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Instant Pot Chili con Carne

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When it rains, I immediately start craving hot, homemade comfort foods that warm me from the inside out. Combine that with (insert your favorite sport here) MLS playoff games and it’s a Chili con Carne kind of night!

This paleo chili is also great if you count macros or are trying to keep the added winter or holiday wieght to a minimum.  It’s filling and satisfying while still being low in fat and carbs.

Often we can get hung up on following a recipe to the letter. We panic if we don’t have exactly what the recipe calls for; and for some recipes – especially with baking – the chemistry requires more attention to detail. However, there are lots of recipes that are flexible enough for you to deviate from the chef’s preference and strike out in search of your own version of the dish.

As you get more comfortable with cooking, I encourage you to experiment! Sometimes you don’t need to measure everything exactly. Sometimes you like more garlic, or less onion, than a recipe may call for. Follow your instinct! If you don’t try it, you’ll never know.

Chili is one of those dishes that can be customized to your individual palate, so don’t be afraid to experiment with, add or take away ingredients, depending on what you like – or what you have in the house!


Onions – as much or as little as you prefer. Our family likes only a hint of onion. Yellow onions are the mildest, but today I had a red onion in the house, so I used very little. Chop finely.

Garlic – I LOVE garlic. 4 minced cloves went into this baby.

Avocado Oil – a healthy splash. 1 tablespoon…ish. Enough to sauté the onions and garlic. Olive oil is fine too. So is coconut oil.

Chili Powder – I used 2 tablespoons

Dried Oregano – same. Two tablespoons

Cumin – This spice can overpower, so use a bit of caution. 1 tablespoon

Sun-dried Tomatoes in Oil – approx. 7 oz, or more if you like. You can substitute a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste if you prefer. Something to give depth to the dish. Blitz these in your food processor until they are like a paste

2 1/2 lbs Grass-fed Ground Beef. 85/15 is best – not too fatty, not too dry. Just right

Crushed Tomatoes – 14 oz or so

Bone Broth – 1/2 to 1 cup, depending on how brothy you like your chili. I had some homemade broth leftover from Thanksgiving, but store-bought is just fine

Fish Sauce – 2 tablespoons

Apple Cider Vinegar – 1 tablespoon…ish. I actually didn’t measure, just put in a splash to taste. Or leave it out if you prefer. No biggie

1/2 Stick of Cinnamon – trust me. Try it

Salt and Pepper to taste


Step 1:   Sauté the Aromatics

Put your splash of avocado oil in the metal insert of the Instant Pot (or if you’re going stove-top, in your soup pot, or Le Cruset…whatever pot you’re making chili in). Set your IP on sauté, and add the garlic and onions. If you’re stove-top, do this over medium heat. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until translucent, approximately 3 minutes, more or less.


Step 2:   Add the spices and sun-dried tomatoes

This is what the blitzed sun-dried tomatoes should look like.

Add the chili powder, oregano and cumin. Stir. Let cook for :30 or so, until fragrant. Then add the sun-dried tomatoes and stir some more.


Step 3:   Beef it up

This picture is actually from a different recipe. I forgot to take one while I was browning the meat for this one! But you get the idea.

Add your meat, breaking it up into small chunks. Cook until mostly browned and only a little pink. Stir frequently.


Step 4:   Make it saucy

My jar of homemade bone broth.

Add your bone broth, fish sauce, apple cider vinegar and cinnamon stick.

Now you’re ready to let it cook! Set your Instant Pot for 15 minutes at high pressure. If you need to eat right away, carefully release the steam valve, taking care not to burn yourself. If you’re not in a hurry, let it come back to normal pressure on its own, and eat when you’re ready. Taste for balance, and add more salt if needed.

I like adding avocado, Cholula, and a drop of yogurt to my bowl. Cheese can also be a tasty topping! You can serve it by itself, over spinach or squash, with rice or tortilla chips…whatever floats your boat.

P.S. If you’re cooking on the stovetop, bring everything to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for at least an hour, and up to 3 hours, adding more broth if needed. Eat when you’re ready, tasting for balance and adding more salt if needed.

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