Instant pot not coming to pressure? Did it give you a burn notice? Is it not cooking correctly? Let me help you solve and prevent the common Instant Pot Issues so that you can get back to pressure cooking with success.
There is nothing more frustrating that not being able to prepare one of your favorite Instant Pot Recipes. If you are struggling with making perfect Instant Pot Baked Potatoes or Instant Pot Pot roast, or you are getting repeated burn notices, there is probably an easy fix.
If you have been frustrated because your Instant Pot is not coming to pressure, you are not alone.
If you have had a recent burn warning following an Instant Pot recipe, again, you are not alone.
Once people have mastered how to use their Instant Pot, they often struggle with issues occurring when trying to follow a recipe, like the Instant Pot not coming to pressure or a burn notice occurs.
Instant Pot Not Working
9 times out of 10 the reason why your Instant Pot won't come to pressure is that it is not sealed correctly. There are plenty of reasons this occurs and thankfully, this is easily remedied.
There are TWO ways to determine if your Instant Pot is not sealing.
- Depending on your recipe, it can take anywhere from 5 to even 30 minutes for pressure to be reached and cook time to begin on a pressure cooker. If that time has elapsed and the float valve has not popped up and cook time has not begun, chances are high your pressure cooker is not able to seal. Please note that if you have large quantities of a frozen food or lots of liquid in your instant pot, it may take up to 45 minutes to fully reach pressure.
- If cook time begins on the Instant Pot begins but the float valve has NOT popped up, the Instant Pot is not sealed.
Another reason the Instant Pot does not function correctly is that it gets a burn notice. Often times this occurs as the instant pot is trying to come to pressure and occurs when a recipe is not followed correctly. You will see burn or ovrht, which indicates your instant pot has overheated and something is burned to the bottom of your inner pot.
Reasons and Solutions
Once you have determined that your instant pot is not working, it is time to figure out WHY and how to fix it.
Not Enough Liquid
The instant pot needs THIN liquid in order for pressure to be reached AND to not get a burn notice. Not having enough liquid, can result in either your instant pot not sealing or a burn notice.
For a 3-quart instant pot, you need at least ¾ cup of thin liquid, for a 6-quart instant pot, you need at least 1 cup of thin liquid, and for an 8-quart quart instant pot, you need at least 1-½ cups of thin liquid.
What is thin liquid?? Stock, water, or juice, NOT things like tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, or salsa.
Vent Knob Not Sealed
If your pressure vent knob is turned to "venting" instead of "sealing," clearly the instant pot will not seal. The instant pot will heat up and the thin liquid and heat will be evaporated through the vent knob, instead of trapped inside the instant pot.
This one happens to me ALL the time! It is a simple mistake that can ruin dinner quickly.
Don't be tempted to simply knock your vent knob from venting to sealed, unless you catch it IMMEDIATELY after setting cook time. Instead, hit cancel and carefully open the instant pot.
An Issue with the Sealing Ring
The silicone sealing ring is one of the most important parts of the Instant Pot. If it not placed on the lid tightly, the lid won't seal. If the ring is torn or dirty, it won't seal either.
Whenever you notice your pressure cooker is struggling to come to pressure and the vent knob was in the right position, the next thing you want to investigate is the sealing ring.
The sealing ring expands to seal in pressure in the Instant Pot. If you just used your Instant Pot for another recipe or did a quick release to add an ingredient with a shorter cook time, your sealing ring may be already too expanded to be able to achieve a proper seal. Either place the seal in the freezer for 5 minutes to let it cool and return to normal size or insert a spare sealing ring.
If you have not recently used your instant pot, the sealing ring may be dirty. Take it off, give it a good clean and dry well. Inspect for tears or breaks and then install the ring carefully back on the lid on the instant pot and then proceed with the recipe---after checking to be sure there is still enough thin liquid in the Instant Pot!
Something Burned on the Bottom of Inner Pot
The number one reason for a burn notice after not having enough thin liquid is that something is burned on the inner pot.
After sauteeing anything, turn the Instant Pot OFF. If you have a large cut of meat, like for a roast for pot roast, remove the roast to a separate plate. Add in the thin liquid and scrape up ALL the browned bits on the bottom of the inner pot.
If you get a burn notice and you used the saute feature, remove everything from the inner pot. Clean and dry it well and return the ingredients back to the inner pot and proceed with the recipe.
It is crucial that you do not use flour or cornstarch in your inner pot until AFTER pressure cooking, as the flour or cornstarch will thicken the thin liquid which results in the Instant Pot not being able to come to pressure or having a burn notice.
Remember how I stated that tomato-based products do NOT count toward your thin liquid? Does this mean they should not be used in the Instant Pot? Not at all, just be sure to not count them towards the needed liquid in a recipe and to never place them on the bottom of the inner pot. Instead, layer the tomato-based products or thick sauces over the thin liquid.
Think about how easily milk scorches on the stove-top. Walk away for a second and you are left with burnt milk on the bottom of your pan. The same applies true with the Instant pot. Adding milk, cream, butter, yogurt, will likely result in a burn notice.
This is another issue that can not be easily overcome. You either need to use pot-in-pot cooking method or prepare the recipe using the oven or stove.
An 8 quart Instant Pot
The 8-quart models are much more prone to overheating and getting a burn notice, as it is a bit more finicky and the saute function reaches higher temperatures.
To combat this, when using the saute, adjust to medium heat instead of high heat. Also, it is best to wait 5 minutes after you turn the saute function off to let the machine cool before proceeding to cook under pressure.
Final pro-Tip: Get to know your Instant Pot. They are like people. All are unique, and some are a bit more temperamental than others, if your pressure cooker is more apt to overheat and get a burn notice you need to be a bit more cautious and follow these tips closely. If your pot seems laid-back and easy-going--you can get away with a lot more.
If these tips did not solve your issue, contact Instant Pot Customer service who will be able to direct you accordingly.