Instant Pot Chili Mac

This post is sponsored by Cans Get You Cooking. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting my partners that encourage my creativity and work.

Delicious and hearty, this Instant Pot Chili Mac recipe is a perfect quick and easy mid-week meal for nights you don’t have much time to cook!

My family loves comfort foods and I love when comforts foods come together fast with ingredients that are already in my pantry; practically waiting for me to use them. Enter this Chili Mac. You guys, it doesn’t take any more than a piping hot bowl of cheesy chili-flavored pasta to hug you from the inside. It is THE definition of comfort food.

instant pot chili mac

On any school night, especially after karate practice, it’s at least 6:30 pm by the time we arrive home. Everyone is tired and hungry which means I need to have dinner on the table stat. Most of the time, I have some sort of food prepped; but the reality is that there are many days I don’t come home from the office and head straight to practice leaving me dinner-less when I get home.

That’s why I find the mission of Cans Get You Cooking a great inspiration for busy families to create amazing meals with canned foods. They are already waiting in my pantry and they are full of the nutrition I like to add to my meals. It’s true that kids and adults who use six or more canned foods per week are more likely to have diets higher in 17 essential nutrients, including potassium, calcium and fiber.

instant pot chili mac

Protein and fiber from beans? Check. Vitamins and fiber from the tomatoes? Check. Did you know that fresh fruits and vegetables are harvested at the peak of ripeness and canned within only four hours, sealing in their nutrition and flavor?

Now, let me give credit where it’s due, the Instant Pot (or pressure cooker) cuts down cook time while the items from my pantry, like canned foods and pasta, cut down on prep-time. This means less time in the kitchen and a meal that’s ready fast.

instant pot chili mac

Can you prep this recipe ahead of time?

Of course, if you meal prep for the week, this is the type of recipe you can make a couple of days ahead of time (about 3) and store it in the fridge. Like a good chili, this chili mac tastes much better the next day and all you have to do is heat it up.

Sure. You can place all the ingredients inside your Instant Pot, cover it with plastic wrap, and keep the bowl inside the fridge. Then, simply cook and dinner is ready!

instant pot chili mac

Of course, keeping a well-stocked pantry is key to enjoying family favorites without spending a lot of money or time in the kitchen and it helps to reduce waste on unused fresh produce.

Here are some of my must-have canned items that make whipping up meals a breeze:

  • Beans, all varieties
  • Vegetables, corn, green beans, peas, carrots, etc.
  • Tomatoes, diced, crushed, sauce, paste
  • Green chilies and adobo peppers (for Mexican recipes)
  • Canned Pumpkin for soups (and baking)
  • Artichokes
  • Olives
  • Stock or broth
  • Tuna, salmon, chicken
  • Canned fruit for salads

What kinds of other meals can you make with canned foods?

Many lunches can be made with pantry staples. I love a good tuna or salmon salad sandwich, chicken salad inside a pita, black bean salad, a corn salsa, and more.

For dinner, I can easily whip up a quick homemade marinara sauce, skillet lasagna, vegetarian burrito bowls, black bean burgers, chicken noodle soup, and most definitely, Chili Mac.

instant pot chili mac

Can this recipe be made in a slow cooker?

So glad you asked because yes! You will need to brown the meat as directed. Add all the ingredients except for the pasta and cheese, and cook on high for 4 to 5 hours or low for 8. In the last 15 minutes of cooking, add the pasta and continue to cook until tender. 5 minutes before serving, stir in the cheese until melted.

How to make vegetarian chili mac

Want to make this Instant Pot Chili Mac recipe vegetarian and fully cook out of your pantry? Easy! Simply, omit the meat, add an extra can of beans (rinsed and drained) and cook as directed after the meat step. Making this recipe vegetarian cuts down the cooking time even more.

instant pot chili mac

How to freeze leftover chili mac

This recipe yields 6 to 8 servings; and while leftovers are usually enjoyed the next day or two at my house, this is a great meal to freeze for later.

I like to freeze leftovers in 1 to 1 1/2 cup servings inside individual airtight containers or freezer bags for up to 2 months. To eat, thaw in the fridge overnight and heat when ready to eat for best texture. Or, you can microwave it frozen to heat up. This recipe makes a terrific thermos meal for lunch too.

Can you make this chili mac recipe in the stove top?

Sure, but set aside 30 active minutes to make this meal. Unlike the Instant Pot (or pressure cooker) you’ll need to watch the stove.

First brown the beef in a skillet with the onions, garlic, and spices. Then add the tomatoes, sauce, chilis, beans, macaroni, broth, and stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the macaroni is al dente.

Once the pasta is cooked, remove from heat, add in 1 cup of cheese, mix, and serve.

Aren’t some of these easy recipes with pantry staples the best? What are some of your favorite ways to cook up your canned goods?

instant pot chili mac

Check out Cans Get you Cooking for more creative ways to incorporate canned goods into your weekly meals. Just make sure to include this Chili Mac recipe!

Instant Pot Chili Mac

  • Author: Laura Fuentes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


  • 1 lb ground turkey or beef
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 4 ounce can green chilis
  • 15 ounce can red kidney beans
  • 15 ounce can black beans
  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese


  1. Press the sauté button on the Instant Pot. Add the ground beef and cook stirring occasionally, until browned.
  2. Add the onion and sauté with the beef until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the spices and garlic, and stir to combine.
  3. Pour in the broth, chilis, beans, and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and add the pasta.
  4. Press the cancel button and add the tomatoes and tomato sauce, don’t stir.
  5. Place the lid onto the pot and seal. Press the manual button and pressure cook on high for 4 minutes.
  6. When done, do a quick release of the steam, making sure to wait until the pressure gauge drops back down and the lid is safe to open.
  7. Add 1 cup shredded cheese and stir to combine until the cheese is melted.  Add remaining cheese, cover with lid and let sit for 2 minutes or until the cheese is melted.


  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 400
  • Sugar: 6.2g
  • Sodium: 695.3mg
  • Fat: 7.2g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.7g
  • Trans Fat: 0.1g
  • Carbohydrates: 56.4g
  • Fiber: 7.4g
  • Protein: 28.8g
  • Cholesterol: 54.2mg

2 thoughts on “Instant Pot Chili Mac”

  1. Sarah says:

    I saw this recipe on FB and I immediately thought, ” I need to make this!” You totally crushed it with this recipe, Laura! I opened my pantry and I had everything! I used an extra can of beans because I didn’t have beef and this recipe came together in 10 minutes plus the pressure time like you said. DIVINE!

  2. Eliana says:

    This recipe looks AMAZING! I just added this for next week’s meal plan since I already have everything! I love cooking out of my pantry with cans too. Thanks for the recipe, Laura!

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