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How long does natural release take on an Instant Pot Max?

The Instant Pot Max is one of the most popular electric pressure cooker models on the market. It has several preset cooking programs and functions, including the natural release feature. So how long does natural release take on the Instant Pot Max?

What is Natural Release?

Natural release is a way of releasing the pressure and steam from the Instant Pot after cooking is complete. It means allowing the pressure to come down naturally over time, rather than doing a quick release by manually turning the steam release valve to the venting position.

During natural release, the Instant Pot’s float valve will drop down on its own once the internal pressure normalizes with the external pressure. This indicates that it is safe to open the lid. Natural release typically takes 15-30 minutes, depending on the volume of food inside.

Benefits of Natural Release

There are a few reasons why natural release is recommended for certain foods:

  • Prevents boiling over or splattering: Quick releasing high starch or dense foods can cause boiling over.
  • Improves texture: Natural release allows food to continue cooking gently as pressure lowers, which can make some foods like meat or cheesecake more tender.
  • Locks in moisture: The gradual pressure decrease helps keep moisture in foods like roasts or large cuts of meat.

When to Use Natural Release with the Instant Pot Max

The Instant Pot Max manufacturer recommends using natural release when cooking:

  • Meat dishes like roasts, whole chickens, ribs
  • Large cuts of meat
  • Foods prone to foaming and splattering like beans, grains, chili
  • Rice and risotto
  • Cheesecake or custards
  • Stews and chilis

For most other quick cooking foods like vegetables, manual release is fine. Always check suggested release methods in Instant Pot recipes.

How Long Does Natural Release Take?

The time natural release takes can vary based on a few factors:

  • Amount of food: More food takes longer to lose pressure.
  • Liquid content: Foods with more liquid take longer.
  • Fat content: Fatty foods like meat insulate heat and prolong release.
  • Type of food: Dense foods like beans, grains and meats take longer.
  • Cooking time: Longer cook times increase natural release time.
  • Instant Pot model: Some models may release pressure quicker.

As a general guideline, natural release takes:

Cooking Time Natural Release Time
5-20 minutes 10-15 minutes
20-60 minutes 15-30 minutes

However, there are no hard rules. Get to know your Max and how long it takes for different volumes and types of ingredients. You can quick release for 1-2 minutes if you want natural release to finish sooner.

Tips for Natural Release

Here are some tips for getting the most out of natural release with your Instant Pot Max:

  • Don’t open the lid until the float valve drops – this maintains pressure.
  • Let at least 10 minutes pass before quick releasing for remainder.
  • Vent the steam away from you if quick releasing.
  • Make note of natural release times for your favorite recipes.
  • Add 5-10 minutes to published natural release times.
  • If in doubt, let it natural release for a full 20-30 minutes.

Natural Release vs. Quick Release

Both natural and quick release have their uses with the Instant Pot. Here’s a quick comparison:

Natural Release Quick Release
Time 15-30 minutes 2-5 minutes
Best for Meats, stews, grains Vegetables, fruits, eggs
Benefits Prevents splattering
Improves texture
Locks in moisture
Quicker cooking
Stops overcooking

Pressure Release FAQs

Is it safe to natural release overnight?

It is generally not recommended to leave natural release going for more than 4 hours, even overnight. This can potentially lead to food spoilage or bacterial growth. Stick to quick release if you won’t be around to finish natural release.

Can I hybrid release?

Yes, you can do a hybrid release by letting it natural release for 10-15 minutes, then manually quick releasing for 1-2 minutes until float valve drops. This speeds things up while getting some benefits of natural release.

What should I do if float valve won’t go down?

Make sure the steam release is in sealing position. Jiggle the release valve gently. Don’t force it open. If it still won’t drop after 30 minutes, contact Instant Pot support.


Natural release typically takes 15-30 minutes on the Instant Pot Max depending on the food volume and ingredients. Dense meats and starchy foods benefit the most from natural release. Get to know your Max and take notes on natural release times. Allow extra time, at least 10 minutes of natural release, before quick releasing for the best results.