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Instant Pot Cincinnati Chili

Instant Pot Cincinnati Chili

  • Author: Instant Pot Eats
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: American


Hearty and rich Instant Pot Cincinnati chili meat sauce is great over spaghetti or linguine pasta and topped with grated cheese and raw onions (or lightly pickled in our case). It’s an iconic American-European fusion dish that will quickly become a family favorite.



Part 1: Cooking the sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, finely diced
6 oz (170 g) tomato paste
2 cups (500 ml) water
1 cup tinned diced tomatoes
2 lb / 1 kg ground beef
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cloves (optional)
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Part 2: Thickening the sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 oz / 25 g dark chocolate, chopped (we love 70% cocoa content rather than 100% for some extra sweetness)
1 tablespoon regular flour or cornstarch (for thickening)

To serve the sauce: 
Cooked spaghetti or linguine
Finely diced red onions or pickled red onions (see notes below)
Grated cheese (we used a mix of Cheddar and Parmesan)
Optional: cooked red beans (can be out of a can)


  • Turn the Instant Pot on and press the Saute function. Once hot, add the olive oil and onions and cook for 2-3 minutes until softened. Turn the Saute function off.
  • Add the beef, all spices, salt, tomato paste, tinned tomatoes and water and stir everything through really well. Pop the lid on top, lock and make sure the top valve is set to Sealing.
  • Pres the Meat Stew Button, which will set the Instant Pot for 35 minutes of cooking at HIGH pressure. Alternatively, press Manual/Pressure Cook and adjust the timer to 35 minutes. The Instant Pot will take about 10 minutes to come to pressure and the timer will begin. Once done, allow the pressure to release naturally, about 10-15 minutes.
  • In the meantime, prepare the sides and pickled onions, if using (see notes).
  • Once the pressure is released, open the lid and stir the sauce. It will seem a little watery at this stage but we’re not done yet. Press the Saute function again. Add the apple cider vinegar and chopped chocolate and stir to incorporate. Cook for 12-15 minutes, cooking frequently, allowing some of the liquid to evaporate and the sauce to thicken and infuse with chocolate and vinegar.
  • Press Cancel to stop the Saute function. Mix a tablespoon of flour or cornstarch with a tablespoon or so of water into a slurry and stir into the sauce for the final thickening magic. You can leave the sauce to sit while you cook the pasta or you can do that during the final Sauteing stage.
  • Serve the Cincinnati chili meat sauce over cooked spaghetti or linguine with a generous sprinkle of grated cheese and diced onions. You can also add some cooked beans on top.


Pickled red onions: Combine 1 finely diced red onion with 2 tablespoons white or apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons water, a pinch of salt and sugar and set aside to pickle for 10-15 minutes or while the sauce is cooking. 


  • Serving Size: 1 cup meat sauce with 1 cup cooked spaghetti, 3 tablespoons grated cheese and 1/4 red onion
  • Calories: 628
  • Sugar: 10.2 g
  • Sodium: 1203.5 mg
  • Fat: 23.2 g
  • Saturated Fat: 10.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 57.7 g
  • Fiber: 4.7 g
  • Protein: 46.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 117 mg

Keywords: Beef, Ground Beef, Chili

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