This “All American” Chili is a classic version with meat and beans but gets that simmered-all-day flavor in just 15 minutes thanks to the Instant Pot!
October is the official start of fall and, in our house, that makes it the official start of chili season. When I was single and living on my own, I would make a big pot of chili just for myself and eat the leftovers all week long. Now, years later, it’s often on the menu when we’re hosting a crowd, and is always on the menu for Halloween night when everyone needs some warm stick-to-your-ribs sustenance before the candy starts rolling in.
This recipe is an adaptation of an old favorite that was originally published in Cooking Light many years ago. I’ve tweaked it over the years, but it’s a chili formula that I come back to again and again. The depth of flavor comes from a good mix of spices as well as the addition of Italian sausage and a healthy pour of beer or red wine (beef stock works too, if you prefer to skip the alcohol).
The latest and greatest adaptation to the recipe is that I’ve been making it in the Instant Pot. The pressure cooker gives this chili a depth of flavor that makes it seem as if it simmered low and slow all day long. The first time I tested it this way, I couldn’t believe how fast it came together, using just the Instant Pot to saute and simmer it.
Chili might be the perfect make-ahead food, so this is a great one to have in the rotation. It reheats well but, more importantly, it tastes even better after a day, or two, or three. When the weather turns cold, there are few things better than a warm bowl of chili to wrap your hands around for lunch. And let’s be real, the best part of any bowl of chili is the toppings.
I took it easy for these photographs, but you better believe that I load my bowl up with twice as many toppings as shown here!
- 1 Yellow Onion, diced
- 1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
- 8 cloves Garlic, chopped
- 8 oz Italian Sausage, loose (I prefer a mild version)
- 1 lb Ground Beef (I use an 80/20 ground beef, but drain it well to remove excess fat / oil during cooking)
- 2 Tbsp Chili Powder (see note)
- 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar (light or dark)
- 1 Tbsp Ground Cumin
- 1 tsp Dried Oregano
- 4 Tbsp Tomato Paste
- ½ tsp Black Pepper
- ¼ tsp Salt
- 1½ cups (1 12-oz bottle) Mild-Flavored Beer (see note)
- 1 (28 oz) can Diced Tomatoes, preferably fire roasted
- 1 (28 oz) can Crushed Tomatoes
- 2 (15 oz) cans Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 Bay Leaves
- Green Onions, chopped
- Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- Sour Cream
- Chips (corn tortilla chips or Fritos are our favorites!)
- Turn the Instant Pot / pressure cooker (6 quart capacity or larger) on the saute function.
- Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic and saute until onions are starting to turn tender, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add sausage and beef and saute, breaking it apart, until cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Drain excess grease out of the bowl (this will prevent the finished chili from being too greasy).
- Add chili powder, brown sugar, ground cumin, and dried oregano and saute for 1 minute.
- Stir in tomato paste, black pepper, and salt.
- Add beer, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, kidney beans, and bay leaves.
- Close and lock the lid.
- Set the pressure cook / manual setting on high for 15 minutes.
- Allow the pressure to release naturally.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 days before serving.
- Finish each bowl with your favorite toppings!
If you prefer a chili that is not super spicy, check the ingredients in your chili powder to be sure that cayenne pepper isn’t on the list. I like McCormick Chili Powder.
This recipe is great made with any mild-flavored beer. I’ve made it and liked it with both a pale ale and a wheat beer. The flavor is subtle but will still come through in the finished chili. It’s also great with red wine which gives the finished chili a very subtle fruit flavor. If you’d like to skip the alcohol, beef broth will work great too.
This recipe can be made in the slow cooker too! Prep as directed and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or high for 4 to 5 hours.
This recipe is adapted from the Cooking Light version of All-American Chili which I’ve been making for years.
The weather has been so nice that we took our whole crew out to the zoo over the weekend. The ladies rode the carousel and for once everyone was happy because Molly and Clara’s favorite animals were right next to one another – Clara on the tiger and Molly on the flamingo! Major win for our family at the Kansas City zoo!
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