What does the low pressure setting on an Instant Pot mean?
The low pressure setting on an Instant Pot is a lower pressure cooking setting compared to the high pressure setting. On most Instant Pot models, the low pressure setting cooks at around 5 psi (pounds per square inch) of pressure. This is about 70% of the high pressure setting, which cooks at 10-11 psi.
Cooking at low pressure takes longer than high pressure, but is useful for more delicate ingredients that you don’t want to overcook. It’s a lower temperature method of cooking that still infuses food with flavor and tenderizes meats much faster than conventional cooking.
When to use the low pressure setting
Here are some examples of when to use the low pressure setting on an Instant Pot:
- Cooking vegetables – Low pressure is gentle enough to cook vegetables without overcooking them into mush.
- Cooking fish and seafood – Fish and seafood can easily be overcooked, so low pressure is a good match.
- Cooking eggs – Eggs can rubberize or become tough on high pressure, so low pressure helps them stay tender.
- Cooking grains like rice – The lower temperature helps prevent foaming and spillovers.
- Cooking dairy-based recipes – Dairy products can curdle or separate on high pressure, so low pressure is a safer bet.
- Cooking fruits – Fruits can easily turn to mush on high pressure, so low pressure preserves their shape better.
- Cooking meat cuts with lots of connective tissue – The longer cooking time gives collagen more time to break down into gelatin for tender meat.
- Cooking recipes with a tendency to foam and froth – The lower temperature reduces foaming.
The low pressure setting gives you more control over the texture of food. So for any ingredients you want to cook gently, use low pressure.
Cooking time differences between high and low pressure
Cooking times are longer on low pressure than high. Here’s a general guide to the cooking time differences:
- Meats – Increase cooking time by 50% on low pressure
- Vegetables – Increase cooking time by 25% on low pressure
- Rice and grains – Increase cooking time by 20% on low pressure
- Beans – Increase cooking time by 40-50% on low pressure
For example, chicken breasts cook for 5-7 minutes on high pressure. On low pressure, increase that time by 50% for a cooking time of 8-11 minutes.
Exact cooking time increases will vary depending on the food you’re cooking. Get to know your Instant Pot and adjust times as needed.
Tips for using the low pressure setting
Here are some useful tips for getting the best results when using the low pressure setting:
- Don’t skip the natural release – Letting pressure come down naturally prevents food from overcooking.
- Check food for doneness earlier – Food cooks slower at low pressure, so check it earlier to avoid undercooking.
- Adjust cooking liquid – You may need slightly less liquid since there’s less evaporation at low temp.
- Avoid big temperature changes – Don’t put frozen food in on low pressure, thaw first for best results.
- Use a cooking rack for berries – It prevents delicate berries from scorching on the pot bottom.
Watch for errors – “Burn” or “OvHt” errors are more common on low pressure.
Following these tips will help you nail the timing and avoid potential pitfalls when using the low pressure setting. With some trial and error, you’ll get used to cooking with low pressure.
What are the low pressure settings on an Instant Pot?
Most Instant Pot models have two different low pressure settings:
- Low Pressure or Less – Cooks at around 5 psi pressure
- Keep Warm – Maintains 120°F without pressure
Here are more details on each setting:
Low Pressure/Less Setting
This setting cooks at approximately 5 psi pressure. It’s 70% of the high pressure setting.
Cooking times are longer on low pressure but it’s gentler for delicate ingredients. Use this setting anytime a recipe calls for low pressure.
The low pressure setting goes by “Less” on the Duo and “Low Pressure” on newer models like the Duo Plus. But it’s the same 5 psi pressure level on all Instant Pots.
Keep Warm Setting
The keep warm setting on Instant Pot holds food at a safe serving temperature of 120-140°F. It doesn’t use pressure.
Use keep warm to keep food warm after cooking, for serving dishes like dips, soups, and stews. It can hold food safely for up to 10 hours.
Keep warm can also be used for slow cooking, fermenting yogurt, proofing bread dough or safely melting chocolate or butter.
So in summary:
- Low Pressure/Less = 5 psi pressure cooking
- Keep Warm = No pressure, holds food at serving temperature
These are the two main low pressure settings on Instant Pot. The low pressure setting is used for gentle cooking, while keep warm is used for holding food after cooking.
Why does the Instant Pot struggle to pressurize on low?
There are a few reasons why an Instant Pot may have difficulty pressurizing or maintaining pressure on the low pressure setting.
Lower temperature requires more time
On low pressure, the Instant Pot only heats to around 228°F internally compared to 244°F on high. This lower temperature makes it take longer for the pot to pressurize initially.
It’s normal for it to take 10-15 minutes to build up pressure on low, versus just a few minutes on high. Be patient and give it time.
Smaller volume of food
If you’re cooking a small amount of food in a 6-quart or larger Instant Pot, there may not be enough steam generation to pressurize fully. The minimum fill lines exist for this reason.
Add extra liquid to the pot like a cup of water or broth. This provides more steam volume so pressure can build properly.
Thick or starchy ingredients
Thick sauces, starchy grains like pasta or oatmeal, and viscous ingredients like coconut milk can interfere with smooth pressurization, especially on low.
Stir the pot periodically with a wooden spoon to prevent scorching or add some extra thin liquid.
Food debris on the sealing ring
If old food debris or residue builds up on the inner rim and sealing ring, it can prevent forming an airtight seal.
Clean the sealing ring and lid rim thoroughly to remove any debris. Replace sealing ring every 6-12 months when it becomes deformed.
Faulty lid locking mechanics
In some cases, there may be an issue with the lid locking correctly into the seal position.
Ensure the lid is properly seated in the seal position. Contact Instant Pot support if the locking mechanism is damaged.
So be patient, adjust food volume and ingredients as needed, and keep the sealing ring clean. This will help ensure successful low pressure cooking.
How to increase pressure in an Instant Pot
If your Instant Pot struggles to reach or maintain pressure, especially on low, try these troubleshooting tips:
1. Add extra thin liquid
Adding 1-2 cups of water, broth, wine, or other liquid provides more steam volume to build up pressure.
This is helpful for small food volumes or thick, starchy ingredients.
2. Allow more time to pressurize
Give the pot 10-15 minutes to pressurize on low before calling it a failure. Low pressure takes longer to build up.
3. Manually pressurize for 5-10 minutes
Set to high pressure then manually pressurize by using the pressure valve for 5-10 minutes before switching back to low. This gives it a head start.
4. Ensure venting is set to “sealing”
Make sure the steam release valve is in the sealed position for pressure cooking. Venting must be off.
5. Clean lid and sealing ring
Residue on the inner pot rim or sealing ring prevents a good seal. Clean thoroughly.
6. Replace worn sealing ring
An old, warped sealing ring won’t seal well. Get a new silicone ring for a perfect seal.
7. Contact Instant Pot support
For persistent issues, contact support to troubleshoot defective parts like the lid locking mechanism.
With a few simple adjustments, you can get the pressure just right for successful low pressure cooking in your Instant Pot.
What are common errors on Instant Pot’s low pressure settings?
Some common errors you may encounter when using the low pressure settings on an Instant Pot include:
This means ingredients are scorching on the pot bottom, usually from insufficient liquid. Add more thin liquid to the pot and stir.
“Ovht” Overheating Error
Overheating errors happen if pressure can’t build up properly. Allow more time to pressurize on low or add extra liquid.
If pressure can’t be maintained, the pot may display an underpressure error due to small food volume or a seal issue.
Sealing Ring Error
A damaged, missing, or improperly installed sealing ring will prevent pressurization. Inspect the ring.
A failed temperature sensor can cause issues with regulating pressure. Contact customer service for troubleshooting.
Lid Detection Error
This means the pot doesn’t detect the lid locked properly in the sealing position. Reseat the lid.
Pay attention to error codes on the display and adjust food amount, liquid, and cooking time as needed to avoid common low pressure errors.
Does Instant Pot low pressure setting really work?
Yes, the low pressure setting on Instant Pot definitely works for cooking food, it just works differently than high pressure. Here’s an overview of how effective the low pressure setting is:
Slower, but still faster than conventional cooking
It takes longer to cook on low pressure, but still cooks food up to 70% faster than traditional cooking methods.
Foods cook at ~5 psi pressure
The pot generates around 5 psi pressure on low, versus 10-11 psi on high. This lower pressure cooks more gently.
Tenderizes meats and infuses flavor
While slower than high, low pressure still tenderizes tough cuts of meat and infuses flavor into dishes.
More suitable for delicate ingredients
The gentler heat of low pressure is ideal for seafood, eggs, rice, veggies and preventing scorching.
Maintains texture better
Because it’s less intense, low pressure doesn’t overcook food as easily so texture is preserved better.
Requires monitoring cooking time
The slower pace means cooking time should be maxed out for ingredients to fully cook.
Takes longer to pressurize initially
Building pressure happens slower on low so allow 10-15 minutes before expecting full pressure.
So in summary, low pressure does work effectively for cooking a variety of foods. It simply provides a more gentle level of heat and pressure compared to high pressure settings.
Can all Instant Pot models use the low pressure setting?
Nearly all Instant Pot models have the ability to cook on low pressure. Here is an overview of low pressure capability by Instant Pot lineup:
The Duo, Duo Plus, Duo Evo Plus and Duo Nova all have a “Less” pressure setting that operates at roughly 5 psi for low pressure cooking.
The Smart WiFi and Ultra models contain a “Low Pressure” setting designed for delicate cooking at around 5 psi.
The Lux 6-in-1 programs have options for “Low Pressure” and “Keep Warm” settings.
Duo Crisp & Crisp Cyclone
These models have “Less” and “Low Pressure” modes that function at low temperature with 5 psi pressure.
Duo SV Series
The Duo SV and Duo Evo SV models operate at lower pressure in “Sous Vide” mode for precise temperature control.
Most mini Instant Pots and other specialty models can maintain 5 psi low pressure.
So the vast majority of Instant Pots are capable of low pressure operation. Just check your user manual for details specific to your model.
What are the pros and cons of using low pressure?
Here are some key pros and cons to keep in mind when using the low pressure setting on Instant Pot:
- Food cooks more gently, preventing overcooking
- Better for delicate seafood, eggs, rice, vegetables
- Retains more texture and shape of food
- Minimizes expansion and foaming of grains, beans
- Less risk of burning or scorching food
- Cooking times take significantly longer
- Meats may not become as fall-off-the-bone tender
- Have to wait longer for pot to pressurize initially
- Higher likelihood of underpressure or overheating errors
- Food may not infuse with flavors as well
So in summary, low pressure provides a more gentle cooking environment which is better for delicate foods. But it comes at the cost of much longer cook times and potentially undercooked food.
The low pressure setting on Instant Pot cooks at about 5 psi pressure, providing a lower-temperature environment perfect for cooking vegetables, seafood, eggs, grains and other delicate foods that you don’t want to overcook. It brings food to temperature slower but still cooks much faster than traditional methods. Pay attention to cook times, allow extra time for pressurization, and adjust liquid to avoid potential errors. Overall, low pressure is very effective when you want to cook food gently while still speeding up cooking time.