This Instant Pot Chili Mac and Cheese is the ultimate comfort food! It’s a cheesy one-pot pasta recipe that’s filled with hearty flavours.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Olive oil – or another neutral cooking oil like canola or avocado oil.
- Extra-lean ground beef – you could also make this recipe with ground turkey.
- Yellow onion – white onion or shallots would also work here.
- Celery stalks – carrots would also add a bit of crunch to this dish.
- Garlic – freshly minced garlic is best but jarred minced garlic will work in a pinch.
- Chili powder – make your own using a blend of cumin, cayenne and paprika.
- Cumin – coriander is the best substitute here.
- Salt & pepper – to taste.
- Kidney beans – substitute for another bean like pinto beans or cannellini beans.
- Can diced tomatoes – a can of crushed tomatoes would also work.
- Beef broth – vegetable broth is the best substitute here.
- Macaroni pasta – try rotini, shells or scoobi do pasta instead.
- Green pepper – swap out for another colour bell pepper like red or yellow.
- Grated cheddar cheese – or any other cheese of your choice.
- Parsley – leave this off altogether if you don’t have any on hand.
How to make mac and cheese in the Instant Pot
- Sauté the ground beef.
- Add everything to the Instant Pot.
- Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes.
- Serve and enjoy!
How to make this recipe on the stovetop
This Instant Pot Chili Mac and Cheese is super similar to this Homemade Hamburger Helper recipe actually, and you can totally use the method listed on the Hamburger Helper recipe if you want to try the one pot stovetop version of this chili mac.
Here's how to make this recipe on the stovetop:
- Sautee the ground beef first just as you'll do with the Instant Pot version, then add in all the other ingredients (except for green peppers and cheese)
- Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes until the pasta is cooked through.
- Stir in the green peppers and cheese last, cooking another minute or so.
- Serve and enjoy!
Frequently asked questions
Chili mac and cheese and goulash are very similar – they both contain ground beef, noodles, a tomato-based sauce and cheese. The main difference is that chili mac and cheese contains beans, while goulash does not.
Adding in some chili flavours is the best way to spice up your mac and cheese! You'll still get all that cheesy pasta goodness but with an added protein thanks to the ground beef and kidney beans. Plus, there'll be a bit more of a kick with the various spices.
I like using cheddar cheese for this recipe, but feel free to swap it out for another cheese of your choice. I'd suggest sticking to a melting cheese like gouda, gruyere, parmesan or even cream cheese.
Storing and reheating
You can store the leftover chili mac up to 5 days in the fridge. Sprinkle some water overtop and reheat for 2-3 minutes in the microwave, stirring halfway through.
Freezing chili mac
You can also freeze this chili mac! Freeze in glass bowls with lids, then you can reheat from frozen! Just sprinkle some water overtop then reheat for 6-7 minutes, stirring halfway through. This makes the best freezer meal! You can also freeze in aluminum containers and reheat in a 375 F oven for 30-40 minutes.
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Meal prep tools for this recipe
- Grab some glass meal prep bowls if you plan on packing this Instant Pot Chili Mac in the freezer and defrosting in the microwave.
- Freeze this recipe in glass microwave-safe bowls up to 3 months
- Or these aluminum foil containers are perfect for re-heating straight from the freezer to oven.
- And of course I get all my grass-fed beef from Butcher Box!
Instant Pot Chili Mac and Cheese
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb extra-lean ground beef
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 4 celery stalks, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp each salt & pepper
- 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (796mL) can Diced tomatoes
- 3 cups beef broth
- 1 lb dried macaroni pasta
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 2 cups grated cheddar cheese, divided
- Fresh chopped parsley (optional garnish)
- Add olive oil to Instant Pot and select saute mode. Saute ground beef for 4-5 minutes until lightly browned. Turn off saute mode and add onion, celery, garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt & pepper, kidney beans, diced tomatoes, broth and pasta in that order.
- Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes then do a quick release of pressure. Remove lid and stir in green pepper and 1 cup of cheese.
- Serve in large bowls and top each serving with remaining cheese and garnish with fresh parsley if desired. Serve and enjoy!
- Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Saute ground beef for 4-5 minutes until browned. Add onion and celery, sauteeing another 5 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt & pepper, kidney beans, diced tomatoes, broth and pasta, then bring to a boil.
- Simmer for 20 minutes until liquid has absorbed and pasta is cooked through, adding green peppers in during the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Stir in 1 cup of cheese, then serve in bowls with parsley as a garnish (if desired). Enjoy!