5 Things you should NEVER put in your Instant Pot

5 Things Never to Put in Your Instant Pot

I’ve had a run of bad-luck with my Instant Pot.  Not the pot’s fault… I have no one to blame but myself! One time I left the sealing ring off, which caused the French Onion Soup to boil over all over the countertops and floor. Another time, the steam release wasn’t properly attached and the pot wouldn’t come to pressure.

But we live and we learn, right?

So today I’m going to help you out and give you the 5 things you should NEVER put into the pot. Remembering to check your appliance is entirely up to you but hopefully these tips will be easier to remember 😉


Tip #1 – Meats You Want Cooked Rare

If you’ve been using the instant pot for awhile now, this one is probably obvious to you. The IP is a pressure cooker and as such, it doesn’t do a very good job at giving you options on how you want your meats cooked. Everything gets cooked to well-done, period.

The exception here is if you have an Ultra Instant Pot (10-in-1) and you want to Sous Vide, in which case you’ll want to check out this YouTube video.

Tip #2 – Avoid Thick Substances

Have you ever got that pesky “BURN” warning on your IP? It’s probably because you added a thick substance to the pot, which scorched the bottom. Avoid things like Peanut Butter, Tomato Paste or Condensed Soup. I know a few people – including myself – who’ll see this warning when they make chilli and that’s likely because it contains the paste or soup.

Now, if you’re making something like a Peanut-Chicken Satay, the trick is to leave the Peanut Butter in clumps at the top where it will melt slowly. Even then, I did still get a slight scorch at the bottom but nothing that prompted a warning.


Tip #3 – No Thickening Agents. Ever.

Adding cornstarch, flour or any other product you’d normal use to thicken soups and stews should ONLY be added after the cooking process. Otherwise, you’ll likely see that “BURN” warning appear. You could also burn the food or prevent the IP from getting to pressure.

Creating a slurry to add at the end is how you’ll want to get those stews and soups to their desired consistency.

Tip #4 – Keep Away from Dairy Products Like Cream and Milk.

Have you ever heated milk on the stovetop and forgot about it? Then when you went back, it was a yucky curdled mess? That’s exactly what happens to cream and milk if you add them at the beginning of the cooking process.

Best to wait until the end before adding dairy. If you’re worried about cooling down your meal, then warm the substance in your microwave or stovetop before adding it to the IP.

Tip #5 – Remove Stuck on Food

If your recipe calls for browning meat or anything else that leaves sediments stuck to the bottom, be sure to deglaze the pot before starting it. Fortunately, this is fairly easy as EVERY IP recipe requires liquid. All you need to do is add some of that liquid after you remove the meat, keep your pot on the sauté function, and work off food residue as the liquid heats up. If you don’t, those pieces will continue to burn during the cooking process.

But don’t toss out that liquid!! It probably has great flavour and will taste amazing in whatever you’re making. Feeling a bit confused about this one? Don’t worry, most Instant Pot recipes will tell you to “deglaze the pan” and now you know why and how!

Thanks for joining me friends! If you’re looking for some new Instant Pot recipes, check out my IP Roundups!


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110 thoughts on “5 Things you should NEVER put in your Instant Pot

      1. I just got my insta pot and I’m very intimidated…almost scared . Not sure about the whole new way of cooking !

      2. Once you make you’re first meal you’ll quickly get over that fear. I know I did! I started with ribs and it was so fast, easy and delicious that I couldn’t image making them any other way!

    1. Oh, honey. I am 73 and love learning new things. It keeps us young! IMHO, the Instant Pot is now my favorite appliance, beating out my 47-year-old Kitchen-Aid mixer. 😊

      1. l LOVE hearing that!! Well, I just bought myself an air fryer so I’m super excited to try that out 🙂

      2. My IP’s, 3 qrt and 6 qrt, are my favourite appliances as well with my infared cook top, toaster oven and air fryer close behind. I seldom use my stove and I keep telling my husband I want to put the stove in storage and put a dishwasher (built-in, so I have more counter space) I think at 65 I deserve one my first one outside of me lol.

      3. You definitely do!! I hope you get your wish 😉 I’m also a HUGE air fryer fanatic…. who needs a stovetop?!?

      4. I received an Insta Pot for Christmas. I thought it strange that came with no directions whatsoever. I have no idea how to use it I’ve never been a big fan of pressure cookers because I had one blow up on me once. Somebody said I should give it a water test before I use it. I have no idea how to do a water test. I’m thinking the best thing for this is probably dropping it off at Goodwill.

      5. No, don’t do that!! IPs today are much more safe than they used to be…. once you get past that initial hurdle, you’ll love it. I didn’t find I needed to do a water test but I assume that’s just running a cycle for a few minutes using the pot filled with some water. Two cups should be more than enough.

        Have a look at this post:

        It includes my favourite rib recipe, which is actually the first thing I made in my IP and there’s also a great beginners guide video that you might find useful.

        Let me know how it goes!

    2. Thanks for the tips! I make yogurt so already surmised there bit about the dairy. Every little bit of new knowledge is good. I love my ip so much I have a second one as well as an extra insert.

      1. I have a second insert as well…. it’s SO helpful!! Glad to hear you’re enjoying your IP 🙂

    3. I haven’t used my pot yet, but thank you for your tips. Always looking for the best meal to fix in it 1st.

      1. If I’m not mistaken, the Aura is actually a slow cooker (with added functionality) and not an instant pot. It’s a bit confusing because Instant Pot is the brand name of the most popular pressure cooker and often times the name is interchangeable. The Instant Pot Aura doesn’t have a pressure cooking feature.

  1. Even as a VERY experienced cook with 58 years of cooking and baking behind me, I read the instruction manual for every appliance I buy, having learned decades ago that I don’t know everything about everything, and I’m not going to get the results I want by “winging it” with new appliances.

    1. Joyce, winging it is for the 21 year olds that are sure they know everything, and have to do everything the hard way. Btw, reaching that realization is called WISDOM, and you seem to have it in spades. I learned it in the Navy, taught how to work smart, not hard!

  2. Thanks for this. I’m trying to avoid as many mistakes as possible as I teach myself to cook (even though I’m typing now with an injured thumb from a Madeline slicer…LOL) I did a pork shoulder the other day and read that if you ball up about a 2″ ball of tin foil (6 of them) and put the meat on top of them it will keep it from scorching and sticking. It worked perfectly! Thanks again.

    1. Great hack! I have a bottom rack I use but this sounds like it also does the trick. Thank you for sharing 🙂 I hope your thumb gets better soon…. Be careful!

    2. What about the aluminum getting into your food? Not good for the brain. Causes memory loss 🤔

      1. The Instant Pot brand uses stainless steal, removable bowls. I don’t tend to use aluminum in any of my cooking.

    3. QVC has an electric mandoline that dices and slices your food perfectly. A whole stalk of celery perfectly diced in less than 2 minutes. You cannot cut yourself and the time and effort saved is a miracle. Less than $100.00.

  3. I’ve been disappointed with mine. The low slow vooker setting isnt hot enough to cook anything, even after 10 hours veg is hard. The low saute setting is so hot you cant leave to gently fry and boils liquids to nothing. Most things ive tried to pressure overheat. When i have used it to pressure soaked beans for rimes given in book they are still hard. I want an appliance which cooks what and how i want. Also it wouldnt hurt them to produce their own tried and tested recipe book, not have to rely on users donations. They might have an idea of its shortcomings if they did.

    1. I have heard the slow cooker option is less than ideal… but I suppose you can set it to Pressure Cook in a crunch. Have a look at some of my Instant Pot Roundups where you’ll find recipes I’ve tried myself so you can be more assured they’ll turn out. Keep trying!

      1. I have a multi cooker (fingerhuts instapot) and a instapot one the instapot sucks when you use the slowcooker but the multicooker slowcook function is amazing. The only problem with it is its 10 quarts.

      2. My problem is I have been told you can cook pasta in the IP. I would really like to get that right as I do all kinds of pasta soups and dumplings. I have killed two different electric pots trying to get that right.

    2. I have cooked dried beans a number of times and they come out perfect every time. I cant use canned due to sodium issues. I made chili last week. I followed a chart i found on pinterest.

      1. I’ve heard great things about cooking dried beans in the IP. Chili is also do-able, you just need to be careful about some ingredients…. I had a recipe that called for condensed tomato soup and it just didn’t work.

      2. I’m relatively new to the instant pot world but have tried ribs, chicken, and just made a 16 bean soup with smoked sausage !!! they all have turned out as “keeper” recipes !!!

      3. I love hearing stories like this! Thanks for sharing 🙂 It’s a fabulous kitchen tool and I’m SO happy to know others agree!!

    3. I’ve only been buying the products from Eric Theiss Power Cookers and pans. I’ve had great success with his products. I have purchased his Power Smokeless Grill, Quick Pot, Air-Fryer Pot and Oven and the Pressure Cooker. They all come with recipe books and you can watch him on television or the internet.

    4. I believe that if you would take a class on using your IP, you would have entirely different opinion. I’m a senior and love the my IP. I’ve never burned anything. Our local hospital is offering IP classes. Check your local paper for classes in your area. The IP is a great appliance when you know how to use it. Good luck! Think about when you first started using a microwave! All comments I’ve read on the IP don’t suggest using the slow cooker function as it only heats from the bottom. Good Luck with future use. They really are a great appliance. BTW..I’m 72…

    5. Exactly! For an appliance like this one I was amazed & disappointed at the lack of decent instructions and not a single recipe to experiment with except the “water test”!
      I had to google a few recipes & got encouragement from friends!

      Also, It is definitely spelled INSTANT POT so why do some people call it an INSTA POT ? I was wondering if that was another appliance?

      I’m 77 I have used my Christmas gift Instant Pot for five meals now! My very first one, chili, told me FOOD BURN, FOOD BURN, ! Failure on the first try!! But I’m not one to give up easily! 🙃

      1. I tend to find A LOT of information about Instant Pots on Pinterest. Tons of good recipes and advice too! I have a board dedicated to Instant Pot information here: https://www.pinterest.ca/myhouseofzing/instant-pot-recipes-related-tips/

        As for the term “Insta Pot” it’s two things. For one, “Instant Pot” is actually a brand term similar to “Kleenex”. Really, we should be calling it a pressure cooker. Also, people are just lazy and short-forming the name 😉

    6. I had the same problem until I discovered that if I press the slow cooker button again I can adjust the temp.

  4. I have two IPs. One is older and doesn’t have the “burn” crap. My newer one does, and it’s such a pain in the derriere. I wish I could get another one of the older models without the burn component.

  5. I actually cooked a sirloin tip roast to medium rare in my IP. Seared all sides in a heavy frypan. Low pressure for 4 minutes and then keep warm for 45 minutes. Turned out great.

  6. Live & learn! Lol so true. Ty for sharing ! I use my one pot everyday. Hubby has gained 20 lbs. since we got ours! Second one. Wore out my 1st one after 3 years.❤️

  7. Your Tip #1 – I LOVE my roasts rare (pink & juicy) and that CAN be accomplished in an IP. Oddly, though, this method only works with lean cuts like rump, sirloin tip, eye of round, etc. Do not try it with any fatty type of beef (chuck, blade, etc). Those cuts definitely need longer cooking under pressure. I put a cup of broth in the pot & maybe some quartered onions, celery, carrots. Place the roast (approx 2 lb) seasoned as desired on the trivet in the pot. The beef should not be in the liquid. Seal the lid and set on High Pressure for 3 minutes. That’s right, 3 minutes. At the end of 3 mins; turn IP off and turn on Warming function and set for 2.5 hours for rare and up to 3.5 hrs for well done. I like it for Sunday supper with the usual trimmings; but, it can be sliced razor thin and the Hubby loves it for making French Beef Dip sandwiches. Bon Appetit!!!!

    Your other Tips are ‘bang on’.

    Thanks for your post.

  8. I wonder if you ladies could help me out. I have a steam diverter and have tried everything I can think of to set it correctly. It only goes on the knob one way, but it sets askew more often than not and keeps a slow release.

    Needless to say, I have a hard time getting my IP to full pressure.

    1. Are you referring to the black knob on top? I’ve had it pop off before and I found I just needed to jiggle it and push a bit to get it into place. BUT, before you try that you might want to give their customer service team a quick call. They should be able to help!

  9. Actually, you can do a beef roast and have it pink in the center. Put it in when the center is still frozen. Comes out with a beautiful pink center every time!

  10. I’m new to IP, but so far I am loving it, I am 79 very soon to be 80 and I don’t like spending a lot of time standing over a hot stove. My IP has been incredible and we’ve enjoyed some excellent meals because of it.

  11. One extra tip I learned the hard way concerns peanut butter. I make a pork chop recipe that uses onions, peanut butter, redwine and cream of mushroom soup mixed together and cooked with the pork chops. It works great in a slow cooker but either the peanut butter or the mushroom soup is just too thick and burns to the bottom of the IP and it stops cooking every time. While this recipe sounds kind of funky, after cooking a few hours the pork chops fall apart and the sauce is a beautiful creamy dark brown and perfect served over vermicelli or potatoes. Cheers!

    1. Either PB or condensed soup would burn so together it would definitely cause problems. I have a few recipes I just can’t do in the IP 🙁

      1. I think if a recipe calls for condenced soup, it would work well using the “pot-in-pot” method. Putting everything into a dish that fits into your inner pot (covered and on a trivet) the water goes in the bottom of the inner pot, under the trivet. The steam pressure cooks what is in the “pot-in-the-pot”

      2. Just asking….
        Couldn’t the denser ingredients but thinned by warming and stirring\mixing them with recipe liquids?

      3. From my experience with chilli, that didn’t work because the consistency remains too thick. An IP needs enough thin-water in order to bring the pot up to pressure.

  12. Most of the things listed are common sense if you think about it, but it’s good to know. I do use a little milk when I do corn on the cob though. I’ve been criticized for putting corn in my pressure cooker, but it’s delicious, worth the trouble.

  13. I am confused I just got an insta pot I have not used it yet but I have read in a couple of places not to add milk or cream. But I have seen several “insta pot” recipes that call for it before the food is done cooking. How does one know?

    1. Hi Annette. Good question! It’s okay to add milk or cream at the end, after the pressure cooking is done, typically using the sauté function. Hope that helps clarify!

  14. I’ve had my Power Pressure Cooker XL for 2 1/2 years and I use it all the time. I haven’t had any failures in recipes. If you follow the simple recipes first with no changes and tweak them as you use them it always works. I’ve fed 20 to 30 people every weekend for months out of my 10 quart one while friends and relatives helped with our daughter’s hurricane Florence flooded home.

    1. Yes, most online recipes that have been tested work well. These tips help those who modify, make their own recipes, or are adapting recipes that would otherwise work in a slow cooker.

  15. Wow, this is such a great sight for first time users, as after reading all of the comments, I think I am ready to get started using mis….good Lito myself!

    1. I’m so glad to hear it was useful for you!! Good luck…. if you find any great recipes to share, please come back and let us know. Happy cooking 🙂

  16. To the person who had trouble with the Slow Cook function:
    I use the Slow Cook function every now and then without a problem but NOT the Low Slow Cook setting. It doesn’t get hot enough. I’ve used the Medium and High settings with success though. The Medium Slow Cook setting on my IP is slightly less hot than the Normal setting on a regular Crock Pot (more like the Normal setting on Crock Pots 30 years ago). The High Slow Cook on my IP is a little hotter than the IP Normal Slow Cook but not as hot as HIGH on today’s Crock Pots.
    Hope all of this is not too confusing!
    I actually used a Thermapen to check the temps of water (“cooked” on the Slow Cook settings to see how each compared to my Crock Pot temps).
    This is the first time I’ve visited this site. Nice info!!

    1. I’m so excited for you! I think you’ll love it 🙂 Please come back and let us know how it’s going. If you’re interested in some recipes, I have a few Instant Pot Roundups in the recipe tab with all my favourites. Have fun and enjoy!!

    2. Hey Patricia, I was scared too,but not anymore! I love it! I tell everyone to get one. There are instant pot groups on Facebook and YouTube videos that are helpful also. It has inspired and renewed my interest in cooking

    3. Hi Patricia,
      I’m 72 yrs. Young two yrs ago my youngest daughter sent me a IP for Christmas. I was afraid to use it too. When I finally did I would run out of liquid, I couldn’t figure out where the steam valve needed to be set at. Ten o’clock, make sure the valve is at ten o’clock. Now I can’t stop using it it’s a great appliance I cook everything in it most things take 30 min. Or less. Meats come out moist, and tender.
      I e made a few mistakes but it’s a learning tool. I love it now and you will too. Happy IP cooking!

  17. Hi! I have made these mistakes before. For example- I could not figure out why my instant pot was counting down – without the pressurizing pop-up seal engaged – when making penne with thick sauce. I researched and found that most electric pressure cookers have sensors under the bottom of the container and very thick ingredients can confuse them. However – there is a way around the problem when using thick (also delicate and dairy) ingredients. Put a rack on the bottom of the container and add 1 cup (or more) water. Put the food in a separate, heat-safe container that will fit inside the main one. Make sure it fits well so that the lid is also able to secure & seal properly. You may also want to cover the top of the smaller container with aluminum foil & poke some holes- that will depend on what ingredients you are using. You also may need to tweak the cooking time a little. Give it a try – this method really helps!

    1. You can also use other flat items to cover the top of the container. Even natural muslin tied with string. Not restricted to just using foil.

      1. I use a small aluminum-foil pie pan (the kind that comes with small frozen purchased pies) to cover the top of the container. Works well.

  18. Got my IP this Christmas. Thought I would try chilli first thing. I browned the beef stew meat on saute then threw in the onion, garlic, red and green bell peppers, jalapeno and sauteed until soft. Then I poured in the beans, fire roasted tomatoes and spices and pressed the bean/chilli setting which came up at 20 minutes.

    Got a “burn food” message a few minutes later. Wish I had seen #5, above first. Nothing in the paperwork gave me any instructions as to what this was so I resorted to looking it up online instead. Normally when I buy an appliance the user guide is much better and they even throw in some recipes.

    Anyway, I figured it out. I stirred and made sure to scrape the bottom, then I used the meat/stew setting for 35 minutes.

    Nailed it. My best chilli yet.

    This week I’m trying pepperoni chicken!



      1. Let’s see if I can remember it. I normally follow recipes just to get an idea of proportions then get creative.

        Grocery list:
        1 medium red onion, diced
        1 large re bell pepper, seeds removed, diced
        1 large green bell pepper, seeds removed, diced
        1 large jalapeno, seeds removed and diced
        4 cloves garlic, diced
        2 lbs stew meat
        2-8 oz cans of fire roasted tomatoes with diced jalapenos
        2 -8 oz can of chilli or kidney beans
        1- 8 oz can of black beans

        2 tbsp chilli powder
        2 tbsp coca powder
        2 teaspoons cumin
        1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
        1 teaspoon red pepper

        Using the saute setting, brown the meat, stirring so that all sides of the meat are browned. Add diced onions, red and green bell peppers and garlic. Saute until tender.

        When tender, pour into a bowl with all the juices and set aside. Deglaze the bottom of your IP. Return inner pot to your IP then pour in all the ingredients and spices and stir to mix.

        Seal up your IP, press meat/srew setting and set time for 40 minutes.

        Serve plain or with toppings such as sour cream, shredded cheese and/or fresh sliced radishes.


  19. Whoops. Need to include to saute the diced jalapeno pepper with the onion and the red and green bell peppers

    Cell phone keyboards and big fingers issue.

  20. For Christmas I was given a stainless steel pan set to use with my multi-cooker to cook two items at once above and out of the steam water below. I poured 1 1/2 cups of water in the bottom of the pot and placed lightly browned boneless chicken pieces with a half cup of marinade in the bottom pan and bite-sized pieces of potato plus baby carrots in the top one. (I did not use the lid from the set because it sits too high to fit with the cooker lid on top.) The chicken was fine after 12 minutes of high pressure. The vegetables were raw. I gave the foods another 8 minutes and served them. The lag time between the two pressure cooking times didn’t do the potatoes any good. Any guidelines for cooking times when using the double pan system?

  21. Great tips, thank you. I kept getting the burn warning, and to avoid it I now cook thick food like chili or soup in a casserole dish on the trivet, with a cup of water in the pot, instead of in the Instant Pot directly. I’m cooking for two so the smaller size of the casserole is perfect.

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