It’s really easy to make ground beef Instant Pot Chili in your pressure cooker, but it does take a little bit of tweaking to make sure that you have a chili that has a real depth of flavor and really is worthy of the moniker ‘best ever’ Instant Pot Chili!
What is Chili Con Carne?
There’s lots of conjecture and debate about the origins of Chili Con Carne and who has the most authentic recipe! Most states from California to New Mexico lay claim to the title of the “best bowl of chili“, but that’s something that’s really subjective and depends on your tastes and preferences.
In Spanish, the word chile refers to a “chili pepper, and carne is simply the Spanish word for “meat”. A recipe dating back to the 1850s describes dried beef, suet, dried chili peppers and salt, which were pounded together, formed into bricks and left to dry, which could then be boiled in pots to make ‘chili’, but it’s not the recipe as we know it today.
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Does Authentic Chili contain beans?
I’m hesitant to even wade into this debate, but the short version is that it depends who you ask! Most people will tell you that the earliest and original recipes did not contain beans of any kind.
However, beans have been used in several versions of Chili in the last century, so that seems long enough to me to claim it as authentic! If you are a true ‘Texas Chili’ aficionado, then you won’t want to include beans at all in your recipe as Texas style chili is still made without them, But if not, then all bets are off!
What about using tomatoes in Chili?
While I had heard that using beans in authentic Chili was a subject for much debate, I had no idea that the use of tomatoes was equally controversial! Chili purists insist that tomatoes are a later addition to the original recipe and therefore not authentic.
Apparently a Texas newspaperman created what he called his “Two-Alarm Chili”  and added tomatoes to the meat and spices, he also believed that chili should left in the fridge overnight to allow the flavors to develop, and on that we are agreed! If you can leave my chili recipe overnight it will be even better on the second day, but it works well right out of the pot too.
Tips for Making flavorful Pressure Cooker Chili
Lorna Sass, the author of the popular Cooking Under Pressure book suggests that pressure cooking can sometimes mute the flavor of herbs, spices and garlic. With that in mind I set about coming up with a chili recipe that would work around that, but still pack an awesome flavor punch!
The first time I made my usual chili recipe in my Instant Pot, it was just ok, and far from fabulous. This is a recipe that I know works for a long slow cook time, and does taste great when cooked that way, but was less than awesome when I made it in my pressure cooker without any tweaks to the original recipe.
So here are a few of the things I did to create a really intense and flavorful pressure cooker chili that wowed my whole family!
- I increased the dried spices from the amounts used in the original recipe to compensate for any flavor loss under pressure.
- I added some of the spices into the pot before it went under pressure, and then I added the remainder after and let it simmer for a 10 minutes or so after the lid came off to amp up the flavors.
- I always use fresh spices. If yours have been sitting in your pantry for a year or more they will have lost a lot of their pungency so it’s time to toss them out and get some more!
How to Make Instant Pot Chili
To make my Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Chili, here are some simple step by step directions (the full printable recipe is at the end of my post)
Add the baking soda to the ground beef, I’ve detailed in a paragraph below why I’m doing that. I think it’s really worth it, so I wouldn’t skip this step
- Mix the chili spices in a bowl and set to one side.
Saute the beef and half the spices until the meat is browned, then add the onion and garlic, and beef broth.
Add the crushed tomatoes on top of the meat and spices mixture, DO NOT STIR OR MIX! Tomatoes can stick to the bottom of your pot and sometimes prevent it from coming to pressure, so just let them sit on top of the meat mixture.
Cook for 12 minutes on high pressure, then use natural pressure release for 10 minutes.
Now add the remaining spices and the drained and rinsed canned pinto beans and mix well.
Cover the pot with a lid (I used the Instant Pot glass lid) and let it simmer for about 10-15 more minutes. If you don’t have the glass lid you can just loosely sit the pressure cooker lid on top of the pot.
And that’s it! Serve it hot with some really great gluten free cornbread, Sour cream, Guacamole and a squeeze of lime juice.
Ingredients for Instant Pot Chili Con Carne
As always with great regional dishes there can sometimes be controversy over what constitutes the classic recipe and what ingredients are considered authentic or not, and of course Chili con Carne, ‘Texas Chili, or simply Chili as it’s also known, is no exception.
- Beans – This is a bit of a bone of contention for many Chili aficionados who claim that true Texas-style Chili should have no beans in the recipe. Well, I rarely make claims of authenticity for very many of my recipes lest I get myself in trouble with the internet Chili police, I just want a recipe that tastes awesome, so the beans are in!
- Tomatoes – I just can’t envisage any sort of chili without tomatoes, but according to Wikipedia the humble tomato can be a controversial chili ingredient for some. Again, I’ve included it because I just can’t imagine beef chili without it. I’ve used Fire Roasted tomatoes for this recipe, I think they really add something to the overall flavor over your average can of crushed tomatoes.
- Garlic – This is a must in my book! In addition to real crushed garlic, I’ve also added garlic powder into the recipe both before and after the meat sauce has come to pressure.
- Chili Powder – If I have it, I like to use Ancho chili powder, but any old chili powder will do.
- Ground beef – don’t miss my tips below for keeping the moisture in the ground beef as you brown it, it really works!
- Toppings – We love to add guacamole, a squeeze of lime juice and some shredded cilantro if we have it. Other popular chili toppings include sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese. As we are Brits, we often serve our chili over white rice, but y’all might prefer to serve it with some crackers or gluten free corn bread.
The Best Way to Brown Ground Beef for Chili!
One of the frustrations in cooking ground beef, whether its for pressure cooking or not, is the amount of liquid the meat gives off as you try to brown it.
Then what can end up happening is that you essentially ‘steam’ the meat instead of browning it. One way round that of course is to try to do it in little batches, but that doesn’t always work. And then of course if you pour off the liquid/fat afterwards you are pouring a lot of the accompanying flavor down the drain.
Well, I came across this magic tip in Cooks Illustrated recently and knew that it might be the key to transforming my chili recipe! The idea is simple, but genius! You simply add a little mixture of baking soda and water (not baking powder) to the ground meat, mix it well and leave it to sit for at least 20 minutes, I have all the details in my recipe below.
The baking soda helps the meat to retain the moisture as it browns, and I promise it REALLY works!! It’s made a huge difference to the finished chili recipe so I would urge you to try it. Usually my ‘browned’ meat is sitting in a large puddle of water and fat, but not this time, it really was browned!
What kind of Beans can I use in my Instant Pot Chili?
The Instant Pot or any pressure cooker makes it super easy to cook dried beans in a flash, but for this recipe we are simply using canned beans.
You can use a variety of different beans for this recipe, and I often change them up depending on what I have in the pantry. This time around I used Pinto Beans as I prefer them to the dark kidney beans.
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MORE INSTANT POT RECIPES
- Pressure Cooker Cincinnati Chili
- Pressure Cooker Chili Verde
- Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef
- Instant Pot Cowboy Beans
BEST EVER Instant Pot Chili!
It's really easy to make ground beef Instant Pot Chili, but it does take a little bit of tweaking to make sure that you have a chili that has a real depth of flavor and really is worthy of the moniker 'best ever' Instant Pot Chili!
Adapted from Gluten Free Beef Chili
- 1 lb ground beef (85/15) 454g
- 1/2 tsp baking soda NOT BAKING POWDER!
- 1 large onion
- 2 x 14.5oz crushed fire roasted tomatoes 822g
- 2 tbsp oil
- 16oz pinto beans canned, 453g - red kidney beans work too
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tbsp Ancho chili powder regular Chili powder works too
- 2 tbsp cumin
- 2 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper add more for extra heat
- 3/4 cup gluten free beef broth 177mls
- salt to taste
Please read the details in the post above about 'how to brown ground beef for chili, I have detailed there my reason for adding baking soda to the beef.
Please read the brief recipe notes before you start.
Mix the baking soda with 1 tbsp water until it's dissolved, then add it to the ground beef and thoroughly mix it in, you may need to get your hands in there (sorry!) and then cover and let it sit for at least 20 minutes.
While the beef is doing it's thing, you can prepare the spices. Add all the dried spices and herbs to one small bowl and mix well and put to one side.
Finely chop the onion and garlic.
Turn on the saute/browning function in your Instant Pot or other electric pressure cooker and add 1tbsp oil to coat the bottom, use the 'adjust' button to turn it to the medium saute heat.
Add a 2nd tbsp of oil to the inner pot and add the beef in two batches if necessary and stir until browned. add the onion and crushed garlic (not the garlic powder) . Keep stirring for 1-3 minutes until the onion has softened a bit.
Turn off the saute function. Now add half of the dried spices to the beef mixture and stir well to combine.
Add the gluten free beef broth and mix well making sure to scrape up any bits that may have stuck to the bottom of the pot.
Add the crushed tomatoes on top of the meat, DO NOT STIR OR MIX! Tomatoes can stick to the bottom of your pot and sometimes prevent it from coming to pressure, so just let them sit on top of the meat mixture.
Lock the lid, turn the steam release vent to 'sealing' and using the manual setting, adjust it to cook for 12 minutes at High Pressure.
When the cook time time is up, allow the unit to reduce pressure on its own without opening the steam release vent (Natural Pressure Release) for about 10-12 minutes, then you can gently release the rest of the pressure by opening the vent.
Open the lid, remove it, and stir the mixture. Now add the remaining spices and the drained and rinsed canned beans and stir again.
Turn on the saute/browning function in your Instant Pot or other electric pressure cooker, use the 'adjust' button to turn it the medium heat setting.
Now cover the pot (I use the Instant Pot glass lid) and let it simmer for about 10-15 more minutes, stir a couple of times to make sure it does not stick to the bottom of the pot. If you don't have the glass lid you can just loosely sit the pressure cooker lid on top of the pot.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve hot with gluten free cornbread, crackers, or over rice.
I've tried chopped tomatoes and crushed tomatoes in this recipe and I've found that the crushed make a much better sauce, chopped tomatoes will produce a more watery sauce.
The fire roasted tomatoes really add to the flavor so I recommend using them if you can.