Are you looking for a quick and delicious dinner? This Instant Pot Chili recipe is what you should go for. It’s flavorful because I used warm earthy spices, the meat is tender and perfectly browned, and the sauce alone is just luscious. You can have it with cornbread, over rice, or with biscuits if you want to go southern style. The texture of chili is very close to Sloppy Joes but with more sauce.
In this post, I will share how to cook chili in a crockpot, on a stovetop, plus manytips on storing the leftover and step by step images, so please read on!
What is Chili?
It is called chili in the USA, but in the UK and Australia, it is chili con carne. In case you were wondering, Con Carne means with meat. This dish is Mexican/Spanish. However, some claim that it’s originated in Texas! Chili has three main ingredients, meat, beans, and onion. Some say that Chili refers to the hot green chili or jalapeno added to the dish; others think it’s referring to the spice mix used in the recipe—more about chili powder in the list of ingredients below.
This quick meal is not only for Winter, but you can enjoy it all year long. There are different versions of the chili recipe, but the difference won’t be major. People usually change the type of beans or change the spices a little. I know that some even add unsweetened cocoa powder, which gives it a deeper and more intense flavor!
My sister is the one who introduced Chili con carne to me, and I’m glad she did. I remember that she served it over pasta, topping it with cheese. It was an unforgettable dinner indeed!
What type of beans to use?
It depends on you really, to this chili recipe, you can add red beans, pinto beans, or black beans. I like to add both red and black beans. This recipe is so forgiving and will taste great with any beans you choose. I have used canned beans, but you can also add homecooked plain boiled beans.
Chili recipe ingredients
(More details in the recipe card below).
Ground beef: I recommend making your ground beef at home, but if you can’t, then go for 85% lean ground beef. You can also use goat meat or lamb meat. From my experience, lamb meat has more flavor and is more tender than beef.
Onions, garlic, green chili, and fresh tomatoes: Please don’t use garlic and onion powder; these fresh ingredients will enhance the flavor.
Pasta sauce: Use your favorite pasta sauce, but if you don’t have pasta sauce available then, mix 1 tablespoon chopped oregano, or 1 teaspoon dry oregano, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley with two and a half cup pureed tomato. Keep aside to use later in the recipe to substitute the pasta sauce.
Chicken bouillon: Beef bouillon will do too.
Spices: Black pepper, salt, paprika, cumin, and Italian seasoning. These spices are also called chili powder. Don’t mistake it for the red chili powder you see in the store. There are two types, and both are called chili powder; one has red hot chili in a powder form, and the other is a blend of spices used in making chili recipe. I prefer making my mix since it is easier, has no preservatives, and I can control how much from each spice to add.
A can of your preferred beans.
How to make the best chili recipe in an instant pot?
(More details in the recipe card below).
- Rinse the beans twice; any traces from the preservatives will ruin the taste.
- Turn the instant pot to sauté, add the olive oil and onion, sauté until translucent.
- Add the beef and brown it. Scoop the juices out to brown the meat faster.
- Now add all the ingredients except the pasta sauce and the beans. Stir.
- Pour the pasta sauce, and the beans stir gently. Press the cancel button. Cover the pot and choose the pressure-cooking option. Turn the venting knob to sealing.
- Choose 13 minutes. Allow the instant pot to naturally release the pressure for 10 minutes while on keeping warm mode.
- Release pressure by turning the venting knob to venting (use a wooden spoon or a silicone oven mitt to do so). When the valve drops, it’s safe to open the instant pot.
How to cook chili on a stovetop?
- It would be best if you rinsed the beans at least twice. Keep aside.
- In a pan, heat the olive oil and add the chopped onion, sauté until translucent.
- Add the garlic and sauté for a minute on medium-low heat.
- To the same pan, add the ground beef. Cook the beef until brown and the juices have evaporated.
- Add the spices and stir for a minute on medium-low heat.
- Now add the rest of the ingredients except the beans.
- Let the mixture come to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and let it cook for 30 to 40 minutes. Regularly stir to prevent the chili from burning. Add boiling water if it looked dry.
- Add the beans and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and cover for 15 minutes. Allowing the chili to rest for 15 minutes will do two things:
- All the ingredients will come together and release more flavor.
- The extra oil will come up to the surface, and you can either leave it or scoop it out.
Crockpot chili recipe
- Rinse the canned beans twice or even better thrice and keep aside.
- In a pan, add the olive oil and onion. Cook until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for one minute on medium-low. Remove it from the pan and add it to the crockpot.
- Add the beef to the previous pan and brown the beef. Add oil if needed, but probably it will have enough oil coming from the beef. Scoop out the extra juices from the beef to speed up the browning process. Add the browned beef to the crockpot.
- Now add all the remaining ingredients except the beans to the crockpot and mix well. Cover the crockpot and let it cook low and slow for 5 hours on low heat.
- Add the beans and cook for 5 minutes. Serve.
How to thicken the sauce and make it Gluten-free?
You can make the chili sauce thicker by mixing one and a half tablespoons of either flour, cornstarch, or masa harina with half a cup of water and then adding it to the chili with the rest of the ingredients if you are using an instant pot or a crockpot. If you cook this dish on a stovetop, then reduce the dry thickeners mentioned above to 1 tablespoon and mix with half a cup of water. Then add it at the same time when adding the pasta sauce and continue cooking as per the recipe.
Variations you may consider
More vegetables. For a healthier option, add vegetables like green and red bell peppers, celery, carrots, or mushrooms. Usually, half a cup to a cup of chopped vegetables goes well with the meat and sauce amount in this recipe. Bell pepper has a strong flavor so, you can reduce the amount to a quarter cup of diced or chopped bell pepper.
Go Spicy. Add in one more green chili or jalapeño, if you can take the heat 😊.
Use ground chicken or turkey. The recipe stays the same except on the stovetop. Reduce cooking time to 20 minutes.
Use a mixture of ground beef and sausage. When adding sausage, you might want to reduce the amount of salt in the recipe. There is salt in the pasta sauce and in the chicken bouillon, remember to check the seasoning before adding salt.
Top the chili with your favorites
Depending on your liking, you can top this amazing dish with different toppings that have different textures and flavors; below are some of my favorites, and I think you should give it a try.
Cheddar cheese: Shred some and let it melt over the chili.
Chopped onions: A teaspoon go perfect with this dish if it is served over rice or pasta.
Sour cream: I can’t imagine having chili without sour cream; it adds an outstanding flavor.
Tortilla chips or strips: crush some over that luscious sauce and enjoy the crunch.
Chopped Cilantro or parsley.
Lemon or lime wedges: Squeezing some on that tender meat takes it to another level.
My favorite combo of toppings is shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips.
How to serve chili for kids
Reducing the heat in chili is a good idea if you are cooking for kids. Serve it in two ways:
- Serve on hot dog sandwiches. Pour some over the hot dog while it is in the roll then top it with shredded cheese and mustard. I know kids will go crazy for this one.
- Another treat to wow your kids with is pouring some of the chili over French fries, topping it with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese.
How to store the leftover?
The best part about chili is that it stores well. You can refrigerate and freeze it, and it will taste the same if you use a Ziplock bag or an airtight container. Here are two ways to store it:
Refrigeration: When the chili cools, pour it into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. To heat it, microwave, or even better, heat it in a saucepan on a stovetop.
Freezing: Pour the chili in a Ziplock bag, make sure to take out as much air as you can, seal properly and freeze it. Chili can be stored for up to one month in the freezer.
To heat a frozen chili, let it thaw overnight or for 7 hours in the fridge and then microwave or heat in a saucepan on the stovetop. It’s better to freeze serving sizes in different Ziplock bags; this way, you can thaw as much as you want to consume and leave the rest for later. Once you thaw the chili, you can’t refrigerate or freeze it again.
Tips for best results
- Never skip cooking the onion until translucent; it adds a hint of sweetness to this dish, which cuts down the tomatoes’ acidity. If you keep the onion raw, especially when cooking in a crockpot, you will end up having slightly crunchy onions.
- When using ground chicken, the best cut will be thighs or a mixture of both thighs and breasts.
- Browning the meat might take time, but it’s the only way to make this dish so flavorful; make sure the meat is browned. If you double the recipe, brown the beef in batches.
- If you tasted the sauce and found it on the sour side, it is probably the acid from the tomato or the pasta sauce. You can fix this by adding 1 teaspoon to 1 and a half teaspoon of sugar to the chili.
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