Instant Pot

Melissa Clark's Instant Pot Chili

October 13, 2018
19 Ratings
Photo by Christopher Testani
  • Serves 3 to 4
Author Notes

Reprinted from Comfort in an Instant. Copyright © 2018 by Melissa Clark. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Christopher Testani. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC. —Food52

What You'll Need
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground pork or beef
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 serrano or jalapeño chile, seeded (if desired) and diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans pinto or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Sour cream, for serving
  • Cubed avocado, for serving (optional)
  1. Using the sauté function (set on high, if possible), heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in the pressure cooker pot. Add half the meat, spread it over the oil, and let it brown without stirring (this helps encourage browning) for 5 to 7 minutes. Give the meat a good stir and sauté for 1 more minute. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat to a plate and season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, meat, and another 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  2. Stir the onion, bell pepper, diced chile, garlic, and ½ teaspoon of the salt into the pot and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the tomato paste, chili powder, oregano, and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the meat and any juices from the plate, along with the tomatoes, beans, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt.
  4. Lock the lid into place and cook on high pressure for 8 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally.
  5. Stir in the cilantro and a squeeze or two of lime juice, then taste and adjust the lime juice and salt if necessary. Serve with the sour cream and avocado (if using).
  6. Slow-cooker variation: After step 3, slow cook on high for 2 to 3 hours or low for 4 to 5 hours.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Smaug
  • Rosebuddd
  • Crystal Lyle
    Crystal Lyle
  • Susan Sterchi
    Susan Sterchi
  • JoyceB

24 Reviews

Smaug January 1, 2023
Not sure I get the point of either the insta pot or the slow cooker with this recipe, as everything is pre cooked.
Marc December 21, 2022
I followed the directions to a “t” and immediately got a BURN warning on my InstaPot. This is obviously a flawed recipe that needs more liquid to prevent this problem.
aeb November 30, 2022
This turned out quite good and my family loved how thick it was. I added basil and cayenne to the recipe, along with a dash of fish sauce (it gives the chili a great umami boost). My instant pot was still naturally releasing after 20 minutes..I got nervous and ended up just manually releasing the rest of the pressure at that point- I'm glad I did. There was a bit of scorching on the bottom of the insert- not enough to trigger the burn alert, but enough to leave a slightly bitter taste (cheese and sour cream helped hide that). So, I would make this again, but either manually release pressure after 10-15 minutes if it hasn't released on its own, or add more liquid to the original recipe...
Rosebuddd October 31, 2021
We loved this ! Only modification was to replace the jalapeño with an Anaheim pepper since that’s am I had but it was the perfect amount of heat. Family loved it too.
Mark March 21, 2021
Paragraph 3 says to "stir in the tomato paste". How much?
Eliza April 13, 2021
It says 1 Tbsp. It's added at the end with the ingredients specifying for 4 garlic cloves.
Crystal L. February 4, 2021
Any suggestions for omitting the beef? Would it be fine as is, or would I need to add something to replace it?
Jewelrymom13 January 25, 2021
This was probably the best chili I have ever made! It was thick and spicy and oh so flavorful. I used ground pork, black beans . After reading the reviews I did add a smidge more oil maybe a 1 1/3 Tbs as I did not want the meat to burn. I also used the frozen cilantro by Dorot - 3 cubes instead of the fresh. We ate the chili with gluten free chips. Delish!!
neenagoswamy January 5, 2021
This was delicious! I made a few subs: ketchup instead of tomatoe paste, sage instead of oregano, and two small green thai peppers instead of 1 serrano. It was terrific, def will make for a group gathering (whenever we can do that again!).
Suzanne B. October 30, 2020
I had the unfortunate ‘Burn’ problem with my instant pot as well. Tried adding 1C tomato purée and 1C water, scraped the bottom well and started again...but came up with the same error 2x more. I’m trying the slow cooker route but only have 1 hr before a famished family uproar! Maybe Instant Pots have different ‘burn‘ error sensitivities? I wouldn’t try this again with mine.
Susan S. April 29, 2020
I really love the flavor of this chili, but my instant pot burns it every time. Tonight I preemptively added about 1/2 C of water, and it still burned. I emptied the pot, cleaned it out, added probably another 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water and a bit more tomato paste to bolster the flavor, and this seemed to work. I don't see anyone else having this issue...
JoyceB April 29, 2020
It sounds like you did this so apologies in advance ... giving the bottom of the pot a really good scrape to get all the crispies off. you must have the supersonic heater on your model. what a bummer to constantly get the burn notice or burnt chili. not fun.
Suzanne L. January 14, 2020
Made this last night and it was delicious. Doubled the recipe and put 4 more minutes of cook time + natural release. Also upped the chili powder/cumin as I love that combo!
JoyceB October 13, 2019
The tip for browning the meat is what makes this recipe. I did find in my 6qt it took a little longer than 7 minutes each batch. A very tasty chili.
Ling L. November 15, 2018
Instant Pot: I added 3 more minutes to the cook time because the beef was not tender enough and natural release for 10 minutes. I love how the Instant Pot infuses the meat with the spices!
Karen November 5, 2018
I made it tonight with tomato sauce instead of diced tomato, and my first comment (because I doubled the batch) was I think it had too many kidney beans, and not quite enough salt (but that may be me). I also didn't have a real hot pepper and just used red pepper flakes. Overall I liked the taste and consistency, and recommend the recipe.

Oh and by using tomato sauce that is how I got liquid in the recipe. I'm personally not a fan of the texture of any tomato that isn't just simply a sauce ;-)
Lisa October 23, 2018
"3. Stir in the tomato paste..." This was left out of the ingredients list. What? Maybe a 1/4 cup? Never made chili before. Thanks!
Martha October 23, 2018
1 tablespoon - it's mixed in with the garlic ingredients. Making it right now. Odd that it didn't include liquid like beef broth or beer.
Lisa October 24, 2018
Thanks, Martha. Never saw it. And you're right...where is the liquid here? :D
Kitty🐱 October 24, 2018
How did it come out? Any tweaks needed?? Thanks!
Lisa October 24, 2018
I haven't made it yet, Kathy. It's still 76 degrees every day here by the bay in Northern California. Not quite in "chili mode" yet! lol!
Fredrika November 10, 2018
1T It's on the same line as the garlic. Someone forgot to put a return in. I use Italian double strength.

I have made this recipe 3 (4?) times in two weeks. Making it again tonight. Have used instant pot and slow cooker. First time I forgot to add the chili powder. My daughter said best chili she ever had (I di d use 1 raw chili from my own garden; supposed to be an Anaheim but I've seen those in the store and mine definitely are not them). Second time, made it for a work potluck. Won best savory dish award. This recipe is awesome. BTW, have use ground chuck and ground beef. Ground chuck definitely richer flavor.
Fredrika November 10, 2018
Lisa--more like a stew chili than a soup. Doesn't need the liquid. Gets what it needs from the tomatoes. This is a can't fail recipe. :)
2tattered February 24, 2021
Ground chuck *is* ground beef😏