Instant Pot Water Test

Instant Pot Water Test

Just received your new Instant Pot Pressure Cooker? Congrats!! 😀

Excited, overwhelmed, and confused as you unwrap the box…

Now what?

Before you cook up a storm, start with the Instant Pot Water Test! This recommended step helps you familiarize yourself with how the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker works.

Click on the 1-minute video above to see it in full action or follow the step by step instructions below 🙂

Step 1:  Safety Checkup

Instant Pot Silicone Ring


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Check to make sure the silicone ring is properly seated.

Check to make sure the venting knob and floating valve are unobstructed.

Pressure Cooker Release Method



Step 2:  Add Water

Instant Pot Water Test Pouring Water

Place the inner pot in the Instant Pot.

Pour 2 cups (500ml) – 3 cups (750ml) of cold water in the Instant Pot.



Step 3:  Close Lid

Instant Pot Water Test Close Lid

Close the Instant Pot lid by lining the two arrows (see picture below) and turn the lid in clockwise direction.Instant Pot Water Test Close Lid Clockwise



Step 4:  Seal

Turn venting knob from Venting Position to Sealing Position.

Instant Pot Water Test Sealing Position



Step 5:  Initiate Test Run – Set the Cooking Time

Press the Manual Button (Pressure Cook Button) OR Steam Button. Either one will work.

Instant Pot Water Test Manual Button

The indicator will show “30”, meaning 30 minutes pressure cooking time.

Since we don’t need to “cook” that long, press and hold the “-“ button until the indicator says “2”. It means we’re setting the pressure cooking time to 2 minutes.

Instant Pot Water Test Set to 2 Minutes

See the red light under High Pressure? High Pressure is the default pressure setting.



Step 6:  Preheating Cycle

The indicator will change from “2” to “On” in about 10 seconds.

Instant Pot Water Test Heating Cycle

When it shows “On”, the Instant Pot starts the preheating cycle – heating up the water to generate steam.

It takes roughly 13 minutes to reach High Pressure.



Step 7:  Steam Generating

It is normal for steam to come out of the floating valve during the preheating cycle.

Instant Pot Water Test Steam

Once enough steam has been generated in the Instant Pot, the floating valve will pop up.

You should not see any steam releasing from the Instant Pot at this point.


Once the floating valve pops up, pressure starts to build inside the Instant Pot.



Step 8:  Pressure Cooking Cycle

Once the Instant Pot has reached high pressure, the indicator will change from “On” to “2”. This means the pressure cooking cycle has started and it will pressure cook for 2 minutes.

Instant Pot Water Test Countdown Timer



Step 9:  Keep Warm Mode

After the 2-minute pressure cooking cycle, Instant Pot will automatically enter the “Keep Warm” mode.

Instant Pot Keep Warm ModePress Keep Warm/Cancel button on the lower right corner (the one with orange light) to turn off the Instant Pot.

The indicator will switch to “OFF”.

At this point, you will need to release the pressure before opening the lid.

Voila! You’ve passed the Instant Pot Water Test! 🙂

Read Next: How to do Quick Release vs Natural Release?

Looking for Easy Starter Recipes?

Check out these Easy Instant Pot Recipes to get you started.33+ Easy Recipes for New Instant Pot Users

Start off with the Instant Pot Water Test: Includes Demo Video + Step-by-Step Instructions.
Food Lovers in our 30s who worked directly with Instant Pot CEO, Manufacturers, and 35+ Restaurants. Culinary Families & Food Magazine Publishers.
  1. Hello – so frustrated – even after I get my IP to pressure and it switches to timer, tons of steam is escaping ? I used this when I got it, water test no problem – perfect ribs – then did not use. Dusted off, made cauliflower soup – perfect. Next time went to make same soup – 3 x – would not switch to timer. My “sealing valve” I have tried locking it so it does not move, watched videos – turned it so its not “locked” and tight, but still pours steam – so frustrated. Once it went to timer and continued to pour steam out. Ready to throw this $200 unit away. 🙁

    1. Hi Trish,

      The sealing valve is supposed to be wobbly. It just has to be in the sealing position for the Instant Pot to seal.

      Where is the steam escaping from?

      Please take care

  2. Hello! I’m doing the water test right now and I turned the knob to venting over 10 minutes ago and it’s still not unlocking and the floating valve is still raised- how long does this normally take?

    1. Hi Baillz,

      Hope you had a wonderful New Year & Christmas 🙂
      Thank you for your question. It sounds like the floating valve is stuck. You can poke it with a pen or chopstick and see if it will go down.

      Happy New Year & please take care

  3. Hi Amy
    Could you please put recipes for only 2-3 people bought my son a IP for 2019 Christmas and I am going to
    try it out, I know he’s happy he is going to really love it , he was going to get one about a year ago and he just didn’t do it

    1. Hi Norma,

      Congrats on the new Instant Pot and thank you for your suggestions 🙂

      Most of our recipes can be halved by keeping the liquid ingredients the same.

      Take care & have fun cooking

  4. Hi i just got my brand new instant pot 7 in 1. During the initial water test, the timing was set to 2 minutes, however the system does not turn from on to keep warm mode even after 20 minutes. What could be the issue?

    1. Hi Sonamnishi,

      Congrats on your new Instant Pot 🙂

      The Instant Pot was still warming up and building pressure during the ON stage. It will turn to the cooking time after and then keep warm.

      Take care & have fun cooking

  5. Its been 20 minutes. Valve is up, water is still spouting out and has not come to pressure. Still says on.

    1. Hi Jill,

      Congrats on your new Instant Pot and thank you for your question 🙂
      It sounds like the lid wasn’t sealed properly. Where did the water spout out from?

      Take care & have fun cooking

    2. From the sealing/venting valve. I’ve had the pot for about a year, don’t use it a ton… This is a new issue.

    3. Hi Jill,

      Try removing the venting knob. Run the lid and the venting knob over tap water and try it again after they are dry.

      Take care & have fun cooking

    4. So I popped off the venting cover to clean. It wasn’t dirty. But wiped it all off and put back on. It worked now. The water test came to pressure in a little over ten minutes. Thanks!

  6. Bought my mom a 6 qt and wanted to try it out. did the water test no problem. Tried to cook beef stew and got a burn message. I turned it to keep and manually released pressure, gravy began to spew out of the pressure valve along with the steam, condenser cup also filled with gravy. What went wrong? This did not happen on my 8 qt. did i try to cook too soon after the water test? is it faulty?

    1. Hi Roy,

      Sorry to hear what happened. The water test will not affect the cooking in any ways. I am thinking the liquid for the beef stew was too thick or too much sugar was in it.

      Take care & have fun cooking

  7. Hi amy. Its my first time to do water test i in my ip and never had a chance to use pressure cooker befire so im very new to this, my question is why didn’t i see any steam come out of it and the valve did not pop out as well.the keep warm lights up and the timer keeps on going nownits L0:06. What did i missed? Thank you

  8. I tried the water test on my Instant Pot 6-qt TWICE and both times had LOTS of steam coming out around the lid. It’s a brand new pit! What to do??? ?

    1. Hi Naomi,

      Thank you for your question 🙂

      The silicone ring is not sitting properly. Make sure it is sit right and the venting knob is turned to the sealing position.

      Happy New Year to you and your family

  9. Thank you for this instructions. The instructions on the water test page stop after step 3, and don’t tell you how to release the steam to open the lid.

  10. I just did the water test on my new Instant Pot. The instructions say that once the floating valve pops up you shouldn’t see steam escaping any more, but during the 2 minute cooking I could see steam coming out of the sealing valve even though it was turned to seal. That valve is rather jiggly. Is it supposed to be that way? I’m not sure if I should use the pot or get out my crockpot.

    1. Hi Wendy,

      We are here to help 🙂

      How much steam was coming out of the sealing valve?

      The valve is supposed to be jiggly.

      Happy New Year & Have a wonderful week

  11. Just got my instant pot today, but it is a Farberware, so I am looking at your instructions as well as theirs. One thing it says is not to add any canned foods. Some of my soups or even stuff that requires canned tomatoes…. Is it okay to use canned ingredients? One of the main reasons I even bought this, was to make chile verde. I do use the little cans of tomatillo. It would be a bummer if I can’t even make my chili verde without having to peel those sticky Little Things. Haha

    1. Hi Ginger,

      Congrats on your new pressure cooker 🙂

      Using canned foods will be fine. Canning food in the pressure cooking is not.

      We don’t have a chili verde recipe yet, but here is our Chili recipe for your reference.

      Happy New Year & Have a wonderful week

  12. My water test and chicken i cooked from the instructions in the book that came with my pot… the timer never went of… did i miss a step?

  13. Hello! After a successful water test, should a certain amount of liquid evaporate inside the container? For example, if I poured 2 cups of water in, after the water test, should say 1/2 a cup have evaporated? Or does water steamed/pressurized inside not evaporate? I found that when I made mac and cheese – hardly any of the chicken stock I added evaporated after pressurizing it. I just sauteed it to cook off the excess liquid, but wondering if my 3 qt Instant Pot is faulty.

    1. Hi Tina,

      It’s a delight to hear from you again. Thank you for your question 🙂

      The moisture will be sealed in and only about 1 tablespoon of water will evaporate from pressure cooking.

      The amount of liquid will have to be reduced when compare to stovetop cooking.

      Take care & have fun cooking

  14. The manual instructs one to add water to the “3” mark. Of course that’s 3 L, but I followed instructions, and when my pot hadn’t done a thing for 20 minutes I turned it off and went to the net. Thank you for making the 3 CUP step explicit!

  15. Hey, thanks for an informative post. I got mine on Prime day and so far really happy with it. I didn’t do the water test though but it’s definitely good.

  16. hI, I follow this page step by step to do the test. However, it keeps on “Low pressure”. and the number of minutes goes on to 40 50. It never goes to “Step 8: Pressure Cooking Cycle”. Does my new IP pot broken? Would you please kindly tell me what should I check or contact to? Thank you.

    1. Hi Julie,

      Thank you for your question 🙂

      The newest version of Instant Pot has a memory function to remember the last setting used.
      You can adjust to High pressure by pressing the pressure button after you have pressed the manual or steam button.

      It takes roughly 13 minutes to get to Pressure Cooking Cycle. If it is taking longer than 25 minutes, check to make sure no steam are escaping from around the lid or the venting knob. Make sure the sealing ring is installed properly.

      If it still doesn’t work, please contact the Instant Pot customer support as you may have a faulty unit.

      Have fun cooking!

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