Instant Pot Chili Mac!


So this is a new twist on things... my usual M.O. is to take a recipe that may be a bit of a calorie bomb, or in some regard, unhealthy, and set about to make it healthier, tastier and/or more user-friendly.  In this case, though, I've taken inspiration from a super, uber-healthy recipe and done my best to make it, shall we say, less so?

First let me begin by saying that I love chili mac.  I've made it stove-top, in the oven and experimented with lots of ways to join together these two favorites of mine... mac n cheese and chili beans.  But when I came across Heidi Swanson's recipe (101 Cookbooks) for chili mac in the Instant Pot, my heart skipped a beat.  Of course, her recipe was vegan and looked delicious and was certainly everything you would expect from a Heidi Swanson recipe.  

Chili Mac.jpg

But when it comes to chili mac, there are just certain things I must have and cheese is one of them.  You probably can't tell from the photos, but there's lots of cheese in my version and I make no apologies.  There are also chili and macaroni in there, and a little chicken broth, but that's it; 4 ingredients.  And it cooks in 4 minutes.  I probably should have mentioned that at the beginning, huh? With the time needed for the IP to come up to pressure, we're talking about dinner in under 15 minutes.  Hard to argue with that, you know?

I mentioned a few posts ago that I wouldn't be posting an Instant Pot recipe unless the IP somehow makes it better and that's just what happened here.  The Instant Pot definitely infuses flavor into this chili mac and if you've got one, this is the time to use it.

Mac for Chili Mac.jpg

With just 4 major ingredients, you're going to want to make sure that each of them are of excellent quality.  You can make your own chili (here's my recipe) or use a good canned one.  Ms. Swanson recommends Amy's organic, and Trader Joe's has a pretty good turkey chili.  As for the mac part of this, I deeply believe in using large macaroni, not your garden variety type.  A big bold chili mac needs a big bold mac.  But maybe that's just me.  No, I take that back; must use big mac.  


Alrighty then folks, 4 ingredients and an Instant Pot means chili mac isn't just for football parties anymore.  No sir, all you need is about 15 minutes and a good appetite.  A nice big salad and some cheese-y biscuits to go alongside wouldn't hurt either.  Here's the recipe...

Instant Pot Chili Mac

Click here for a printable recipe

I’ve made chili mac on the stovetop and in the oven and this by far exceeds the greatness of either of those methods.  Pressure cooking seems to infuse it with flavor, and cooking the macaroni with the chili definitely gives it even more great flavor and texture.  And speaking of macaroni... you must, I repeat, must use the largest elbow macaroni you can find.  Trader Joe's carries a good one, but you can usually find it in most grocery stores.  It makes all the difference in how it holds up in the final dish.

Thank you, Heidi Swanson (101 Cookbooks) for the inspiration and recipe!

Note:  If you are not going to eat this within a few minutes of cooking, then I would reduce your pressure cooking time by another minute which will allow the the macaroni to continue cooking as it sits without getting mushy.  Stir the cheese into the hot chili mac and serve once it's melted in. 

3 1/2 cups of favorite chili (or two 14-ounce cans)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 cups of large elbow macaroni
1 cup each grated cheddar and jack cheese (I used 2 cups Mexican cheese blend)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces) water
to serve, any/all of the following: scallions, sour cream, cilantro, red onions, grated cheese

Combine the chili, broth, water, and pasta in the Instant Pot. Close the pot, and secure the lid. SEAL the valve. Select PRESSURE COOK (or MANUAL) and calculate your cooking time. To do this, refer to your pasta package; the time will be half of the shortest recommended cooking time, rounded down to the nearest minute. For example my pasta package recommended 8 - 10 minutes. Take the smaller number (8), cut in half (4), and round down to nearest whole number (if necessary). SET/ADJUST TIME - in my case, to 4 minutes. 

When finished, carefully QUICK RELEASE pressure by shifting the valve to VENTING. Open away from you, and stir in grated cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning, serve topped with lots of scallions, cilantro, red onions, etc.

To make this on a conventional stovetop: Bring the chili,broth and water to a simmer in one medium pot. Boil the pasta separately in salted water, drain, and stir into the chili.  Stir in the grated cheese, season to taste, and serve with toppings.