The Instant Pot is one of the most popular electric pressure cookers on the market today. It uses both pressure and heat to cook food up to 70% faster than traditional cooking methods. One of the common questions Instant Pot users have is how long it takes for the pot to come up to high pressure.
The time it takes for an Instant Pot to reach high pressure depends on several factors:
- The amount of food/liquid in the pot
- The temperature of the ingredients before cooking
- Which model of Instant Pot you have
In general, it takes 10-15 minutes for an Instant Pot to come to high pressure. However, the exact time can vary quite a bit. Let’s take a closer look at how the different variables impact preheating time.
Amount of Food/Liquid
One of the biggest factors that determines how long it takes an Instant Pot to reach high pressure is the amount of food and liquid in the pot.
The more food you’re cooking and liquid you’re using, the longer it will take. This is because there’s more volume that needs to be heated up. A good rule of thumb is that 1 cup of cold liquid added to the pot will increase preheat time by 5-7 minutes.
For example, if you’re cooking a whole chicken in the Instant Pot with 1 cup of broth, expect it to take around 15-20 minutes to come to pressure. In contrast, a pot of chili made with 6 cups of stock and beans may need 25-35 minutes to fully preheat.
As a general guideline:
- 1-3 cups liquid = 10-15 minutes
- 4-6 cups liquid = 15-25 minutes
- 7+ cups liquid = 25+ minutes
Of course, the thickness and consistency of your ingredients matter too. Dense foods like meat, rice, or beans will require more time than brothy soups and stews.
The temperature of your food and liquid before it goes into the Instant Pot is another important factor. Colder ingredients will take longer to preheat.
Room temperature ingredients (70°F) will heat up the fastest. If you’re starting with refrigerated or frozen foods, plan on tacking on a few extra minutes. Here’s a rough estimate:
- Room temp ingredients = no extra time
- Refrigerated (40°F) = add 5-10 minutes
- Frozen (0°F) = add 10-15 minutes
It’s always best to thaw frozen ingredients before cooking in the Instant Pot. But for refrigerated foods, you don’t necessarily need to wait for them to come fully to room temp before getting started.
Instant Pot Model
Not all Instant Pots heat up at the same speed. The components and size of the model can impact how quickly it builds pressure.
Here’s a comparison of preheat times for some popular Instant Pot models:
|Instant Pot Model||Time to Reach High Pressure|
|Lux 6 Qt||10-15 minutes|
|Duo 6 Qt||10-12 minutes|
|Duo Plus 6 Qt||8-10 minutes|
|Ultra 6 Qt||8-10 minutes|
|Max 6 Qt||8-10 minutes|
|Smart WiFi 6 Qt||8-10 minutes|
As you can see, the newer models with enhanced heating elements (like the Ultra and Max) typically preheat a bit faster than older models like the Lux. But the differences are fairly small.
The 8 quart models may also take a few extra minutes to pressurize compared to the 6 quart size.
Tips to Speed Up Preheat Time
If you’re in a hurry, there are a few tricks you can use to minimize the time it takes your Instant Pot to come to pressure:
- Start with hot water for liquids or soups. Use boiling water if possible.
- Sauté ingredients first in the Instant Pot before pressure cooking.
- Cut food into smaller pieces to heat and cook faster.
- Let liquids come to room temp before adding to pot.
- Always use the lid. Don’t leave it off thinking it will speed things up.
- Manually set the pot to “sealing” rather than waiting for it to seal automatically.
- Use a trivet or steamer basket to elevate foods out of cooking liquid.
Following these tips can shave off several minutes of preheat time in many cases. But keep in mind that food safety should always be your top priority. Only use methods that are appropriate and safe for what you are cooking.
Is Preheating Necessary?
Technically, preheating the Instant Pot is not required before pressure cooking. The pot will automatically build up heat and pressure over time, even if you skip preheating.
However, preheating is recommended for a few reasons:
- It allows time for the Instant Pot to vent steam and expel air initially.
- It helps ensure the pot reaches the target temperature and pressure.
- It heats the pot more evenly, preventing later temperature fluctuations.
- It allows thicker or denser food to heat through before pressure cooking.
If you’re cooking foods that require a more precise time under pressure (like chicken, fish, or eggs), it’s best not to skip the preheat.
For soup and stew recipes, you may be able to get away with no preheat as long as you increase the regular pressure cook time by a few extra minutes. Keep in mind that cooking results can vary more without preheating.
The time it takes an Instant Pot to come to high pressure can range quite a bit based on the recipe, ingredients, and model. While factors like food volume and starting temperature impact preheat time, the differences between Instant Pot models are relatively minor.
With the right techniques, you can minimize the preheat time in many cases. However, it’s still recommended to build in at least 10-15 minutes for the pot to properly pressurize before pressure cooking. Being patient ensures the best results!