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Our family loves a big hearty bowl of chili or pasta on a fall day, a rainy day, or really any day of the year. With this Skyline Cincinnati Chili recipe, you get both!

Served with some cornbread and a copycat Olive Garden Salad, this simple meal is fast, easy, and delicious.

plate of spaghetti with cincinnati chili sauce
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What is Skyline Chili?

Skyline Chili is a unique combination of chili con carne (no bean chili) and spaghetti. It is a brand out of Ohio that specializes in Cincinnati Chili. It has Greek and Lebanese origins and is actually more of a meat sauce than a traditional chili.

Cincinnati-style chili is similar to Chili Mac but has a deeper, more intense flavor. The chili is made con carne style, with no beans, and it is thicker than a soup, and more like a stew.

Cincinnati Chili Ingredients

  • Lean ground beef Lean is best, especially in the Instant Pot, so you’ll have less grease to deal with.
  • Spices – Chili powder, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, salt, and pepper.
  • Cocoa Powder – the secret ingredient! Helps to balance and add richness to the flavor.
  • Other ingredients – onions, garlic, tomato paste, tomato sauce, beef broth.

I’ve also seen recipes that include a bay leaf or nutmeg.

ingredients for skyline chili/cincinnati chili

How to make Skyline Cincinnati Chili in the Instant Pot

Chili always tastes best when simmered for hours, but I knew that the Instant Pot could get that same slow-simmered flavor in a fraction of the time. This chili turned out so flavorful, tender, and my entire family loved it. Give this copycat of the Cincinnati classic a try anytime you want a unique, but delicious dinner in under 30 minutes.

  1. Set your Instant Pot to saute. When it reads HOT, add some oil, ground beef, and chopped onion. Bread up the ground beef into very small pieces with a wooden spoon or a handy Meat Masher, and cook until the beef is no longer pink. Add some minced garlic and cook for another minute.
  2.  Turn off the saute function and stir in the spice mixture and cocoa powder. Secure the lid and turn to Manual or High Pressure for 25 minutes, then let the pressure out with a quick release.
  3. While the skyline chili is cooking, boil some spaghetti noodles to al dente. Drain the water and set the spaghetti aside.
  4. Serve chili over noodles with your desired toppings.
ground beef and onions cooked in instant pot
ingredients for cincinnati chili in an instant pot
cincinnati chili sauce in the instant pot
cincinnati chili in the instant pot

Serving Suggestions

There are 4 traditional ways to eat it:

  1. Two-way: Chili served on top of spaghetti noodles.
  2. Three-way: Spaghetti noodles, a heaping scoop of chili sauce, and tons of finely grated cheddar cheese.
  3. Four-way: Spaghetti noodles, a heaping scoop of chili sauce, tons of finely grated cheddar cheese, and chopped onions.
  4. Five-Way: Spaghetti noodles, a heaping scoop of chili sauce, tons of finely grated cheddar cheese, chopped onions, and kidney beans on top of the chili.

It’s often served with oyster crackers on the side. The chili can also be eaten on its own, or on top of a hot dog.

Storage and Freezing Instructions

Storing leftovers: Pour chili into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3-4 days. Noodles should be refrigerated in a separate container, for 3-4 days.

Freezing: Pour leftover chili into freezer bags or a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating.

Reheating: Reheat in the microwave for 60-90 seconds, or reheat the chili in a saucepan and make fresh pasta.

plate of spaghetti with cincinnati chili and cheese and onions

More Chili Recipes

More Instant Pot recipes


Instant Pot Skyline Chili

4.32 from 29 votes
Instant Pot Cincinnati Chili is an extra fast version of the classic Skyline Chili served over spaghetti and topped with cheese & onions!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 6 servings


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion diced fine
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 3 cups of beef stock
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • salt and pepper to taste

For serving:

  • 1 pound spaghetti noodles cooked to al dente and drained
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Diced white onion
  • Kidney beans drained & rinsed
  • Oyster crackers


  • Turn your Instant Pot to saute. Once it reads HOT, add oil and then ground beef and onion. Cook beef until browned, and use a potato mashed or spatula to break the meat up into very fine pieces. Once brown add garlic and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant.
  • Turn the saute function off. Add all remaining ingredients and stir well. Put the lid on the Instant Pot and turn to Manual or High Pressure and set a timer for 25 minutes. Let the chili cook and when the timer beeps, let the pressure out with a quick release.
  • Serve over spaghetti and top with desired toppings. I recommend onions and cheddar cheese.


Nutritional information does not include option topping (cheese, onions, beans, crackers).


Calories: 594kcalCarbohydrates: 73gProtein: 48gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 94mgSodium: 1006mgPotassium: 1590mgFiber: 7gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 1938IUVitamin C: 13mgCalcium: 95mgIron: 8mg
Keyword cincinnatti chili, skyline chili


Amanda blogs at Old House to New Home where she shares easy ways to eat, create, and decorate, all while raising two young girls! Amanda is a Spanish teacher, wife to a great husband, and mommy to the two most beautiful little girls! Amanda loves food, traveling, and transforming their 115 year old house into their home.

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  1. While we’re from Cincinnati and grew up on it and we can get the real deal in cans at Kroger in Texas, I’ve heard how many won’t like it because it tastes unlike anything they’ve tasted before. I don’t have a pot like that but if reviewers say it tastes authentic then you have a winner!

  2. This turned out VERY watery. I followed the instructions EXACTLY. What happened? I’m sauteing in the Instant Pot now trying to get the fluid off so I can eat it, instead of drink it. HELP???

  3. First you saved me 15.00 going to Skyline. This was authentic as it gets. The only thing you left out was Cincinnatians never twirl the spaghetti its cut LOL. Thank you for this great recipe

  4. LOVED this recipe. Made it for Super Bowl in honor of the Bengals and my guests LOVED it!!! I don’t understand all the comments about the Chili Powder. Whenever I make regular Chili –and all recipes I see—3 TBL chili powder to 2 lbs ground beef is standard. After all –it’s called “Chili” for a reason–lol. Anyway, I am from Ohio and have to say this is a very easy and authentic version of Skyline Chili. My husband kept complimenting me all evening–which took the sting out of the Bengals loss. But thank you for a recipe that I will make regularly!!!!!!!!

  5. Delicious, comes out perfect every time. The more toppings the better. We order the sauce from Skyline Chili and it makes it truly authentic!

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