Why Does My Instant Pot Say Burn? Why Does My Instant Pot Say Burn?
February 10, 2021
by Olena

Why Does My Instant Pot Say Burn?

by Olena

Why Does My Instant Pot Say Burn, or 10 ways to avoid Instant Pot Burn Message. I’m also sharing how to finish cooking food with Burn message without removing it from the pot.

New to pressure cooking? Check out my Instant Pot guide. If you want to make healthier eating choices, be sure to read how to eat healthy using an Instant Pot. You can also get simple and basic healthy Instant Pot recipes.

why does my instant pot say burn?

What Is Instant Pot Burn Message?

Instant Pot is a pressure cooker with heating element located at the bottom of the pot. It is an electronic device. A computer, basically. So, don’t take it personally which I get is so hard haha.

Burn message means overheat error. It is a safety feature. It doesn’t always mean your food is burning literally.

When Instant Pot mechanism detects a high temperature (140°C or 284°F) at the bottom of the inner pot, the “burn-protection” mechanism suspends heating. This often means food at the bottom is getting dry and overcooked.

5 Most Common Reasons & Fixes

  1. Add at least 1 cup of liquid: In order for pressure to build up inside the pot, it has to be created. From what? From steam. From water or broth. There is a minimum amount of thin liquid that has to be added even when “roasting” a whole chicken. Rule of thumb is 1 cup.
  2. Always add tomatoes on top: Because Instant Pot’s heating element is located at the bottom and may cause sugars in tomato products caramelize and “burn”. Therefore, we add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste on top and do not stir.
  3. After you add tomatoes, do not stir: Again, you don’t want to push tomatoes to the bottom. Generally it is completely unnecessary and better not to stir anything in Instant Pot.
  4. If sauteing, make sure to deglaze: Little black bits that are left from sauteing stick to the pot. If they aren’t removed, pressure cooker will make them more hot and “think” they are burning. If you deglaze with water and incorporate them into the recipe like I advise, you won’t get the “burn” notice, promise.
  5. Always pre-cook ground meat: Adding pieces of meat are fine. But if you add a blob of ground meat without pre-browning it first, it will stick to the bottom and start burning.

Don’t have an Instant Pot yet? See which one I recommend to buy based on your lifestyle.

5 Less but Possible Reasons & Fixes

  1. Forgot to turn venting valve to Sealing: If you don’t turn venting valve to Sealing position, steam will keep coming out from it. Eventually causing complete loss of water and Burn message. Create a rule to turn valve to Sealing before setting cooking time.
  2. Sealing ring is old, dislocated or missing: Silicone sealing ring wears out. It happened to mine after 1.5 year of 3-4 times a week use. Instant Pot has trouble coming to pressure because steam is leaking through the ring as it’s not tight. Just buy new one and replace old one. Easy. It also could have been not placed back properly after a wash, for example. Or even not in place at all. After a wash. All of the above happened to me and I’m pretty organized.
  3. New model: New Instant Pot models seem to be more sensitive to a Burn message. Their heating element is more sensitive. That will explain it all.
  4. Add cream or milk after: You cannot add dairy like milk or cream to Instant Pot for pressure cooking cycle. It will scorch at the bottom and cause burn. Instead, add it after and thicken the sauce on Saute with a bit of cornstarch or flour if necessary.
  5. Sauce is too thick: Not enough thin liquid will cause Burn. We are going back to at least 1 cup water fix.

How to Fix Burn Message if Food Is Already There

OK, Instant Pot is full of uncooked food. It is supposed to make life easier. And now Burn… Been there, trust me.

In my experience, I found that following a traditional suggestion doesn’t work. Booklet says to remove everything from the pot, clean it and cook again. Guess what? It will burn again 99% because nothing changed in the ingredients. The problem is still there.

I found a better solution.

Usually Burn shows up when Instant Pot is almost or at pressure. Means the pressure pin is up. Great!

Logically, if it is not a 45 minute pork carnitas of frozen chicken recipe (they are on a trivet anyways so no Burn will pop up), it’s an easy fix.

Here is what to do:

  1. Make sure pressure pin is up.
  2. If pressure pin is not up, press on the lid and it will pop up.
  3. Ignore Burn for a few minutes and then press Cancel.
  4. Time cooking time as it says on the recipe and then do Quick Release or Natural Release as per the recipe.

Your food should be cooked. Ta-dah!:)

Was this helpful?

Ready to try one of healthy Instant Pot recipes that do not cause Burn?!:) Would love to hear what you try and like.

Instant Pot Recipes Without Burn 100%

Watch Olena Explain “Burn”

Did you know we have entire Youtube channel dedicated to healthy Instant Pot recipes and tips? My goal is to help you become confident with your Instant Pot by demonstrating each delicious foolproof recipe in step-by-step videos.

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31 comments on “Why Does My Instant Pot Say Burn?

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  1. Thanks for the tips, I am about ready to toss the instapot in the garbage, Everything I’ve tried gives the food burn warning no matter how much liquid I add. Also, takes a long time to steam and loses lots of vapor before it finally seals, I’ll try pushing down on the lid as you suggested. If that doesn’t work , out it goes!

  2. I tried to cook biryani (an Indian dish with rice, chicken, fried onions and tomato purée) in six cups of water. Got the burn message. Since I have a second inner pot, I dumped everything in it and started again. Burn message again. Had to finish in a Dutch oven on the stovetop and adjust the cooking water for the rice. That worked. But I had a dreadful clean up. Since there was adequate water for the rice…. and I can’t stop the tomato purée mixing with everything…. what do I do?

    1. Hard for me to tell because I don’t have the recipe in front of me. Maybe pot was not deglazed enough or water and rice ratio off. I never mix tomato purée. You can always mix after and have same taste.

  3. Soy fanatico de la cocina y compre una instant pot todos sus consejos y recetas son bien recibidas .gracias.

  4. Thank you for publishing this!! I’ve had burn messages and really had no idea what caused it! Now I know – I stirred and there were tomatoes!!

  5. I received my very first insta pot for Christmas I’m so grateful for this site it is helping me so much a lil intimidated of this big machine but now since I’ve been reading watching all info here I’m ready to make my first recipe thank you will definitely be on here daily All free wowzers

  6. I have ordered my first Instant Pot … should be here in 3 days. I have enjoyed watching your videos and look forward to trying your recipes. Thanks for the great tips!

  7. Well said. Thanks. I think that if a person follows the direction of the recipe as given, the burn message will rarely show up.
    I am at home and doing most of my meal preparations from scratch including breads, so your tips are highly valued.

  8. I have the Evo Duo Plus 8 qt. It gets the dreaded C8 but I was prepared because I spent a long time reading comments in the review. It started after I had browned meat while sauteing. I did scrape up the burnt meat from bottom with liquid in the pot. This one helped me. I hit cancel and then Turned pot 180 degrees and then unplugged pot. Turned it back on. It was ready to go. I started cooking from where I had originally intended. Everything came out perfect. This happened 2 times. Its a problem with the Evo Duo Plus. I appreciate your tips. I’ve had the IP for about 3 weeks now. I love it. Easy to use, food tastes better and for the reason you stated, I can walk away while its cooking. I usually do my clean up from preparation or go on my computer. I think, regarding the turning of the pot, if I cleaned up bottom and then unplugged pot it would have worked. In the beginning I was very intimidated but I’m getting used to it now and looking forward to making some of the wonderful recipes you have. You make it seem easy.

  9. I’ve gotten a burn notice twice and it is discouraging. I thank you for telling me it’s because of the tomatoes. I do not mix ingredients up in my chili and put in the tomatoes last but when I made taco soup I stirred and that was why I got the burn notice I guess.

  10. Hi!
    Thank you for all the great information. Knowing more about the “burn” message is very helpful.
    Cooked a whole chicken in my IP Duo Evo Plus and it came out good but a little dry….I did use a cup of water. Maybe use a little more water next time or decrease the time to cook it.

    1. Hi Patty. That is extremely odd because that’s one thing about whole chicken in IP – so juicy! Extar water wouldn’t change much. How long did you cook it for and how big was it? Was chicken frozen in your freezer for a while?

  11. Just got an Insta Pot for my wife for Christmas and got the Burn Message while cooking beef stew. Scraped the bottom off and restarted. I didn’t add any more water because I want stew not soup.

    Hopefully this does not happen frequently or I’ll be going back to my Fagor stove top pressure cooker. I get a little bothered by tools that don’t do as they’re told.

    1. Hi Vlad. This is interesting – never knew you could “season” SS pans. I don’t know how it will hold under pressure. The only time it would help when you are sauteing meat first before pressure cooking. Otherwise, IP Burn message has nothing to do with the sticky SS surface of the pot. It is more about other things I talk over in the post. 🙂

  12. Thanks for your “Burn” tips They make sense. I have been watching some of your UTUBE videos and learning a lot I just got my Instant pot last week and already I like it You and your hubby make watching and learning fun. I enjoy the humor you two put into each video. I am and old guy who had to learn to cook when my wife of 60 years lost her battle with ALZ. I have turned into a pretty good cook but the instant pot cooking is going to be an interesting adventure I look forward to it

    1. Good for you! If you have 3 quart Instant Pot, half ingredients in half and keep same cooking time.
      We are publishing the video on Burn tomorrow. So timely for you.:)
      And I am so sorry for your loss! 🙁

  13. Thanks for your column and this article. I just got my Instant Pot yesterday and haven’t used it yet. I have to admit I’m a little intimidated!

    Is there any way to print your web page? I’m starting a loose leaf binder for Instant Pot and would like to start it with this. I look forward to more advice.

    1. You will do great! Everyone is intimidated at first. I was too. It goes away fast. Unfortunately can print a webpage just like a webpage.

  14. I have yet to get the burn on mine, but this was great to learn and have it on hand for possible burns I may incounter.

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