This cheesy chili mac hardly requires any effort. It’s made in your pressure cooker or Instant Pot, so it’s ready in 45 minutes, mostly hands-off!
I have recently discovered the joys of the Instant Pot (<–affiliate link). It’s seriously like the best thing ever, you guys. I’ve talked about it before, but I honestly just can’t say enough about how cool this little gadget is. It’s a slow cooker, pressure cooker, steamer, sauté pot, rice cooker…it’s the best. I have a feeling it’s going to get a lot of use over the summer, because it allows me to cook pretty much anything without heating up my kitchen. Love.It.
I picked up a book at McKay’s recently called Pressure Cooker Perfection (<–affiliate link) from none other than my favorites at America’s Test Kitchen. Um, I had no idea that you could cook pasta right in the sauce in your pressure cooker. Yesssssssss. This book is a tiny little pressure cooker bible, and I’m in love.
One of the recipes in Pressure Cooker Perfection is a recipe for Tex-Mex Chili Mac. Honestly, chili mac isn’t something that my mom ever made, so it really never caught my attention until I saw an episode of Cook’s Country (what else??) recently where Christopher Kimball was talking about Tex-Mex and he casually mentioned chili mac. Suddenly I was obsessed and had to make it. I was pretty happy when I saw this recipe in the pressure cooker book.
My cheesy chili mac is based on the recipe from the book, but I took some liberties to make it little fresher and more colorful. The important thing is that it is: quick, easy, and delicious. It takes about 15 minutes of hands-on work, including chopping the vegetables, sautéing everything in the pot, and grating the cheese. The pasta in this cheesy chili mac comes out perfectly cooked without any boiling or draining water. Perfection, indeed.
Give my cheesy chili mac a try for an easy, low-effort weeknight dinner!
Yield: 6-8 servings
This recipe was adapted from the book Pressure Cooker Perfection from America's Test Kitchen.
10 minPrep Time:
35 minCook Time:
45 minTotal Time:
- 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced (I press mine through a garlic press)
- 1 jalapeño, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 pound ground beef, 85 percent lean
- 2 cups water
- 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 8 ounces (2 cups) elbow macaroni
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 2 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 4 ounces cheddar or Monterey jack cheese, or a blend
- sour cream and avocado, for garnish (optional)
- Preheat the pressure cooker over medium heat (or use the sauté setting on the Instant Pot). Heat the oil until shimmering. Sauté the onion and red pepper until softened, then add the garlic and jalapeño and sauté until fragrant.
- Add the meat and cook until browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon while cooking. Stir in the chili powder and cayenne pepper (if using). Add the water, tomatoes, and pasta.
- In a regular pressure cooker: bring to high pressure over medium-high heat then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for five minutes. Quick release the pressure.
- In an Instant Pot, set to bean/chili and set time for five minutes. At the end of the cook time, turn the Instant Pot off and quick release the pressure.
- Stir in the corn and the cilantro. The residual heat from the pot should thaw the corn. Salt and pepper to taste then stir in the cheese. Serve immediately, topped with sour cream and avocado if desired.
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