Instant pot chili is the way to go! I love cooking in the Instant Pot, especially soups and stews. The Instant Pot keeps all the delicious smells inside the pot, which means that the flavors stay in the food! Plus I love how quickly Instant Pot chili can come together because sometimes I just don’t want to be waiting hours for a chili to stew.

Chili is one of those foods where everyone has a favorite style – it’s one of those regional things that people fight to the death over. Beans/no beans, vegetables/no vegetables, tomatoes/no tomatoes, ground meat or stew meat?! White chili, green chili, chicken chili, vegan chili, Cincinnati chili, serious competition chili, the list just goes on and on.

What even is chili, anyway?

If you ask a Texan (and the International Chili Society) a real chili is “any kind of meat or combination of meats, cooked with red/green chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients, with the exception of beans and pasta which are strictly forbidden.” Yup, that’s right: no beans! When many people think chili, they often think of beans, but for me, I’m a Texas chili lover all the way. I love the pureness of Texas chili: perfectly seasoned, tender ground beef swimming in a pool of smoky, spicy, garlicky, roasty tomatoes and broth.

instant pot chili | www.iamafoodblog.com

Beans vs no beans

Apparently there’s a saying in Texas: If you know beans about chili, you know chili ain’t got no beans. That’s because the chili that we all know and love is an offshoot of chile con carne, which originated in Texas/Northern Mexico where it butts up against Texas. Traditionally, chile con carne is a spicy stew with meat and chile peppers and no beans. Nowadays, what we call chili is essentially a stew/soup made with meat (or not meat), beans, tomatoes (or no tomatoes), and spices, but if you want to stay true to the original, the beans are out.

No beans about instant pot chili

This is a chili no beans recipe. Of course, if you love beans, feel free to add them in. Personally, I love the way Texas style chili tastes: hearty, meaty, heavily spiced but not spicy, just the right amount of heat, with a stick-to-your ribs feeling you just don’t get with chili with beans. If you’ve never tried chili with no beans, you owe it to yourself to try it today! Unless you’re just in the mood for the bean-ful chili you know and love, which is totally ok too.

chili topped with cheddar cheese | www.iamafoodblog.com

Chili powder vs chile powder

You might be wondering, what’s the difference between chili powder and chile powder, besides the “i” and the “e”:

  • Chili powder with an “i” is a blend of spices and ground up chile peppers to make chili stew that you can buy at the store.
  • Chile powder with an “e” is ground up chile pepper (like ancho, cayenne, habanero, ghost, jalapeños, etc) and ideally nothing more.

If you use pure chile powders, you’ll need to add the rest of the spices to make chili powder. I recommend making your own homemade blend (I’ve included our favorite mix below) so you can tweak it just right to your taste, but of course, you can use your favorite premixed chili powder too.

We love speciality chile pepper chile powders like: hatch green chile powder, Chimayo red chile powder, New Mexico red chile powder, and habanero. You can usually find these in the Mexican aisle of your grocery store or online. Regular chile powders like chipotle, cayenne, and ancho are also pretty common in the spice aisle. Be sure not to buy a huge amount of chile powders because they loose potency the older they get.

homemade chili powder | www.iamafoodblog.com

The best homemade chili powder recipe

  • 1 tbsp green chile powder
  • 1 tbsp Chimayo chile powder
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 ground bay leaf

What other spices go into chili?

If you’re looking for a classic chili flavor, these are the spices you need (and what you’ll find in most chili powders):

  • cumin
  • chile powder such as cayenne pepper
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • white or black pepper
  • Mexican oregano
  • bay leaves (whole or ground)
  • paprika, smoked or sweet
  • coriander

Chili spice dumps

You might notice that the spices are added twice: once at the beginning and one at the end. It’s not just being finicky! Adding your chili spices, called “dumps” in the pro chili competition world, is usually done in two batches so you can get the maximum flavor notes and subtleties from the spices. Some spices will get muddled when cooked for too long, so adding them in at both the beginning and the end means you get the full flavors.

chili spice dump | www.iamafoodblog.com

How do I make chili less spicy?

This is an easy fix – you can still enjoy a super flavorful bowl of chili without the spiciness of chile powders. Just make your own chili powder seasoning and reduce (or leave out entirely) all the spicy chile powders!

How to make instant pot chili

  1. Cook the onion. Lightly sauté the onion in the Instant Pot insert with a bit of oil over high heat until soft, but not brown.
  2. Brown the meat. Add the ground beef the insert and brown, breaking up. Use a potato masher to help you break everything up. If there’s a lot of fat, drain most, but not all, of it off.
  3. Add the liquids and the first spice dump. Add in the tomatoes, tomato paste, and broth, along with the first spice dump then set the Instant Pot to high pressure for 30 minutes. Quick release when the Instant Pot is done.
  4. Add the second dump. Stir in the second dump of spices and simmer slightly on high to reduce if needed. Done!

instant pot chili recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Can I make instant pot chili in a crock pot or on the stove?

  • For the crock pot: Use a skillet to brown the onions and meat, then add to the crock pot with the chicken stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, and first spice dump. Cook for 6-8 on low or 3-4 hours on high, stirring in chicken stock if the pot gets too dry. Stir in the second spice dump right before serving.
  • For the stove: In a large pot, brown the onions and meat, then add to the crock pot with the chicken stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, and first spice dump. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally, adding in chicken stock if the pot gets too dry. Stir in the second spice dump right before serving.

chili with sour cream, cheese, and jalapenos | www.iamafoodblog.com

Tips to make the best instant pot chili

  • Let your ground meat sit out at room temp for 15 minutes before cooking it. If you let it come to room temp before browning, less water will cook out during the browning process, making the outsides crisp and in the insides tender.
  • Do two spice dumps: this makes sure that your chili is perfectly spiced without any muddled flavors
  • Chili tastes more delicious the next day – it’s science! Resting your chili overnight melds and redistributes the flavors throughout and lets the chili thicken a bit.
  • Toppings! Don’t forget the toppings because sometimes that’s the best part! I love crunchy Fritos, the freshness of green onions, sometimes a squeeze of lime, shredded cheddar, sour cream, cilantro, sliced jalapeños, and avocados. The chili you see above is orange because of all the sour cream in it and it’s the best thing ever.
instant pot chili | www.iamafoodblog.com

Instant Pot Chili

Maybe the best thing you could ever make in your Instant Pot
Serves 4
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 35 mins

Ingredients

Instant Pot Chili

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 cup medium onion diced
  • 1 lb ground beef lean preferred
  • 14 oz crushed tomatoes one small can
  • 6 oz tomato paste one small can
  • 1 cup chicken stock no sodium preferred
  • 1 bay leaf

Spice Dump 1

  • 1 tbsp chili powder store bought or our mix above
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Spice Dump 2

  • 2 tbsp chili powder store bought or our mix above
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp hatch chile powder optional

Special Equipment

Instructions

  • Add the oil to the Instant Pot on saute high. When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring, until soft, but not brown. Add the meat along with salt and pepper (to your preference) to the pot and cook, breaking up. You can use a potato masher to help break up all the meat. Cook just until the beef breaks up and the meat is no longer pink.
    browning meat for chili | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken stock, bay leaf, and first spice dump. Put the lid on, set the pressure to high and cook time to 30 minutes. Quick release the pressure when cooking time is completed.
    chili spice dump | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Give the chili a stir, and add in the second spice dump, tasting and adjusting with salt and pepper as needed. Enjoy!
    instant pot chili | www.iamafoodblog.com

Notes

For the crock pot: Use a skillet to brown the onions and seasoned meat, then add to the crock pot with the chicken stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, and first spice dump. Cook for 6-8 on low or 3-4 hours on high. Stir in the second spice dump right before serving.
For the stove: In a large pot, brown the onions and seasoned meat, then add to the crock pot with the chicken stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, and first spice dump. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally. Stir in the second spice dump right before serving.

Estimated Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Instant Pot Chili
Amount Per Serving
Calories 323 Calories from Fat 97
% Daily Value*
Fat 10.8g17%
Saturated Fat 3.2g20%
Cholesterol 101mg34%
Sodium 498mg22%
Potassium 913mg26%
Carbohydrates 17.5g6%
Fiber 5.2g22%
Sugar 11.5g13%
Protein 39g78%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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4 Comments

  1. Sabrina says:

    I love all chili even those with beans that as you write is a stew rather than a chili, but love this classic version, so thank you, but most important maybe is that I never used the double dump spice method, all of my spices have always gone in up front, so good to know that I’m missing some potential flavor!

    1. Stephanie says:

      double dump spice is where it’s at :)

  2. britt says:

    you dont indicate when to put in the first dump

    1. Stephanie says:

      thank you! fixing. it goes in with the tomatoes :)

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