Frozen Ground Beef Chili

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This super fast and easy Frozen Ground Beef Chili is a kid-friendly dinner that starts with frozen meat and gets added protein and flavor from beans, canned tomatoes, and your favorite dried spices. 

A heaping spoonful of ground beef chili suspended over a small white bowl of ground beef, garnished with shredded cheese, tomatoes, and cilantro

❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe: If you’re looking for the all-time best chili to serve kids on a busy weeknight that doesn’t require babysitting at the stove or even defrosting the meat, this is it!  

We love making chili in the Instant Pot, and this streamlined version is our go-to for family meals. It’s packed with flavor, but not as complicated or spicy as our fancier version. 

We created this chili because I kept forgetting to thaw the beef before dinner. So if you’re like me, no need to worry!  

This is one of the best Instant Pot Chili recipes! We love to serve it with 3-Ingredient Instant Pot Cornbread or over a bed of fluffy white rice or noodles.

An overhead shot of the ingredients for chili, including frozen ground beef, beef broth, tomato sauce, kidney beans, and a mixture of dried spices


Here’s what you’ll need to make this Instant Pot Chili with Frozen Beef:

  • Beef broth. You can use store-bought low-sodium broth or make it from scratch!
  • Dried spices. This chili gets its flavor from kitchen staples like chili powder, chipotle chili powder, ground coriander, cumin, garlic powder, dried oregano, dried minced onion, and paprika. 
  • Sugar. Just 1/4 teaspoon of granulated sugar adds a nice depth of flavor to highlight the spices and umami from canned tomatoes. 
  • Granulated beef bouillon. This is a one-ingredient major flavor boost!
  • Frozen ground beef. We Use 85% lean ground beef, frozen flat. 
  • Crushed tomatoes. You can also use diced for a chunkier texture. 
  • Kidney beans. This helps beef up the stew, so to speak. If you prefer, black or white beans will also work. 
  • Tortilla chips. This is our secret ingredient for thickening chili. You can omit the chips if you prefer a thinner soup, however. 
An overhead shot of Frozen Ground Beef on a trivet inside an Instant Pot cooking pot, with the tomatoes and kidney beans at the side

How to Make Frozen Ground Beef Chili in an Instant Pot

This easy Frozen Ground Beef Chili recipe will work in any brand of electric pressure cooker, including the Instant PotNinja Foodi, or Power Pressure Cooker XL.

Before starting, make sure your beef is frozen flat

The key to a quick, consistent cook time for cooking frozen ground beef is using beef that has been frozen flat.

Remember, when pressure cooking, you determine the cook time based on how thick your meat is. A thick, round ball of frozen beef will need much longer to fully cook through than a flat round disk.

Tip: Before you freeze your ground beef, make sure that your frozen beef fits in your Instant Pot cooking pot. My friend Marci from Tidbits taught us to prep our ground beef by shaping it in the pot before freezing.

Add the ingredients

In the pressure cooking pot, combine the beef broth with the dried spices, sugar, and bullion. 

Next, add a trivet to the pot. Place the frozen beef block on the trivet, then pour the tomatoes carefully on top. Do not stir.

An overhead shot showing the tomatoes spread over the frozen ground beef in the chili

Pressure cook at High Pressure for 10 minutes

Cook at High Pressure for 10 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then finish with a quick release. When you remove the lid, the meat should be cooked through. Now you can remove the trivet from the pot. 

💡 Tip: If you have a little extra time to get dinner on the table, a 20-minute cook time will make the ground beef even more tender.

Blend the beans and break up the meat

Use a food processor to blend one can of beans and about 1/4 cup of the juices from the Instant Pot until smooth. Add this to the chili and stir to break up the meat.

Add the remaining beans and, for a thicker chili, add the crushed tortilla chips. 

Let the flavors meld and the chili thicken for 10 minutes before serving. 

An overhead shot of ground beef chili after pressure cooking inside of an Instant Pot

Important Tips for Making Instant Pot Chili

We love to use crushed tortilla chips for thickening! I just think chips work better in chili than more traditional thickeners like cornmeal, cornstarch, or flour.

However, if you’re out of chips or prefer a different thickener, one of the more traditional ingredients will also work. (If you’re eating right away, I’d start with cornstarch—the cornmeal can add a gritty texture that takes several hours to soften.)

Blending the beans with some of the chili juices produces a more flavorful, thicker chili. You can use a food processor or blender for this step. 

A heaping spoonful of ground beef chili suspended over a small white bowl of ground beef, garnished with shredded cheese, tomatoes, and cilantro

Frequently Asked Questions about Frozen Beef Instant Pot Chili  

Can I make this with fresh ground beef?

Absolutely! You can make the recipe as written with no change to the cook time. Just do your best to shape the beef so it sits on the trivet while cooking.

(Or, if you choose, you can brown the beef beforehand and then drain the grease. Then just add it to the pot to cook, no need to bother with the trivet at all.)

How long can I store beef chili?

As with many chilis, this is even better the next day. You can make it ahead of time for a party or game, and reheat it on the stove or in the Instant Pot using the sauté function.

Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to four days in the fridge. 

Can I freeze leftovers?

Yes. This chili freezes well. Simply place it in a freezer-safe container when it’s fully cooled. Freeze for up to six months.

When ready to cook, let it thaw overnight in the fridge, then reheat it in your Instant Pot or on the stove.

Can I use a different kind of beans or meat?

Certainly. If you like, you can use kidney, pinto, or black beans for the chili. And for a lighter take, you can use frozen ground turkey or chicken instead of beef. No need to make changes to the recipe. 

 Do I need to use chipotle chili powder?

The chipotle chili powder adds a really nice flavor and I wouldn’t recommend skipping it. You can even add more if you’re not worried about spiciness because it has a great flavor!

However, you can substitute it with regular ground chili powder or add some canned chipotle in adobo for a similar smokey flavor. 

 What toppings should I serve with beef chili?

We love topping bowls of this Instant Pot chili with shredded Mexican, pepper jack or cheddar cheese, fresh cilantro, sour cream, diced fresh tomatoes, lime wedges, and chopped red onion. 

Two small bowls of Instant Pot chili made from frozen ground beef, garnished with diced tomatoes and cilantro and tortilla chips, sitting in front of an Instant pot and a plate of cornbread

MORE Instant Pot Chili Recipes

You might love these other delicious chili recipes made in an electric pressure cooker:

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A 45 degree shot of Instant Pot Frozen Ground Beef Chili topped with shredded cheese and cilantro

Frozen Ground Beef Chili

Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

This is the easiest Instant Pot Ground Beef Chili, made using frozen ground beef, beef broth, dried spices, and canned tomatoes for a weeknight meal you'll love!


  • 1 can (15 oz) beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons dried minced onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon granulated beef bouillon
  • 1 pound 85% lean ground beef, frozen flat
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cans (15 oz, each) kidney beans, divided and rinsed
  • Finely crushed tortilla chips for thickening, if desired


  1. In the pressure cooking pot, combine the beef broth, chili powder, chipotle chili powder, coriander, cumin, garlic powder oregano, dried minced onion, salt, pepper, sugar, and beef bouillon, and stir until well combined.
  2. Place a trivet in the bottom of the cooking pot and lay the frozen beef flat on top. Add the crushed tomatoes on top. (It’s OK if some tomatoes fall down, but the majority of the tomatoes should be on top of the frozen ground beef.)
  3. Lock the lid in place. Select High Pressure and set the cook time for 10 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then finish with a quick release. 
  4. When the valve drops, carefully remove the lid. Gently move the ground beef off the trivet and remove the trivet from the cooking pot. Spoon about 1/4 cup of juices into a blender jar or food processor, then add 1 can of kidney beans to the blender jar and blend until smooth.
  5. Use a wooden spoon or hamburger separator and break up the ground beef in the cooking pot until small and well-combined.
  6. Add the blended beans to the cooking pot, then stir well to combine. Add the remaining can of kidney beans and stir. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
  7. If you prefer a thicker chili, you can stir in up to 1/2 cup of finely crushed tortilla chips and let rest uncovered for 10 minutes.
  8. Serve with your favorite toppings.


You can make this recipe with fresh ground beef. If you'd like, you can use a 5 minute cook time. However, ground beef gets even more tender when you pressure cook it longer, so you can use the same cook time or as much as 20 minutes if you'd like the softest, most tender beef..

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 235Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 51mgSodium: 692mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 4gSugar: 6gProtein: 20g

Nutrition information is calculated by Nutritionix and may not always be accurate.


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