How To Fix The ‘Food Burn’ Warning On Your Instant Pot

Errors and warnings are uncommon when cooking with an Instant Pot, however, do happen (especially when you’re new to using the machine).

Don’t be disheartened when this happens as there is often a quick and simple fix as well as a best practice to avoid the errors appearing again. 

If your Instant Pot shows the ‘BURN’ sign then turn the pot off at the mains and slowly release the pressure until the valve drops. Open the lid of the Instant Pot safely and check the inside of your pot. There’s a couple of things you can do before restarting your cooking to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

Instant Pots are very versatile but some dishes are more difficult for the Instant Pot to cook correctly.

What Causes The Instant Pot ‘Burn’ Error To Appear

The burn error on an Instant Pot is signaling that your food is burning.

Instant Pots can cook a variety of different ingredients and dishes but some are definitely more suited to the way the pressure cooker element of the machine works than others.

For example, dishes with thick sauces or low water content (eg. a thick tomato sauce or a thick chili) are more likely to result in the display of the ‘burn’ message.

That’s because pressure cooking works best with water-based dishes (e.g soups, chicken, and noodles).

How to Fix the ‘Burn’ Warning on your Instant Pot

Here’s the method I’ve used time and time again when I see the ‘BURN’ warning on my Instant Pot.

  • Turn the Instant Pot off. I recommend doing this by pressing the cancel or off button rather than at the mains.

  • Release the pressure and carefully open the lid, making sure the steam releases away from your face.

  • Check if there is any food stuck to the bottom of the inner pan by gently scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon. 

  • If the sauce or mix is a little thick or has started to burn, try adding a bit of water or another liquid such as stock and stir to combine.

  • Double-check the sealing ring to make sure that it is secure. 

  • Let your Instant Pot cool down completely before turning it back on and restart your cooking. 

  • If these checks don’t work then you might have to cook your food in the oven or in a conventional stovetop pan. Maybe what you are cooking just isn’t suitable for pressure cooking. 

How to Avoid getting the ‘Burn’ Warning

Here’s a couple of tips and tricks I’ve found work really well in helping you avoid getting the dreaded ‘burn’ warning on your Instant Pot.

  • Make sure your Instant Pot is thoroughly cleaned after every use and that it is clean before you start using it. 

  • If you are starting your dish by sauteing or frying in the Instant Pot, make sure that when you add the liquid you give it a good stir to make sure nothing is stuck to the bottom before you lock on the lid. 

  • Previously you may be cooking at too high of a temperature. Next time you cook the same dish, maybe try reducing the temperature a bit and see if that helps. 

  • Cook thinner sauces by adding just an extra bit of water to recipes to make sure the Instant Pot has enough water to cook with. You can always thicken up your sauces after cooking by adding a cornflour slurry (cornflour mixed with cold water) or reducing it down over the stove. 

If you find that the ‘BURN’ error is persisting despite following these guidelines then I’d suggest contacting Instant Pot customer service directly.

They should be able to either replace the unit if it’s within warranty or provide you with some additional things to try if the machine is out of warranty.