Instant Pot Cincinnati chili is a quick and hearty take on the classic Midwestern dish. Thanks to the pressure cooker, you can enjoy this simple meal any night of the week in almost no time at all!
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As soon as there is the first hint of a chill in the air or football season starts (whichever comes first!), we are all about chili.
It’s really no surprise that with 4 hungry sons and one very hungry husband that this hearty, meaty meal is a staple.
And while sometimes I like to have a pot simmering on the stove all day long, let’s be real. Most days mama doesn’t have time for that.
Thankfully my kitchen MVP, the Instant Pot, turns an hours long process into a meal I can make in under an hour.
What is Cincinnati chili?
Cincinnati chili is a bit different from the other Tex-Mex versions of chili you may be more familiar with.
It features a more Mediterranean flavor than southwestern flavor. This is due to it’s use of both cocoa powder and deep spices like cinnamon and clove. Makes sense when you consider it’s the brainchild of a Greek immigrant.
You’ll often see it served over pasta or used as a topping for hot dogs. It’s also known as Skyline chili, and is a North/Northwestern delicacy.
To make this, you’ll need:
- Ground beef– Use leaner ground beef so it’s not too greasy.
- Aromatics– A peeled and diced large yellow onion and a healthy serving of freshly minced garlic.
- Beef broth– If you can’t find beef broth, you could sub chicken broth.
- Tomato sauce– The kind in the can, not jarred pasta sauce.
- Apple cider vinegar– For a little tangy tart flavor.
- Tomato paste– For extra richness and body.
- Spices– Chili powder, brown sugar, cocoa powder, cumin, cinnamon, all spice, ground cloves and salt and pepper.
- Cooked spaghetti– To serve the chili over.
- Garnish– Lots of shredded cheddar cheese and chopped white onion.
How to Make
To make this, hit the saute button on your pot. Cook the beef and onion on saute mode, crumbling it until the beef is completely browned.
Then, stir in the garlic and cook another 60 seconds. Hit the cancel button to stop the cooking process.
Scoop out and discard any obvious grease.
Stir in all of the remaining chili ingredients, except the tomato paste, salt, & pepper.
Secure the lid on the Pot and make sure the vent valve is set in the sealed position.
Then cook on HIGH pressure for 20 minutes.
After the Pot beeps, carefully turn the vent valve to perform a quick release.
When the pin drops, carefully open the lid and avoid any escaping hot steam.
Stir in the tomato paste until evenly combined.
At this point, hit the saute button again, and let the mixture simmer for 5-10 minutes while you stir it often.
When it’s reached the thickness you prefer, hit the cancel button.
Stir again to prevent it from sticking to the bottom as it sits.
Serve the warm chili over a plate or bowl of cooked spaghetti noodles, and garnish with shredded cheese and diced onion.
How To Serve An Authentic Bowl Of Skyline Chili
This unique culinary contribution that hails from Cincinnati isn’t like other chili’s you’re probably used to, so if you try to eat it as such- you may be seriously off put. Meaning by itself, served in a bowl with a spoon.
This chili is meant to be topped! It simply can’t be truly understood & enjoyed any other way.
Whether you serve it over a bed of pasta (highly recommend!), a hot dog on a bun, or on it’s own- you’ve got to indulge in one of the ‘ways’.
- Three Way: Over spaghetti with copious amounts of shredded cheese
- Four Way: Over spaghetti with cheese and onions OR beans
- Five Way: Over spaghetti with cheese, onions, AND beans
In case you were wondering the first two ways are either over the pasta or over a hot dog. However you choose to top this savory chili, you can’t go wrong. Give it a try & find the combination that works best for you!
You can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave and enjoy!
Can I freeze this?
Yes! This freezes very well.
To freeze it, let it cool completely and then transfer it to freezer safe bags or containers and put it in the freezer for 3 to 4 months.
Tips and Tricks
- To prevent any messy spray from dirtying my kitchen during a quick release, I like to cover mine with a thin layer of paper towels.
- I also recommend using a long handled wooden spoon to push the vent valve open, thus keeping your hand and skin well away from the hot steam rushing to escape.
- This is an authentic-tasting Cincinnati style chili recipe, but there are many different variations including those that are pro beans or no beans. If you prefer beans in yours, stir a rinsed and drained can of red kidney beans into the chili just after it’s finished cooking. The residual heat will warm them up perfectly.
- Don’t feel like chili alone? You can use this as hot dog chili, as sloppy joe-style sandwich filling, or even taco meat.
- If you are sensitive to sugar, you can reduce the amount called for,
- If you’re a purist, you can add the raw meat to the pot with the other ingredients before pressure cooking. But make sure the broth is on the bottom of the pot, and don’t stir to prevent a burn notice. You may have to break the meat up some to crumble it after cooking.
Other Chili Recipes You’ll Love
This Instant Pot Cincinnati chili is my favorite way to cut down cook time on a hearty meal. Make it today and enjoy!
Looking for other chili recipes to try? Here are a few of my favorites:
- Smoked Brisket Chili
- Dad’s Secret Ingredient Chili
- Chili Cheese Dog Chili
- Creamy White Chicken Chili
- Sweet Heat Chili
- Bacon Cheeseburger Chili
- Meatloaf Chili
If you’ve tried this INSTANT POT CINCINNATI CHILI, or any other recipe on my site, let me know in the comment section how it turned out, we love hearing from our readers! You can also follow along with me on PINTEREST, FACEBOOK, and INSTAGRAM to see more amazing recipes and whatever else we’ve got going on!
Instant Pot Cincinnati Chili
- 2 lbs lean ground beef
- 1 large yellow onion peeled & diced
- 3 1/2 tsp minced garlic
- 2 cups beef broth can sub chicken if beef isn't readily available
- 8 oz can tomato sauce
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp brown sugar light or dark, either will work
- 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp all spice
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 6 oz can tomato paste
- salt & pepper to taste
- cooked spaghetti for serving
- shredded cheddar cheese for garnish
- chopped white onion for garnish
- Hit the saute button on your pot, and add the beef and onion to the inner pot. Cook, breaking up & crumbling as it does until the beef's cooked through & completely browned.
- Add the garlic, stirring to incorporate, and cook another 60 seconds. Hit the cancel button to stop the cooking process.
- Scoop out and discard any obvious grease.
- Add all of the remaining chili ingredients, except the tomato pasta, salt, & pepper. Stir everything together to evenly combine.
- Add the lid, turning to close, and make sure the vent valve is set in the sealed position.
- Cook on HIGH pressure for 20 minutes, then carefully turn the vent valve to perform a quick release. Carefully open the lid and avoid any escaping hot steam.
- Add the tomato paste, and stir it in until evenly combined.
- Hit the saute button again, and let the mixture simmer for 5-10 minutes- stirring often. When it's reached the thickness you prefer, hit the cancel button. Stir again to prevent it from sticking to the bottom as it sits.
- Serve the warm chili over a plate or bowl of cooked spaghetti noodles, and garnish with shredded cheese and diced onion.
recipe adapted from Mama Gourmand
This post may contain affiliate links. As an amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. See my full Disclosure Policy for details. As always, all opinions are my own.