7 Common Reasons Why Your Food Sticks to the Bottom in Your Instant Pot

We’ve all been there – you’ve carefully prepared your ingredients, started your Instant Pot, and eagerly anticipated a delicious meal, only to discover that your food is stuck to the bottom. Don’t worry; you’re not alone in this culinary conundrum. The good news is that there are reasons for this sticking, and even better, there are solutions.

1: Not Enough Liquid

Issue: In the world of pressure cooking, adequate liquid is the key to success. Not using enough liquid in your Instant Pot can result in dishes that stick to the bottom and prevent the pot from coming to pressure.


Follow Recipe Guidelines: The first rule of thumb is to always follow the liquid measurements specified in your recipe. Instant Pot recipes are carefully designed, and altering the amount of liquid can lead to problems.

Understanding Minimum Liquid Requirements: Different Instant Pot models have varying minimum liquid requirements to create steam and build pressure. Ensure you are meeting these requirements for your specific model.

Account for Ingredients: Keep in mind that some ingredients release moisture as they cook, such as vegetables and proteins. This additional moisture should be considered when determining the amount of liquid needed.

Sautéing: If you sauté ingredients before pressure cooking, deglaze the pot after sautéing to make sure no flavorful bits are stuck to the bottom. These can contribute to the overall liquid content.

Experiment with Caution: While it’s possible to make adjustments to liquid quantities once you become more experienced with your Instant Pot, it’s recommended to stick to the recipe’s guidelines when you’re starting out.

2: High-Starch Foods

Issue: Foods that are high in starch, like pasta, rice, and certain grains, are prone to sticking to the bottom of the Instant Pot. This can be frustrating, as it impacts the overall quality of your dish.


Proper Stirring: Stir high-starch foods well before starting the pressure cooking process. This distributes them more evenly in the liquid and helps prevent them from clumping together or sticking to the bottom.

Use Enough Liquid: Ensure that you use an adequate amount of liquid to create steam. Starches tend to absorb liquid as they cook, so having enough liquid helps maintain the right consistency and prevents sticking.

Layer Ingredients Carefully: When layering ingredients, consider placing high-starch foods closer to the top, with other ingredients beneath. This can help prevent direct contact with the bottom of the pot.

Adjust Cooking Time: In some cases, you may need to adjust the cooking time for recipes that include high-starch ingredients. Experiment with shorter cooking times and monitor the results to achieve your desired level of doneness.

Use the “Pot-in-Pot” Method: For recipes involving high-starch foods, you can use the “Pot-in-Pot” method. This entails placing these ingredients in a separate container, like a stainless steel bowl, which prevents direct contact with the bottom of the pot.

3: Neglecting to Deglaze

Issue: Sautéing ingredients in your Instant Pot before pressure cooking is a common step in many recipes. Neglecting to deglaze the pot after sautéing can lead to the accumulation of flavorful bits on the bottom of the pot, which can contribute to sticking.


Understand Deglazing: Deglazing is the process of adding a liquid, often broth, wine, or water, to the pot after sautéing. The liquid helps release and dissolve the browned bits, also known as fond, from the bottom of the pot.

Use the Right Liquid: Choose a liquid that complements your recipe. For example, if you’re making a savory dish, use broth or wine. If you’re cooking a dessert, opt for water or a specific flavored liquid.

Scrape the Bottom: After adding the liquid, use a wooden or silicone spoon to scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Make sure you’ve loosened all the bits to prevent sticking during pressure cooking.

Monitor Consistency: Ensure that the deglazing liquid reaches the desired consistency before proceeding with pressure cooking. The liquid should evenly distribute the flavorful bits.

Adjust Liquid Quantity: If you find that the liquid evaporates quickly during deglazing, you can add more to maintain the proper consistency. Just remember to adjust the overall liquid content in your recipe accordingly.

Follow Recipe Instructions: Most Instant Pot recipes that involve sautéing will include specific deglazing instructions. Always follow these guidelines to achieve the best results.

4: Burn Message

Issue: Seeing a “Burn” message on your Instant Pot can be frustrating. This message typically indicates that the pot has detected high temperatures or insufficient liquid, which can lead to sticking and uneven cooking.


Follow Recipe Guidelines: Always adhere to the liquid measurements and cooking times specified in your recipe. Instant Pot recipes are carefully calibrated, and altering these values can lead to burn issues.

Deglaze Properly: After sautéing, ensure that you deglaze the pot effectively. Scraping off browned bits from the bottom and incorporating them into the liquid helps prevent burn problems.

Check for Stuck Food: Before pressure cooking, inspect the bottom of the pot to make sure no food is stuck. Even a small piece can trigger the burn sensor.

Adjust Heat Settings: If you’re using the sauté function, be mindful of the heat settings. High heat can increase the risk of burning. Lower the heat or use the “Less” setting for gentler sautéing.

Monitor Liquid Levels: Keep an eye on the liquid levels during the cooking process. If you notice that the liquid is evaporating too quickly, you can add a bit more to maintain the desired consistency.

Stop and Inspect: If you see the “Burn” message, don’t panic. Simply stop the Instant Pot, open the lid, and inspect the bottom. Remove any stuck food if necessary. You can then continue cooking if the remaining liquid is sufficient.

Switch to Pot-in-Pot Cooking: If you’re encountering persistent burn issues with certain recipes, consider using the “Pot-in-Pot” method. This involves placing the ingredients in a separate container within the Instant Pot to prevent direct contact with the bottom.

5: Cooking at High Heat

Issue: When sautéing or using the “Sauté” function at high heat settings, food can easily stick to the bottom of the Instant Pot. This can affect the overall quality of your dishes.


Lower the Heat: To prevent sticking, start by sautéing at a lower heat setting. Many Instant Pot models have multiple sauté heat levels, such as “Normal” and “Less.” Using the “Less” setting can help avoid excessive heat.

Be Patient: Sautéing at lower heat might take a bit longer, but it’s worth it to prevent sticking. Be patient and allow the ingredients to cook and release their flavors without scorching.

Stir Frequently: Stirring your ingredients during sautéing not only helps evenly distribute heat but also prevents them from sticking to the bottom. Use a wooden or silicone spoon for this.

Deglaze After Sautéing: After sautéing, don’t forget to deglaze the pot. Adding a liquid (such as broth, wine, or water) and scraping off any browned bits from the bottom can prevent them from contributing to sticking during pressure cooking.

Practice Temperature Control: Some recipes may require high-heat sautéing at the beginning, like searing meat. In such cases, lower the heat after achieving the desired sear and continue with the rest of the recipe.

Use Pot-in-Pot Method: If you find that even with careful sautéing, certain ingredients tend to stick, you can use the “Pot-in-Pot” method. Place these ingredients in a separate container inside the Instant Pot to avoid direct contact with the bottom.

6: Layering Ingredients

Issue: Incorrectly layering ingredients, especially when denser items are placed at the bottom, can lead to sticking in your Instant Pot. Uneven distribution of ingredients can result in uneven cooking and a higher risk of sticking.


Evenly Distribute Ingredients: When adding ingredients to your Instant Pot, aim to distribute them as evenly as possible. Avoid placing a dense or starchy ingredient directly at the bottom of the pot.

Liquid First: Start by adding your cooking liquid (like broth, sauce, or water) to the pot. This helps create a protective layer at the bottom and promotes even heat distribution.

Meat or Protein Layer: If your recipe includes meat or protein, place it on top of the liquid layer. This prevents direct contact with the hot bottom of the pot, reducing the risk of sticking.

Starchy Ingredients Later: For recipes with high-starch ingredients like rice or pasta, add them after the protein or denser items. The liquid and protein layers will act as a buffer and help prevent sticking.

Herbs and Spices: Layer herbs and spices on top of the other ingredients. This allows their flavors to infuse throughout the dish without settling at the bottom.

Avoid Piling: Overcrowding or piling ingredients too high can result in uneven cooking and sticking. Leave some space at the top for expansion and steam circulation.

Follow Recipe Guidelines: Always follow the layering instructions provided in your Instant Pot recipe. These guidelines are designed to optimize cooking and minimize sticking.

7: Dirty Sealing Ring

Issue: The sealing ring is a crucial component that helps create an airtight seal in your Instant Pot, allowing it to pressurize. A dirty or oily sealing ring can prevent a proper seal and may lead to sticking issues.


Regular Cleaning: Make it a habit to clean the sealing ring after every use. Remove the sealing ring from the lid and wash it with warm, soapy water. Rinse it thoroughly and allow it to dry completely before reinserting it.

Inspect for Residue: After cleaning, inspect the sealing ring for any remaining residue or food particles. Ensure it’s completely clean and free from any oils or debris.

Oil Maintenance: Over time, the sealing ring may absorb food odors or develop an oily residue. To combat this, you can remove the ring and soak it in a mixture of water and white vinegar or a baking soda solution. This can help eliminate odors and residue.

Alternate Sealing Rings: Many Instant Pot users keep multiple sealing rings on hand. Consider having a spare sealing ring for different types of dishes. This prevents cross-flavor contamination and ensures that you always have a clean, odor-free ring when you need it.

Check for Damage: Periodically inspect the sealing ring for signs of wear or damage. If you notice any cracks, tears, or deformities, it’s a good idea to replace the ring. Damaged rings can’t create a proper seal.


In conclusion, keeping your Instant Pot in optimal working condition and preventing sticking issues involves a combination of proper maintenance, technique, and following recipe guidelines. By addressing common issues such as “Dirty Sealing Ring,” “Layering Ingredients,” “Cooking at High Heat,” “Burn Message,” “Neglecting to Deglaze,” and “High-Starch Foods,” you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable cooking experience with your Instant Pot.

Remember to clean and maintain your Instant Pot regularly, paying special attention to the sealing ring. Practice proper sautéing techniques, ensure even ingredient distribution, and maintain the right heat settings to prevent sticking. When using high-starch ingredients, employ techniques like proper stirring and using the “Pot-in-Pot” method to avoid sticking.

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