Simple Chili Mac (Instructions for Instant Pot, Crock Pot, or Stovetop)

This Simple Chili Mac is the reason you should make a double batch of chili. Leftover chili (or purchased canned chili) makes this recipe take about 5 minutes to throw together.

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Also? How did I ever live without an Instant Pot? I know, I know. So many of you told me I would love it for the amount of time and effort it saves, but I could not handle thinking about learning how to use a new appliance. Good grief. There was nothing to learn. Okay, there was a little bit more than nothing to learn. There was about ten minutes of learning involved.

But now I’m like, “Here, Instant Pot. I give you my leftover chili and my dry pasta. Please make our lunch.”

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And then it does. Like a boss. Except I’m the boss because I told it what to make.

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If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can still make this as simple as possible in your crock pot or your stove top.

Have I told you how much I love NOT cooking pasta before adding it to casserole dishes? Truly, any recipe that allows me to dump dry pasta into sauce and walk away is golden.

Simple Chili Mac

Simple Chili Mac (Instructions for Instant Pot, Crock Pot, or Stovetop)
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 48-ounces prepared Chili
  • 8-ounces whole grain pasta, any variety, uncooked
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups shredded cheese
Instructions
  1. Stir chili, uncooked pasta, water and salt into Instant Pot, Crock Pot, or large cooking pot.
  2. Instant Pot: Cook at high pressure for 6 minutes.
  3. Crock Pot: Cook on low for 4 hours or hi for 2.5 hours.
  4. Stove Top: Cook on low heat, covered, stirring every few minutes until pasta is tender.
  5. Top casserole with cheese and allow it to melt before serving.

Simple Chili Mac - for Instant Pot, Crock Pot, or Stovetop

Here’s our Easy Chili Recipe! Using leftover chili for this Chili Mac recipe makes it extra simple!

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Simple Lasagna Casserole (Instructions for Instant Pot or Crock Pot!)

This Simple Lasagna Casserole makes it possible for me to offer this proclamation: If life gets any easier, we will all have to find new hobbies. 

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Just kidding. No doubt we all have plenty to fill our days. It’s just that all these Simple Meals take so little time and energy to prepare, we are all shocking ourselves with how quickly we can put a delicious, real food meal on the table!

Prep time for this Simple Lasagna Casserole recipe takes a tiny 5 minutes. Cook time in the Instant Pot takes another 5 minutes. Good grief, I barely have time to get out salad fixings, plates, and forks before my Instant Pot beeps to tell me that dinner is ready.

On the other hand, sometimes it’s nice to start dinner ahead of time, leave, and come back to it a few hours later. That’s where the Crock Pot comes in. I can start this casserole cooking in my crock pot (which also takes only 5 minutes of effort), walk away, do a load of laundry, answer a dozen emails, leave the house, scream for my boys at a soccer game, and come home to a ready-made dinner.

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NOTE: One of the tricks to making this meal so fast and easy to put together is having Cooked Hamburger Meat already prepared and ready to stir into this dish. If you have an Instant Pot, I highly recommend cooking it this way to get ahead on your hamburger. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, I still recommend cooking hamburger meat ahead of time on the stove-top, then freezing it in meal size portions to make dinner prep easier!

Cook Time Options for Simple Lasagna Casserole

Instant Pot: 5 minutes
Crock Pot: 3-4 hours

Simple Lasagna Casserole (Instructions for Instant Pot and Crock Pot!)
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 16-ounces UNCOOKED whole grain pasta, any shape
  • 1 pound cooked hamburger meat
  • 50-ounces spaghetti sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 16-ounces cottage cheese
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (your favorite)
Instructions
  1. Stir uncooked pasta, spaghetti sauce, water, cooked meat, sea salt, and cottage cheese in a crock pot or instant pot. Cook as follows:
  2. Crock Pot: Cook on low for 3-4 hours.
  3. Instant Pot: Cook on Manual at high pressure for 5 minutes.
  4. Once time is up for either Crock Pot or Instant Pot, stir mixture and top with cheese, covering dish so the cheese will melt.
  5. Serve!

Simple Lasagna Casserole for Instant Pot or Crock Pot

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How to Cook 5 Pounds of Frozen Hamburger Meat in an Instant Pot in 30 Minutes (and what to do with it)

This is, hands down, my favorite Instant Pot trick so far! I will forevermore cook frozen hamburger meat an Instant Pot as it saves loads of time and I don’t have to thaw, babysit, or stir my meat to get it ready to add to dishes. Wait till you see how easy this is!

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How to Cook Frozen Hamburger Meat in an Instant Pot

Step One: Get hamburger meat out of the freezer.

(But whatever you do, don’t plan ahead. No way, no how! Don’t thaw your meat because life is too short to spend time thinking about details like this.)

Step Two: Pour 1 cup of water into the bottom of the pot under the trivet. (Very important detail!)

Step Three: Put chunks of frozen meat onto the metal trivet inside the pot. Stand them up like soldiers so they’ll cook more evenly.

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Step Four: Put the lid on your Instant Pot. Close the venting valve so it will seal.

Step Five: Set the Instant Pot to 30 minutes on high pressure on Manual Mode.

Step Six: Come back when the machine beeps as if to say, “Your hard work is done. I hope you enjoyed your nap.”

Step Seven: Carefully release the pressure and use a meat thermometer to be sure the internal temp is at least 160 degrees.

Step Eight: Transfer the cooked meat to a big bowl and use a sturdy utensil to break it apart. (I have this “Meat Masher” and love it for this job!)

Now you’ve got five pounds of cooked hamburger to use any way you need! See my big list below of great options!

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Note: What to do with the water and grease at the bottom of your Instant Pot?

If I had one complaint about this meat-cooking method, it would be that all the grease drips to the bottom, leaving the meat a bit dry. What can I say? I may be the only one on the planet who wants to keep a little fat in my meat! So I use a ladle to drizzle some of the water/grease back into the meat after I’ve broken it apart.

How to Cook 5 Pounds of Frozen Hamburger in an Instant Pot

Now I’ve got some great recipes and ideas to share for using your cooked hamburger meat!

33 Recipes for your Cooked Hamburger Meat

Divide your cooked meat into 1-pound portions in freezer bags, freeze, then pull them out to use as needed for quick and Simple Meals! Or divide your meat into separate bowls and start building some of these great meals to make your meal time ridiculously easy!

Have you tried cooking frozen hamburger in an Instant Pot? What are your favorite meals that include hamburger meat?

Simple Hashbrown Casserole (Instructions for Instant Pot, Crock Pot, or Oven!)

Hooray! Simple Hashbrown Casserole is my first (of many?!) Instant Pot recipes to share. But guess what else?

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I’m well aware that not everyone has an Instant Pot, so I’m also providing instructions for baking this in an oven. Not only that, because there are times we might need a slower cooking option (like, if we need to get dinner started, then head out to ball games, then come home to a cooked meal) – so I’m also including Crock Pot cooking instructions!

As best I can, I will provide all these options each (or most of the) time I share an Instant Pot recipe. Here’s a quick glance at cooking times for this Simple Hashbrown Casserole so you can make your best plan on the day you make this.

Cook Time Options for Simple Hashbrown Casserole

Instant Pot: 15 minutes
Oven: 1 hour
Crock Pot: 3-6 hours, depending on low or hi setting

instant pot hashbrown casserole

You need just five ingredients to make this recipe! One of the ingredients is this Homemade Ranch Dressing Mix, which I love to have on hand at all times. Another ingredient is cooked meat. This time I made hamburger meat in my Instant Pot and I can’t wait to tell you about it! This is the easiest meat-cooking method there is – and possibly my “if you get an Instant Pot for no other reason, this is it!” shout out. I’ll share about this meat-cooking method soon!

You might remember a variation of this new simple recipe: Bacon Ranch Hashbrown Casserole. You can most certainly make that recipe in your Instant Pot or Crock Pot following these instructions! And if you don’t love the “ranch” flavor this calls for, simply sub it out for any spices you like! Truly this recipe is most forgiving, and allows you to make it with any meat you prefer or have on hand, so you can create it to your family’s taste!

And then there’s the variety of cooking methods that allow you to make this no matter how busy your day, so I think we can all agree that this recipe wins the “Cooks Choice Award!”

Simple Hashbrown Casserole

Simple Hashbrown Casserole (Instructions for Instant Pot, Crock Pot, or Oven!)
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 1 pound cooked meat (hamburger, ham, bacon, sausage, or any of your choosing!)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar or Colby jack cheese
  • 3 cups sour cream
  • 3 Tablespoons Ranch Dressing Mix
  • 1 bag of frozen shredded hashbrowns
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, stir together cooked meat, shredded cheese, sour cream, and ranch dressing mix.
  2. Fold in frozen hashbrowns until all ingredients are well combined.
  3. Instant Pot Method: Cook for 15 minutes on manual mode, hi pressure.
  4. Oven Baking: Bake uncovered in a 350° oven for 45-60 minutes or until casserole is lightly browned and bubbly.
  5. Crock Pot Method: Cook on low for 6 hours or on hi for 3 hours.

Simple Hashbrown Casserole (for Instant Pot, Crock Pot, or Oven)

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