How to Make Chili in the Pressure Canner

I’m the literal worst at packing a lunch for work. It’s not unusual for me to show up at work with little more than a dinner roll that I grabbed out of the freezer. So when I got a pressure canner for Christmas 2021, I immediately set out to can a bunch of lunch things that I can just grab on my way out the door.

First on my list of canned lunches was chili!

Here in Winnipeg, the east-west centre of Canada, it can get pretty darn cold in winter. As I’m writing the draft of this post in January, we just got through a week of -30C temperatures with a fierce wind that made the “feels like” temperature dip down to -45C. (That’s -22F and -49F.) On days like this, a warm bowl of chili always hits the spot.

When I pull one of these out for lunch, they’re perfectly fine and delicious as-is, but if I’ve got my act together and I’m not literally rushing out the door to get to work, I’ll usually pack a few little containers of toppings. What goes particularly nice on here is a dollop of sour cream, a heavy pinch of shredded cheese (and I usually buy a bag of pre-shredded cheese for the convenience factor), and some dehydrated green onions (which I’ll likely post about this fall).

Alternatively, canning these in pint jars, as the recipe calls for, means you have an easy weeknight dinner for two. Pop open a jar, dump it in a pot, and heat it till it’s simmering.

This recipe is adapted from Healthy Canning.

The recipe is pretty straight-forward and easy to follow. The unsweetened cocoa will sound like a very odd ingredient, but I encourage you to just go for it and add it in! It does not taste chocolatey at all. I’ve had a few dishes over the years with unsweetened cocoa; the one coming to mind were chicken skewers that were coated in cocoa and ground hot pepper and it was super tasty. Despite us in North America thinking of chocolate as only a sweet treat, cocoa powder is a part of savoury dishes in Central and South America.

Chili (Pressure Canner)

Pre-made shelf-stable chili in mason jars makes the perfect workweek lunch or easy dinner.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 8 Pints


  • 1 Pressure Canner
  • 9 Pint Mason Jars OR 18 Half-Pint Mason Jars


  • 500 grams Dried kidney beans Beans need to be soaked in water overnight. I used 454g / 1lb since that's the size of the bag I bought.
  • 1.5 kilogram Extra-lean ground beef
  • 200 grams Onion, chopped
  • 150 grams Peppers, seeded and chopped I used two jalapeños and part of a bell pepper.
  • 2 litres Crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp Chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp Ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp Ground oregano
  • 2 Tbsp Salt
  • 2 Tbsp Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp Lime juice This can be bottled or freshly-squeezed, as it's here for flavour, not food safety purposes.


  • The night before: Wash beans. Place beans in a large pot or bowl and cover with several inches of water. Let stand overnight.
  • Drain beans and put in a large pot (I needed a very large pot; a lot gets added to it later on) and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then lower the temperature and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • While the beans are simmering, put the ground beef, onions, and peppers into a very large pan and brown the beef, breaking it up as it cooks. Drain the fat from the pan once it’s browned.
  • Drain the beans and then return them to the pot.
  • Add the beef mixture to the bean pot. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir and heat until it boils, then lower the temperature and simmer for five minutes.
  • Pack the chili into canning jars, leaving a 1-inch headspace. Either pint (1/2 litre) or half-pint (1/4 litre) jars can be used. The half-pint jars are great for grab-and-go lunches.
  • Debubble and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe jar rims. Put the lids on and tighten to fingertip tightness.
  • Place in pressure canner and follow canner instructions. Process for 75 minutes. If using a weighted gauge, process at 10 lbs pressure; if using a dial gauge, process at 11 lbs pressure. If you are over 1000 feet / 300 meters, adjust the pressure accordingly.
  • When fully processed and canner has cooled as per canner instructions, remove jars from canner and let sit on a thick towel, undisturbed, for 24 hours. Check after 24 hours. If the lids have sealed, the jars can be stored. If any lids failed to seal, refrigerate and consume within a few days.


Unsweetened cocoa powder can seem like a very strange thing to add to chili, but do try it! Chocolate is a part of traditional Central American cuisine, including in savoury/spicy dishes like chili.
Keyword Chili, Pressure Canner

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