I love my Instant Pot, but it’s not always been that way.
Having seen the appliance in stores, on Pinterest and in Youtube videos, I knew I had to have this versatile kitchen appliance.
However, what I wasn’t prepared for was how daunting using the appliance for the first time might feel.
While I managed to follow along with the vast majority of the appliance’s instructions, I found myself reading and re-reading how to use the Instant Pot lid correctly to ensure that the appliance is sealed correctly so it can reach the desired temperatures using pressure.
Now, after a decade of using the Instant Pot, I’ve found that the best way to know if your Instant Pot is sealed is by ensuring that no steam leaks out during the cooking process. If you find that moisture is hissing out, then the appliance is probably not sealed correctly.
You can fix this by ensuring the lid clicks into place and that the steam release knob is set to close.
However, if you’re still facing trouble with steam leaking from your Instant Pot, you’ll need to consider some alternative fixes I’m covering in this post based on my own experience.
How to Know If Your Instant Pot Is Sealed?
Sealing your Instant Pot correctly is essential. It ensures that the appliance is safe to use and not going to cause damage to itself, you, or your kitchen and ensures the appliance reaches the desired temperatures to cook your food correctly.
However, getting an Instant Pot into this sealed status for the first time can be a little daunting.
In this case, these are the steps I follow to attach the Instant Pot lid to the appliance;
Check The Sealing Ring
Before you attach the Instant Pot lid to the appliance, you’ll first want to check that the sealing ring is free of any damage and in place correctly.
The sealing ring is made of silicone and is located inside the lid of the Instant Pot.
If the ring is damaged or isn’t in place correctly, then the Instant Pot will not seal the pressure.
Look to ensure the silicone ring isn’t damaged with any rips or tears. Most new Instant Pot’s come with a couple of replacements.
However, if you have used all your replacements then you can order replacements online.
Then you’ll want to ensure that the silicone ring is correctly positioned along the metal ring on the inside of the Instant Pot Lid.
You should always complete these checks before you use the appliance as the prior exposure to heat and any cleaning of the appliance can see the silicone ring become damaged, stick or shift out of place.
Attaching The Instant Pot Lid
Once you’ve checked the condition of your Instant Pot lid and placed your ingredients inside the appliance it’s time to connect the lid.
Begin by lining up the lids attachments with the inside of the Instant Pot.
Once you place the Instant Pot down you should feel it click down into position.
Once in position rotate your Instant Pot lid until it locks into place.
At this point, the plastic side covers of the lid should align with the Instant Pots handles.
Check The Steam Release Valve
Once you have attached your lid to the Instant Pot and locked it into place you’ll want to set your steam release valve.
As your Instant Pot begins to pressurise, you should notice steam coming out of the appliance through the steam release valve.
After you set your Instant Pot to cook a meal and the display shows “On,” steam should come out of the float valve or the pressure release, which is to be expected.
After this, your Instant Pot might make a hissing sound and continue steaming up until it reaches the appropriate temperature.
When this happens, the float valve should have risen to the “Up” position to show that your Instant Pot is sealed.
Monitoring The Appliance
Be sure to monitor the Instant Pot’s display. After a couple of minutes, you should notice that it begins counting down from the number of minutes you set the appliance to cook for.
At this point, you should also notice that steam has stopped coming out from the float valve. This is because the appliance is now in a sealed state.
If you notice steam coming out of your Instant Pot at this point then chances are it is not sealed correctly and the float valve is not in the "Up" position.
In some cases, you might notice that a small amount of steam is being released from the Instant Pot periodically.
This shouldn’t last long and doesn’t always necessarily mean that the appliance hasn’t been sealed correctly.
Instead, it’s usually a result of foods that have a large volume of liquid such as a soup or broth that create too much pressure.
What Can I Do to Make Sure It Is Sealed?
In some cases, you might have looked to fix your Instant Pot sealing issues several times using the methods mentioned above but still find that it’s not sealing correctly.
If this is the case, then there are some other quick fixes you can try to correct this issue that have worked for me in the past.
Set the Pressure Release Handle in Position
In many Instant pot models, you can change the release handle from the Sealing position to Venting. You should do this if you’re having difficulties in closing the lid.
Since the Instant Pots contents should be warm, you should be able to close the pot tightly without any issues.
Once the pot is closed, set the steam release handle in the Sealing position.
Add More Liquid to the Instant Pot
Before trying to close the Instant Pot to cook your food, you should first ensure enough liquid in the pot.
If there isn’t enough liquid inside the pot, it will not pressurise correctly since water is required to create steam and pressure.
Depending on the dish you’re cooking, add more broth or water.
If you accidently add too much water (I've done this more than once) then you can use the Sauté function to reduce the amount of liquid.
Check The Sealing Ring
I mentioned sealing rings earlier in this post. However, I’m mentioning them again as this is the number one reason I’ve found most Instant Pots don’t seal correctly.
To begin, ensure that you have thoroughly washed the sealing ring and that it’s free from any dried food debris.
Then you’ll want to check that the Instant Pot silicone ring is free from any damage and is attached to the ring rack correctly.
As a general rule, if it rotates and moves around the ring rack freely then you know it's attached correctly.
If you have misplaced or significantly damaged your sealing ring, you can use one of the replacements provided when you purchased the appliance.
If you’re unable to find those or have used all of your replacements, then you can order more online.
A couple of months ago, I noticed that one of my Instant Pot sealing rings had overextended, likely due to the heat from the appliance.
In this case, I went ahead and placed it in the freezer, intending to get the molecules of the silicone to snap back into shape.
This process worked for me in this situation, so it might be worth trying if you’re experiencing a similar issue.
Remove Debris From The Float Valve
I’ve found that food debris is a recurring factor that can prevent your Instant Pot from sealing.
Not only can you experience this within the silicone ring of the Instant Pot but also in the float valve on the top of the lid where steam is released.
If you suspect that debris inside the float valve may be causing your Instant Pot not to seal correctly, you can clean it with a pipe cleaner or brush.
When the Instant Pot lid is not attached to the appliance, the float valve should move freely up and down as you gently pull it.
Replacing the Steam Release Handle
If you have an older model of Instant Pot, then you might find a metal safety clip situated inside the pot.
This feature was designed to prevent the appliance from over pressurising.
However, many owners of this design have noticed that the ring can bend over time and result in the sealing position of the lid being set to venting.
This bent ring can result in steam escaping from the Instant Pot when the appliance should be pressurised.
If you notice that you have this model of Instant Pot and are experiencing this issue, you can try removing the metal ring and straightening it with pliers to get it back in position.
Alternatively, if you don’t feel comfortable doing that, you can purchase a replacement Instant Pot steam release handle.
However, when I faced this issue a couple of years ago, I found that the cost of a replacement steam release handle was only $20 less than the cost of an entirely new Instant Pot, so I took the time to replace the entire appliance instead.
Does An Instant Pot Need to Be Sealed to Work?
If you plan to use your Instant Pot to pressure cook food, then the appliance needs to be sealed before it can work properly.
Technically, you can still switch it on and set it to cook, but it won’t work correctly because of the process it uses.
Instant pots, just like other pressure cookers, use intense heat and pressure for cooking meals which is why the appliance is significantly quicker at cooking ingredients when compared to other kitchen appliances.
If the Instant Pot isn’t sealed when you set it to cook your food, pressure will escape, and it will take a far longer to cook your food (or sometimes not cook your food at all).
The sealing of your Instant Pot ensures the heat and pressure stays inside long enough for the food to be cooked correctly.