Cooking with an Instant Pot can be intimidating, especially when it comes to steam release. Here's the difference between the Instant Pot natural release and quick release methods.
Once the food in your Instant Pot is done cooking, the steam pressure inside needs to be released. There are two ways to go about this: natural release and quick release. Here’s what you need to know about both methods, and how to steer clear of that hot steam.
What Is Quick Release?
This is the fastest way to release the pressure from your Instant Pot and stop the cooking process. To use the quick release method, turn the steam release handle on the top of the Instant Pot from the “sealed” position to the “venting” position. This will allow the excess steam to shoot out of the lid immediately, and the Instant Pot will be depressurized within minutes.
Editor’s Tip: Be sure to read the safety precautions before using the quick release method!
Is Quick Release Safe?
Yes—if you take the right precautions. The steam that immediately releases from the Instant Pot will be extremely hot. The Instant Pot User Manual warns to not place your hand or lean your face over the cooker while it is releasing steam. It’s best to turn the valve with an object such as kitchen tongs or a wooden spoon to avoid any skin coming in contact with the hot steam. Other Instant Pot users like wearing silicone oven mitts, or simply covering their hand with a kitchen towel. (Psst! Don’t miss these Instant Pot secrets that you won’t find in the user manual.)
What Is Natural Release?
Instant Pot natural release is when you allow the Instant Pot to cool down by itself, releasing steam slowly. When the food is done cooking, the Instant Pot will automatically release steam gradually until the float valve drops down. This could take up to 30 minutes.
Yes, this method is safe. Natural release doesn’t require you to move the steam valve manually, so there isn’t as high a risk of coming into contact with hot steam. However, the natural release method is not always your best choice. Food continues to cook during this process, leading some foods to overcook. For those, you’d want to opt for the quick release method.
One of my all-time favorite German dishes is sauerbraten, but I don't love that it normally takes five to 10 days to make. Using an electric pressure cooker, I think I've captured that same distinctive flavor in less than two hours. —James Schend, Deputy Editor, Taste of Home
I had this dish at a local Mexican restaurant when celebrating a friend's birthday. I fell in love with the spicy, smoky flavor from the tequila and decided to try Instant Pot salsa chicken at home. Boy, was it a success! It's also great stuffed into flour tortillas or for making nachos. —Trisha Kruse, Eagle, Idaho
I was getting tired of mashed potatoes and baked spuds, so I decided to create something new. This potluck-ready recipe is an easy and delicious twist on the usual potato dish. —Summer Feaker, Ankeny, Iowa
Clam chowder is especially tasty when it's served with a sprinkle of fresh thyme, bacon crumbles and crispy oyster crackers on top. If you like your chowder on the thick side, add another tablespoon of flour after it is done in the pressure cooker. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
Your family will love the flavorful sauce in this Instant Pot sesame chicken. And you'll love how quick and easy it is for a weeknight dinner! If you serve gluten-free meals, use tamari instead of soy sauce. — Karen Kelly, Germantown, Maryland
I love making one-pot pastas in my pressure cooker. Every noodle soaks up the flavors of the delicious ingredients. I tried a version with some leftover smoked fish and fresh dill, and boom—this smoked salmon pasta was born. It's now a staple in our house because the dish is on the table in a half hour and the kids love it! —Shannon Dobos, Calgary, Alberta
I'm a vegetarian and I always find it challenging to find new recipes. This cauliflower tikka masala is my easy take on the original. It's made healthy by the use of an air fryer and pressure cooker. —Garima Arora, Charlotte, North Carolina
When we're missing the taste of grilled food during winter, these tangy ribs give us that same smoky barbecue flavor we love. They're so simple, and they're fall-off-the-bone delicious too! —Sue Evans, Marquette, Michigan
There’s nothing better or more satisfying than making your own chicken broth. You
can control the amount of seasoning and salt, so you can customize it for whatever recipes you’re using it in. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
These spicy cowboy beans are a perfect contribution to a potluck buffet any time of year. Instead of needing hours on the stove, they cook quickly in the pressure cooker and there's no need to pre-soak the beans. —Joan Hallford, North Richland Hills, Texas
This Instant-Pot pork tenderloin with sweet brown sugar and balsamic glaze will become a go-to dinner your whole family will love. It's perfect for busy weeknights, but also special enough for company. —Karen Kelly, Germantown, Maryland
Beans and rice make the perfect meal because they're well-balanced, an excellent source of protein, and easy to prepare. Sausage adds full flavor to the recipe, and traditional pork sausage lovers won't even notice the switch to chicken sausage. —Robin Haas, Cranston, Rhode Island
Melt-in-your-mouth delicious! For this steak and cheese recipe, I like to saute extra onions and green pepper just until they are al dente to add to the top of the meat before melting the cheese. —Kimberly Wallace, Dennison, Ohio
I made a twist on my favorite white chicken chili and used my pressure cooker, which made it very quick and easy. I like to serve it with avocado, cilantro and onions. —Teri Lee Rasey, Cadillac, Michigan
Traditional stuffed peppers get a southwestern twist! The filling also makes a delicious meat loaf that we even like cold as a sandwich with Mexican-blend or cheddar cheese, mayo and salsa. —Traci K Wynne, Denver, Pennsylvania
I like to serve this twist on traditional stew with fresh rolls or crusty bread. The roast and vegetables cook quickly and make a comforting meal. My family loves this unique pressure-cooker beef stew. —Joanne Wright, Niles, Michigan
Enjoy this chowder’s rich, slow-simmered flavor in record time by using an Instant Pot. Corn chowder is a classic staple, with its hearty flavors of creamy sweet corn, bacon crumbles, shredded cheddar cheese and chopped parsley. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
My strategy to get picky kids to eat healthy: Let everyone assemble their dinner at the table. We love these easy meatball wraps topped with crunchy veggies and peanuts, sweet raisins and a creamy dollop of yogurt. —Jennifer Beckman, Falls Church, Virginia
Easter isn't complete without deviled eggs. I like to experiment with my recipes, and was pleasantly surprised with how the fresh dill really perked up the flavor of these irresistible appetizers. —Kami Horch, Frankfort, Maine
This tender chicken with light lime flavor is a natural filling for tacos, but my son Austin also loves it spooned over cooked rice and sprinkled with his favorite taco toppings. —Christine Hair, Odessa, Florida
No matter when I eat it, this tangy chicken dish always reminds me of summer meals with friends and family. The recipe produces a lot of lovely sauce; serve it as is or spoon it over some lightly herbed couscous. —Deborah Posey, Virginia Beach, Virginia
I've wanted to make beef Burgundy ever since I got one of Julia Child's cookbooks, but I wanted to find a way to fix it in a pressure cooker. My version of the popular beef stew is still rich, hearty and delicious, but without the need to watch on the stovetop or in the oven.—Crystal Jo Bruns, Iliff, Colorado
These pressure-cooker stuffed peppers get a southwestern twist! The filling also makes a delicious meat loaf that we like cold as a sandwich with cheddar cheese, mayo and salsa. —Traci Wynne, Denver, Pennsylvania
My husband and I own and operate a busy farm. There are days when there's just no time left for cooking! It's really nice to be able to come into the house at night and have dinner ready in just a few minutes. —Aggie Arnold-Norman, Liberty, Pennsylvania
I've made quite a few tacos in my day, but you can't beat the tender filling made in a pressure cooker. These are by far the best pork tacos we've had—and we've tried plenty. Make the mango salsa from scratch if you have time! —Amber Massey, Argyle, Texas
Savory, quickly made pork is luscious served in a delightful tomato gravy over noodles. It’s a nice change from regular pork roast. I serve it with broccoli or green beans on the side. —Connie McDowell, Greenwood, Delaware.
Chicken breasts are treated to black beans, red peppers and juicy tomatoes in this southwestern supper. We love it served with rice cooked in chicken broth—and it would also make a great filling for tacos or burritos. —Piper Spiwak, Vienna, Virginia
Although multicookers can’t replace every tool in the kitchen, they sure are coming close. Chili con carne is one of our favorite dishes to re-create in them. This cooks up fast but tastes like it simmered all day! —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Butter, lemon juice, parsley and chives enhance this simple side dish. I usually prepare these potatoes when I'm having company. Since they cook in the pressure cooker, there's plenty of room on the stove for other dishes. —Tara Branham, Austin, Texas
Spoil yourself or the people you love with these delightful portable custards—a cute and fun take on the Mexican dessert classic. Tuck a jar into your lunchbox for a sweet treat. —Megumi Garcia, Madison, Wisconsin
This easy, cheesy casserole has made appearances at holiday breakfasts, potlucks and even my daughter's college apartment to feed her hungry roommates. It's my go-to recipe for action-packed mornings. —Patty Bernhard, Greenville, Ohio
These tender pressure-cooker short ribs explode with flavor, and they're a quick and easy alternative to traditionally braised short ribs. Serve with egg noodles, rice or polenta. .—Rebekah Beyer, Sabetha, Kansas
I came up with this pressure-cooker beef carnitas recipe while cleaning out my refrigerator, and trying to figure out what I could do with a pot roast that had been in the freezer. I LOVE how easy this is. —Ann Piscitelli, Nokomis, Florida
This delicious dish gives you a way to get all that yummy turkey flavor without heating up the house, and the berries make the perfect summer sauce. For a browner turkey, just broil it for a few minutes before serving. —Margaret Bracher, Robertsdale, Alabama
You can make this colorful and easy fruit relish up to a week in advance. It's an outstanding accompaniment to turkey, chicken or pork throughout the holiday season. —Esther Chesney , Carthage, Missouri
This recipe means a delectable dinner is ready shortly after I walk in the door from work. The meatless pressure-cooker meal also makes an elegant brunch for lazy weekend mornings. —Connie Eaton, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Looking for a meal in a bowl? Sit down to a Mexican classic full of cubed pork, sliced sausage. hominy and more. It all goes into the pressure cooker, so you can come home at night and dinner is ready in a flash. —Greg Fontenot, The Woodlands, TX
When I first made my decadent chocolate cake, my husband's and daughter's expressions said it all. She says it's one of her "most favorites." Later, I took one of these to our next-door neighbors. Their teenage son, who answered the door, ate the whole thing without telling anyone else about it! —Aimee Fortney, Fairview, Tennessee
I lived in Florida for a while and loved the pork served there, so I went about making it for myself! The flavorful meat makes amazing Cuban sandwiches, but you can use it in traditional pulled pork sandwiches and tacos, too. —Lacie Griffin, Austin, Texas
Preparing the pulled turkey in a delicious teriyaki sauce for these snack-size sandwiches is a breeze using a pressure cooker. Serving them on lightly-toasted sweet dinner rolls is a finishing touch.—Amanda Hoop, Seaman, Ohio
This warm breakfast cereal made in the pressure cooker is a great way to add some veggies in the morning and keep a healthy diet! For extra crunch, I garnish individual servings with ground walnuts or pecans.—Debbie Kain, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Tender chicken and shrimp make a flavorful combination that's easy to prepare, yet elegant enough to serve at a dinner party. While I clean the house, it practically cooks itself. I serve it over hot cooked rice with crusty bread and a green salad. —Diana Knight
This recipe hits all the flavor points and makes a fantastic side throughout the year. Plus, you've got to love a dish that requires minimal effort and doesn't take up oven space. You can always omit the bacon if you need a vegetarian option. —Lauren McAnelly, Des Moines, Iowa
My husband and I love Thai food, but going out on weeknights can be challenging with busy schedules. I wanted to create a Thai-inspired dinner that could double as an easy lunch the following day. The beef is fantastic in this dish, but chicken or pork would be equally delicious!—Ashley Lecker, Green Bay, Wisconsin
I love the start of fall because that means it's football season! Meatballs are filling and hearty and great for a tailgate. I served this for the first time at my favorite team's home opener. My best friend, who hates meatballs, couldn't get enough of them! I created a meatball convert! Woo-hoo! If you are serving children and prefer not to add the wine, substitute beef broth instead.—Lisa de Perio, Dallas, Texas
I live in Traverse City, which calls itself the cherry capital of the world. What better way to celebrate our wonderful orchards than by using plump, tart dried cherries in my favorite desserts? This pressure-cooked rice pudding recipe always turns out wonderful. —Deb Perry, Traverse City, Michigan
When I was looking for something new, I started playing with flavors and came up with this very tasty dish. My German grandmother would be impressed, I think! The colorful side is just right with pork. —Ann Sheehy, Lawrence, Massachusetts
I just love the sweet and tart flavor that balsamic vinegar gives to this easy dish. After cooking in the pressure cooker for just a few minutes, the chicken thighs are tender and flavorful. —Juli Snaer, Enid, Oklahoma
My husband and I are both graduate students right now, so we don't have a lot of time to cook dinner. Our family loves coming home to this incredible nacho platter, and I love how easy it is to prepare. —Faith Stokes, Chickamauga, Georgia
Our beef osso buco boasts a thick, savory sauce complemented by the addition of gremolata, a chopped herb condiment made of lemon zest, garlic and parsley. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Here's a terrific healthy addition to any buffet spread. Mushrooms and pearl onions seasoned with herbs, balsamic and red wine are terrific on their own or alongside a tenderloin roast. —Courtney Wilson, Fresno, California
After my dad and I had dinner at the legendary Rendezvous restaurant, I was inspired to create my own version of tasty dry-rub Memphis ribs. Smoked paprika in the rub mimics the flavor the ribs would get from grilling over hot coals. —Matthew Hass, Franklin, Wisconsin
These assorted pressure-cooker grains are perfect together. A hearty breakfast is ready fast in the morning, making this healthy recipe a favorite in my home. —Sherisse Dawe, Black Diamond, Alberta, Canada
Chicken Bog is a South Carolina tradition with lots of variations—think herbs, spices and fresh veggies—but the standard ingredients remain sausage, chicken and rice. This pressure-cooked rendition is a simple take on the classic. — Anna Hanson, Spanish Fork, Utah
Erica is a cleaning and home décor expert. She knows exactly how to tidy a filthy kitchen and straighten out a mixed-up pantry! When she's not writing you'll find her organizing a closet, buying more bins she doesn't need or bingeing her latest TV show obsession.