Easy Cheesy Chili Mac - Instant Pot or Not

Easy Cheesy Chili Mac – Instant Pot or Not

If you’re a follower, ya all know by now that I was down in Atlanta at the end of May, early June for my daughter’s wedding. I miss those guys so much, Jess & Brandon and their combination of seven (not a typo – seven) children. And I vowed to get Jess going with the Instant Pot I got her one Christmas, just to try to make life a bit easier. Well, it doesn’t get much easier than this Easy Cheesy Chili Mac, which can be made in the Instant Pot or in the standard old fashioned way, stove and oven.

Easy Cheesy Chili Mac - Instant Pot or Not

Easy Cheesy Chili Mac – Instant Pot or Not


 

I’ve made this a few times now; it’s one of those down-home classics or as Jess said, it’s like Goulash (our standard American, not the classic Hungarian) with cheese. And yes it is, hence the name Easy Cheesy Chili Mac! Back at home, Kraig, my 20 sumpin son who’s now into chia seeds, cinnamon, ginger, and avocado toast (but don’t call him a millennial) loved it and polished off about 3/4’s of it. Down in Atlanta, it went down very well with the grandkids. It’s down-home family-pleasing comfort food for sure.

About Easy Cheesy Chili Mac:

I can sometimes get on my high horse about casseroles. Partly coz I’m always watching carbs. Or maybe I should say, I’m always trying to eat carbs where they really matter: dessert. But there’s no denying once I sat down to my plate, I dug into this with wild abandon. My gosh, you would have thought it was my last meal.

I’m guessing everyone from the States knows Chili Mac. If you’re visiting from elsewhere or if you don’t, it’s a mixture of ground beef, maybe some onion and bell pepper, tomatoes, spices, and macaroni. And Cheese. It’s really the cheese that takes this dish from good to goodness help me, I can’t stop eating it!

It’s probably best to serve this dish with a salad or green veggie on the side. If you want a little variation to the dish, I often see recipes like this that have a little corn added right in. It will stand up to the cooking process where some other veggies might not.

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A few of my other favorite Instant Pot meals. See my Instant Pot Main Menu for more.

Making Easy Cheesy Chili Mac:

This is a meal that’s definitely super simple in the Instant Pot. For one thing, it really IS a one-pot meal. The beef and veggie mixture is sauteed, drained of any excess drippings, then in go the rest of the ingredients, except the cheese which is stirred in to melt at the end. The noodles cook right along with everything else, so there are no pots of boiling water to dump and no watching the noodles to catch them at just the right stage of doneness. The Instant Pot makes this a no-brainer, super easy and fast, with very little cleanup kind of a meal.

And of course, the same thing can be done without the Instant Pot. It’s still an easy meal, but you’ll need to cook the noodles and drain, then saute the beef and veggies, then everything is combined (including the cheese) and it’s baked off in a casserole in the oven until hot, bubbly and delish.

I have a couple of Ninja ways with my Chili Mac. The first? I especially like using the Italian style tomatoes with the herbs; it gives just a bit more flavor. Drop in a teaspoon of Italian seasoning if you have plain tomatoes if you wish to. The second is the cheese. Rather than grating, I like to cut it into small cubes – it’s a simple thing that makes such a difference. There’s nothing finding a little pocket of melty, ooey gooey cheese in your perfect bite. Lastly, I do like to use a bit of beef broth in the Instant Pot recipe rather than water for just a bit more flavor. That’s not really an option in the stovetop to oven, standard recipe.

Easy Cheesy Chili Mac - Instant Pot or Not

Easy Cheesy Chili Mac – Instant Pot or Not

Saving Money on Easy Cheesy Chili Mac:

The priciest item in the recipe is ground beef, which regularly goes on sale and usually drops to a rock bottom low every quarter. That’s when I stock up, usually dividing the larger family packs into one pound packages, suitable for most recipes. Next priciest is likely the veggies. I watch for bell peppers on sale and since they last quite a while in the fridge, buy enough for the current and the next week. Onions are always cheaper in larger bags; check Aldi if you have one, but do look carefully at the onions, or your buyer’s club if you belong.

The remaining items, except for the cheese, are all pantry items, and all easy to pick up at a low on sale. Keep your pantry well stocked and you’ll have the latitude to wait out for the lowest prices. It pays to know the lows and highs of the items you normally use so you can identify what it is a good price, a great price, and the normal price.

As far as the cheese goes, for this recipe, you’ll want something that melts nicely. I stay away from the sharper Cheddars and look for something like a mild Cheddar or a Colby. Plain old grocery store cheese is just fine for this. Again, watch the sales. Cheese keeps unopened for weeks in the fridge and can be frozen if needed. Once frozen it becomes crumbly so you’ll probably only want to use it in recipes where it’s shredded or melted.

Easy Cheesy Chili Mac - Instant Pot or Not

Easy Cheesy Chili Mac – Instant Pot or Not. Coming soon!

Easy Cheesy Chili Mac - Instant Pot

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion chopped, optional (may use 1 teaspoon onion powder instead)
  • 1 bell pepper chopped, optional
  • 2 cloves garlic minced, optional (may use 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, instead
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cups chicken or beef broth (or water)
  • 1 (15 to 16 ounce) can crushed tomatoes with juice, plain or Italian 
  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni, uncooked (2 cups)
  • 8 ounces cheese of choice, Cheddar, American, etc., in 1/2″ dice
Set Instant Pot to SAUTE, medium temperature, add ground beef, onions, and bell pepper if using and saute, stirring now and then, until the beef is browned and onion and bell pepper soft. Drain beef mixture. Add garlic or garlic powder, chili powder, salt, pepper, and onion powder if using. Saute 1 minute longer.
Add broth and thoroughly and carefully (to prevent a burn notice, later) scrape browned bits from bottom of pot. Add tomatoes and juice and the macaroni and stir. Press down any macaroni that isn’t submerged.
Add lid, seal, press CANCEL, then set to PRESSURE, High, 5 minutes. When finished, quick-release the pressure, remove lid and add cheese. Stir lightly, then add the lid and let sit for about a minute so the cheese melts.
Serve immediately.

 

Easy Cheesy Chili Mac - Oven Version

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) dry elbow macaroni, cooked & drained 
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion chopped, optional (may use 1 teaspoon onion powder instead)
  • 1 bell pepper chopped, optional
  • 2 cloves garlic minced, optional (may use 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, instead
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (28 ounce) can of crushed tomatoes with juice, plain or Italian
  • 8 ounces cheese of choice, Cheddar, American, etc., in 1/2″ dice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a Dutch oven or large casserole, add ground beef, onions, and pepper if using and saute, stirring now and then, until the beef is browned and onion and bell pepper soft. Drain beef mixture. Add garlic or garlic powder, chili powder, salt, pepper, and onion powder if using. Saute 1 minute longer. Add in tomatoes and macaroni noodles and toss together. Add cheese and toss.

Transfer to an oven proof dish and bake 20 to 25 minutes until bubbly and the cheese has melted.

Serve immediately.

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I’ll be sharing Easy Cheesy Chili Mac at Fiesta Friday #280. The hosts this week are Angie of Fiesta Friday and  Ai @ Ai Made It For You.

Easy Cheesy Chili Mac done in the Instant Pot or Not might just rock your world. I'm loving this easy down-home fave, and you might just love it too! #InstantPotCheesyChiliMac #EasyCheesyChiliMac #ChiliMac

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15 thoughts on “Easy Cheesy Chili Mac – Instant Pot or Not

  1. Pingback: 07-09-2019 – Tuesday – The Intrepid Arkansawyer

  2. This looks and sounds fabulous. I have been known to add macaroni to leftover chili to extend the meals. But yours would have the chili and cheese more enmeshed with the macaroni for better flavor.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Nancy, what is this leftover Chili that you speak of?! Seriously, next time I’l lbe sure to set some aside and add in some noodles. Maybe those spirally Rigatonis? I think that’s a great idea!!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Thanks, Liz, and thanks for pinning! 🙂 Tell you nephew if he has any questions to be sure to leave me a comment or facebook message or email me. 🙂 When i’m with the grandkids, I’m always a bit surprised over their food quirks so it was nice to make something that everyone seemed to love.

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