Instant Pot Skyline Cincinnati Chili

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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

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

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Instant Pot Skyline Chili

4.32 from 25 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 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 594kcal


  • 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


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. 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

  2. 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!!!!!!!!

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

  4. Growing up in Ohio, I always loved Cincinnati chili. Unfortunately my husband didn’t….until I tried this recipe. We’ve had it 4 times in the last 3 weeks and I’m so happy! It’s super easy and very forgiving if you’re a little short on 1 ingredient or another. Just add more of something else and it will be just as good. Thanks for the recipe!

  5. My entire family LOVES this recipe. I disagree with all the negative reviews. My husband’s family is from Cincinnati, and he is a huge Skyline fan! He asks to have this chili once/week.

  6. I was just looking for timing, as I already have a recipe that is very close to Skyline.
    For those who feel it may be too chili powder forward, I would actually up the time to 40-60 minutes, and use saute at the end to reduce it down. It’s traditionally a very long simmering chili sauce (3+ hours on stove top) which mellows and blends the spices.
    I used the 25 minutes with my recipe, and it definitely needed more time to mellow out the spices, I cooked it again for another 25 and reduced the liquid and it was perfect after that time.

  7. I doubled the recipe but not the spices. I also added black and pinto beans, green pepper and a can of Rotel tomatoes. Turned our great. Liked it better than the Skyline chili I have had.

  8. Somehow managed to be both spicy and bland. We added several generous squeezes of ketchup and about 2 tbls of Worcester sauce, lots of salt and about a tsp of smoked paprika. Hopefully by tomorrow the flavors will blend and age a bit.

    1. Hi Edith, I’m sorry the chili didn’t turn out like you were expecting. The chili isn’t incredibly spicy but it definitely shouldn’t be bland. None of the ingredients you mentioned are in the refipe, so that makes me think those things could have significantly altered the flavor.

      1. I apologize if my original message wasn’t clear. You’re correct that the ketchup and Worcester sauce aren’t in the original recipe; they’re the items I used to _repair_ the chili. This recipe cries out for acid. And I’d concur with other posters that the amount of chili powder is way too much. Luckily, I always read comments.

        1. Just out of curiosity, did you serve this over spaghetti with cheese and onions? Or were you trying to eat it like a bowl of chili? That seems to be the issue a lot of the time. It’s not like regular chili; the ingredients and flavors are different.

          1. Just over spaghetti. BTW, my husband’s from OH, went to university in Cincinnati, knows how it’s supposed to taste.
            Please understand I’m not slamming your recipe, just trying to Thank you for your help, you. I really think the primary issue was the lack of acid. Ketchup is an underused miracle ingredient.

  9. We made this last night and it was sooooo great!!!! My picky 3 year old even ate it. We only made it with 1 pound and cut everything in half and it was delicious!

  10. I just found this recipe and I can’t wait to make it. Thank you! I don’t understand why people have to leave negative comments. If you don’t care for it, move on.

  11. Wow! *Way too much* chili powder. The balance of flavors is simply not right for Skyline. Wish we had paid more attention to the comments! We won’t be making this again. Cooking time was accurate.

    1. Everyone’s palettes are different. We love it and others have agreed. Sorry it wasn’t right for you.

      1. I think you really nailed this recipe in spite of the naysayers. I had a sales office in Cincy and was there once a month for about a year and LOVED the Skyline coneys!!!
        I always half the recipe and have made it a least 6-7 times – my family LOVES it!
        The chili powder measurement was right on! Thanks, Kristin!

  12. Really? 3 tablespoons chili powder? That was fun to try to fix at the end. And I didn’t even add all of it because it seemed wrong to begin with. Also you say to use canola oil and then in the recipe at the beginning you say olive… Not even olive oil. You might want to fix that. After a ton of catch-up, brown sugar, sour cream and cheese I’m trying to get my kids to eat this.

    1. Hi Andrea, Yes, really 3 tablespoons is in the recipe. If you take a look at other chili recipes on the internet, most call for 2-3 tablespoons for 2 pounds of ground beef. This is a recipe for Skyline Chili, not regular chili so it is served over spaghetti with cheese and onions, and typically has more chili powder than a regular chili recipe. I’m sorry that it didn’t work out for you. Lastly, the writer did make a mistake saying “olive” instead of oil, but thank you for so kindly pointing that out.

      1. I looked at other recipes for Skyline chili and none has this much Chili powder, it’s usually a few teaspoons or a Tablespoon. That aside, my kids really tried to eat it because the flavor was good, just way overpowered by the spice. I’m going to try this again with one tablespoon and see how it goes because like I said the flavor underneath was good. It was served over noodles with cheese and onions (and sour cream, since dairy cuts spice), which cut the spiciness a bit. I loooove spicy food and this was too much for me too.

        1. I hear you on the spicy – that’s not my thing either. Feel free to adjust the amount of chili powder to however you like it.

          I’m not sure where you are looking, but when you google “skyline chili recipe” the first recipe is this one which calls for 2-3 tablespoons chili powder. The second is this one which calls for 1/4 of a cup. Of course I prefer ours because it can be done quickly in the instant pot!

    2. Geez…nitpicky are we? If you don’t like what you see, move on! I’m from Cincinnati and have to say she’s done a nice job here!

  13. Definitely a hit. I had to cut back on the chili powder because our son can’t handle very spicy food, but other than that, it worked out well. I’ll be making this again for sure.

  14. Is there a way to avoid that darn BURN notice? I got that the last time I tried to cook chili i my instant pot.

    1. Hi, Traci,
      One thing that I have discovered about the Instant Pot is that if you brown your meat in the pot, it is critical to “deglaze” the pot once you turn off the Saute function. You would do that by pushing the meat to one side of the pot, adding some of the beef stock to the pot first and then use a wooden spoon or paddle to scrape all the browned bits off the exposed bottom of the pan. Then push the meat back over to the “deglazed” side and repeat the process on the other half. For something like chicken thighs or pork chops, you would simply remove the chops or thighs and then deglaze. I hope that helps!

  15. There is one thing wrong…you don’t brown your ground beef,it is boiled in the spices and tomato paste with the water. Having worked in a chili parlor in Cincinnati they use a huge pressure cooker to produce this wonderful chili. You also put the cheese on last.

    1. Thanks for your feedback Donna. Since this is an Instant Pot version, it will have differences than the traditional recipe.

  16. Hi, did you just add the kidney beans at the end, or cook them in the Instant Pot? This looks yummy and can’t want to try it!

    1. It’s really a personal preference. Traditional Skyline Chili is sometimes served with kidney beans on top as a garnish. You could heat them up and serve them on the side or cook them in the chili.

  17. YUM!! This turned out delicious, I had just opened a new container of chili powder so it turned out a bit spicy for my 7yo but hubby and I LOVED it. Next time, I’m decreasing it to 2T.

  18. Was the 3tbsp of chili powder a typo? This was the hottest chili I have ever had and unfortunately inedible. Did I do something wrong?

    1. Hi Erin, Yes the amounts are correct in the recipe. Is it possible that you used cayenne pepper instead? I know I’ve accidentally grabbed that out of my pantry before.

  19. I made this tonight. It was amazing. My boyfriend ate so much, he made himself miserable, because he loved it so much! Added a can of red beans to cook along with the chili. Served over whole wheat spaghetti with onions and shredded sharp cheddar. Definitely putting this into dinner rotation.Thanks so much for sharing this recipe.

  20. This definitely evoked a taste of Cincinnati chili, and I enjoyed it as a 5-way spaghetti while my husband had it on hot dogs. However, it did not taste like Skyline brand chili to me. Something was missing, but I couldn’t pinpoint it. Maybe a little sugar? I would make this again, but would probably modify a tad. However, it was definitely tasty!

  21. Thank you so much for this recipe. I have been looking for an instant pot recipe for my Cincinnati Chili. Your recipe looks exactly like mine. Looking forward to dinner tonight!

  22. This turned out to be the best chili I ever made… family loved it! ! I just added little brown sugar and salt at the end and it was awesome!