When your Instant Pot Says Burn and you’re sure you did everything right, it can be scary and frustrating at the same time.
Imagine you’re just getting dinner ready for your guests who are about to arrive and suddenly get the instant pot burn message. Or maybe you’re trying to get dinner ready fast for your hungry family after a busy day and suddenly get that dreaded message. You’ve probably used up all the cooking ingredients and are now frustrated and wondering how to start all over again.
Well, I am here to ease your mind. If this is your first time getting hit with the burn message from your Instant Pot, don’t panic. This burn error message is actually more common than you think. A big majority of Instant Pot owners have reported the same so basically, you’re not alone.
Take a deep breath! I am here to help. In this article, you’re going to learn what the instant pot burn message actually means, what causes the burn code, how to fix the problem, and lastly, how to avoid encountering this issue in the future,
What Does the Instant Pot Burn Message Actually Mean?
Well, if you’ve just encountered the burn code on your pot, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your food is burnt and that now you’ll have to prepare dinner all over again.
The message means that there is an overheat error and is triggered when the pot detects higher temperature than normal at the bottom of the inner pot.
The instant pot burn message is actually a safety feature which is very important as it helps avoid the pressure cooker from burning your food when the inner pot becomes too hot.
So how does this error occur? Simply explained, Instant Pot has this built-in advanced burn-protection safety mechanism that prevents your delicious meals from getting burnt.
This safety mechanism is designed to detect high temperatures at the bottom of the inner pot (usually temperatures that go up 140° or 284 Fahrenheit). The mechanism instantly triggers the warning and immediately stops the instant pot from heating anymore.
Like I stated earlier, if the instant pot says burn, don’t freak out. Your food is perfectly safe! Usually, the food at the bottom layer of the inner pot may be getting a little bit dry or overcooked. Obviously, when this happens, the temperature may end up rising, thus triggering the warning.
If you have an older Instant Pot model, you might see an “Ovht” warning message on the display screen. For newer models, you’ll see a “Burn” message on the screen.
Now let’s move on to the next burning question:
Why Does my Instant Pot Say Burn?
There are tons of reasons why you’re getting the burn message from instant pot. I am going to list down and then discuss in detail some of the most common ones as well as the simplest fixes to avoid the issue next time. Here we go!
Some common reasons why you’re getting the burn message on your instant pot include:
- There is Not Enough Liquid in the Instant Pot
- Food/Liquid in Pot is Too Thick
- Adding Thickener Before the Pressure Cooking Cycle
- Recipe Contains Tomato Products or Certain Prepared Sauces
- Recipe Contains Starch Foods Like Rice and Pasta
- Pressure Cooking Cooking Cream or Milk Directly
- Steam Escaping via Sealing Ring
- Steam Escaping Via Venting Knob After Forgetting to Turn it Into Sealing Position
- Objects Stuck Under Inner Pot Above the Pot’s Heating Element
- Pot Maybe Possibly Faulty
Let’s discuss each one of them in detail:
1. Not Enough Liquid in the Pot
This is perhaps the biggest cause of a burn message on instant pot.
A pressure cooker needs an adequate amount of liquid (either pure water or broth) in order to generate enough steam and come to pressure.
When the amount of liquid in the pot is not enough, the pressure cooker is therefore unable to generate steam and thus causes the bottom temperature at the bottom of the instant pot to rise instantly.
When the bottom of the instant pot becomes too hot, the burn warning on the pot is instantly triggered.
Typically, Instant Pot requires a 1 cup of liquid. This is usually enough to generate enough steam for cooking various recipes. However, there are certain recipes or ingredients that may require more liquid- otherwise, a burn message is triggered.
For example, food recipes containing high amounts of starch can trigger the instant pot burn message. These may include rice and pasta. These foods typically absorb liquids fast and are generally sticky so you’re bound to get the warning if your recipe contains these two ingredients.
I recommend using proven instant pot recipes to ensure that 1 cup is
Another problem is that most recipes are created using the most popular instant pot size- the 6-quart port. So if you’re still going to add the same amount of liquid in a 6 quart port as you would an 8-quart port, you might end up getting the burn message.
If using an 8-quart instant pot, more liquid may be required. Be sure to check out recipes that use 8-quart pots or basically increase the amount of liquid in the bigger instant pot.
2. Food or Liquid in Pot is Too Thick
This is yet another common problem that often triggers the instant pot burn message.
Starchy foods like rice, oats, and pasta can become too thick when they come to a boil. This problem actually happens while using regular pots as well.
Likewise, Some thick sauces or tomato products may trigger a burn warning in the highly sensitive pressure cooking instant pot.
If the liquid is too thick, excessive heat ends up building at the bottom of the inner pot. Therefore, the cooker may not be able to generate enough steam, thus triggering the burn notice.
Make Sure There is Enough Thin Liquid in the Pot- Avoid adding thick cooking liquid or thick sauces especially when cooking high starch foods in this pressure cooker. If necessary, always add more thin liquid to the instant pot to avoid problematic thickness.
Layer Thick Sauces at the Top of Ingredients- Thick sauces and tomato products like tomato paste or tomato sauce tend to stick to the bottom of the instant pot. This obviously causes heat to build up at the bottom and your food may end up not cooking properly especially now that there isn’t enough steam being generated. The general rule of thumb when using instant pot is to always layer sauces and tomato products above the rest of the ingredients. Do not mix these with the other ingredients whatsoever.
Use the Pot in Pot Method- I recommend using the pot-in-pot method when cooking recipes containing high starch foods like pasta, oats, rice, and others. This method involves cooking the high starch foods separately with sauces, heavy cooking cream, and any tomato products to prevent them from sticking to the pot and triggering the instant pot burn message.
3. Adding the Thickening Agents Before the Pressure Cooking Cycle
Thickening agents like cornstarch, potato starch, arrowroot, and others are meant to make your soups or stews a little bit thicker and delicious of course. However, since they significantly reduce the amount of thin liquid in the instant pot, there is a likelihood that you’ll get a burn message after adding the thickener before the pressure cooking cycle.
Unless you’re using a really small amount of thickener, I recommend adding it after the set cooking time to prevent your food from possibly getting burnt.
4. Food Got Scorched at Bottom of Instant Pot During Sauté Mode
When sautéing using the Sautéing mode, small bits of food may get stuck at the inner pot and as a result get a little bit burnt. If not removed before pressure cooking, they end up becoming hotter and the pressure cooker’s heat sensors will instantly assume that they are burning. Thus, an instant pot burn message will be automatically displayed on the screen.
The best way to avoid the burn notice is by deglazing the pot right after sautéing and before pressure cooking.
Deglazing simply means adding some thin liquid like water, broth or cooking wine in the pot and scraping the small bits stuck to the bottom with either a spatula or scraper.
You certainly won’t get the burn message if you always deglaze the pot after sautéing. You can also try using a steamer basket to keep food off the bottom of the pot.
5. Pressure Cooking Cooking Cream or Milk Directly
A general rule of thumb is to never add milk or cream directly to the pot before pressure cooking. When boiled, milk leaves a thin layer behind. Dairy cooking cream is worse- it leaves a thick layer that may cause the bottom of the instant pot to become hotter, thus triggering the burning warning.
- Avoid adding milk or heavy cooking cream before closing that lid. Instead, add them right after pressure cooking and mix well with the rest of the ingredients
- Use the pot-in-pot method. Like I stated earlier, avoid cooking high starch foods together with thick sauces or heavy cooking cream to prevent both from sticking to the pot. With the pot-in-pot cooking method, simply add your starch or other food ingredients on the inner pot of the instant pot and then place a smaller stainless steel pot on top of the food and then pressure cook. Once done, you can mix them properly without any issues.
6. Steam Escaping via Sealing Ring
When the silicone sealing ring on the instant pot lid is not properly installed, steam may escape when the pressure cooking mode is on.
To function properly, a pressure cooker must be properly sealed to prevent steam from escaping.
Any issue with the sealing ring will cause a lot of cooking steam to escape so basically, there won’t be enough liquid in the pot. Without any liquid, the food inside may start to get dry and this might trigger the burn warning.
Common causes of steam escaping through the sealing ring include a broken or damaged ring, lid not properly closed, food debris stuck on the sealing ring, thus preventing the ring from closing properly, and you might have forgotten to install the sealing ring back after cleaning.
- If the sealing ring is old, damaged, or broken, consider getting a replacement
- Always ensure that the sealing ring is properly installed before cooking
- Make sure that all the components of the instant pot are present, including the sealing ring
- Clean the lid properly and remove any food debris stuck on around the ring
7. Steam Escaping Via Venting Knob After Forgetting to Turn it Into Sealing Position
Instant Pot has a steam release and seal knob that releases and seals in the steam when pressure cooking.
In the event you forget to seal the hole with the knob, all the steam from the pot will escape and this means one thing- the food will start to burn since there is not enough liquid in the pot.
The burn instant pot message will instantly appear as a warning and will automatically stop the instant pot from heating any longer.
Every time you start pressure cooking, always turn the venting knob into the sealing position. This will ensure that no steam is lost and that you don’t risk burning the meal you worked so hard to prepare.
8. Objects Stuck Under Inner Pot Above the Pot’s Heating Element
Objects getting stuck in the heating element of Instant Pots is more common than you think.
We are talking about food crumbs, liquids, and other foreign objects finding their way into the heating element below the inner pot without your knowledge.
When you start cooking, these objects will obviously start to burn especially since they are right at the main heat source.
Immediately the pressure cooker detects an increase in temperature, it will trigger the burn notice.
While it’s hard to prevent food, liquids, and other objects from finding their way to the heating element, I highly recommend checking out that area and wiping off any food particles with a dry cloth before you start to cook. Ensure the pot is not turned on and gently remove the inner pot for cleaning.
9. The Pot May Be Faulty
If you’ve followed all the rules mentioned above but are still getting the instant pot burn message, there is a likelihood that it’s actually faulty.
Please keep in mind that this is not something that happens all the time. If you’re constantly experiencing it, it’s probably not your fault. The unit might be faulty.
Get in touch with Instant Pot’s customer service. If the fixes they provide fail to work, they may request you to return it and exchange it for you.
What to Do When Instant Pot Says Burn?
We’ve discussed all the possible reasons why your pot is giving the burn message. The question we haven’t answered is, “what do I do when my instant pot says burn.?
Well, when that happens, follow these steps:
- Release the pressure from the pot by turning the venting knob right
- After all the steam has been released, gently open the lid
- Use a spoon to check for burnt food at the bottom of the pot (often, the burn message doesn’t mean your food is burning. However, there may be instances where a little burning may have occurred especially if the food or liquid is super thick). If the bottom food is burnt, scrape the bottom with a spatula
- Next, check if there are some food crumbs stuck on the heating element. If there are, remove them by wiping the element with a dry cloth
- Confirm that every other feature is working or properly set. These include the venting knob and sealing ring
- If everything seems fine, restart the cooking process and add more liquid if necessary
Instant Pot Burn Message Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can You Override Burn on Instant Pot?
Usually, when the pot gives you a burn message, cooking stops immediately. During this time, the instant pot cools off for some minutes and then restarts the pressure cooking cycle again.
This simply means that the pressure cooking cycle will still complete after the burn error. The burn message doesn’t always mean your food is burning so there is nothing to worry about.
So when the instant pot stops cooking after the burn error message and then turns on after a few minutes, just let it continue cooking. You’ll probably have some food stuck at the bottom but everything should just be fine.
In the worse scenario, you may need to restart the cooking process but this is rare.
How Do I Keep the Bottom of My Pressure Cooker from Burning?
Basically, all you need to prevent this is follow the instructions I’ve given above. There are so many reasons why food may start burning in your pot so be sure to check out the suggestions above.
Instant Pot Says Burn – Bottom Line
The instant pot burn message can be scary especially if you’re using instant pot for the first time. But as explained above, don’t freak out. Just make sure that you’re doing everything right and follow the recommendations above. Good luck!
Agnes is a kitchen and cooking enthusiast as well as a fitness fanatic. She loves to help readers upgrade and furnish their kitchen with the best available products! She is the primary writer behind SmartKitchenImprovement.com and hopes to share little tidbits of knowledge she’s picked up over her years as a mom and wife.