How To Make Your Instant Pot Pressurize Faster!

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Are you wondering if you’ve made a mistake in purchasing that Instant Pot that’s taking up a prime spot of real estate on your counter? If you’re second-guessing that decision read on to learn how you will find the Instant Pot to be an essential and speedy tool when you’re cooking for your family every day.  #Instant Pot #PressureCooker #ElectricPressureCooker

Howdy! Chef Alli here. Let’s Get You Cookin’!

At first, I was wondering if I’d made a big mistake in my purchase of this handy-dandy appliance called an Instant Pot…..oh no!

Especially since everybody and their brother in the entire world swore this appliance saved tons of time and was so so easy to use. What the heck??

Fast forward 5 years.  I’ve got this Instant Pot speed-cooking thing totally figured out and I can solidly swear it’s saves me TONS of meal prep time. I could not live without this small appliance work-horse in my life.

There is no doubt – the Instant Pot can save you tons of time…..But not if you can’t get the dang thing to PRESSURIZE!

Instant Pot sitting on the counter in the background with a bowl of soup in the foreground with crackers.
Here Are My Top 9 Tips for Getting Your Instant Pot to Come up to Pressure a Whole Lot Quicker:

  • Before You Ever Try to Pressurize Any FOODS in Your Instant Pot, Cook Yo-Self Some WATER.

This may sound odd, but here’s HOW you do it: Place 1 cup of water into the Instant Pot; lock the lid into place. Using the high pressure setting choose 2 minutes of time.

As the water in your pot heats up, you’ll begin to see steam escaping from the vent/valve that’s towards the back of the Instant Pot. This is a sign that things inside are beginning to take off – your liquid is beginning to circulate to make steam!

All of a sudden, the Instant Pot will come fully up to pressure, the valve stem will raise up, and the steam will stop escaping – your pot is pressurized. Sweet!

Here’s WHY you do it: Doing this first step with a batch of water let’s you see how your pot operates, taking a lot of the fear out of using your pot, AND, you don’t have any ingredients ($$$) at risk of burning or being ruined.

  • Don’t Fill Your Instant Pot with Ice Cold Ingredients As You Prepare to Make a Meal.

When you pop super chilled ingredients into an Instant Pot and fill it full (say it’s a big hunk of meat or a big batch of soup/chowder/stew) that’a a guarantee that it’s going to take a long time for your pot to get those ingredients hot and be able to come up to pressure.

Instead, remove your ingredients from refrigeration to the counter for a bit before beginning the cooking process – sitting at room temperature really helps remove the chill so they get hot quicker inside your pot.

  • Be Sure That the Liquid Inside is Boiling Before You Try to Pressurize Your Instant Pot. This One, Single Step Makes a Huge Difference! 

If you really want things to get moving in your pot so it can pressurize very quickly, use the sauté setting to bring the liquids in the bottom of your pot to a boil.  Once they are boiling, turn off the saute setting, locking the lid into place.  You are not ready to begin the process of pressurizing the pot to cook your ingredients. Choose high pressure, then the time you want the ingredients to cook, bringing the Instant Pot to full pressure.  Here’s where you’ll see that your pot will pressurize a whole lot faster.

IAn open Instant Pot showing eggs sitting on a trivet that's in the bottom of the pot.

  • Check Out the Liquid Level In The Bottom of Your Pot. No Liquid in the Pot Means No Pressurizing! 

In order for your Instant Pot to build pressure quickly, you have got to have liquid covering the bottom of your pot.

You are likely asking “How MUCH liquid do I need in the bottom of my pot??” The rule of thumb that I use is this:  Make sure the bottom of the pot is covered with liquid (broth, wine, juice, water) and that you cannot see any part of the bottom that’s not covered with liquid; this is usually 1 – 2 cups, depending on what size Instant Pot you are using!

The only time that you need more liquid inside your Instant Pot to cook ingredients is when you are cooking pastas, beans, or grains.  In this case, you will need to cover these ingredients by 1″ of liquid, a considerable amount more than the 1-2 cups needed to just cover the bottom of your pot.

Remember that all Instant Pots (and all electric pressure cookers, no matter the brand) absolutely MUST HAVE liquid inside in order for them to work properly. This is an absolute.

Why IS that??  Well, LIQUID is what CIRCULATES inside of the pot, creating STEAM that makes the PRESSURE. Without liquid, there’s absolutely no way an Instant Pot (or any brand of electric pressure cooker) can pressurize. It’s a fact, Jack.

  • Check out Food Level at the Top of Your Pot. Is the Pot Past 2/3 Full? 

Are you making soup, stew or chowder? Make certain your Instant Pot isn’t overfilled.  Never fill your Instant Pot more than two-thirds full with liquids if you want it to pressurize. When the Instant Pot is too full, the liquids inside can’t circulate properly to pressurize the pot.

  • Don’t Add Any Thickeners to The Liquid in Your Instant Pot Until AFTER the Instant Pot Has Pressurized and Your Ingredients Have Cooked.

Let’s say you’ve cooked meatballs in your Instant Pot and they are sitting in a nicely thickened sauce.  You lock the Instant Pot lid into place, program in the time and oh no, the pot won’t pressurize. This is because a nice thick sauce like that can’t circulate as needed, keeping your Instant Pot from pressurizing .

To remedy this situation, add enough broth to the thickened sauce you’ve got inside your Instant Pot, thinning it to a very fluid state.  Program your pot, then watch to see how it can now pressurize, cooking the ingredients inside. When the timer sounds, perform a quick release of the pressure then carefully remove the Instant Pot lid.

Next, remove all the meatballs from the pot so you can thicken your sauce once again. Combine equal parts of water and cornstarch (say 1-2 Tbs. of each) to make a slurry.  Using the saute setting again, add the slurry, a little at a time, constantly whisking the sauce until it’s thickened again.

Keep in mind that soups must also be thickened AFTER they have pressurized and cooked since thick soups can’t circulate to pressurize the pot, either.

Valve on the top of an Instant Pot lid

  • Make Certain the Valve On Your Instant Pot is Set to the Sealing Position and Is Free of Debris. 

If pressurizing your pot seem to be taking an super long time, it could be possible you may have forgotten to seal the valve. Once you’re chosen the desired amount of cooking time (and some Instant Pots require you to then push START), immediately check to be sure the valve is set to the sealing position, not the venting position.

You may also want to look at the under side of the lid where you’ll see the round block shield (it’s the round metal piece with small holes in it) to be sure none of those little holes are plugged and that everything beneath the shield is clean.

And, occasionally, even when your valve is set to the sealing position, it may hesitate to fully pressurize just because the valve is off kilter somehow.  Touch the side of the valve; often this little incentive will encourage the vale to settle down and get to business, coming up to pressure quickly. I have no answer as to why this happens occasionally, but it does – I’ve experienced it.

  • Check Out the Silicone Sealing Ring That’s Inside the Lid of Your Instant Pot Before You Try to Pressurize.  Be Sure it’s Securely and Snugly in Place.  

Invert your Instant Pot lid.  Is the sealing ring securely inside the outer edge of your lid where it should be when you’re ready to pressurize?  Also, this is a good time to inspect your silicone ring. Be sure there is no food inside the inner ridge; any kind of food or grease that happens to adhere itself (even just a little bit!) to the sealing ring on the inside or outside can keep your pot from pressurizing.

Check your sealing ring to be sure it’s not damaged, torn or nicked in any way.  Also, if you look at your sealing ring and notice that it has really yellowed in color due to use, it’s probably time to replace that guy.  As a silicone sealing ring yellows from use, it also softens and this can cause it to become very limp, instead of fitting tightly into the lid around the outer edge.

  • Allow Yourself a Few Minutes to Grab a Meal-Time Head Start with Your Pot.

Yes, the reality of cooking with an Instant Pot is that IT’S NOT MAGIC. (Dang it!)

Like any type of cooking, there has to be some preheating involved.  Just like we don’t put a pizza or a pot pie into an ice cold oven, or ground beef into to a frigid skillet, we can’t expect our Instant Pot to pressurize immediately without a bit of preheating time. Especially when you are first learning how to use your pot, allowing a bit of a meal-time head start for cooking in your pot is essential to your success.

When the family is tired and hungry, restlessly waiting for you to serve them dinner, giving yourself the advantage of a head start is invaluable.

Other Instant Pot Info You Will Find Helpful:

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Let’s Get You Cookin’,
Chef Alli




Chef Alli

Chef Alli is a home-grown Kansas girl on a mission to strengthen families through enabling kitchen confidence, educating the family cook, and encouraging better food relationships. She believes with her whole heart that time spent with our loved ones and our overall quality of life is greatly enhanced by nutritious food made at home with simple, wholesome ingredients. She loves being able to connect and share this passion with others through her website, her social media presence, and her coveted speaking engagements.

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