My Instant Pot won't pressurize! | Top 6 Reasons Why... (2022)

The Top 6 Reasons Your Instant Pot Won’t Pressurize and What to do About It

Electric pressure cooking is all the rage. Everyone has an Instant Pot, it seems. This small appliance work-horse can really crank out meals in a hurry, fully maximizing the time we spend in our kitchen. This list of The Top 6 Reasons Your Instant Pot Won’t Pressurize can be a real life-saver. Post it in a handy spot in your kitchen for easy reference when your Instant Pot is misbehaving!

Instant Pot Lazy Butt Beef Subs Recipe


Howdy! Chef Alli Here. Let’s Get You Cookin’…..Shall We? ?

Yes, the Instant Pot is the best small appliance in the land, if you ask me. I didn’t expect to like this method of cooking as much as I do, either. But guess what?? It’s been a total-game changer at my house when it comes to my family and gettin’ dinner on the table!

I didn’t have a good system set up for using a slow cooker like some Moms definitely do, but the Instant Pot fully enabled me to make several different 30 minute (or less!) meals just as soon as I got home.

Plus, I love being able to quickly cook a couple good hunks of meat on the weekend in my Instant Pot so I can start the work week out armed and ready for dinnertime.

I will admit that there definitely IS a learning curve to cooking in the Instant Pot and one of the biggest problems can be when the darn thing won’t pressurize – it’s totally frustrating, especially when the family is wondering when dinner is ever going to be done….aaarrrggghhh.

This blog post covers the 6 main causes that keep your Instant Pot from pressurizing. Once you get over the hump, I promised you’re golden! You’ll be a pressure cooking fool and never look back.

(Video) 13 Reasons Why Your Instant Pot Won't Work or Pressurize - Problems: Float Valve, Sealing Ring

7 Reasons the Instant Pot is Pretty Darn Magical:

  1. Because foods cook more quickly, they retain more of their nutrients.

  2. Because nearly all of the foods that can be cooked in an Instant Pot are WHOLE foods, we eat better.

  3. It’s energy efficient.

  4. The kitchen stays cool when cooking during the hot summer months.

  5. It saves time when it comes to preparing meals and getting dinner on the table. (Consequently, this keeps the family happy, too.)

  6. Because the cooking is done all in one pot, there’s much less dinner clean up involved.

Get the Recipe Here

Which Instant Pot is the Best?

I’ve use both the 6-quart Instant Pot and the 8-quart Instant Pot. Because most Instant Pot recipes have been created for the 6-quart Instant Pot (this is because the 6-quart Instant Pot was first one on the market) I recommend that you start there.

Many of the recipes for the 6-quart Instant Pot don’t cook the same in the 8-quart Instant Pot – you have to figure out adjustments to make some of the recipes work.

Making adjustments to cook in an 8-qt Instant Pot is something you don’t want to deal with when you are first learning how to use your Instant Pot. Once you’ve mastered the 6-quart Instant Pot, THEN jump out there and get an 8-quart if you decide you need one that’s bigger.

A 3-quart Instant Pot is also now available for those who are cooking for 1-2 people and therefore want to cook smaller batches of food. I don’t have the 3-quart Instant Pot, so I can’t really speak to how well it works. Again, I still recommend you begin with the 6-quart Instant Pot when you are first learning!

Getting Your Instant Pot to Pressurize – You Can Do It!

Below, I’m sharing the top 6 reasons that can keep your Instant Pot from pressurizing.

I’ve experienced all of these instances at one time or another, and you will likely experience some of the same issues at some point in time – it’s just par for the course and part of the learning curve for using an Instant Pot.

So before you toss your Instant Pot out in frustration, consider which reason is likely the culprit and you’ll be armed and ready. Read on!

Click the button below to print my FREE Instant Pot Troubleshooting Guide now. Keep this handy quick reference taped to the inside of a cupboard for quick when you need help with your Instant Pot…right now!

Download FREE Guide!

The Top 6 Reasons Your Instant Pot Won’t Pressurize….and What to Do About it.

1. There’s Not Enough Liquid Inside the Instant Pot.

Instant Pots (all electric pressure cookers, no matter which brand) use steam to create pressure. This steam is created from the liquid that’s inside your pot; as the liquid circulates, it creates steam and that’s what creates the pressure needed for your Instant Pot. No liquid, no pressurization, it’s THAT simple!

(Video) Reasons your Instant Pot WON'T Come to Pressure--And how to fix it!

The Solution: Open the Instant Pot and add 1/2 cup – 1 cup more liquid. And absolutely DO NOT STIR any ingredients in the Instant Pot at the time that you add more liquid. Warning: This is one of the most difficult things NOT to do – it just LOOKS WRONG in there.

You must resist the urge to stir! Once you’ve added more liquid to the Instant Pot, securely lock the lid into place and begin the pressurization process once again.

**Please note: The majority of foods and ingredients cooked in the Instant Pot (or any electric pressure cooker) will require only enough liquid to cover the bottom of the pot, which is about 1- 1 1/2 cups, depending on the size of the electric pressure cooker you are using.

This rule only changes (for the most part) if you are cooking one of these three foods: grains, beans, or pasta. These three foods need to be fully covered by liquid (broth, water, beer, etc) by one-inch above where they fill up the pot. **Make sure your Instant Pot is never filled more then two-thirds full of ingredients.

Once you’ve added the liquid that covers the grains, beans or pasta in the Instant Pot, DO NOT STIR! If you stir this liquid into the ingredients, it moves to the center of the ingredients in the pot, right where it cannot circulate to create pressure. (See Reason #1 in this post!)

Get The Recipe Here

2. There are Ingredients Stuck to The Bottom of the Pot.

Let’s say you’re using the saute setting available on your Instant Pot to brown pork chops in a bit of oil. Unbeknownst to you, one of those chops somehow manages to partially adhere itself to the bottom of the pot.

Guess what happens? When you try to pressurize the Instant Pot, those ingredients that are stuck to the bottom of the pot restrict the circulation of liquid. Without the circulation of the liquids in the pot, no steam is created, so your Instant Pot cannot pressurize. No pressure, no dinner – bad news, right??

The Solution: Carefully unlock the Instant Pot lid. Using a silicone or wooden spatula, give a stir to gently rearrange everything inside the pot, checking to see if ingredients are stuck to the bottom of the pot. If so, loosen their grip with the spatula.

If there is now no liquid in the bottom of the pot, add just enough more liquid to cover the bottom of the pot (approx. 1/2 – 1 cup of liquid is need.) Now begin the pressurizing process again.

Get the Recipe Here

3. The Sauce is Too Thick.

So you’ve got a luscious meatball sauce simmering in your Instant Pot. Delighted because it looks and smells so good, you decide it’s time to add the meatballs (already pre-cooked if you’re adding them to the sauce) to the sauce so you can meld the flavors together as they pressurize for a few minutes.

(Video) Instapot Leaking Steam Release Valve Fix

All of a sudden, you get the dreaded “BURN” signal on the Instant Pot’s display and it shuts down…the darn thing won’t pressurize! Here’s why: that luscious meatball sauce is simply too thick keeping it from circulating to make the steam the Instant Pot needs to pressurize.

The Solution: To address this problem, carefully unlock and remove the lid, adding some broth to thin down the sauce inside. Now, lock the Instant Pot lid back into place and begin the process of pressurizing once again.

Now that the sauce much thinner and probably still hot, your pot will pressurize almost at once. After you’ve cooked the meatballs, release the pressure and carefully unlock and remove Instant Pot lid, giving the meatballs and the sauce a gentle stir.

To thicken the meatball sauce back to it’s yummy state, add some cornstarch slurry (made from equal parts cornstarch and warm water) to the pot, whisking it in a little at a time.

Using the saute setting on your Instant Pot, simmer the sauce along with the meatballs until everything is nicely thickened once again.Voila!

Get the Recipe Here

4. The Gasket Isn’t Fitting Properly.

As your Instant Pot is trying to pressurize, you notice that steam seems to be escaping from the SIDES of the pot, around the lid. This is likely because your gasket isn’t securely fitted around the edge of the inside lid, leaving gaps where the steam can escape.

The Solution: Unlock your Instant Pot and lift the lid, checking the inside edge of the lid where the gasket is located. Adjust the gasket as needed, making sure it fits snugly around the edge of the lid and there are no gaps. Now, lock the Instant Pot lid back into place, beginning the pressurizing process again.

My Instant Pot won't pressurize! | Top 6 Reasons Why... (7)

5. As the Instant Pot is Trying to Come up to Pressure, Steam is Escaping From the Pressure Release Knob When it Shouldn’t Be.

This is a signal that the pressure release knob may not be set to the SEALING position, where it needs to be. Also, as your Instant Pot gets older, it will tend to let some steam escape via the pressure release knob when your pot is trying to come up to pressure. If this is the case, the valve just needs adjusted a bit.

The Solution: First, check the valve to make sure it is set to the indicator position that says SEALING, not VENTING. If it’s set to the proper position and your Instant Pot has some age on it, use a spoon to touch the pressure release knob from the side, gently adjusting it a bit.

This sometimes helps the knob to slip down into the area where it’s located on the back of the lid. Performing either one (or both!) of these steps will nearly always make your Instant Pot pressurize almost immediately, providing one of the causes listed above in this post isn’t the actual culprit.

(Video) Reasons Why Your Instant Pot is Not Sealing

Get the Recipe Here

6. The Instant Pot is Over-Filled.

Filling your Instant Pot past two-thirds full can cause one of two sad mishaps:

1. It won’t come up to pressure.

2. Or, the Instant Pot does somehow manage to pressurize (even though it’s overfilled) and you then you’re eventually going to wind up with a mess.

You see, if your Instant Pot is overfilled and manages to pressurize any way, you will likely spew soup all over your kitchen when you perform the quick release to remove the pressure….yuck. This has happened in my kitchen before and it’s a total train wreck.

The Solution: An overfilled Instant Pot is an accident waiting to happen, so take care to never fill it more than two-thirds full, especially when you’re cooking soups or stews.

My Instant Pot won't pressurize! | Top 6 Reasons Why... (9)My Instant Pot won't pressurize! | Top 6 Reasons Why... (10)Browse all of my fast and dinner-friendly Instant Pot recipes here.

Here are a few other Instant Pot recipes to enjoy:

  • Big Bold Beef Carnitas

  • Instant Pot Beef and Cider Stew

  • 5-Minute Instant Pot Little Smokie Mac and Cheese

  • Instant Pot Jambalya

  • Instant Pot Pot-And-Go Egg Bites

    Get the Recipe Here

    Other Instant Pot Articles You May Find Helpful:

    • The First 4 Things You Should Cook in Your Instant Pot…In Order!

    • How to Make Your Instant Pot Pressurize Faster

    • 12 Ways an Instant Pot Saves You Time in the Kitchen

    • The 7 Solid Reasons You Need an Instant Pot

    • Helpful Instant Pot Tools and Accessories

    • The Best Instant Pot Tips for Beginners

    • How to Cook Frozen Meat in an Instant Pot….Really!

    • Your Top Instant Pot Questions…..Answered

    • Free Printable: Instant Pot Quick Cooking Chart

    • Free Printable: Instant Pot Trouble-Shooting Guide

Love what you’re reading here? Good things come to those who click the button below to receive weekly meal inspiration right in your inbox!

We love hearing from our readers and followers, so leave us a comment if you’d like. And, if you don’t hear back from us shortly, know that we may not have seen your comment. Feel free to reach out to us by email: [emailprotected]

Let’s Get You Pressure Cookin’,
Chef Alli

**Please Note: The troubleshooting tips posted in this article may not perfectly apply to all electric pressure cooker models. Please refer to the user manual of your particular brand and model for the most accurate troubleshooting tips.


Why is my Instant Pot not Pressurising? ›

SOLUTION: Open the Instant Pot and make sure there's enough liquid. If too much liquid has evaporated, the Instant Pot won't pressurize, so add more liquid if necessary. Close the Instant Pot and resume pressure cooking. If you have trouble closing the lid, move the steam release handle to the VENTING position.

How do I get Instant Pot to come to pressure? ›

Turn the steam release valve to the “sealing” position. (If you have an Instant Pot Ultra it will automatically set the steam release to “sealing” when you close the lid.) Press the “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” button. (Some Instant Pot models have a button that says “Manual” and others have a “Pressure Cook” button.

Why is it taking so long for my Instant Pot to pressurize? ›

The more liquid you have or the colder the ingredients in the Instant Pot (e.g. frozen meat), the longer it takes to come to pressure. Once the float valve pops up, you should see little to no steam coming out of either the float valve or the steam release mechanism.

How long do instant pots last? ›

Instant pot gives that ring an expected time between two and three years, before it needs to be replaced. The part of the pot that goes through the most wear and tear, the ring, has a life expectancy of a few years.

Should float valve be up or down? ›

Don't open the lid until the float valve is down i.e. the Instant Pot is depressurized. Keep hands and face away from the steam release mechanism. Don't obstruct the steam release handle when pressure is being released. When quick-releasing frothy foods such as applesauce, oatmeal, pasta, etc.

How do you instantly pressurize? ›

3 TIPS to PRESSURIZE Instant Pot FASTER - YouTube

How long does it take for a pressure cooker to pressurize? ›

Let's get into it. A pressure cooker should take about 5-15 minutes to pressurize, although you could end up waiting closer to 30, depending on how much is inside of it.

Do pressure cookers wear out? ›

Pressure cookers take on wear and tear due to the high heat at which they operate. If you can spot early signs of damage, you can invest in the maintenance you need to keep your cooker operating for longer. Some of the most common signs of pressure cooker damage include: Chipped equipment.

Should my pressure cooker be hissing? ›

In reality, your pressure cooker is supposed to hiss. The noise indicates the successful release of steam from the cooking unit either at the end of its cook time or when pressure gets too high. Let's break down the basics of your pressure cooker's quirks so that you can confidently put your unit to use.

How do you test a pressure cooker? ›

Test it by heating some water under pressure before you begin cooking any food. You treat your pressure cooker just as if you're going to cook something, but you add only water to it. Fill the pressure cooker pot with 2 cups of water. For this test run, the water is all you're putting in the cooker.

What are the top 5 best pressure cookers? ›

Our Top Picks
  • Best Overall: Instant Pot Pro Pressure Cooker.
  • Best Value: Presto 6-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker.
  • Best for Experienced Cooks: Breville Fast Slow Pro.
  • Best Splurge: Mepra Pressure Cooker 1950.
  • Best with Air Fryer: Instant Pot Pro Crisp XL 8 Quart.
  • Best Stovetop: T-fal Clipso Pressure Cooker.
3 Jun 2022

Are Instapots worth it? ›

If you're looking to save counter space or don't want to spend a lot of money on separate appliances, then an Instant Pot could be worth the expense. However, if you're only going to use one or two functions of the Instant Pot, it's worth considering if separate devices would be more cost-effective.

Do Instant Pots break easily? ›

A pressure cooker is not a barbecue. An Instant Pot does great with tougher cuts of meat -- which the pressure cooker can easily break down -- but not so good with ones that are best eaten medium-rare, like a steak. Save those for the grill.

Should the keep warm light be on when pressure cooking? ›

There is no right or wrong way to keep your food warm in the Instant Pot. What is this? Some keep their keep warm button on low, while others keep it on high. Start with a lower temp and see how you feel about the temperature after a period of time.

How do you reset a pressure cooker? ›

stored once the custom settings are defined, and even after the Instant Pot cooker is unplugged from power. To reset to factory default settings, press and hold the “Adjust” button for 3 seconds, when the Instant Pot cooker is in the Off mode.

When should I replace my pressure cooker? ›

How old is your pressure cooker now? If it is so strong to have fought with heat and high pressure, it's time to throw it and replace a new one. Question two: the pressure-limiting valve should be buckled up after the exhaust pipe steaming.

What to do if cooker is not working? ›

Check both the fuse box and breaker. If your fuse is blown or your breaker has tripped, install a new fuse and reset your breaker. After this, your oven should power up.

Should steam be coming out while pressure cooking? ›

Instant Pot An In-depth Look at Leaking Steam - YouTube

Should steam come out of pressure cooker valve? ›

Some steam leaking is normal, but you shouldn't see an excessive amount of it leaking. That indicates that your pressure cooker has too much pressure. Never try to repair a damaged safety valve.

Why does steam escape from a pressure cooker? ›

When the pressure cooker lid is not placed correctly on the cooking pot, it's going to release steam. This is the simple reason why many of these pressure cooking tools leak steam from their pots. Since these tools produce a lot of pressure inside the pot, the pressurized steam often looks for small openings.

What happens if you open a pressure cooker without depressurizing it first? ›

Whenever a liquid under pressure is depressurized suddenly, the gases contained in the liquid (including steam), will expand rapidly. If the proper steps aren't followed, the contents of the pressure cooker can 'explode' when the lid is removed.

Where can I get my pressure cooker tested? ›

To get your dial gauge tested you can send it in to Presto or contact a local county Extension office. It is also a good practice to make sure the lid fits tightly, the pressure plug is in place and that the rubber gasket (if your canner has one) is free from cracks.

How does a pressure cooker valve work? ›

A spring-loaded valve is normally open so that air can escape. As heating begins, expanding vapor pushes this valve up, closing off the vent. (At very high pressures, it rises farther and reopens the vent to release excess steam.)

Why is my pressure cooker leaking steam? ›

Your pressure cooker is most likely leaking steam because it is going through the pressurization process. When the pressure is increasing, some steam might be released. If the lid is not on the right way, steam will leak too. Be sure to seal the lid and turn the pressure valve to the sealing position.

How do you reset a pressure cooker? ›

stored once the custom settings are defined, and even after the Instant Pot cooker is unplugged from power. To reset to factory default settings, press and hold the “Adjust” button for 3 seconds, when the Instant Pot cooker is in the Off mode.

Should steam come out of pressure cooker valve? ›

Some steam leaking is normal, but you shouldn't see an excessive amount of it leaking. That indicates that your pressure cooker has too much pressure. Never try to repair a damaged safety valve.

What happens when a pressure cooker explodes? ›

Pressure cooker explosions are actually “steam explosions,” in which boiling-hot steam under pressure is suddenly released. This creates a rapidly-expanding cloud of steam that can cause extensive scalding burn injuries to anyone nearby.

How do you clean a pressure cooker gasket? ›

Fill the Instant Pot insert with two cups of white vinegar or the same amount of water and a lemon rind, seal the lid, and run the appliance on the “steam” setting for two minutes. Remove the ring from the lid and let it air dry completely. It should be clean and smell as good as new.

When should I replace my gasket in my pressure cooker? ›

The gaskets and safety plugs have to be changed every 12 months no matter how often the pressure cooker is used.

What happens if a pressure cooker runs out of water? ›

It cannot cook your food properly without water, and the pressure will build to such an extent that the lid, pressure valve, plugs, and hot food could be thrown all over the kitchen. This can seriously harm you, your kids, and your pets, not to mention property damage that comes from flying projectiles.

What is a pressure cooker safety valve? ›

The safety valve inside a pressure cooker is a safety backup mechanism that comes into effect when the pressure inside the cooker turns uncontrollably high and finds no path to escape. To release steam, the cooker has pressure regulating valves that Jiggle or extend outwards with the help of spring.

Why is a pressure cooker safety valve melted? ›

The valve contains an alloy in its center that is designed to melt at a specific pressure and temperature. It will melt if the normal escape of steam through the toggle (pressure regulator) becomes blocked, or if the water fully evaporates from the cooker, causing the temperature to increase abnormally.

What pressure cooker has a recall? ›

This recall involves Instant Pot "Smart" and "Smart-60" electric pressure cookers.

What happens if you put too much water in a pressure cooker? ›

Overfilling a pressure cooker has various effects, including loss of flavor and texture. This is caused by the excessive pressure generated by the glut of liquid. Too much pressure breaks down food. As for the risks it is also possible for the food to block the pressure valve if the pot is filled too high.

What brand of pressure cooker exploded? ›

2020, a federal lawsuit was filed against Sunbeam after its Crock-Pot Express Pressure Cooker was alleged to explode and burn users or anyone nearby.


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