The most common Instant Pot problems, and how to fix them

Instant Pot not working right? Here are some common problems and how to fix them

Instant Pots are touted for their safety, versatility, and fast cooking—but that doesn’t mean they always work perfectly. If something goes wrong with your Instant Pot, it can ruin your meal, and may even cause permanent damage to the cooker. Not cool. But we’ve got the solutions you need for common Instant Pot issues. Here are the problems people frequently encounter, and the best ways we’ve found to deal with them.

The Instant Pot is taking too long to start the timer

Remember, Instant Pots take time to heat up to their mode, unless you are using a simple Sauté setting. For pressure cooking and other modes, the Instant Pot will take time, usually 10 to 15 minutes, to heat up and bring the pressure up to proper levels, and then start the timer. So when a recipe says “pressure cook in Instant Pot for 5 minutes,” you should always mentally add the extra time beforehand. If it still seems like it’s taking too long, check your settings carefully to make sure you are in the right mode.

The Pot is showing a “burn” message

That’s a worrying thing to see. This usually happens when sensors think the Pot is overheating and in danger of burning your food (along with potentially causing damage to the device). Often, this means that there’s not enough liquid in the Pot, or that the liquid hasn’t reach all the bottom corners of the Pot, which is easy to fix. You may also need to let your Pot cool down if you’ve been sautéing on high heat for a while. For more complex meals, layer your starches and sauces on top of other ingredients to create a barrier between them and the bottom heater. Finally, if you have sautéed a liquid sauce or similar ingredient, make sure no bits are stuck to the Pot before you move on to the next task.

instant pot post christmas sales ultra 3 qt 10 in 1 multi  use programmable pressure cooker

I’m getting a weird code message

Instant Pots use error codes to indicate specific problems. If a code is popping up, you should look it up to see what it means. You can find a list of the codes on the support page. C1, for example, means there’s a faulty temperature sensor. C5 means that there’s not enough water in the inner pot—and so on.

The Instant Pot keeps beeping

It’s normal for the Pot to beep as it starts heat, beep when it’s starting the timer, and beep when the timer is done. If it’s beeping otherwise, that usually means something is wrong, and you should look to see if there’s a code flashing on the screen. This most often indicates an overheating issue that your Instant Pot wants you to know about ASAP.

instant pot post christmas sales duo60 6 qt 7 in 1 multi use programmable pressure cooker

The float valve is stuck

That little float valve on the top of the lid is meant to loosely move between venting and natural pressure release. But if this valve is stiff or gets jammed, there’s a problem. It usually means that the valve has become clogged with food. Take the valve out and wash it thoroughly, then wash the lid all around the valve and make sure all bits of food are removed.

My Pot is…kind of stinky

The rubberized sealing ring of the Instant Pot can absorb odors easily, especially when pressure cooking. If you are cooking a particularly pungent meal, then the ring may catch the smell, which is annoying when making a different meal.

The bad news is that once the odor is absorbed, nothing really removes it except time. Try washing your silicone sealing ring thoroughly by hand, and then wait. The good news is that smells from the ring will not ultimately impact your future cooking endeavors—the flavor itself isn’t affected. The one exception is possibly desserts, which you may want to cook elsewhere for a while.

instant pot smart wifi review top down getty
Portland Press Herald/Getty Images

I am pressure cooking, but steam is leaking out

Is steam leaking out of the pressure valve, even when turned to the upper locked position? That’s a sign you need to clean out and reposition the valve. If this doesn’t work, you may need to replace the valve.

If steam is seeping out the sides, make sure the lid is properly locked for pressure cooking. If the lid seems to be fine, examine your sealing ring. A stretched or cracked ring should be replaced. If the ring has become dislodged, you can usually put it back into place without trouble. A loose ring can firm up if you put it in the freezer for a little while, but this will ultimately hasten the silicone decay, so you should plan on getting a new ring either way.

I can’t seal my Instant Pot lid

The Pot lid can be tricky to lock and unlock without a little practice. If you are new to your Instant Pot, try moving the lid back and forth from the locked position until you get the hang of it. If you know for sure that your lid isn’t locking properly, look for food blockages or a sign of a slipped sealing ring. The lid may also be damaged, but this is relatively rare—Instant Pot lids are very tough.

Instant Pot asparagus
Jenny McGrath/Digital Trends

I added liquid like I was told, but things went wrong

When an Instant Pot recipe calls for “liquid,” it’s being very specific, especially when it comes to pressure cooking. This needs to be a true liquid, usually water or chicken/vegetable stock, but some recipes call for anything from juice to beer. You cannot use a sauce or a liquid with any thickeners (such as starches), which won’t add enough of the needed pure liquid to the mix, which is needed to create steam. Doing so results in burnt foods and other problems. Pressure-cooked meals will require at least one cup of liquid to work properly. Instant Pots will often warn you if they sense a lack of liquid, but it pays to understand what the recipe requires. Add sauces and thickeners after the cooking is completed.

The Instant Pot display won’t turn on

This is probably a power issue. Make sure that the cord is securely plugged into the back of the Instant Pot. Double check that your power outlet is working (you can try switching to another outlet to find out). If this doesn’t work, contact Instant Pot support.

The pot is getting streaky or cloudy

The stainless steel inner pot will typically get streaky or cloudy after a first use. This is not uncommon, especially when pressure cooking or sautéing with oils or fatty foods. The discoloration will not harm or affect your cooking, although it may not easily come off when hand washing. The pot is dishwasher safe, so you can put it in the dishwasher to help remove these streaks if you really want to. It isn’t much to be concerned about though.

Mobile

It’s 2025. How has 5G changed our lives? We asked experts to predict the future

2025 is the year that mobile carriers say 5G goes mainstream. How will the technology change, revolutionize, or make obsolete the things we do today? We asked futurists to give us an idea of our future 5G connected world.
Gaming

Xbox's app lets you access your console while away from home. Here's how

Microsoft's Xbox allows you to access your profile information and launch media content directly from your mobile device. Check out our quick guide on how to connect your smartphone to an Xbox One.
Mobile

Rooting your Android device is risky. Do it right with our handy guide

Wondering whether to root your Android smartphone or stick with stock Android? Perhaps you’ve decided to do it and you just need to know how? Here, you'll find an explanation and a quick guide on how to root Android devices.
Smart Home

Hello Fresh vs. Blue Apron: Which service is better, cheaper, and tastier?

These days, you have several meal-delivery services to choose from if you don't have hours to slave over a hot stove. We compared two of the bigger competitors: Hello Fresh vs. Blue Apron.
Product Review

Frigidaire FGIP2468UD dishwasher review

This Frigidaire dishwasher has a lot of pros, including the ability to run quietly and impressive cleaning capabilities. But do they come at a price? Read our review to find out how it stacks up.
Product Review

You can’t ask for more in a budget robot vacuum with the Eufy RoboVac 15C MAX

If you're looking to get your first robot vacuum without breaking the bank, then the Eufy RoboVac 15C MAX is worth considering with its Wi-Fi connectivity, Google Assistant/Amazon Alexa integration, strong cleaning performance, and sleek…
Smart Home

Foxconn interns reportedly work long hours to produce Amazon Alexa products

A recent report from the Chinese Labor Watch said that student interns are forced to work long hours without rest in order to meet Amazon Echo production goals at the Foxconn factory in China.
Smart Home

New Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo models vacuum and mop with multi-floor mapping

Ecovacs Robotics launched two new robotic home floor care models. The Deebot Ozmo 920 and Deebot Ozmo 950 add new laser-based navigation and multi-floor mapping capabilities combine robotic vacuuming and mopping for total floor cleaning.
Deals

Locate a runaway pet with the Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker, now $64 on Amazon

A good way to monitor your pet’s movements is through a GPS tracker. A great option is the Whistle 3, which is available on Amazon for only $64 as an early Prime Day deal. It’s normally sold for $80, so you get $16 savings.
Buying Guides

Back to school smart home gadgets under $50 for your dorm

Today’s students are accustomed to a high-tech lifestyle, which they'll want to maintain when they start college. But they're also strapped for cash, so these back to school smart home gadgets under $50 for the dorm are perfect!
Smart Home

Google Assistant’s reminders will soon nag your significant other for you

Let Google take the heat for all that nagging: Google Assistant will soon allow you to assign reminders to others. The feature will roll out to Google Assistant-enabled phones, speakers, and displays over the next few weeks.
Smart Home

Startup Camect is on track to deliver a private, unified smart camera hub

It's not every day you run across a crowdfunded startup that has raised nearly three times its goal but startup Camect has done just that to fund the development of a secure smart camera hub expected to launch in 2020.
Smart Home

Smart thermostats explained: How they work and how they save you money

Thinking of buying a smart thermostat, but don't know exactly what you're looking for? We explain how smart thermostats work, the features they offer, and how they can save you money.
Smart Home

The best pet tech products on the market for dog and cat owners

Pet-centric tech has come a long way in the past decade. From self-cleaning litter boxes to DNA tests designed to trace your pup's ancestry through the ages, here is some of the best pet tech available.