Instant Pot Chili

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This Instant Pot Chili is your ticket to a satisfying meal without the hassle. Whether you’re prepping for a weekend camping trip or a busy weekday, this recipe is perfect to make ahead and simply heat it up when you’re ready to eat.

A bowl of chili topped with shredded cheese, sour cream, diced avocado, chopped green onions, corn chips, and a lime wedge sits on a blue plate on a rustic wooden surface with a spoon in the chili.

Savory beef, a rich and flavorful sauce, and that lip-tingling, slow-building spicy heat that will keep you warm all night—we’re here for it!

But for a great-tasting chili to really come together, you need time, which we never have enough of when camping (or… ever!).

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That’s why we developed this make-ahead Instant Pot chili recipe. You’ll get the deeply flavorful taste of slow-cooked chili in a fraction of the time and without all the active effort.

With all the work done in advance at home, all you need to do is store it in your cooler and reheat it at the campsite. And with all the time you saved, you can focus on making cast iron skillet cornbread to accompany it!

A bowl of chili topped with shredded cheese, diced avocado, sour cream, corn chips, and chopped green onions sits on a rustic wooden surface with a lime wedge on the side and a spoon tucked into the bowl.

What makes this chili different

You’ll notice at least one major difference in our chili recipe—there are NO canned tomatoes! We (personally) find that canned diced tomatoes feel like sad, soggy bits in our chili. So, we leave them out. Love them? Add them back in! We recommend draining the liquid first.

Our chili base is also a bit thicker than some. It’s a coat-back-of-a-spoon type of chili vs. a more brothy chili.

Ingredients laid out on a green background, each labeled: box of organic beef broth, garlic head, onion, can of tomato paste, can of kidney beans, can of pinto beans, ground beef, package of bacon, unsweetened cocoa powder, cumin, oregano, paprika and chile powder.

Ingredient FAQ’s

Ground beef: We find that the little bit of extra fat in an 85/15 blend adds to the richness of the chili without it becoming greasy.

Beans: Why are we using canned beans if this is an Instant Pot recipe? Honestly, we just couldn’t get dried beans to become tender enough without a longer pressure cook time, which the ground beef doesn’t need. Canned beans resulted in a consistently great chili! You can choose pinto beans, black beans, small red beans, or kidney beans. We like a mix of pinto and small red beans for our chili (which are less starchy than kidney beans).

Cocoa powder (unsweetened): Don’t skip it! This adds a depth of flavor that complements the chile powder (but it doesn’t make it taste like chocolate). Make sure to use an unsweetened variety.

A word about chili powder!

We highly recommend using ground pasilla or ancho chile powder instead of the generic “Chili Powder” from the store (which varies wildly in heat and ingredients!) Pasillas are a little sweeter, and anchos are a little smokier. Feel free to blend the two if you already have both!

Whatever you do, DON’T substitute the chile powder with ground cayenne! Sometimes sold as “ground red pepper,” this stuff is hot hot hot (and doesn’t add any of the earthy flavors that pasilla/ancho chile powder does).

Three chili powder products are displayed against a green background with a bottle labeled "organic Ancho Chili Powder" on the left, a package labeled "El Guapo Chile Pasilla" in the center, and another bottle labeled "organic chili powder" on the right; text annotations highlight variations.

🌶️ Chili or chile or chilli?!

Confused about chili vs chile vs chilli? According to Merriam-Webster:

Chili = the dish OR a blend of chile powder & other ingredients

Chile = whole pepper or “a pure powder of dried chili peppers only” (esp. in the Southwest/Spanish influence)

Chilli = British English for chile

How Long To Cook Chili In The Instant Pot?

We recommend budgeting about an hour total for this Instant Pot chili recipe. This includes about 20-25 minutes of prep & active cooking time and 40 minutes of hands-off time (~10 minutes to come to pressure + 20 minutes of pressure cooking time + 10 minutes natural release).

How to Make Instant Pot Chili – Step by Step

  1. Cut the bacon in half, then add it to the Instant Pot. Turn on to “Sauté” (normal). Cook the bacon until the fat renders and it begins to crisp, about 5-6 minutes. Remove and set aside. Roughly chop it up while the beef is browning in the next step.
A four-panel image demonstrates cooking steps in an Instant Pot with bacon strips frying, raw ground beef, browned ground beef, and chopped onions being sautéed.
  1. Add the ground beef to the Instant Pot and cook it on one side until the meat is deeply browned, about 4-5 minutes. Resist the urge to move it around–undisturbed contact with the hot surface is key here. Remove and set aside (don’t worry if it’s still red or pink!).
  2. Add the onion and sauté until it begins to turn golden brown, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds.
Two-part image showing ingredients in an Instant Pot: Left side shows chopped onions with red chili powder, paprika, and other spices; right side shows the same pot with sautéed onions, mixed spices, and a spatula stirring the mixture.
  1. Add the tomato paste and spices (chile powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, salt). Stir in with the onions so the spices become fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
A four-image collage shows preparation stages of a chili recipe in an Instant Pot: the first image has chili seasoning mixed with liquid, the second has beans added, the third shows meat added, and the fourth reveals fully cooked chili.
  1. Add ½ cup beef stock to the Instant Pot. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, scrape up all the brown bits (aka, flavor!) stuck to the bottom of the pot. Do not skip this step, or you risk triggering a burn notice. Take your time and make sure the bottom of the pot is clear.
  2. Add the remaining cup of stock, cocoa powder, and beans. Return the beef and the chopped bacon to the pot. Use your spatula or spoon to break apart any large chunks of beef. Stir to combine.
  3. Place the lid on the Instant Pot and set the valve to “Seal(ing?)”. Press “Pressure” or “Manual” and set it to cook for 20 minutes on high pressure.
  4. Once the timer goes off, you can release the pressure right away or let it naturally release for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Enjoy with your favorite chili toppings, such as cheese, green onions, sour cream, and a squeeze of lime juice.

Make Ahead Tips & Storage

Homemade chili should be stored in a watertight, resealable container. It can be refrigerated for up to 4 days and can be frozen for up to 6 months.

This means you can make your chili well in advance of your camping trip—not just the night before.

To reheat, thaw if frozen, then add to a pot, cover, and gently heat until warmed through. It’s really as simple as that!

A person in a yellow shirt holds a chili bowl topped with sour cream, shredded cheese, green onions, avocado, and corn chips while squeezing a lime wedge over it.
A bowl of chili topped with shredded cheese, diced avocado, sour cream, corn chips, and chopped green onions sits on a rustic wooden surface with a lime wedge on the side and a spoon tucked into the bowl.

Instant Pot Chili

Discover the easiest way to enjoy hearty chili with our Instant Pot Chili recipe. Perfect for busy nights or as a make-ahead camping meal.
Author: Fresh Off The Grid
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Pressure cook time*: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 pieces of bacon
  • 1 lb 85/15 ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons chile powder, pasilla or ancho
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • cup beef broth or stock, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 15oz cans of beans (pinto, red, black, etc), drained
  • Your favorite toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, avocado, green onions, fresh cilantro, tortilla chips or corn chips, lime wedges,

Instructions

  • Cut bacon in half, then add to the Instant Pot. Turn on to “Sauté–More”. Cook the bacon until the fat renders and it begins to crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside. Roughly chop it up while the beef is browning in the next step.
  • Add the ground beef to the Instant Pot and cook it on one side until deeply browned, about 3 minutes. Remove and set aside (don’t worry if it’s still red or pink!).
  • Add the onion and sauté until beginning to turn golden brown, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic for about 30 seconds.
  • Add the tomato paste and spices (chile powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, salt). Stir in with the onions so the spices become fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Add ½ cup of beef stock to the Instant Pot. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, scrape up all the brown bits (aka flavor) stuck to the bottom of the pot. Do not skip this step, or you risk triggering a burn notice. Take your time and make sure the bottom of the pot is clear.
  • Add the remaining cup of stock, cocoa powder, and beans. Return the beef and the chopped bacon to the pot. Use your spatula or spoon to break apart any large chunks of beef. Stir to combine.
  • Place the lid on the Instant Pot and set the valve to “Seal”. Press “Pressure” or “Manual” and set it to cook for 20 minutes on high pressure.
  • Once the timer goes off, let it naturally release for 10 minutes, then turn the valve to "Vent" to release the remaining pressure.
  • Enjoy with your favorite chili toppings: cheese, green onions, sour cream, and a squeeze of lime.

Notes

*Pressure cook time: 40 minutes is the total time in the Instant Pot—10 minutes to come to pressure, 20 minutes of pressure cooking, and 10 minutes of natural release.
To Store: Chili can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat on the stove—you may need to thin it out with a little broth or water. Chili will last for up to 6 months in the freezer.

Nutrition (Per Serving)

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 536kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 22g | Sugar: 5g

*Nutrition is an estimate based on information provided by a third-party nutrition calculator

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