This pressure cooker cheesy chili mac is so good! Packed with flavor and taking only 20 minutes to make in your Instant Pot, Crock Pot Express or Ninja Foodi, you’ll love it!
We are all about our Instant Pot and Ninja Foodi lately! Pop all the ingredients in for this pressure cooker cheesy chili mac and you have a one pot meal everyone will love. It’s listed on our roundup of Ninja Foodi recipes but you can use any pressure cooker brand you like really. (originally published 4/19, linking to amazon.com, affiliate links present)
- If you have bookmarked my Instant Pot recipes page you’ll see instructions for our Instant Pot chili mac recipe. That has always been a fave, but this took it over the top!
With the addition of some chiles, green onions, and lots of cheese you can taste the difference. Decide which one your family loves best. Or rotate them both during the week.
Here’s what we used….
Pressure cooker cheesy chili mac only requires a few canned ingredients + ground beef or sausage
- Pressure cooker
- Spicy ground sausage – our preference but you could use ground beef
- Onion – also optional but great
- Canned diced chiles
- Package of Chili seasoning – use this one
- Tomato sauce
- Diced tomatoes – we prefer petite size
- Kidney beans
- Macaroni noodles
- Beef broth
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cheese – we prefer sharp cheddar or cheddar and jack mix
- Chili powder – optional, add some to increase spice level
- if using spicy sausage we usually don’t add it
You are going to use the saute function first to cook your meat just until the outsides are no longer pink. It will continue to cook in the next process so you don’t have to cook it 100% done. Then after that it is just a dump and go kinda’ meal!
- The base is our 5 ingredient crockpot chili recipe that we have used for years. It was one of our very first blog posts and is still widely popular today.
If you just wanted a killer chili dinner you’d omit the noodles. It’s a great way to pressure cook this cheesy chili mac with a really quick cook time.
What is the best secret ingredient for chili? Meaning, what can you add into this popular dish to spice it up or make it different from the others. The possibilities are endless but here are just a few:
- Add a Tbsp. or so of honey, or substitute some of the liquid for some dry sherry.
- You can mix in a few tablespoons of cornmeal to thicken chili and add a sort of polenta touch to it.
- Carbonated dark soda can be used as some of the liquid needed. This will add a bit of sweetness to your bowl.
- Lime juice, a bit of squeeze on the top when done with more shredded cheese is so good.
- Shredded zucchini can really be added to any dish for some “hidden vegetables”
- Need more fiber in your diet, add a Tbsp of flax seed! You won’t taste it but it’s great for you.
Tips for success when making this easy chili mac recipe
- Saute meat with just a bit of olive oil
- Add diced onions shortly after so they have time to soften
- You could add 1/2 cup diced bell peppers too if you wanted
- Sprinkle in your chili seasoning soon after that so it can cover your meat well
- After you add all of your canned ingredients and broth, stir them up well
- DO NOT stir your uncooked macaroni noodles in
- Just gently submerge them into the liquid at the top (or else it may trigger the burn notice)
- Turn your pot off during step 6
- If you have a Ninja Foodi you’ll be able to lightly brown cheese on top as well as stirring some in
- You’ll do this using the air fryer setting
- Using other pressure cookers without this function you’d have to transfer to an oven safe dish and put under your broiler for 4-5 minutes
Should I drain the meat for chili?
I do not. This is really a personal preference answer. We buy half a cow at the beginning of each year and freeze it to use all year long. Since it is so lean and organic there is hardly any fat that remains once it is browned anyway.
- What little is there I keep in the pot because it does add additional flavor to the overall dish. Even when I used to buy 80/20 ground beef I wouldn’t drain it.
- It will be more bland if you do. A bit of fat is not harmful, all in moderation I say.
This is what this ultimate comfort food looks like in our Ninja Foodi. I stirred in cheese, then sprinkled the same amount on the top and closed the air fryer lid. I checked it often and it took about 5 minutes at 390 degrees! OH MY was it good!!
- Like I said, you can use any machine you have at home. This works for a Crock Pot Express chili mac meal too. I just love the ability to cook quickly AND brown the top so I like to share the results here if you’re curious about this new appliance. 😉
How do you reheat chili mac?
It will keep in the fridge for up to four days, or in the freezer for up to four months. Store it in airtight containers, then thaw and pop into the microwave until steaming hot. Or transfer to an oven safe dish straight from the freezer to the oven and bake at 375 degrees until bubbling hot throughout.
Other ideas and suggestions for other pressure cooker cheesy chili mac add ins!
- Diced bell peppers – add with the onions
- Bits of jalapeno peppers – I am not that brave
- Sriracha seasoning – for some real added heat and flavor
- Can of black beans – if you love lots of beans
- A can of Rotel – I would add in addition to the can of diced tomatoes so there’s enough liquid
Other pressure cooker recipes to try after this goodie!
Pressure Cooker Cheesy Chili Mac
- 1 lb ground sausage spicy is best, or ground beef
- 1 onion diced
- 1 packet chili seasoning 1 oz
- 1 can diced tomatoes 14.5 oz
- 1 can kidney beans 14.5 oz., not drained
- 1 can chiles diced, 4 oz.
- 1 c beef broth
- 1 c elbow macaroni uncooked
- 2 c cheese sharp cheddar is best
- 1/4-1/2 tsp chili powder optional for heat
- 1.5 tbsp olive oil
- 1 can tomato sauce 8 oz
- Turn pressure cooker to saute (sear/brown on Crock Pot Express) and add olive oil, ground sausage or beef, and diced onions.
- Cook until meat is no longer pink, adding packet of chili seasoning half way through cooking process. Turn pot off.
- Dump in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, kidney beans, beef broth, chili powder if desired and stir.
- Pour 1 measuring cup full of macaroni noodles on top and gently push down so they are just submerged into the liquid. DO NOT stir.
- Close your pressure cooker lid and close steam valve. Set to pressure high for 5 mintues.
- Do a quick release and lift lid. Turn pot off. Stir in 1 cup of cheese so it melts. If you have a Ninja Foodi you can sprinkle the 2nd cup of cheese on top, close your air fryer lid and set to air crisp at 390 degrees for 5 minutes so cheese melts.
- If you have an Instant Pot or Crock Pot Express you can just stir in the 2nd cup of cheese or transfer to a baking dish, sprinkle cheese on top and put under your broiler for 4-5 minutes until cheese is melted and golden brown.
- Serve!! This is over the top if you put a small dollop of sour cream on top of each serving too.