8 Instant Pot Burn Mistakes (And Fixes) You Should Know

The “burn” sign on in any electronic appliance is perhaps a cause for worry. You may think it is fire and end up throwing it out the window. However, throwing the appliance away is not the right thing to do in such situations. So if you see the “burn” warning pop up on your instapot, don’t worry. It will most probably be a common problem for which there’s an easy solution. In this article, we’ll look at the most common reasons of why your instant pot keeps saying burn.

Instant Pot is a wonderful kitchen appliance. The different Instant Pot models come with lots of great features and built-in programs. But before taking full advantage of these handy cookers, you need to understand the DOs and DONTs. The Instant Pot burn sign is a common one.

What Does the “Burn” Warning Sign Mean?

The first thing you should know is that when the Burn sign on your instant pot is on, it means that your food is burning. It can be due to several reasons and most of the time it happens because of our own carelessness or mistakes. For example, adding thick tomato sauces in the instant pot can often cause its bottom to overheat. So if someone adds tomato paste or sauces in the pot, the “burn” message will switch on after some time when the bottom will begin overheating. The “burn” message means that the heated stainless steel insert at instant pot’s bottom has turned off, preventing your food as well as appliance from further damage.

What to Do When the Burn Sign Switches On?

Once the burn sign on your instant pot comes on, the first thing you have to do is press the “cancel” button and then switch the pot to the “venting mode” so that the pressure in it is released. When you open the pot, check that there’s no burned food sticking at the bottom of the inner pot which caused the instant pot to overheat. Just scrape the pot’s bottom with a wooden spoon to take out any burnt food pieces, but make sure that the pot completely clean and free of debris before you use it again.

In case there is no burnt food stuck in the pot, then probably the sauce you added in your dish is too thick. Instant pot needs a dilute sauce to build pressure. If sauce is the reason, then the solution is easy. All you have to do is add more water in the pot and stir it. Once the pot has completely cooled down, you can start cooking again.

As mentioned above, most of the time the burn sign turns on due to our own mistakes, which can be easily avoided. But to avoid, first you need to know what those mistakes are. So let’s see why you get the instant pot burn message and how you can avoid this in the future.

8 Common Instant Pot Burn Mistakes

1) Insufficient Liquid in the Pot

The most common reason for the burn warning message is insufficient water or liquid in the pot to begin with. You need to add at least once cup of liquid in an instant pot before you start cooking. The minimum amount, however, may vary across different models and sizes. So make sure you consult the user manual for the required amount of water before you start. Also, if you are new to instant pots or pressure cooking, then perhaps you should stay on the safe side and start your culinary journey preparing meals that have good amount of liquid in them. This will not only build up your confidence but also help you estimate the amount of water lost in the cooking process.

2) Starchy Ingredients

Starchy food like rice and pasta can cause the burn message to pop up as they can stick to the pot’s bottom.  The same applies to thick sauces such as tomato paste. The heating element in pot’s bottom causes the sugars in tomato sauces to caramelize and burn. These kinds of foods and sauces often get stuck to the bottom, so the solution is to layer the ingredients. Put you veggies or broth in the pot first and then add in the starchy good over it. And don’t stir the ingredients, just push them down in the pot.

3) Not Deglazing the Base after Sautéing

This is another common mistake people make that can lead to a burn message. Usually, when you sauté small amounts of food gets stuck at the inner pot’s bottom. The mistake most of us make is that we straight switch to the pressure cooking program without deglazing the pot’s base. For deglazing, all you need to do is add some hot water onto the base and scrape it clean. This will not only prevent your food from burning but will also add to its taste.

4) Not Turning the Steam Release Valve to Sealing Position

If the venting valve is not turned to the sealing position, the steam in the pot will keep coming out from it. Leaving the valve open will eventually lead to complete loss of liquid and burn warning. It mostly depends on the instant pot model you have, but for most users who have Instant Pot Lux or Duo, you may need to see if the “knob” isn’t stuck in the open position. The instant pot Ultra comes with a self-sealing mechanism, so you usually don’t have to face this issue with it. Although its valve can also get stuck, but the chances are rare.

5) Damaged or Worn Out Sealing Ring

The silicone sealing ring of the instant pot can wear out over time. If your instant pot’s sealing ring is old or damaged, the steam will keep leaking through it as it won’t be tight enough. If this happens, the pot will have trouble coming to the required pressure and may cause the burn error to pop up. The solution to this problem is very easy: just buy a new sealing ring. It’s also possible that you may not have placed the ring back properly after washing it. Sometimes, users don’t place the ring back at all. They remove it for cleaning and then forget to put it back. So make it a habit for you begin cooking to make sure that the ring is placed back properly all the way around the pot’s lid.

6) Extremely Hot Instant Pot After Sautéing

When you sauté onions or meat, the inner pot becomes extremely hot and may increase the chances of instant pot burn error.  You can reduce this risk by letting it cool down completely or at least a bit before you begin the pressure cooking phase.  People often switch quickly from sautéing to pressure-cooking, which is wrong. If you let the pot cool first, you’ll see less burn error messages.

7) Adding Ground Meat Without Pre-Cooking

Adding a few pieces of meat won’t cause you any trouble, but adding a blob of ground meat without pre-cooking it can. It will stick to the bottom of the pot and start burning. And the result will be a burn error message popping up. So to avoid this issue, the best thing you can do is pre-cook your ground meat before adding it in the instant pot.

8) Using Recipes that are For a Different Instant Pot Size

As you already know, not everybody has the same instant pot size. However, this doesn’t stop people from following recipes regardless of what size of instant pot they are for. For example, if the recipe is for a 3-quart instant pot but you have a 6-quart, you may not add enough liquid in it. You will need to compensate the amount of liquid and other ingredients for each recipe if it is not for the same size of instant pot that you have.

And that is why your Instant Pot keeps saying BURN

So now that you know what mistakes usually lead to burn errors and how you can avoid them, chances are that you won’t see the instant pot burn sign on again. However, if you still see those messages popping up even after following the directions laid out above, then there may be a problem with your instant pot. In this case, the best thing you can do is contact the Instant Pot support team. They’re highly efficient and would help you solve any issue that you have.


11 thoughts on “8 Instant Pot Burn Mistakes (And Fixes) You Should Know”

  1. my instant kept saying burn and i had no clue to how to fix it. i’ve realized why it was doing that after reading this article. thanks for the info.

  2. you’re damn right about the thick tomato sauces. had the whole burn message thing last week due to that. I wasn’t sure what exactly had caused it but now i know.

  3. the burn message on my instant pot was driving me nuts and i wasn’t sure as to what exactly was causing it. i had checked it again and again but everything seemed fine. after reading this, i went ahead and carefully checked the sealing ring and it was indeed a bit worn out. had the ring replaced and never saw that dreaded burn error again.

  4. This is very helpful thank you. I was facing the burn message on my instant pot and after going through this article, i found the cause. thanks again. i’ll be reading your posts more often.

  5. Thanks for sharing this useful information! Will keep it in mind. And you’re very right. We usually forget that we need to use a different recipe for different sizes of instant pots.

  6. I’ve got an instant pot duo and the burn notice has come on twice. I added frozen chicken and water in it today. First I thought it was due to insufficient liquid so I added more water. But the burn notice came on again. Can’t figure out why it’s happening.

  7. My instant pot’s sealing ring is damaged. The burn message came on once but I didn’t use the cooker after that.

  8. I took out the sealing ring for cleaning and forgot to put it back. The burn message kept popping up and it took me a whole day to figure out why it happened. Thanks for sharing this info. All the ppl who own an IP should know all this.

  9. I didn’t know worn out sealing rings were THAT dangerous! Thank you for sharing this info! Going to get it replaced ASAP.


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