Nothing like a warm and delicious bowl of Instant Pot Chili. I’ve posted several recipes for chili on the blog, but this one right here is by far my favorite. It’s my favorite because of the rich flavors in it, and because of the fact that it’s so easy to make because it uses canned beans. My family absolutely loves this chili and I’m certain yours will love it too!
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What Is the Best Secret Ingredient for Chili?
That is a very good question and any answer would be highly subjective. You’ll find chili recipes with some interesting and unique ingredients including chocolate, coffee, anchovies, fish sauce, peanut butter, and cinnamon.
The good news is there are so many versions of this versatile dish, each with its own list of special ingredients, that there is a chili for every taste. Some of the very special ingredients that make my chili recipe unique and give it such a rich bold flavor are the dark lager beer, cocoa powder, smoked paprika, and corn flour “masa harina”.
Ingredients and Substitutions for Instant Pot Chili
This chili recipe is easy, tastes amazing, and is packed full of hearty goodness. All the ingredients in this recipe are simple and probably readily available in your refrigerator and pantry. Below you will find the full list of ingredients along with suitable substitutions for those items that you may not have on hand.
- Ground Beef: You will need two pounds of ground beef, I use a lean 90/10 ground sirloin so I don’t have to drain it. You can use ground turkey or ground chicken if you wish.
- Beer: You’ll also need a bottle of dark lager beer, I use Shiner Bohemian Black Lager, but you can use your favorite beer. If you don’t want to use beer then you can use chicken or beef stock instead but the beer gives it a tremendous flavor.
- Red Kidney Beans: The recipe calls for 2 cans of dark red kidney beans, but you can substitute those for pinto beans or even black beans. You can also use a mix of either of those beans. I used Bush’s dark red kidney beans to make this chili recipe. Don’t forget to add the juices from the can to the pot. There is a lot of flavor in those juices!
- Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes: You’ll need 2 cans of fire-roasted diced tomatoes. If you don’t have fire-roasted, you can use regular diced tomatoes. For this recipe, I used Muir Glen Organic Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes.
- Tomato Paste: You also need one small 6 ounce can of tomato paste. I used Contadina tomato paste with roasted garlic.
- Spices: Finally, you will need dried minced onion, chili powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika, cocoa powder, kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. You can use regular paprika if you don’t have smoked. You can also use a diced onion instead of dry minced onion and fresh garlic cloves instead of garlic powder.
- Corn Four: I use corn flour, also known as “Masa Harina” to thicken this chili. The distinct flavor of the corn flour really works well for this chili recipe. If you don’t have corn flour, you can use corn starch. As a substitute, make a slurry by mixing two tablespoons of corn starch with an equal amount of water.
You can make lots of substitutions in this recipe but keep in mind that with every substitution you make, the flavor will change. The way the recipe is written will give you maximum flavor and smokey richness and if you can follow it as written you will get the best results.
What Goes With Chili?
In my house, we can’t have a bowl of chili without some delicious cornbread on the side. Sometimes I’ll make cornbread mix from a box, or when I have a bit more time, I make my Skillet Cornbread or my Texas Wildfire Cornbread to spice things up!
Other things that go well with chili are tortilla chips, Fritos, or white rice. You can also add a side of veggies to your chili. We sometimes make corn on the cob or roasted corn, and if you like them, some collard greens would be great as well!
To help you make this chili, I’m including a visual step-by-step of the process. In addition to laying out the entire process in detail, you will also find some extra tips and tricks to help you be successful. So, let’s get started!
Set your Instant Pot, or other pressure cooker, to ‘Sauté’ and use the ‘Adjust’ button to adjust the heat level to ‘More’. When the pot reads ‘Hot’ you will add the ground beef to the pot. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to break the ground beef into smaller and smaller pieces as it cooks. It will take about 6 to 8 minutes to cook the ground beef through.
Once it’s browned, add the dry minced onion to the ground beef, mix it in well. Continue cooking for a few minutes, periodically mixing, to soften the onion and release its flavor.
Add the remaining spices – chili powder, cumin, paprika, cocoa, salt, pepper, and garlic powder – and mix them into the meat. Sauté for another minute or two until the spices begin to release their flavors and aromas.
Next, add the beer, mix it well into the ground beef and scrape the bottom of the pot removing any stuck-on bits.
Layer the beans with their liquid over the ground beef. Next, layer the two cans of diced tomatoes with juices over the beans. And, finally, spoon the tomato paste on top without mixing anything in.
Finally, prepare the thickener by mixing the corn flour “masa harina” with water until a slurry is formed. Then pour the corn flour slurry over all the ingredients in the pot. Again, do not mix anything.
Close your lid and set it to ‘Sealing’. Select the ‘Chili’ button – the time and pressure settings are automatically set to cook at ‘High Pressure’ for 20 minutes. If your pot doesn’t have a ‘Chili’ setting, use ‘Manual’ or ‘Pressure Cook’ and adjust the cooking time to 20 minutes.
Once the cooking time is finished, you need to allow for a full Natural Pressure Release. Don’t touch your pot and let the pressure release itself until the pin drops. This will allow all the flavors to really set in.
Once the pin drops, open your lid. Give everything a really good stir. If the chili is thinner than you’d like, turn on ‘Sauté’ and set the heat level to ‘Less’ using the ‘Adjust’ button. Simmer, periodically stirring, until the chili reaches your desired thickness. This shouldn’t take longer than 5 or 10 minutes.
Now you’re ready to serve the chili! You can top it with sour cream, shredded cheese, green onion, and anything else your heart desires!
I hope you try and love this hearty Instant Pot Chili recipe. Let me know in the comments when you make it. If you want a recipe for chili with dry beans, then try my Instant Pot Chili with Dry Beans. And if you want a stovetop recipe, try my Quick & Easy Texas Chili Beans.
Instant Pot Chili
GROUND BEEF, RED BEANS, DICED TOMATOES, AND A SPECIAL BLEND OF SPICES
the Beef & Beer the Spices
- 3 tablespoons dried minced onion may substitute 1 medium onion
- ¼ cup chili powder may reduce to 2 tablespoons depending on your preference
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika may substitute regular paprika
- 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt or to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper or to taste
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder may substitute 4 cloves minced garlic
the Canned Ingredients for the Thickener
- 4 tablespoons corn flour “masa harina” may substitute cornstarch, see notes
- ½ cup water
prepare the Ground Beef Set to Sauté: Set the Instant Pot to 'Sauté', use the 'Adjust' button to set the heat level to 'More', and allow the pot to heat up.
- Cook the Ground Beef: As soon as the digital display reads 'Hot', add the ground beef and cook it, breaking it apart into smaller and smaller pieces as it cooks. Continue until the meat is cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes.
- Season the Ground Beef: Mix the dry minced onion into the meat and cook for a couple of minutes, until the onion has started to soften. Add the remaining spices – chili powder, cumin, paprika, cocoa, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Mix into the ground beef and cook for another minute allowing the spices to release their aromas and flavors.
- Cancel Sauté: Cancel out of the 'Sauté' function.
add the Beer & Canned Ingredients
- Add Beer: Mix the beer into the ground beef scraping down the bottom of the pot to remove any stuck-on bits.
- Layer Canned Ingredients: Layer the two cans of red beans, with juices, over the ground beef. Next, layer the two cans of diced tomatoes, with juices, over the beans. Finally, spoon the tomato paste over the diced tomatoes. Do not mix the canned ingredients.
- Add Thickener: Make a slurry with the corn flour and water. Pour it over the ingredients in the pot and do not mix it in.
set the Cook Time
- 20-Minutes on Chili Function: Close the Instant Pot and set the pressure release valve to 'Sealing' and then set the pot to cook on 'Chili'. The pot will automatically set the cooking time for 20 minutes. Alternatively, you may set the pot to cook on 'Manual' or 'Pressure Cook', 'High Pressure' for 20 minutes.
- Full NPR: Once the cooking time has completed, allow for full NPR (natural pressure release). This will take about 30 minutes.
for a Thicker Chili
- If the chili is not thick enough for you, turn on the 'Sauté' function, use the 'Adjust' button to set the heat level to 'Less', and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the chili has reached your desired thickness.
Using Corn Starch as a Thickener: If you don’t have corn flour available, you may use corn starch instead. In place of the 4 tablespoons of corn flour and ½ a cup of water, make a thickener using 2 tablespoons of corn starch and 2 tablespoons of water instead.
Common Questions & Answers
What Spices Are in Chili? Of course, you can’t make a great chili without great chili powder. Other than chili powder, some other spices commonly used in chili are cumin, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. You may also find some unique ingredients like cocoa powder, cinnamon, oregano, parsley, bay leaf, coriander, achiote, fenugreek, sumac, or turmeric in some chili recipes. My recipe uses a special blend of dry minced onion, chili powder, cumin, paprika, cocoa powder, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Feel free to make adjustments or add your own unique spice.
What Kind of Beans Go in Chili? Chili can be made with just about any bean but the most common beans that you’ll find in a traditional bean chili are pinto beans, red kidney beans, or black beans. My recipe uses red kidney beans but feel free to pick your favorite bean or mix them all and go for it!
Can I Use Dry Beans? Absolutely! But, you’ll need to adjust your cooking times. Check out my Chili with Dry Beans recipe for guidance.
Can I Make This Recipe Without Beans? Yes, you can. I would suggest that you reduce the salt by half to 1 teaspoon.
Can I Use Ground Turkey or Ground Chicken? Both ground turkey and ground chicken make great substitutes for ground beef.
Do I Have to Add Beer? No, you don’t have to add the beer. While the beer adds such a wonderful dimension of flavor to this chili, you can replace it with an equal amount of beef stock or chicken stock.
Tips & Tricks
How to Thicken Chili: I like to thicken chili with corn flour, also known as masa harina. It adds a unique flavor and great texture to the chili. You can also use either corn starch or flour to thicken your chili. Tomato paste will also help to thicken chili. After adding your thickener, continue to simmer your chili until it reaches your desired thickness.
How to Tone Down Spicy Chili: If you have the option, you can tone down the spiciness of chili by reducing the amount of chili powder that goes into it. If you’re worried about the spiciness, cut the amount of chili powder in the recipe in half. If you’ve already made the chili, adding a small amount of sugar will help cut the spice. Try adding a tablespoon of granulated sugar to the pot of chili. Another option is to serve each bowl of chili with a dollop of sour cream. As a last resort, you could try diluting the chili by adding more of the non-spicy ingredients (i.e., ground beef, beans, tomatoes) in the same proportions that the recipe calls for. The only issue with this is that it will take more time and yield a lot more chili.
What to Do With Leftover Chili: Leftover chili can be used to top baked potatoes, stuff empanadas, use in tacos and burritos, make casseroles, dips, chili mac, stuffed peppers, enchiladas, chili cheese fries, and tamale pie.
What Are the Best Toppings for Chili? Shredded cheese has to be the perfect topping for chili. I like to use a Medium to Sharp Cheddar to top my chili. Monterrey Jack, Pepper Jack, and Colby are also great cheeses to top chili with. In addition to cheese, a dollop of sour cream, a slice of avocado, crumbled tortilla chips, and green onions make great toppings for chili.
What Goes With Chili? Cornbread has to be chili’s best friend. It’s hard to find anything better to pair with chili. You must try my Homemade Cornbread recipe to serve with this chili. And, if you’re looking to make something extra special with your cornbread mix, try my Texas Wildfire Cornbread.
What to Serve With Chili Besides Cornbread? If you’re looking to serve something other than cornbread with your chili, then try white rice, brown rice, or corn on the cob. Other great sides for chili are collard greens, roasted root vegetables, baked potato, dirty rice, coleslaw, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and mashed potatoes.