, CHILI POWDER, CUMIN, SALT, WATER, and MACARONI.
- Increase heat to high and bring everything to a boil for a few minutes.
- Reduce heat to simmer all ingredients until pasta is cooked through (10-15 minutes). Keep an eye on the water level, adding more in small amounts as needed to prevent pasta from sticking to the pot or drying out.
- When pasta is fully cooked, you'll have a creamy, saucy consistency. Stir in cheddar cheese and devour!
Traci's Recipe Notes
For thicker pasta (macaroni, rotini, penne), follow recipe as it is written. For thinner pasta (shells or spaghetti noodles) pressure cook the pasta for 1 minute (instead of 2 minutes) followed by the 10 minute natural pressure release. Cheese: I created this recipe with minimal cheese (1 cup). You can add more cheese or leave it out completely if you're dairy-sensitive. I sometimes like to add a splash of half and half in place of the cheese. Enjoy!
- serving utensil
Nutrition data provided as courtesy estimates using unbranded ingredients from a nutrition database. Please consult preferred resource for precise data.