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Instant Pot Chili Mac with Cheese

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Oh my creamy, this Chili Mac with cheese is so good! If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to Mac and Cheese, then look no further than this recipe. With puree and diced tomatoes, onions, and bell pepper, it delivers on the vegetables. But, thanks to the ground beef and cheese, though, it doesn’t skimp on flavor. This Instant Pot Chili Mac is a deliciously, cheesy pasta meal. 

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chili mac with cheese and sour cream on a bowl

What You’ll Need to Make This

Most of the ingredients needed for this cheesy pasta are already in your refrigerator and pantry.

  • ground beef
  • onions
  • bell pepper
  • garlic
  • chili powder
  • ground cumin
  • tomato puree
  • diced tomatoes
  • pasta
  • brown sugar
  • Colby Jack cheese
ingredients for Chili Cheese Mac

Pro Tip: A few minutes of meal prep will go a long way! To make this and other ground beef-based dishes easy dump-and-go-meals, prepare a large batch of ground beef in advance.

Sauté 5 pounds of ground beef at once in a large skillet, and separate into 5 small freezer bags. Then just pull out what you need to make slow cooker and Instant Pot dishes – like this Instant Pot Chili Mac recipe – without any last-minute sautéing!

Plus, you can also reheat precooked meat with seasoning for delicious tacos, chili, enchiladas, soups, or nearly any recipe that calls for ground beef.

How to Make Instant Pot Chili Mac with Cheese

If you are new to Instant Pot cooking, read THIS first.

To get started with the one pot Chili Mac with cheese dinner, chop up two onions and one red bell pepper.

chopped onions on a chopping board

Instant Pot Sautèing

Select the sautè feature on the Instant Pot and allow it to come to temperature (mine says “Hot” when it is ready). Add the ground beef, onions and bell peppers.

Cook until the ground beef is almost browned and the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes or so.

Then add your minced garlic and spices, and cook until fragrant. Stir frequently. This takes about 1- 2 minutes.

Instant Pot Pressure Cooking

Stir in the tomatoes, puree, hot water, and pasta. Add the lid and turn the sealing lever to closed/sealed. Hit cancel, and select high pressure, and set to 5 minutes.

TIP: using hot water will speed up the cooking process in the Instant Pot by allowing it to come to pressure quicker.

Instant Pot with recipe ingredients ready to cook

Once the pressure cooking is complete (my Instant Pot emits a long beep) use the quick release method to release the steam.

I use a long handled spoon to slide the lever from sealing to venting. Make sure the venting steam is facing away from you.

Making Instant Pot Cheesy Pasta

Check the Instant Pot to ensure the “Keep Warm” button is lit, then stir in the brown sugar and grated cheese. Stir occasionally to distribute the cheese. Allow about 5 minutes for it to completely melt.

Dish the one pot Chili Mac with Cheese into bowls and top with your favorite toppings. I recommend grated cheese and sour cream.

bowl of Chili Cheese Mac with sour cream and grated cheese for a cheesy pasta

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this Chili Cheese Mac recipe if I don’t have an Instant Pot?

You can make this on the stovetop by preparing the pasta separately and reducing the liquid to 1/2 cups – 1 cup of water. Mix all the ingredients together in a soup pot and heat through.

What if I don’t have tomato puree?

If you don’t have tomato puree, strain a can of whole or diced tomatoes and blend them in a blender or food processor first.

Can I substitute cheddar cheese for the Colby Jack cheese?

Yes you can.

Instant Pot Chili Mac with Cheese

Instant Pot Chili Mac with Cheese in a bowl
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5 from 1 vote

Instant Pot Chili Cheese Mac

Although this recipe uses the Instant Pot (or pressure cooker), you can easily adapt it for the stove top or slow cooker. Just cook the pasta separately and reduce the water to 1/2 – 1 cup. 
Course Main Course, Lunch, Dinner
Cuisine American
Keyword One Pot Meal, Easy Dinner, Instant Pot, Pasta, Main Course, Dinner
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 478kcal


  • 1.5 pounds ground beef
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 28 ounces can tomato puree
  • 1 14.5 ounces can diced tomatoes
  • 1.5 cups hot water
  • 8 ounces elbow pasta
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) grated Colby Jack cheese, plus more for topping


  • To prepare the Chili Cheese Mac: Saute ground beef, onions, and bell pepper until almost browned (about 5 minutes), Add garlic, chili powder, and cumin. Saute until fragrant (about 1-2 minutes). Stir in canned tomatoes and puree, water, and pasta. Add lid, close sealing lever, and select high pressure at 5 minutes. 
  • Use quick release once cooking cycle is done. Be sure the venting steam is pointing away from you. With the Instant Pot in “keep warm” mode, stir in sugar and cheese, and let melt for about 5 minutes. Serve warm with extra grated cheese and sour cream. 


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 478kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 88mg | Sodium: 306mg | Potassium: 507mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1879IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 262mg | Iron: 4mg

This Chili Mac with Cheese is sure to be a real hit on your dinner table!

bowl of Instant Pot Chili Cheese Mac cheesy pasta

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