Instant Pot Burn Message - what happens when your IP displays "burn", what is the cause, how to fix it and how to prevent it in the first place.
Seeing the burn message on your Instant Pot, can lead to a slight panic moment but remember: this is a smart appliance and it's just telling you that the temperature at the bottom it too high and it turned off the heating element. It gives you a chance to fix the issue.
INSTANT POT BURN MESSAGE
Chances are that while cooking pasta dishes or chili in your Instant Pot, you saw the "burn" message on the display. The most common dishes that will cause that are pasta dishes and chili because of the thick sauce. If you read my Instant Pot Guide for Beginners, you know that the Instant Pot needs a thin liquid to come to pressure so a thick tomato based sauce is not ideal and it will cause the dish to burn on the bottom.
WHAT DOES BURN MESSAGE MEAN ON MY INSTANT POT?
If you see "burn" display on your Instant Pot, do not panic. The IP detected a high temperature at the bottom of the stainless steel insert and because this appliance has a burn-protection sensor, it turned off heating of the pot which means it stopped cooking. This is a very smart feature and it will prevent your whole dish from burning and smoking up your kitchen, as it would happen in a regular saucepan or pot on the stove.
The "burn" message can be caused by:
- lack of thin liquid or not enough thin liquid (8qt Instant Pots require more liquid than 6qt IPs),
- burnt food pieces on the bottom of the inner pot caused during sauteing mode,
- missing or improperly placed sealing ring,
- thick tomato or cream-based sauce or starch-thickened sauce.
INSTANT POT BURN MESSAGE FIX
When you see the burn message on your Instant Pot:
- Press the cancel/off button.
- Switch the valve to "venting" position to quickly release the pressure.
- Carefully open the lid away from your face.
- Check if there is any food stuck to the bottom of the inner pot. If so, remove the food onto a plate or bowl and add water or stock to the pot. Using a wooden spoon, scrape any food bits from the bottom of the pot. If there is no food stuck, add more thin liquid to your dish. Stir to make sure the liquid is at the bottom.
- Let the Instant Pot cool down and proceed with cooking.
To ensure the best final result, always follow my 4 Steps each time you use your Instant Pot. Print the image below and place on the fridge for easy access.
HOW TO AVOID BURN MESSAGE ON INSTANT POT?
To avoid the burn message on your Instant Pot, always make sure there is no food stuck at the bottom of the inner pot (especially if you sauteed the food before pressure cooking). The best example is my recipe for the Instant Pot Chicken Thighs. You need to saute the thighs first, then remove them onto a plate, deglaze the bottom of the pot by adding required liquid and scraping it with a wooden spoon, then placing a trivet inside and arranging the meat on top.
If you are making pasta dishes (like my Instant Pot Baked Ziti or Instant Pot Spaghetti), always make sure you scrape any food bits from the bottom of your inner pot after sauteing onions and garlic. If adding tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes, add them last and in the center of the dish, avoiding it touching the sides of the inner pot. Do not stir the dish. Pressure cook according to the instructions in the recipe.
It is recommended by the Instant Pot brand to avoid thick cream sauces when pressure cooking, as it will prevent the IP from coming to pressure. Add cream cheese, heavy cream or thicken the sauce with cornstarch and half and half after your food is cooked. Use the saute mode to thicken the dish.
It seems that 8qt Instant Pots tend to get burn message more often, and my assumption is that while the 8 quart IP requires more liquid to come to pressure than the 6 quart IP, most recipes do not include the info to adjust that according to what IP you are using.
To learn more about the Instant Pot and how to use it almost daily, make delicious dishes and love it, check out my Instant Pot Guide for Beginners.
I hope this information will help you avoid the burn message and moments of panic. Cooking with your Instant Pot should be fun and stress-free!