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Why Does My Instant Pot Say Burn? Today on the podcast, I wanted to talk about one of the most important topics, that is the instant pot burn error and what do when your pressure cooker says burn and how to prevent it in the future.

This instant pot Q&A is also featured in the Magic With Gadgets Podcast. Simply search for Magic With Gadgets on your preferred podcast player, then scroll to episode 23 of season 2 to access this awesome episode.

why does my instant pot say burn
Why Does My Instant Pot Say Burn
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Instant Pot Food Burn

The instant pot, whilst it is amazing and I love it, can create a lot of stress when you first get one. You are this instant pot beginner not knowing its ups and downs and getting really frustrated when things go wrong.

I know that because I have been there.

Long before being instant pot experts and sharing 300+ instant pot beginner recipes and having a best selling instant pot ebook, we were new too.

We had this brand new instant pot and like many others experienced the now famous instant pot burn message.

This instant pot burn message came up in the middle of making our first ever attempt at instant pot mac and cheese. We were following a recipe and obviously the recipe owner hadn’t properly tested it and there was not enough liquid, dairy that shouldn’t have been used, the bottom of the instant pot burnt and that burn notice buzzed at us before the instant pot shut off.

That was back in 2016 and there was not much information about the instant pot burn error, why it happens or what to do to prevent it, so we had a steep learning curve and now we have not had the instant pot food burn message for at least 2 years and can count on our hand all the times it has happened.

Today on the podcast, I want to run through the instant pot keeps saying burn warning, so that it doesn’t happen to you.


What Does Burn Mean On Instant Pot?

In a nutshell, the instant pot says burn, means that the clever and intelligent instant pot pressure cooker is giving you a warning.

It is telling you that the bottom of the instant pot inner pot is getting WAY TOO HOT and you need to stop it getting hot asap.

The instant pot doesn’t want you ruining your great inner pot and giving you an opportunity to fix it before it is too late.

Why Does My Instapot Say Burn?

The instant pot burn can happen when you sauté some onion with oil and then let’s say you forget to cancel sauté and then leave the instant pot sat there whilst you prep the rest of your instant pot recipe. It has no oil as the oil has gone and the onion is stuck to the bottom. Though from experience this can happen most when sauteing garlic or ginger, rather than the onion.

Or you are cooking something and as its going to pressure you have not added enough liquid. For example, when I was recipe testing our instant pot green lentil curry, I found that I didn’t get the ratio right and the lentils had soaked up the liquid before it went to pressure. This resulted in the liquid being gone and the bottom getting stuck.

Another reason is that your liquid to take it to pressure is too thick. This means that you don’t have the right liquid to go to pressure and your food ends up over boiled rather than pressure cooked.

Using dairy too soon can cause this too. That is why I recommend in recipes such as our Ninja Foodi mac and cheese that you add the dairy after pressure cooking. Though in some recipes because the dairy is not a key ingredient you are okay adding it earlier. Such as the butter in our instant pot cabbage.

This can also happen if you need a new sealing ring. An old sealing ring will struggle to go to pressure and result in this problem.

What To Do When Instant Pot Says Burn

When you get the instant pot burn food message its important to act straight away to avoid your inner pot from being damaged.

  1. Press cancel on your instant pot. You want to stop the cooking immediately. Then proceed to find out what is wrong before carrying on with the recipe.
  2. Release pressure on your instant pot. If your instant pot was already in sealing position when it happened, you want to press for venting and release any pressure. But 9 times out of 10 it will have done the burn warning because it failed to go to pressure.
  3. Remove the lid and check. If its burning because it failed to go to pressure, then you want to scrape anything that is stuck to the bottom, stir, remove burnt bits, and then add enough liquid to go to pressure. Then add the lid and carry on with the recipe.
  4. Soak the instant pot. When you are done cooking, remember to soak the instant pot so that you can give the inner pot a good clean before a future recipe.

How To Prevent Burn On Instant Pot?

To prevent the burn on the instant pot there are few steps you can take and ones we have taken ourselves to solve the problem.

Deglaze – Its important that after sauteing with the instant pot, that you deglaze the instant pot. This involves scraping anything stuck to the bottom and adding liquid before cooking. Please read our how to deglaze the instant pot guide.

Liquid – If you don’t add enough liquid to the instant pot, it will fail to go to pressure and burn. Always follow the liquid ratio correctly and remember when making things like instant pot butternut squash soup (which features red lentils) that you add extra because lentils require MORE.

Thick – Thick sauces such as a creamy pasta sauce are too thick for the instant pot to go to pressure with. Its best to add these thick sauces afterwards and no before pressure cooking.

Dairy – Pressure cookers don’t work well with dairy. I recommend that if your recipe calls for a lot of dairy that you add it afterwards. Like we do with our Instant Pot Tiktok pasta.

Layer – If you are using ingredients that will stick. Then add the ingredients in a specific order to stop them sticking. For example, in our instant pot spaghetti and frozen meatballs we add the frozen meatballs first. We then don’t need to deglaze the pot because of the frozen meatballs and the spaghetti doesn’t have a chance of sticking to the pot.

Steamer – I also love to use this steamer basket and it allows me to keep sticky food above the liquid and then it gives me better control. Or you could use your trivet and then add a cake pan and then the sticky food is in the cake pan and not local to the inner pot. Result = thick sauce without a burn warning!

How To Clean Burnt Instant Pot?

The best solution you have with your burnt instant pot is some hot soapy water and doing it the old school way, like you would do if you were cleaning your roasting pan after a Sunday roast.

Start first by running some soapy water and adding it to the instant pot and then use your silicone spatula to scrape off any burnt bits that come away freely without a deep soak.

Then allow it to soak for a couple of hours and then scrape again and remove anything you can.

Now inspect your instant pot. It might be okay now with just a wipe clean or it might need to soak overnight like you would with a roasting pan.

This is also why I recommend that you have a 2nd inner pot. Then if you don’t burn something or want to cook instant pot recipes straight after each other it makes the process much quicker and effortless.

And that is what I recommend you do next time you get the instant pot burn message and how you can deal with it and then prevent it from happening in the future. Of course, use some common sense, follow instant pot recipes to the letter and be cautious when adding in thick liquids to the instant pot.

Did You Know We Have A Podcast?

We started the Magic With Gadgets podcast in the January of 2021 as a way to offer a different way to enjoy Recipe This. It focuses on cooking with kitchen gadgets. You can find out more about our podcast here.

With twice weekly episodes through September to December. This is episode 23 of the second season and you have the choice between reading this post, listening to the podcast or both.

If you would like to stay in the loop with our podcast, I recommend you subscribe below:

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About Sam & Dom

Hi! I am Sam and along with my chef hubby Dom we love sharing with you easy everyday recipes using kitchen gadgets. We are also the authors of The Complete Air Fryer Cookbook, an amazing air fryer cookbook filled with 140+ everyday air fryer recipes.

Beyond the air fryer we also love the instant pot, slow cooker, soup maker, ninja foodi, pie marker and several other kitchen gadgets.

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