What Does The L Symbol Mean On The Instant Pot?

Among instant pot benefits and disadvantages, the brand’s high-tech features and quality programming is top-notch. It is the reason many pressure cook users opt for it. 

One of the programming features includes the appliance’s display of symbols when it’s done with a cooking process, or an error occurs. While these symbols help alert an instant pot user in case there is an error, it will not make any difference if you don’t know the meaning. 

A common symbol without instant pots is the L symbol. When the L symbol appears on the LED screen, some instant pot users may be perplexed as to why the issue is, which often lead to the apparent question: 

What Does The L Symbol Mean On The Instant Pot?

Based on research and experience, this guide/discussion will help you understand what the L symbol on a functioning instant pot means. 

The L symbol means two related things which are:

Low Heat

The L symbol on an instant pot appears to alert the users that the food is ready and it’s on “low heat”. 

This symbol appears without you pressing any button. As soon as the pre-set time for the food is done, an L symbol appears. 

Keep Warm

In this case, the L symbol appears close to a timer to show how long the instant pot has been on keeping warm mode. It reads something like this:   L0:05 

Which means it has been in low heat for 5 minutes. 

When one is not ready to eat the food immediately, the L symbol sets it to be  60°C. This helps to keep the food safe to curb bacteria from setting in. 

Once the food is ready and the L symbol comes up, it keeps counting up for up to 10 hours, keeping the food warm. 

Note: The L symbol comes up automatically without you pressing any button. 

The  ” keep warm” button doesn’t make it display either. It’s a symbol that comes up on its own, that’s the reason why a few instant pot users think it’s an error code. 

Another meaning of the L symbol displaying on an instant pot is to prepare it for the natural release of pressure. 

If a recipe requires you to release the pressure, 5 or 10 minutes after the food is ready, you can do that using the L symbol. 

For instance, if the food guide reads that the pressure should release naturally for six mins, then you can count the timer from when the L symbol displays.

You can only quick-release the pressure of the instant pot when it shows: L0:06. 

Does The L Symbol Mean The Same On All Instant Pot Models? 

Even though all instant pot models are not programmed to have the same features, some features remain the same in all the models. 

Having used two different models (Instant Pot Duo Nova, 6-Quart, and Instant Pot Smart WiFi), and researched thoroughly how the other 7 different models work. Here is what we discovered:

All instant pot models display the L symbol and they all have the same related meaning. 

However, the L symbol means different things for different users. Some of the meanings are not stated in their manual, but the shared knowledge can be useful to you. 

The three meanings stated above are the basic shared meanings of the L symbol, but the common one known to all is that the L symbol means the instant pot is on ‘low heat’. This low heat feature applies to all the instant pot models. 

On all instant pot models, whenever the L symbol comes up, it means the food is ready and switched to keep warm mode. It displays automatically near the timer. For some models, you have to set a timer for the keep-warm timeframe. 

Instant pot manufacturers use similar and same symbols across all their models, but new programming features for the newer models. 

While some symbols differ(e.g error codes, Bluetooth, and wifi signs) among other models, the L symbol shares the same meaning. 

This is because when any cooking cycle has finished on the instant pot, it automatically enters the low heat mode. If you cancel it, it goes off, but when it’s left on, it can be on that mode for up to 10 hours when not adjusted.

Can I Still Use My Instant Pot When The L Symbol Is Lit Up? 

The L symbol doesn’t mean there’s an emergency on the instant pot. Also, it’s not an error code, except its stock on the screen after you press cancel. 

The instant pot can still be used when the L symbol appears on the LED screen. However, it will cook very slowly because it’s on low heat, it is better to cancel the L symbol than restart the timer or cooking option for a new meal. 

Here are a few instances you can use your instant pot when the L symbol is lit up:

When You are Away for a Few Hours

The instant pot can be on for up to 10 hours when the L symbol is on display. It doesn’t spoil the appliance or make it go into error, it just keeps the food warm till you are ready to eat it. 

When You Want a Quick Pressure Release

Opening an instant pot as soon as your food is ready is dangerous. For recipes that require a quick release of pressure, you can follow the timer count as soon as the L symbol lit up. (5mins or more is recommended). So when your food is cooked and you want a quick pressure release, leaving your instant pot on the L symbol is advisable. 

In summary, recipes that require you to start up on high heat and finish on low heat can be in the instant pot while the L symbol is lit up. The low heat will serve as the slow cooking mode needed to complement the recipe guide.