Top 10Common Newbie Mistakes


Winging It

Not all pressure cookers are the same. The user manual is your guide and friend. It will provide everything you need to confidently cook with your Instant Pot—read it cover to cover!


Placing the cooker on a stovetop… and turning it on

Of course accidents happen, but some accidents are totally preventable! The Instant Pot is designed for countertop use only, so where you choose to position your cooker is important. To prevent damage to your cooker, keep it away from external heat sources such as heated ovens, stovetops and gas ranges.


Not checking the detachable power cord

Has your display ever gone dark?

You may be experiencing a loose connection! Check to see if the power cord on your Instant Pot is detachable. If it is, detach the power cord from the cooker base socket and then reattach it, ensuring the connection to the base is


Forgetting the sealing ring

The silicone sealing ring is a key player in pressure cooking. Forgetting the sealing ring may result in a ruined meal and a wet countertop, so it’s important to make sure it’s installed and well seated before cooking!


Expecting “instant” results

While pressure cooking is the fastest way to get delicious, nutrient rich food from fridge (or freezer) to table, the Instant Pot must go through 3 cooking stages: pre-heating, the cook cycle, and depressurization.

The biggest difference between traditional cooking and cooking Instant Pot style is that the automated cooker does not need your constant attention, and the quality of that time saved is immeasurable.

Go ahead and hang out with your kids, do some gardening—start that book you’ve been thinking about. You’ll find that dinner is ready sooner than you think!


Choosing the wrong cuts for pressure cooking

Pressure cookers operate at higher-than-boiling temperatures, quickly breaking down tough muscle fibers and intramuscular fats. To get the juiciest, most tender results, it’s important to choose the right cut.
Since the Instant Pot really flexes its muscle with tough cuts, try a flank, shank or chuck roast as your main ingredient. Craving chicken tenders or a T-bone steak? No problem—save tender, quick-cooking cuts for the Sauté Program.


Adding too much liquid

As there is minimal evaporation when pressure cooking, too much liquid in the cooker can turn your dish from scrumptious to soggy. We highly recommend following your recipe’s suggested liquid levels. As a general rule, using the minimum
amount required is the best way to get flavorful results.



Pressure cookers cook fast, so if you’re not used to the timing it’s easy to overdo it. If you don’t want to end up with hot mush, follow your recipe’s cooking instructions, or use our helpful Cooking Time Tables to establish a cook time based on the main ingredient in your dish.


Wrong pressure release method

Do I QR or NR?

Using the right venting method can have just as much impact on your meal as the cooking itself. Ideally you will be able to follow your recipe’s venting instructions, however as not all recipes are created equal, refer to this “How To” on venting methods.


Adding thickeners too early

With the colder months upon us, the aroma from hearty stews and rich chilies will soon be filling the air. Most stew recipes use thickening agents like flour or cornstarch to fill out the dish. Because thickeners are inclined to sink to the bottom of the inner pot, they tend to block heat dissipation and can even cause scorching. To get around this, add thickening agents after pressure cooking—if they need heat to incorporate, turn Sauté on for a few minutes!

29 replies
  1. Pappy
    Pappy says:

    I just received my new IP DUO80 8Qt cooker.

    The User Manual refers to an “Anti-Block” Shield. All that I can see on the underside of the top is the pressure release float valve and, next to it, a small, metal cover with some holes. The UM states that the shield can be removed by pushing it to the side and lifting. That seems to suggest that the shield is plastic. Am I missing this part?

    Is the cord removable?

    Some of the youtube recipes show a manual button that can be used to set the time. There is no manual button on this model. Will the “steam” button work as a manual button? Is there another way to set the time?

    Thank you.

    • Instant Pot
      Instant Pot says:

      Hi Pappy,

      The Anti-Block Shield is a metal piece. It is the piece you described as “metal cover with some holes”. The cord is hardwired and not removable on our 8 Quart models. For manually inputting the desired time and pressure level use the Pressure Cook program. Steam is meant to only steam and requires the use of a steam rack as it’s heating intensity is 100% and food may burn if it is in direct contact to the bottom of the inner pot.

  2. Russell
    Russell says:

    Why would a recipe, such as the one on page 117 in the “I love my insant pot recipe book” instruct u to dust the chicken with flour prior to sauteing. With no warning of the “burn” factor. I got the display of “burn”. Had no idea what this was. Had to spend time researching, meanwhile the meal is still cooking messing up the cooking times and delaying dinner. I think it would help if either a recipe warns u of.this. or if it is outlined in the users manual. It was very frustrating.

    • Instant Pot
      Instant Pot says:

      Hi Russel,

      I cannot specify on the exacts of the recipe as it was created by the Author of I love my instant pot recipe book, but after sauteeing ensure to deglaze the bottom of the inner pot to ensure there is no food stuck/browned. If there are stuck of food bits on the bottom of the inner pot it will cause heating discrepancy and the unit will display burn and turn down heat intensity to prevent your food from burning.

      “Burn” error is highlighted in the troubleshooting section of the manual and on our website.

    • Instant Pot
      Instant Pot says:

      Hi Nichelle,

      By default, the Smart Cooking Programs switch to automatic keep warm after cooking is complete.

      If your unit doesnt automatically switch to keep warm, it may have been shut off in the past, since Instant Pots programs are smart and remembers your last input for that program. Depending on the model of your Instant Pot Multi-Use Pressure Cooker there are different ways to turn on/off automatic keep warm. If you have a button interface like the DUo or Duo Plus simply press the desire smart cooking program twice and you will see the keep warm led indicator turn on for automatic keep warm and off for no automatic keep warm.

  3. Lynn Neal
    Lynn Neal says:

    first time using my instant pot – running it thru initial test and C6L code displays. I can’t do anything. trouble shooting says possible low pressure sensor – do i need to return it? I am ready to make a meal tonight and tomorrow night and can’t. totally bummed

    • Instant Pot
      Instant Pot says:

      Hi Lynn,

      We are sorry to hear that your Instant Pot Multi-Use Pressure Cooker displayed a C6L Error during the initial test. The C6L indicates your unit is experiencing an issue with its low-pressure sensor. Please reach out to our Customer Care Team.

    • Instant Pot
      Instant Pot says:

      Hi Emma,

      Typically the cooking time is not altered by an increase or decrease to the amount inside the inner pot. The difference would be the time it takes to come to pressure, less amount will pressurize faster than a large amount in the inner pot. The only time that you will need to adjust the cooking time is with thicker or thinner cuts of meat or vegetables than a recipe states. This is because the thickness alters the cooking time.

    • Instant Pot
      Instant Pot says:

      Hi Karen,

      All models are able to cook poultry, even if they do not have a specific poultry button. There are some models that have a specific poultry program that makes cooking poultry easy with a push of a button.

      Chris W,

  4. Rich McKay
    Rich McKay says:

    I am curious as to why in the recipe booklet instructions some meats list a cooking time of minutes / pound (eg. Pork Loin Roast, 20 min/lb) while others simply list a time range (eg. Pork Ribs, 15-20 minutes). Don’t quantities or weight matter with these items?

    • Instant Pot
      Instant Pot says:

      Hi Rich,

      That is a great question.

      Pressure cooking times for meats are based on the cut and thickness rather than the weight. Ribs only minimally vary in thickness that is why it is a range 15 -20, while roast vary greatly in thickness based on their size and is why it is 20 mins per pound.

  5. Clara
    Clara says:

    Why can’t I program my new Viva to 4 minutes for the rice? It only give me choices 8, 10 & 12 minutes. I tried to put it on 8 minutes but it went to AUTO instead and automatically changed to 12 minutes after it reached pressure. What am I doing wrong?

    • Instant Pot
      Instant Pot says:

      Hi Kathy,

      Yes, you can cook frozen meat in an Instant Pot Multi-Use Pressure Cooker. We have all at one time forgotten to defrost the meat the night before, now, that is an issue of the past. The only difference is you will have to increase the cooking time up to 50% more and it will take longer to pressurize due to the cold ingredients.

  6. caren
    caren says:

    I’m confused w reading the display. four spaces left to right…number 4 on the far right doesn’t light up. the three position seems to be the minute 1-9. two position being the 10 etc. why doesn’t the space to the far right work,? Seemsfor ten minutes it should read xx10. mine reads x10x. Is thus correct?

    • Instant Pot
      Instant Pot says:

      Hi Karen,

      It depends on the model of your Instant Pot Multi-Use Pressure Cooker. From your description that would be correct for either a Duo or Lux models, the cooking timer appears in the middle. The all should light up when it goes into automatic keep warm at the end of a cooking cycle.

      If the LED doesn’t light up at all even when on automatic keep warm, please reach out to our Customer Care Team.

  7. Carla Thomas
    Carla Thomas says:

    I’m trying to help my elderly neighbor to learn how to use her instapot. She said she has used it once or twice before but it just kept saying “burn”. I noticed there is a black plastic piece on the outside bottom of the inner pot that looks partially melted. What is this piece? How is it supposed to work? Can I buy a new one?

    • Chris Wrinn
      Chris Wrinn says:

      Hi Rob,

      Instant Pot Pressure Multicookers are designed with Overheat (Burn) Protection.

      – Overheating may occur if:
      • After Sautéing, inner pot has not been deglazed— food is stuck to the bottom
      • The pressure cooker is being operated without sufficient cooking liquid
      • The inner pot is not making full contact with the heating element
      • The inner pot encounters a heat distribution issue, such as when starch accumulates on the bottom of the inner pot.

      When the Overheat (Burn) Protection engages, the cooker will reduce the risk of burning food by lowering the heat output.

      To correct the burn error, turn the cooker OFF, release pressure according to the recipe, and inspect the bottom of the inner pot. If the error persists reach out to our Customer Care Team.

      Check out our troubleshooting section
      Join our community as well to get answers to any Instant Pot question from users of all skill levels.

      Chris W,


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