9 Reasons Your Instant Pot Is Getting The “Burn” Error and How To Fix It

Instant Pots are popular for their capacity to streamline cooking, as the cook need not be physically present after adding the ingredients and sealing the lid.

The Instant Pot has the ability to identify and prevent dangerous situations, leading to automatic shut off. It is a highly intelligent kitchen appliance that can control temperature and pressure, protect users from harm, and provide error codes.

Having resolved the “burn” error on several of my own Instant Pots and a few belonging to my acquaintances, I have gained significant expertise in this field.

If your Instant Pot displays the “burn” message, it means that the device’s burn-protection system has detected high temperatures (140°C or 284°F) at the bottom of the stainless steel insert and has shut off automatically to prevent food from scorching.

For older versions, the “Burn” error may appear as an “Ovht” code on the Instant Pot’s screen. It is believed that newer models with this error message tend to show it more often, possibly because they can achieve higher cooking temperatures that activate protective sensors.

It is crucial to remember that the “burn” error code does not reflect the overall health of your Instant Pot. Rather, it simply indicates that a recipe has been executed incorrectly. The display of these messages is an integral aspect of how the Instant Pot operates, making it an excellent tool for both experienced and novice users.

When using a pressure cooker, minimal maintenance is needed as the lid and container become sealed once pressure builds up, making it impossible to open until depressurization occurs; however, this can lead to burning of food at the bottom if not cooked correctly due to the inability to stir during the cooking process.

Having comprehended the reason behind the burn message in Instant Pots, let’s examine the potential causes of the error code appearing on your Instant Pot and ways to avoid it.

Why Your Instant Pot is Getting the Burn Error and How To Fix It Easily

By connecting with individuals both online and in person, I have obtained solutions to various inquiries about these appliances. Below, I have compiled a list of potential factors that could trigger the “burn” error code on your Instant Pot and provided corresponding remedies.

#1 Not Enough Liquid

Instant Pots and Pressure Cookers operate by creating steam pressure when the liquid inside the sealed container boils, resulting in the production of steam. The pressure inside the container increases as there is no outlet for the steam to escape, which is only possible with the presence of liquid.

If there is no liquid, the food situated at the bottom of the Instant Pot will burn and adhere to the inner pot.

FIX: If this is the cause of the “burn” error, then adding two cups of water should resolve it.

Ensuring that you add the minimum required amount of water, which is 1 cup for Instant Pot as stated on the company’s Facebook page, every time you cook can be the simplest solution to fix this problem. However, the quantity of water needed varies depending on what you are cooking since some foods absorb more liquid than others.

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Liquids with the same viscosity as wine, broth, and beer are included in the liquid limit, while sauces or thicker liquids do not count towards the minimum amount of liquid. Additionally, when cooking vegetables, the released liquid is also considered part of the total liquid amount.

Before commencing the cooking process, ensure that the liquid has reached the bottom of your Instant Pot.

#2 Liquid Added is Too Thick

If you mix tomato sauce from canned tomatoes with other ingredients and the resulting cooking liquid becomes too thick to boil, the Instant Pot’s bottom will heat up before the top, leading to the “burn” error message.

SOLUTION: To avoid the “burn” error on your Instant Pot, ensure that you place thin liquids at the bottom of the cooker and layer thicker liquids like tomato sauce on top of other ingredients. It is crucial to maintain a higher quantity of thin liquid than thick liquid.

#3 Your Recipe Was Made For a Different Instant Pot Size

If you’re receiving the “burn” error message while using your Instant Pot, it could be due to using a recipe intended for a 6 quart pot in an 8 quart pot, as larger pots may require more liquid to reach pressure.

SOLUTION: To resolve the “burn” error on your Instant Pot, you have the option to increase the amount of liquid in the cooker or prepare a larger batch of food without adjusting the cooking time.

#4 You’re Pressure Cooking Dairy Products

Although it may be alluring to include milk or cream in your Instant Pot, it’s important to remember that these items can easily scorch. As a result, they will leave a thin layer at the bottom of the pot when cooked, which can cause overheating and trigger the “burn” error message.

FIX: To avoid the “burn” error, it is recommended to add milk or cream to a recipe after pressure cooking the meal.

#5 The Sealing Ring Doesn’t Work Properly

The sealing ring of the Instant Pot is responsible for keeping the container and lid tightly sealed. In case the sealing ring is not installed properly, missing or damaged, the steam will escape from the pot leading to dryness. As a result, the food at the bottom of the cooker will burn and trigger the “burn” error code on your Instant Pot.

SOLUTION: To fix the “burn” error in your Instant Pot, ensure that the sealing ring is pushed all the way around the cooker and cleaned properly after each use. While pressure cooker companies recommend replacing the sealing ring annually, it’s important to check if it’s properly seated before purchasing a new one.

#6 Steam Release Switch is “Venting”

If you forgot to turn the venting knob from “Venting” to “Sealing”, before starting your Instant Pot, it could be a reason for the “Burn” error.

When the Instant Pot is sealed, it releases steam to relieve excess pressure. Conversely, in the venting position, most of the liquid inside the cooker can escape, which is equally detrimental to cooking with insufficient liquid.

FIX: To avoid the “Burn” error on your Instant Pot, make sure to switch the valve from “Venting” to “Sealing” before cooking and consider putting a reminder note on your pot.

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#7 There’s Food in The Sealing Ring Rack

Ensuring that the sealing ring is properly placed in the rack between the cooker and lid and keeping both components clean can effectively prevent food from obstructing the path and causing steam to escape from the cooker.

FIX: After every use, ensure to clean the sealing ring and check for any debris stuck in its rack.

#8 You’re Cooking Ingredients That Are High In Starch

When pasta and rice are combined with other ingredients, they can trigger the display of the “burn” error.

SOLUTION: To avoid the “burn” error in your Instant Pot, treat pasta and rice like thicker sauces and add them last on top of the other ingredients without stirring. Ensure that they are submerged in liquid by gently pressing them down with a spoon or any other object.

#9 The Saute Function Was Used Prior To Pressure Cooking

Using the Saute feature on the Instant Pot may result in food becoming stuck to the bottom of the appliance, and transitioning directly from Saute mode to Pressure Cooking without allowing for cooling down or deglazing can certainly lead to the occurrence of the “burn” error message.

SOLUTION: After sauteing, it is important to deglaze the Instant Pot which can be done easily by following these steps:

  • While the Instant Pot is still hot, pour in some water, wine, or broth.
  • Take a non-damaging tool and scrape off any food residue stuck to the bottom of the Instant Pot.

When you deglaze your Instant Pot, it guarantees that the ingredients can make contact with the surface of the cooker and allows the sensors of the Instant Pot to sense and regulate without any obstructions.

My suggestion to avoid damaging the surface of your Instant Pot is to use silicone or wood utensils when removing food residue.

What Should I Do When I Get the Burn Notice on My Instant Pot?

Don’t worry, your Instant Pot is not faulty. By understanding the reasons behind the “burn” error and taking preventive measures, you can reduce its occurrence. However, if it happens again, here’s how to deal with it.

  • Firstly, if your pressure cooker is under pressure, begin by releasing the pressure cautiously, ensuring that no part of your body is near the release hole as it will emit extremely hot steam. It is crucial to never attempt to open the lid without first releasing the pressure.
  • Secondly, after depressurizing the Instant Pot, cautiously open the lid to inspect if any food is adhered to the bottom, particularly if there are thick sauces as they might splatter.
  • Number 3: In case there is burnt food stuck at the bottom of your Instant Pot, you have to get rid of it. You can either scrape off small stains using a wooden spoon or spatula, but for heavily burnt food and blackened stains, you may need to empty the pot and soak the inner pot in a mixture of warm water and soap. The effectiveness of each technique depends on the extent of the burn.
  • Number 4: In case there is no burned food stuck at the bottom of the Instant Pot, but the liquid has evaporated, you should add more liquid, mix it well, and continue with the cooking process.
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If you discover that there is enough liquid in the cooker and no food has stuck to the bottom, then you can move on to the next step.

  • Ensure that there is no food residue or debris lodged between the inner pot and the heating element. Additionally, verify that the sealing ring, float valve, and venting knob are in good condition and properly installed.
  • Continue cooking.

Pro Tip: I recommend purchasing an extra inner pot for your Instant Pot, I did so right away and it has come in quite handy in times like these. The listing on Amazon has three size alternatives and they’re all affordable.

Can an Instant Pot Explode?

Thanks to their advanced features, including temperature and pressure regulation, gradual heating element activation, and automatic shut-off when unsafe conditions are detected, millions of Instant Pots have been sold without any documented harm to users.

Despite the numerous safety features that come with Instant Pots, which significantly reduce the risk of an explosion compared to traditional stovetop pressure cookers, there is still a possibility for an Instant Pot to explode.

It is important to keep in mind that the Instant Pot involves boiling liquids and pressure confined in a compact container, which is why it has a release hole to let out excess pressure. If this hole becomes obstructed, it could lead to undesirable consequences.

It is important to handle the Instant Pot with care as it is a pressure cooker and not a slow cooker, therefore, you cannot set it and forget it.

There is a risk of your Instant Pot exploding:

  • If you got a defect unit
  • Opening the lid while the Instant Pot is under pressure
  • In case the safety mechanisms of your Instant Pot do not respond
  • In case the pressure release valve is obstructed

Here are some simple instructions that can reduce the likelihood of an explosion.

  • Ensure that you use an adequate amount of water, at least 1 cup.
  • Avoid filling the Instant Pot beyond its maximum capacity
  • Remember that certain foods like rice, lentils, and beans tend to swell as they cook.
  • It is important not to leave your Instant Pot unsupervised as it may overheat if it runs out of liquid.

I have composed a more comprehensive article on the topic, where I explain the dangers of cooking in a pressure cooker.

Frequently, what pertains to Instant Pots is also relevant to other electric pressure cookers since they function based on the same principle, even though they may not be constructed in the same manner.

Thank you for taking the time to read and best of luck with your cooking endeavors.

You can also check this video about “9 Reasons Your Instant Pot Is Getting The “Burn” Error and How To Fix It”

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