Easy Instant Pot Chili – Cincinnati Style

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This rich and hearty Instant Pot chili recipe is perfect for cold winter days or anytime you are craving classic comfort food. Cincinnati style chili cooks easily in the pressure cooker for a one pot dinner that will be ready to enjoy in about 45 minutes.

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I love chili and I have posted a few chili recipes before, like this Hawaiian Chili and this Chili served over zucchini noodles. And I also love making chili in my Instant Pot.

Chili was one of the first meals I made in it and is probably the one I make the most often. I don’t always use the same chili recipe, because I like variety, but this is the one I make most frequently.

It is a knock off on Cincinnati chili, with a lot of the same flavors but not cooked in the traditional Cincinnati fashion. This chili recipe is hearty and delicious, and perfect for a family dinner or for feeding a crowd.

Why Make Chili in a Pressure Cooker?

Here is why the Instant Pot is so great for making chili:

  • It is quick and easy and you can have chili on the table in 45 minutes that smells and tastes like it simmered all day long.
  • Chili is perfect comfort food and an amazing one pot dinner.
  • It is easy to make ahead of time, to freeze or to reheat from the refrigerator.

Bowl of Instant pot Cincinnati chili topped with sour cream and cheddar cheese

Instant Pot Chili Ingredients

This chili uses a few ingredients that aren’t traditional, at least not if you are used to a Texas style chili. The first unusual ingredients are unsweetened cocoa powder and cinnamon.

These are standard ingredients in Cincinnati chili. In college one of my roommates added chocolate chips to her chili, which I though was strange! Cocoa powder adds chocolate flavor without the sweetness.

Using cocoa powder makes sense because cocoa is native to Mexico and is used all the time in Mexican cooking. Using cocoa and cinnamon gives the chili a complex flavor but doesn’t make it sweet or chocolaty.

For this recipe I use 1 pound of ground beef and 1 pound of ground turkey. This cuts the amount of fat in the recipe and doesn’t affect the flavor in any noticeable way. My husband doesn’t like ground turkey and always complains when I substitute it for beef.

But in this recipe he has no idea I regularly use turkey. Once it is all mixed together and cooked it just tastes like chili. Of course you could use all ground beef, or half ground beef, half ground pork or ground chicken.

I also like to use a combination of green peppers and poblano peppers in this chili. The poblano peppers add some spice, but not an overwhelming amount. This is a relatively mild chili recipe, so if you want it spicy add more chili powder or some jalapenos.

One thing the chili recipe doesn’t include is beans. This is also traditional for Cincinnati chili, which is made without beans. Sometimes I add a drained can or two of pinto or black beans into the chili after it is done pressure cooking.

If you use canned beans you can add them to the Instant Pot, put the lid back on, and let it warm for 5-10 minutes. You can also add the beans in before pressure cooking, whatever works for you!

Adding beans is a great way to stretch out the recipe and make it feed more people. So I generally add the beans if I am making chili for a party and feeding a crowd, but leave them out when I am making a family dinner.

Bowl of Cincinnati chili made in a pressure cooker

How to Make Instant Pot Chili, Cincinnati Style

The first step in making chili is to brown the meat. With an Instant Pot you can do that right in the cooker, using the Saute function. If you are using meat that is low in fat you might need to add a tablespoon of oil before browning the meat.

I usually use ground beef that is 15-20% fat, so I brown that first. That generates plenty of fat to brown the ground turkey and keep the meat from sticking to the bottom of the Instant Pot insert. After the meat is browned add the onion and stir for a minute or two.

Then you need to deglaze the Instant Pot. This is an important step, especially if you are prone to getting a burn error on your Instant Pot. To deglaze add 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth and stir well, scraping the bottom of the Instant Pot to make sure there are no pieces of meat stuck to the bottom. Don’t skip this step!

Then it is simply time to add the rest of the ingredients – the peppers, cocoa powder, chili powder, Worcester sauce, cinnamon and salt. Stir them all together to mix well. If you know you want to add canned beans you can add them in this step or after the pressure cooking is done.

Finally dump the can of tomatoes on top of the other ingredients and don’t stir it. Not stirring the tomatoes into the rest of the ingredients decreases the chance of seeing a burn error. Tomatoes on the bottom of the Instant Pot container are more likely to burn, so leave them on top of the other ingredients. They will still cook and flavor the chili.

Then put the lid on the Instant Pot and turn it on Manual mode, high pressure for 20 minutes. Once the pressure cooker has finished let it naturally release for 10 minutes and then you can release the remaining pressure and serve the chili.

Many times I simply turn my Instant Pot to slow cooker at this point, and let the chili sit so everyone can eat when they want. This makes this an ideal meal for evenings when people are coming and going and eating at all different times.

When making this pressure cooker chili recipe I add more chicken broth then I did when I made it on the stove top.  The extra liquid is needed for the pressure cooker to reach high pressure. If the final chili is not thick enough for your tastes you can put the Instant Pot on saute, take the lid off and let it simmer for 10 minutes to evaporate some of the liquid.

Spoonful of pressure cooker chili over a bowl of chili

Can You Freeze this Chili?

Like many chili recipes this one freezes very well with no loss of texture or flavor. To freeze it simply let it cool and store in freezer bags or plastic containers. I always make a huge batch of this because it tastes so good as leftovers!

How do You Serve Instant Pot Chili?

One of the great things about chili is how versatile it is, because you can serve it so many ways. If my kids are around I serve this chili over pasta in traditional Cincinnati style.

It is also delicious with cornbread or just eaten in bowl by itself. When I eat leftover chili for lunch I frequently serve it on top of baked potato or sweet potato.

I always like to top my chili off with shredded cheddar cheese. In addition green onions, sour cream, cilantro, chives and avocado also make great toppings. I set out bowls of stuff and let everyone add their favorite chili toppings!

Big bowl of Instant Pot chili

Yield: 8

Instant Pot Chili

Instant Pot Chili

Cincinnati style chili cooks easily in the pressure cooker for a one pot dinner that will be ready to enjoy in about 45 minutes.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 poblano peppers, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 24 ounce can crushed tomatoes


  1. Turn the Instant Pot on saute and brown the ground beef and ground turkey. (If you are using low fat beef and turkey you might need to add 1 Tablespoon of oil to aid the browning.)
  2. Once the meat is no longer pink stir in the chopped onion and let cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken broth and deglaze the Instant Pot. Stir, scraping the bottom of the Instant Pot with a wooden spoon to make sure there are no bits of meat stuck to the bottom.
  4. Turn the Instant Pot off.
  5. Add the garlic, green pepper, poblano peppers, cocoa powder, chili powder,Worcester sauce, cinnamon and salt, but NOT the crushed tomatoes. Stir well.
  6. Pour the crushed tomatoes on top of the chili but don't stir them in.
  7. Put the lid on the Instant Pot and set on Manual, high pressure, for 20 minutes.
  8. After the pressure cooker has finished let the pressure release naturally release for 10 minutes. Then release the remaining pressure manually when you are ready to serve the chili.
  9. Serve over pasta or cornbread or nothing. Top with shredded cheese, cilantro, sour cream, green onions,hot sauce, avocado or anything else you can think of!


I make and test my Instant Pot recipes in a 6 quart model. Using a different brand pressure cooker or different size might effect your recipe.

Prep time includes about 5 minutes for the pressure cooker to reach pressure, but that time might vary for you.

If you want beans in your chili you can add 2 cans of drained kidney beans, black beans or pinto beans to the recipe.

For thicker chili take the Instant Pot lid off after the pressure is released and turn it on saute for 5-10 minutes.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 360Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 112mgSodium: 773mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 4gSugar: 6gProtein: 32g

Nutrition facts are estimates and don't include toppings.

Bowl of Instant Pot chili shown from the top

Find More Mexican Instant Pot Recipes

This rich and hearty Instant Pot chili recipe is perfect for cold winter days or anytime you are craving classic comfort food. Cincinnati style chili cooks easily in the pressure cooker for a one pot dinner that will be ready to enjoy in about 45 minutes. #chili #instantpot #easydinner #cincinnatichili

Hi, I’m Anne!

I love to cook and I want to share my recipes with you. I believe cooking should be approachable and fun, not a chore. I want to make simple recipes using everyday ingredients that you can make again and again, whether it is for a busy weeknight, a summer cookout or a special dessert. Read more...

5 thoughts on “Easy Instant Pot Chili – Cincinnati Style”

  1. I have never tried cocoa and cinnamon in my chili before. Does it give it a slightly sweet flavor? I have 2 ways I usually make my chili, but I am always up for new ideas 🙂 Change is good!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this amazing recipe! Will surely have this again! It’s really easy to make and it tasted so delicious! Highly recommended!

  3. Cincinnati born and raised here. This isn’t really very close to Cincinnati chili. Way too many veggies. The seasoning might be right (though no Cincy chili parlor worth their salt will ever tell you what spices they put in theirs). Cocoa and especially cinnamon are common. Think of it as a Greek Bolognese (Cincy chili was started by Greek immigrant families) not unlike the seasoned beef in moussaka pie or especially pastitsio. No chunky tomatoes, no onions or peppers, etc. It also needs to be served on spaghetti and topped with a lot more cheese.

    Also, you said it doesn’t include beans but it can. A 3-way chili is spaghetti, chili, and cheese. 4-ways can include either beans or onions and a 5-way is both (some local parlors have their own twists too…for example add fried jalapenos for a 6-way).


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