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How do you get burnt food off the bottom of a pressure cooker?

Getting burnt or stuck-on food off the bottom of a pressure cooker can be a tricky task, but with the right techniques and tools, it can be done. In this article, we’ll go over some quick answers to common questions about removing burnt food from pressure cookers and provide detailed instructions on effective methods.

Quick Answers

– What is the easiest way to remove burnt food?

The easiest way is to soak the cooker in hot, soapy water to loosen the burnt food residue before scrubbing.

– What can you use to scrub the burnt bits off?

Use a non-abrasive scrub sponge or soft cloth along with a powdered cleaner like Bar Keepers Friend or Bon Ami. Avoid abrasive scouring pads.

– How long should you soak the cooker?

Soak for at least 30 minutes to allow the hot water and soap to penetrate and soften the burnt food. Longer soaks up to a few hours are even more effective.

– Does baking soda work to remove burnt food?

Yes, baking soda can help remove burnt-on stains. Make a paste with baking soda and water and apply to affected areas before scrubbing.

– What should you avoid using on a pressure cooker?

Avoid abrasive cleaners, steel wool pads, and abrasive sponges as they can damage the cooker’s surface. Avoid placing in the dishwasher.

Causes of Burnt Food in Pressure Cookers

There are a few common reasons food can get burnt and stuck to the bottom of a pressure cooker:

– Forgetting to stir: If food is left to sit in one place in the cooker, it can easily burn and stick. Stirring periodically helps prevent this.

– Cooking at too high heat: High heat increases the chance of food burning and sticking. Cook over medium heat instead.

– Not enough liquid: Without enough moisture, food is more likely to burn. Use the minimum amount of liquid recommended.

– Cooker not level: If the cooker is uneven, the food can pool to one side and burn there. Always use a level, stable stovetop or surface.

– Food with lots of sugar: Sugary foods like tomato sauce are prone to burning and sticking. Cook them at lower heat and stir more frequently.

– Old or damaged cooker: An older cooker with a damaged surface can lead to more burning incidents. Consider replacing an old, damaged cooker.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Removal

Here is a step-by-step process for removing burnt-on food from a pressure cooker:

1. Fill the pressure cooker with hot water and a generous amount of dish soap. Liquid dish detergents work best for breaking up grease.

2. Place the lid on top and bring the water to a simmer for 5-10 minutes. This heats up the interior so the hot, soapy water can start penetrating the burnt bits.

3. Turn off the heat and allow the cooker to soak for at least 30 minutes, or even 1-2 hours if the burning is really stubborn. The longer it can soak, the better.

4. Drain out the soapy water from the cooker. Pour a liberal amount of baking soda directly onto the burnt areas.

5. Slowly pour vinegar over the baking soda. The fizzing reaction helps break down the burnt food spots. Let sit for 15 minutes.

6. Take a non-abrasive sponge or soft cloth and gently scrub at the affected areas. Apply pressure but don’t over-scrub.

7. If food remnants are still stuck, make a paste with more baking soda and a little water. Apply the paste to stubborn spots and let sit for 5-10 minutes before scrubbing again.

8. For tougher buildup, use a powdered cleanser like Bar Keepers Friend or Bon Ami. Make a paste, apply to burnt areas, let sit, then scrub.

9. Rinse away all cleaning solutions thoroughly once finished scrubbing. Run a few rinse cycles if needed to remove all residues.

10. Repeat cleaning process if necessary for very stubborn burning. It may take a few tries over time to fully remove it all.

Tips for Preventing Burning

Here are some useful tips to help prevent food from burning and sticking to a pressure cooker in the first place:

– Stir food frequently while cooking. This distributes heat evenly.

– Cook over medium heat instead of high heat whenever possible.

– Use the minimum amount of liquid recommended for the recipe.

– Keep the cooker evenly level on the stovetop surface.

– Cook sugary foods at lower heat and stir them more often.

– Replace very old or damaged cookers that are prone to burning food.

– Soak the cooker right after cooking to make cleanup easier. Don’t let food dry and cake on.

Alternative Cleaning Solutions

In addition to dish soap, baking soda, vinegar and powdered cleansers, here are some other potential cleaning solutions for tackling burnt pressure cooker messes:


– Make a paste with salt and a little water or vinegar then scrub. The coarse grains help remove stuck-on food.

Cream of Tartar

– Create a thick paste with cream of tartar and water. Apply and let sit before scrubbing.

Dishwasher Detergent

– For cookers that can’t go in the dishwasher, hand wash with dishwasher detergent which is highly effective at grease-cutting.

Dryer Sheets

– Use a damp dryer sheet to wipe the interior. The anti-static properties help lift burnt food particles.

Lemon Juice

– Soak cooked-on stains in undiluted lemon juice for 30 minutes before scrubbing. The acid cuts through grease.

White Vinegar

– Boil a 50/50 vinegar and water mix in the cooker for 10 minutes to help loosen burnt food debris.


– Make a dilute bleach solution if other methods don’t work. Take proper safety precautions when using.

Oven Cleaner

– Apply heavy duty oven cleaner according to package directions. Rinse extremely thoroughly afterward.

When to Avoid DIY Methods

While the cleaning methods described can work wonders, there are some instances where you may need to avoid DIY removal of burnt food on a pressure cooker:

– If the non-stick coating is damaged or peeling. Harsh scrubbing can further damage the coating.

– If the metal surface is warped or compromised in any way. This can happen with very old cookers.

– If there are pits, cracks, or deep etching in the metal. Food debris can get lodged in damaged areas.

– If the bottom plate is concave instead of flat. A warped plate prevents proper cleaning.

– If the interior aluminum layer is exposed anywhere. This can oxidize with cleaners.

– If any plastic handles or knobs are heat damaged. Chemicals may further degrade damaged parts.

– If the base is aluminum instead of stainless steel. Aluminum can react with acidic cleaners.

In any of the above cases, replacement may be the best option for a damaged pressure cooker rather than attempting to scrub away extreme buildup. Speaking with the manufacturer is also recommended in any situation involving a compromised cooker.

When to Call for Professional Help

For the most severe burnt-on messes that resist all DIY cleaning methods, seeking professional help may be warranted. Here are some signs it’s time to call for reinforcements:

– Burnt grease coating every inner surface that can’t be fully scrubbed away.

– Thick layers of carbonized food completely stuck to the bottom that won’t budge.

– A rancid burnt food smell that persists after cleaning attempts.

– Visible stains or discoloration that cleaning can’t remove.

– Constant burning incidents no matter what you try.

Look for appliance repair shops that offer specialized cleaning services for pressure cookers and other stovetop items. They have commercial-grade degreasers and tools that can eradicate the toughest burnt food messes. This professional deep cleaning can restore even the most grimy, food-encrusted pressure cooker to like-new condition.

Preventing Future Burn Issues

Once you get your pressure cooker cleaned, make sure to follow these guidelines to avoid future burnt food nightmares:

– Always use the lid and bring up to pressure. The trapped steam prevents burning.

– Don’t cram in more food than recommended for your cooker size. Overfilling can lead to burns.

– Ensure the valve is in the sealed position before heating. This maintains pressure.

– Never open the valve or lid until all pressure is fully released. Releasing pressure too soon causes sputtering liquid to burn onto interior surfaces.

– Use thicker, higher-quality cookers with perfectly flat, stainless steel bottoms if cooking sugary foods frequently.

– Adjust cooking time and heat level based on food contents. Quick-burning foods like rice, noodles and vegetables need lower heat and shorter cook times.

– Stop cooking immediately if you smell or see signs of burning. Burnt spots will just get worse if cooking continues.

– Deglaze the interior by simmering water for 5-10 minutes after cooking any potentially sticky foods like oatmeal or chili. This prevents buildup.

Following proper pressure cooker techniques will minimize instances of burning and make cleanup much easier. But even with the most careful cooking, burnt spots can occasionally occur. Use the methods in this article to tackle any stubborn burnt food and get your pressure cooker gleaming again.


Removing burnt, stuck-on food from pressure cookers can be frustrating, but is possible with the right techniques. Soaking in hot, soapy water before scrubbing with baking soda, vinegar and non-abrasive tools is an effective approach. For extreme cases, seek professional cleaning services. Prevent future issues by using the proper pressure cooking methods for your food types. With some elbow grease and these tips, you can erase those nasty burnt bits and restore your pressure cooker to sparkling condition.