Why Pushing Down the Instant Pot Lid is Not a Good Idea

Why Pushing Down the Instant Pot Lid is Not a Good Idea

A timely push on the Instant Pot lid seems like a good idea as it seems to immediately popup the floating valve, seal the pressure cooker, and speed up the whole cooking process!

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Steam is coming out of the floating valve…
The metal pin is dancing up and down…
This is so tempting.
Let’s push down the pressure cooker lid to seal it all up!

A Major Reason Why Food is Undercooked

Let me tell you this. Pushing down the Instant Pot lid is actually one of the top reasons why your food comes out undercooked in the Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker.

Without going all nerdy right off the bat, let me explain this to you in human language.

If the lid is pushed down to force seal the Instant Pot, air will be trapped inside the pot. Since air has a lower heat capacity than steam, it will reduce the cooking temperature.

Let’s Look at Some Experiment Data

We did 9 tests with temperature trackers inside 5 different models of Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cookers. The results support this theory.Instant Pot Test Kitchen

Experiment Results from Instant Pot DUO60 Version 2

Model: Instant Pot IP-DUO60 V2 Electric Pressure Cooker
Temperature trackers directly submerged in 2 cups of water
Cooking Time: High Pressure for 5 minutes

DUO60 V2 Push Instant Pot Lid Chart

Black color (Peaked at 241°F/116°C) – Naturally sealed
Blue color (Peaked at 237°F/114°C) – Force sealed by pushing the Instant Pot lid down while steam is floating through the floating valve
Red color (Peaked at 230°F/110°C) – Force sealed immediately when placing the Instant Pot lid on

Experiment Results from Instant Pot Smart

Model: Instant Pot Smart Electric Pressure Cooker
Temperature trackers placed on a trivet in 1 cup of water
Cooking time: High Pressure for 10 minutes

Instant Pot Smart Push Instant Pot Lid Chart

Black color (Peaked at 231°F/110°C) – Naturally sealed
Blue color (Peaked at 224°F/107°C) – Force sealed by pushing the Instant Pot lid down while steam is floating through the floating valve
Red color (Peaked at 200°F/93°C) – Force sealed immediately when placing the Instant Pot lid on

Conclusion from the Instant Pot Lid Experiments

If we calculate the PSI based on the peaked steam temperature at 241°F/116°C, 237°F/114°C, and 230°F/110°C

The psi is 10.64, 9.04, and 6.09 respectively.

We can conclude the following with the experiment data we gathered from the 9 tests:

  1. More Trapped Air = Lower Cooking Temperature: The more air gets trapped inside the Instant Pot, the lower the cooking temperature.
  2. More Significant Impact When Cooking On a Trivet: The cooking temperature reduces more significantly when food is on a trivet and not submerged in the water (i.e steaming).

Solutions to Prevent This Mistake?

Why Pushing Down the Instant Pot Lid is Not a Good Idea

  1. Be Patient & Seal Naturally: Allow the pressure cooker to seal naturally by not forcing or pushing down the Instant Pot lid.
  2. Begin in Venting Position: Always make sure the Venting Knob is in the Venting Position when putting on the Instant Pot lid. Then, turn the Venting Knob to the Sealing Position after closing the Instant Pot lid.
    • Why? With the Venting Knob in Sealing Position, the floating valve may popup immediately if there is hot liquid in the Instant Pot. So, it’s a good habit to have the Venting Knob in the Venting Position first. 🙂
Instant Pot Test Kitchen: we did 9 tests with Temperature Trackers in 5 different models of Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cookers to find the problems with pushing down Lid.
Food Lovers in our 30s who worked directly with Instant Pot CEO, Manufacturers, and 35+ Restaurants. Culinary Families & Food Magazine Publishers.
  1. I don’t believe my lid is defective but occasionally (with lower-volume cooking, generally) I’ll have an issue where there’s a lot of steam noise and the entire cooking cycle completes without sealing. Very rare, but when it happens it’s frustrating and I have to guess how long to continue to cook the food for and whether to add more liquid.

    Previously I would just push the lid down right away, but after reading this article I might suggest that anybody having this problem wait until the actual cooking countdown starts to push down on the sides and seal the pot. By that point the instant pot clearly “thinks” it’s ready to start cooking and the lid should have sealed by that point anyway.

  2. I have the Instant Pot Ultra and I have had to push down on the lid several times because liquid was coming out through the steam release valve and it wouldn’t come to pressure. Once I pushed down on the lid it came to pressure. Are you saying that it’s normal to have steam coming out of the release valve and that eventually it will come to pressure if I don’t push down on the lid? I’m a bit confused about this whole thing. I don’t feel that it would have come to pressure if I hadn’t pushed down on the lid. Would appreciate your thoughts on this.

    1. Hi Denise,

      thank you for your question 🙂

      Yes, unless something is wrong with the lid, eventually it will come to pressure. If you feel like it is stuck, you can poke the floating valve with a pen to free it up.

      Take care & have fun cooking

    2. Hi, Denise.
      I was reading your question and you stated that liquid was coming out the steam valve and then asked if it was normal to have steam coming out. It is completely normal for steam to be coming out while the pot is coming to pressure. It is not normal for liquid to be coming out though and I am concerned you may have your pot too full.

  3. This is my absolute favorite pressure cooking website! I love all your tests. I really appreciate the scientific approach to your recipes. My results using your recipes are stellar EVERY time! You guys are awesome. Thank you for all you do!

    1. Thank you for your sweet & encouraging words Danielle! 🙂
      So glad you found us. We’ll for sure work hard to create more yummy recipes! Stay tuned!
      Wish you & yours an amazing year ahead full of blessings & great health.
      Take care,

  4. I loved finding this data. I was wishing I had a sensor to do what you did. I’m wondering if you allowed more steam to release whether it might be possible to achieve slightly higher temps? In other words does the popup valve allow as much air out as possible? My guess is that it probably wouldn’t get much warmer but only data would tell…

    1. Hi Darren,

      thank you for your question 🙂

      The floating valve should allow as much air out as possible before it seals itself.

      Happy New Year & Have fun cooking!!

  5. I’ve been pressing down to seal my instant pot b/c my there was steam coming out of the pin area and the edges. I put a new sealing ring in my pot and did the water test, my pot never came to pressure and it began counting down. Any help would be wonderful as i love my Instant pot and I want to make sure I’m doing things properly.

    1. Hi Alisa,

      Thank you for your question 🙂

      Steam shouldn’t come out from around the edges. Make sure the silicone ring is dried and properly placed.

      Happy New Year & Have a wonderful week

  6. I am brand new to the Instant Pot, but I don’t get what you mean by “pushing the lid down”. I set the lid on the pot and give it a twist to latch it. That’s it. How do push the lid down any more than that? I didn’t know about having the vent open to begin. That’s good to know. Thank you.

    1. Hi Diane,

      thank you for your question and kind word 🙂

      If you push the lid down, you will feel a “pumping sensation” where air will escape thru the floating valve. This can cause the floating valve (metal pin) to pop up.

      Take care & have fun cooking

  7. I don’t push down the lid, but I have had it in the sealed position instead of the venting position before I shut the lid. Thanks for the advice and I will be more careful about that now. Also, I don’t want to use aluminum foil, so what else could I use to keep my dish from boiling over?

    1. Hi Jo Hannah Fritsch,

      thank you for your comment and question 🙂

      You can also layer an oven-safe silicone cover on top of the dish to prevent them from boiling over.

      You may have to increase the pressure cooking time for some dishes.

      Take care & have fun cooking

  8. I didn’t press the lid the last time I used my IP and I got the overheating error message before the valve sealed.

  9. So, just to clarify for my simple mind, I am to put the lid on and lock it but then leave it alone. The couple of times I’ve used the pot I have jiggled the lid and had the valve in sealing position immediately! Thanks for the article!

    1. Hi Kristie,

      thank you for your kind words and question 🙂

      Yes, just leave it alone to allow the floating valve to go up naturally.

      Take care & have fun cooking

  10. I don’t have the InstaPot. But I figured out it was better to start off in the venting position when I put the lid on on my model. I seemed to have problems sealing correctly when there is a lot of heat in the pot. Now I turn it off, set to vent and unplug it for good measure. When the lid is on correctly, I turn it to Pressure cook. Thanks for bringing this up. I used to think it was NECESSARY to press the lid. AND there was a point where I thought my seal wasn’t working on my appliance. I tried the new seal ring that I had bought as a back up. Same thing. By hit and miss I pretty much came to the same conclusions you have. You work well together! I love the scientific basis!

    1. Hi Jackie,

      thank you for your kind words and comment.

      You probably know this already, but unplugging is not necessary 🙂

      Take care & have fun cooking

  11. So glad to find out about the steam escaping. I didn’t know who to ask about this and was afraid my pot was a dud. Good job, ladies.

  12. A friend has had the same problem I’ve had where the timer starts counting down before the IP is sealed. We’ve both been pushing the lid down to seal. What else can we do? This has even happened with a spotlessly cleaned IP and new sealing ring.

    1. Hi Apenguin,

      thank you for your question 🙂

      There maybe some underlying issues. One of the followings maybe the reason.

      the liquid maybe too thick or too little liquid
      the sealing ring may not be seated properly or a new ring is needed
      the floating pin is stuck
      Most unlikely: something is wrong with the lid.

      Try to run a water test with 2 cups of water to see if the floating pin will come up naturally.


      take care & have fun cooking

  13. Guys, I do that jiggle, press and pop maneuver ALL THE TIME and now, will never do so again. Well done. Thanks for this and everything else.

  14. I thought I had to push it down, that it meant my lid wasn’t sealing properly. I’ll leave it alone from now on and be more patient. Thank you for your post!

  15. I don’t get pressure or steam with my cooker. Only I’m used 5-6 times and released steam twice. Never had valve dancing around and making noise. Is this normal?

    1. Hi K kitch,

      thank you for your question 🙂

      It is normal that you don’t notice it.

      The valve usually only dance around for a few seconds before the pressure cooker is sealed.
      It doesn’t really make any noise.

      Take care & have fun cooking

  16. Sometimes the steam comes up around the lid, not just the valve. Is that different? I’m still a new user.

    1. Hi Joanne,

      thank you for your question 🙂

      If steam is coming up around the lid, you should check to make sure the sealing ring is seated properly.

      Take care & have fun cooking

  17. Well, I’m guilty of pushing down the lid to seal when it’s steaming and dancing. So glad I read this. You guys are great!

    1. I made creme Brule in my instant pot yesterday. I set the timer for 9 minutes after I pushed the manual button. The pot immediately said ON. The timer never started to count down. After a long while, 20 minutes, I let it slow release. When the pressure was gone I opened it up and my creme Brule had boiled all over. What did I do wrong?

    2. Hi Ann,

      thank you for your question 🙂

      Sorry to hear about your creme brulee. Sounds like the pressure cooker didn’t seal correctly.

      Depending on how much liquid and how full the pot is, It will take about 7 – 15 minutes for the pot to change from ON to countdown.

      Creme Brulee should be covered tightly with aluminium foil to avoid boil-over.

      Take care & have fun cooking

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