Narayan’s Instant Pot Chili

A super-simple, easy-to-make, and consistent recipe for chili.

I think everyone should have a super simple, easy-to make and consistent chili recipe. The Instant Pot takes care of super simple and easy-to-make; this recipe takes care of consistent. I iterated on this chili for about 8 months and consider this final version a solid, delicious, “I have a taste for chili” kind of chili, good by itself or over baked potatoes or hot dogs. There are no tricks or gimmicks in this recipe—basically the chili powder and meat carry most of the flavor and everything else just augments the mix to my personal taste.

The most common way to ruin chili is for it to be too salty, which is easy to do because the sodium content of many of the prepackaged ingredients vary greatly from brand to brand or variety to variety. So I’ve developed this recipe with very specific ingredients, most of which I can obtain from the Trader Joe’s about 5 minutes from my house—the only exceptions To this are the chili powder (which, oddly, I can only find locally at the hardware store) and the Sazon Goya packets (which you should be able to find most places).

Not pictured: Sazon Goya packets

By all means make it your own. Want more beans or less beef, go for it. Have a favorite chili powder? Use it. Have some corn? Throw it in. Want it spicier? So do I (most of the time I have to make chili that the kids will eat). See the notes afterwards if you’re looking for a basic chili formula.

I believe in making bulk chili, so this is for an 8-quart Instant Pot. After a few days, if there is any chili left (there usually isn’t), I vacuum pack and freeze it in single-serve portions and reheat via sous-vide at 155ºF.


  • 3 lbs 80% ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 cans black beans
  • 3 cans kidney beans
  • 2 cans fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 3/4 box of beef bone broth (approx 14 oz)
  • 2 onions
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 4 tbsp Watkins chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp ancho or chipotle chili
  • 1-2 tsp instant coffee
  • 1 packet sazon goya (cilantro/tomato)


  1. Sauté meat with 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Break it up in to smaller pieces.
  2. While the meat is browning I also chop onions, peppers, and garlic, and open all cans, drain the beans, and mix all dry spices, including coffee, in a small bowl
  3. Remove and drain meat. I dump the contents of the Instant Pot liner into a large colander over a bowl. Reserve the “juice” in the bowl — you will use about 1/2 of it in the following steps
  4. Sauté onions with a tablespoon or so of the juice until they are a little translucent, maybe 5-6 minutes
  5. Add garlic and peppers (both jalapenos and bell). Sauté another 3-4 minutes
  6. Re-add the beef, about half of the spices, and another 2 tbs of juice. Continue cooking for 3-4 min until spices, vegetables and beef are well-incorporated
  7. To prevent Instant Pot “BURN” error messages, you can either
    • Remove everything from the liner, scrub out the bottom of the liner, and let it cool for 5 minutes.
    • Do what I do—do the sautéing in the steps above using a (separate) non-stick liner, then perform the following steps in the standard stainless steel liner, which is already clean and cool
  8. Add everything to the cooking liner in the following order:
    1. Liquids at the bottom of the liner (bone broth plus however much meat juice you wish to add—in total I use a little less than half of what was rendered in step 1. The juice adds richness to the chili.
    2. The tomatoes, and the tomato paste
    3. The beans
    4. The remaining spices
    5. The meat and vegetable mix from step 6
  9. Cover with IP lid and start IP using soup/chili mode or pressure cooker mode, high, 13 minutes.
  10. Cook and let pressure dissipate naturally
  11. Season to taste
  12. The chili is ready to eat and delicious at this step, but it will be better (richer and more complex) if you let it sit on the low “slow cooker” setting, covered, for several hours
  13. Serve with fixins: sour cream, diced onions, shredded cheese, diced jalapeños


The basic formula is as follows: for every pound of meat you are cooking, use:

  • 1 clove of garlic
  • A tablespoon of chili powder
  • Little amounts of whatever flavors you want to add. I think the chili powder I use needs more smokiness (ancho/chipotle), a little more depth (coffee and paprika), salt (sazon goya), and a hint of cumin.
  • A can of beans. When cooking 4 lbs of meat in an 8 quart pot, I add an additional can.
  • 1/2 a can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 cup of beef bone broth

If you want to try this recipe but don’t have a Trader Joe’s nearby is to find a store where you can standardize your very own set of ingredients. But watch your salt content—dishes like this get saltier as they cook. So the first time you cook this, try buying unsalted ingredients wherever possible, add salt at the end of your first attempt and introduce salted ingredients sparingly in subsequent batches.

About the author Narayan Nayar

Family man. Designer. Photographer. Woodworker. Food enthusiast. Traveler. Flyfisher. Bicyclist. Platypus aficionado. Frequent user of the letter 'e'.

All posts by Narayan Nayar →

One Comment

  1. I do something very similar to this recipe. You mentioned: “I think the chili powder needs more smokiness…” What I do to add smokiness is I use a bit more broth than you, but I reduce it separately. While simmering the broth, I put 2 or 3 dried ancho chiles and just let them sit in there while the broth is reducing. After the broth is reduced to my liking, I pull the chilis out. This pulls a lot of the oils and smokiness out of the chilis, but doesn’t add any or very little heat.

    Good work on the recipe, I’ll use it next time I make chili. I can’t make chili often as most people in my life complain about the effects on me. I don’t get it, but whatever.


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