Are you new to Instant Pot cooking? You may hear the terms “quick release” and “natural pressure release” and be a little confused. Today I’m sharing with you exactly what this means so that you can start cooking in your new Instant Pot!
Once the Instant Pot has finished cooking, it beeps to let you know that it has finished the cook cycle. At this point, most recipes direct you to either release pressure naturally, quickly release pressure, or perhaps a combination of the two, such as allowing the pot to release pressure naturally for 10 minutes and then releasing all remaining pressure.
What is Natural Pressure Release? (video)
Natural Pressure Release (also called NPR or NR) means that you let the pressure in the pot dissipate on its own. A natural pressure release happens when the cooking time is over and the valve is left closed. The pressure decreases without doing anything. Your Instant Pot will automatically switch to the Keep Warm setting. As soon as it switches to Keep Warm the pressure will begin to drop. The time it will take to release all the pressure depends on the ingredients and the amount of liquid in the pressure cooker. Unfortunately, there is no beep or signal when the pressure is released. The float valve will simply drop down and you’ll be able to open the lid. Sometimes you can hear the float valve drop if you’re close by.
What is Quick Release?
Quick pressure release (QPR or QR) is a way to let all the pressure in the Instant Pot escape as fast as possible. To release pressure quickly, move the valve from sealing to venting and allow the pot to release steam and pressure. Ensure that the pot is not directly under cabinets that may get damaged by steam, and be sure to keep hands and face away from the steam.
How long does the Instant Pot take to Naturally Release?
The time it will take to release all the pressure depends on the ingredients and the amount of liquid in the pressure cooker. For a very full pot it can take up to 30 minutes to release all the pressure. For a less full pot with little liquid it can be as quick as 5 minutes. For roasts you’ll definitely want to use a natural pressure release. Give yourself enough time to let the pot release the pressure naturally or else you’ll end up with a door stop of a roast instead of meat that is fork tender.
Related: 7 Common Instant Pot Mistakes
How long does the Instant Pot take to Quick Release?
Most of the time quick release is, well, fairly quick. But again it depends on how full the pot is and how much liquid is inside. If there is a lot of liquid it can take up to 5 minutes of steam escaping before it’s all released. Most of the time when I perform a quick release I try to see how many drawers I can organize or how many cupboards I can wipe down before the pressure is all released. This way it doesn’t drive me crazy that it’s taking so long.
What is a 10 Minute Natural Release on the Instant Pot?
Most of the time I write recipes that call for a combination of the natural pressure release and the quick release. I’ll say something like, “let the pot sit for 10 minutes and then move the valve to venting.” This just means that you’ll let some of the pressure dissipate normally and the rest of the pressure is quickly released. I like to use this for full pots of soup or for chicken. That way there won’t be foam sputtering out of the valve but you also get to stop the cooking process in a timely manner. (One thing to remember is that the whole time the pressure is building the food is cooking. And when the pressure is slowly dissipating the food will still be cooking.)
Do you turn your Instant Pot off to Natural Release?
Some people will unplug their Instant Pot to natural release. Others keep the pot plugged in and the display will turn to L0:00 (L stands for lapsed time and the pot will start counting up indicating how long the pressure cook cycle has been done). For those who leave the pot plugged in the “Keep Warm” setting will automatically turn on. Whether your pot is off or is on keep warm setting will NOT affect how long it takes to naturally release the pressure. So it’s totally up to you. I like to keep the pot on so I can see how long it has been done.
What should I make first in my Instant Pot?
The first thing you should do with your Instant Pot is read the instruction manual and perform the water test. After that there are so many great options of foods you can try out! Here are some ideas.
If you’re new to the Instant Pot I highly suggest reading this article. It explains so many things about pressure cooking that I wish I would have known when I first starting using my pot.
What Pressure Cooker Do You Use?
I have 3 different Instant Pots. However my go-to pot is my 6 quart Instant Pot Duo 60 7 in 1*. I love this Instant Pot because it has the yogurt making function which I use almost weekly. It has two pressure settings (high and low), and there are also little slots in the handles so that you can rest the lid there instead of putting it down on your counter-top.
*Karen Petersen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
When I put my instapot on natural pressure it never releases at the end of cook time. My pot is not overloaded and has the correct amount of liquid. All the other parts are clean and in placed properly. At the end of cook time it goes straight to the “keep warm” setting and begins counting upward without releasing any steam. The red light indicator will still be on and the pressure pin will remain up for several minutes on keep warm unless I change the the setting to “quick release” to depressurize. Once I do that a steady stream of intense pressure will release for about five minutes. Wondering why my natural pressure setting does not release anything right after the cook time is finished and goes straight to warm.
It will eventually release all the pressure if you let it sit there long enough. Mine goes to keep warm too. But don’t worry it’s not a big deal. Most of the recipes I make call for a 10 minute natural pressure release. This means you would let it sit for 10 minutes and then move valve to venting.
Thanks! That was helpful:) For a moment I thought I might’ve had a defective unit on my hands. I’ll give it more time to release the pressure during the “keep warm” cycle.
Dolores Zirbser says
So glad you have this blog. I have a pressure cooker I don’t even use because of my confusion about how to use it. I will try your recipes because you will explain the correct time to set it on and how much liquid to use. Thank you!
I hope you find it helpful! Thanks!
I have a recipe that says “Pressure Cook at High Pressure for 10 minutes + 5 minutes Quick Release.” I have no idea what that “5 minutes Quick Release: means. Do you?
It means you let the pot sit for 5 minutes and then move it to venting and release any remaining pressure.
Oh thank you. I got my instant pot as a gift and because I was not sure what I was doing I did nothing. Looking forward to trying out your Instant Pot recipes.
Carol Maxwell says
I have a fear of the quick release because it seems that the steam could reach the ceiling, so I avoid using it. Is there a way to use quick release while using something to stop the steam from shooting up too high?
you could go back and forth back and forth…like a pop bottle. I’ve also seen steam diverters on amazon
Is it a good idea to place it under the microwave vent system and turn it on and then vent the IP?
That might be a good idea. Just don’t accidentally turn on the stove when it is sitting there 😉
Thank you so much for such a helpful site! This instant pot newbie really appreciates all the information. cheers and Happy New Year!
Happy new year to you too! Thanks for being here.
I am so happy that I found your site!! I have an Emeril Lagasse 6qt pressure/air fryer. The instruction booklet is very limited & most of the commericals, you tube videos & other web sites I have visited show the 8qt pot with the dial. The 6qt doesn’t have a dial so it was very confusing on what to do. With your information I have been able to figure out a lot on how to finally use my unit. I actually tried some of your recipes & am looking forward to trying a lot more. Thank you again.
Oh, this is so nice to hear. Thank you Sharon!
Mitchell Webster says
One more thing that I do, when cooking a soup or stew or making broth etc, is while I am cutting up all my vegetables is have my water or both in the pot and set the pot to sautee as i am adding ingredients, then when I am done and ready to put the lid on and lock into place i cancel the saute setting and switch over to pressure and continue on, this way most everything is warm or getting there and only takes a fraction of the time to come to full pressure.
Good tip! Thank you!
Mitchell Webster says
I nave learned so much through your website & You-tube channel. Having grown up using both pressure canners & cookers, there was no great learning curve for myself, “EXCEPT” for the first several times, being used to hearing the regular cookers come to pressure, & gently rocking the weight back & forth at 5, 10, or 15 lbs pressure, instant pot, nothing! 🙁 no regulation of pressure. NOW I am used to it and love it! The natural vs instant release was biz as usual. I do love my instant pot and look forward to trying yogurt as well as doing curds for cheeses and other dairy products.
Glad you like the IP!!! It really is the best and so easy!
I just read this article about all the reasons NOT to pressure can in an electric pressure cooker….it’s worth reading, and I would like to know what you think, even though you are affiliated with the Instant Pot.
Yep totally. DOn’t use your IP to can!
Is it safe to do “small batch” pressure canning in the Instant Pot?
You can only pressure-can in your Instant Pot if you have the Instant Pot Max.
A frequently asked question around the internet is whether or not you can pressure-can in the Instant Pot — and the answer is simply no. Unless you have the Instant Pot Max. If you have a different model of the Instant Pot, you can, however, do boiling-water canning, which is great for pickles and jams.
I just got the ip duo nova and am confused about setting it manually. There is no manual button. I’ve been playing with it, and tried hard boiled eggs. The eggs were definitely done! But were brown, why? Overcooked I’d imagine. But I love the IP, as I live in Tucson, az and its july! I dont want to heat up the kitchen, this works out great. Thanks for your videos, etc.
It’s the same thing as the pressure cook button. So whenever you see use manual button use the button that says pressure cook on it.
Thank you! I finally think I’m understanding the pressure release methods! I just got the Instant Pot Duo Nova as a gift. I love it, but I’m still learning. Your videos and emails have been a lifesaver to me.
Glad it was helpful to you Cathy!
To safely do a quick release I use a wooden spoon to move the valve. May save getting scalded! Love your website!
Thank you Judy that is a fantastic tip!
I just received an Instant Pot for Mother’s Day (nope…I didn’t want flowers, jewelry, perfume – just something practical that I needed). I was INTIMIDATED by the device. I wished I would have watched your video two days ago 🤦♀️. I initially thought something was wrong with the valve, it was so loose. You made me feel at ease saying it was normal. I initially thought the steam coming o ur so hard/fast was a malfunction, you made me feel at ease. Thanks for the video and the explanations.
I’m glad it was helpful!!! Try this video too! https://youtu.be/EJd6dC5d62U
This is an excellent article. Thank you very much for finally explaining a few things on the IP.
Glad it was helpful to you Denise!
Mihaela Pirau says
Hi, I just cooked a cauliflower soup in 6 q instant pot. I observed at the end on the inside part of the lid few small bumps which I don’t think were there before cooking. This is my fist meal cooked in instant pot. Also when I tried to open the lid( even after the water test) the lid doesn’t open easily I need to tilt the lid to release it from the metallic pot. Are these 2 things normal or is an instant pot with a defect?
The lid can be tricky at times but it should just twist and then pull up. As far as the bumps go, I really am not sure about that. I don’t have any on my lid. I would call Instant Pot support. They are very helpful!
Joella Smith says
Thank you Karen this helped me a lot.
Great! Glad it helped!
Mary Bock says
I have an 8 qt. Instant pot with less pressure, low pressure and high pressure, how do I know what pressure to use with recipes? I’m a first time user and am cooking a 6# pork loin. The recipe states set the pressure or manually to cook.
Almost 100% of the time I use high pressure. All of my recipes use high pressure. Most recipes from others also use high pressure. It is the default.
I have an InstaPot Lux and love it but I don’t know how to change the pressure from low to high. Mine stays on medium. what am I doing wrong?
The lux does not have the ability to change from high to low pressure. It’s not really an issue because 99% of recipes are written for high pressure.
Can you use a steam pan lines with aluminum foil and covered with aluminum foil for cakes?
Lined with not lines, sorry
Yes you can 🙂
Yay, thank you. And thank you very much for information on instant pot cakes.
Is there a guideline on which foods are recommended for natural release and which do better with quick release?
Anything that foams you want to wait for a few minutes like beans, pasta, oatmeal, etc.
Pot roasts I always do a NPR. Don’t do a QR on chicken breasts. Let them sit for 5-10 then do the release.
Does Instant Pot make a model that does all pressure releases automatically?
I don’t believe so. But the latest version says, Duo™ Nova
Cooking with the most popular model of Instant Pot® is even easier with the Duo Nova. Its updated lid means you never again have to worry about whether or not you remembered to close the steam release valve because when you close the Duo Nova lid it automatically seals the pressure valve! And to release the steam faster, just push the quick-release button to let the pressure out.”
Does Instant Pot make a model that does all pressure releases automatically? (a Dummy-Proof version for newbies lol) I think that is what scares me about the IP and why 3 different models, DUO Plus, Ultra, and Max, are still sitting in their boxes from Black Friday. (08.09.19)
Don’t be scared! It’s really not a big deal, I promise.
Hope Firenze says
I bought a second IP, a Mini, but I don’t remember performing the water test. Does it affect the performance of the IP. Not having s Duo before, it seems like the steam comes out of the spout a bit before coming to pressure. What is the purpose of doing the water test?
I love your site, all the tips and recipes are great. Thanks for sharing.
It’s just a way to get familiar with the pot and make sure it can come to pressure.
J.( Pete) Castelan says
ONCE AGAIN, GOOD JOB!
Thanks for the detailed descriptions Karen!
I would be really interested in your experience in what the various steam release methods have in terms of impact on the food, e.g.. which method you recommend for what kind of dishes.
Especially interested as I don’t have an Instant Pot, but a combined pressure cooker/slow cooker from Heston Blumenthal by Sage (pretty similar to the Breville one).
Thanks a lot!
Oh yes I need to add that info!