Instant Pot Burn Message
See my guide on how to use an Instant Pot.
The Instant Pot Burn Message – What it means, and how to prevent getting a burn warning when you use your Instant Pot. Plus what to do if your Instant Pot says “Burn.”
If you get the dreaded “burn” message on your Instant Pot, it can be frustrating and possibly even frightening. First I want to reassure you that if your Instant Pot says burn, you should not panic or worry that your meal will be ruined.
What does the Instant Pot burn message mean?
The burn message, usually displayed as “burn,” “OvHt” or “Food Burn,” is part of the Instant Pot’s overheat protection system. If your pot displays a burn error, it means that the Instant Pot has detected that the inner pot has gotten too hot. This is an indicator that food may be starting to burn on the bottom of the pot.
The burn warning is a safety mechanism to prevent both the Instant Pot from getting too hot and to keep your food from burning. When it senses overheating, the Instant Pot stops heating and gives you a burn notice to let you know that the cooking process has stopped. Sometimes, if you just leave the pot alone, the Instant Pot will cool for a few minutes and then begin the cooking cycle again. So it is possible that the cook cycle will complete even after a burn error.
However, there are some simple steps that you can take to fix the problem and get your dinner cooking again. Not too worry, a burn message does not mean that your dinner is ruined!
The burn warning can be more common with the 8 quart Instant Pot and also with newer models.
Why does my Instant Pot say burn?
There are actually just a few straightforward reasons why you might get a burn error and preventing them is really simple.
- Did you remember to turn the steam release valve to the sealing position before pressure cooking? If you leave it on venting, steam will release through the vent as the Instant Pot continues to heat, too much liquid may evaporate, and the pot may get too hot.
- Always use at least 1 cup of liquid for pressure cooking. If there isn’t enough liquid in the pot, or if the liquid is too thick, the pot won’t be able to reach pressure and/or you may get a burn warning.
- When a recipe calls for sautéing before pressure cooking, always deglaze the pot after you sauté. To do this, pour in a little bit of your cooking liquid and then scrape up any bits that may be stuck to the bottom of the pot. Read more about the Instant Pot saute function.
- Add starchy foods last when you are putting ingredients in your pot, and do not stir them in unless the recipe instructs you to do so. Keeping the starchy foods away from the bottom of the pot can prevent sticking and scorching. Starchy foods include pasta, cooked beans and sometimes tomatoes.
- Add foods that may scald, such as milk or cream, after pressure cooking. Similarly, add thickeners, such as cornstarch, after cooking. Otherwise the liquid in the pot may be too thick. You can also use the pot-in-pot method for sauces that may burn, such as cream sauces or other thick sauces.
- Check that the silicone sealing ring is fitted in place properly and is clean and undamaged. A broken or misfitted sealing ring can allow steam to escape and prevent the pot from sealing and pressurizing.
- Make sure that both the heating element on the cooker base and the underside of the inner pot are clean before you pressure cook.
- Make sure that the lid is properly closed.
- Make sure that the float valve is clean. Food debris can prevent it from moving up and down correctly.
What to do if your Instant Pot says burn
- Don’t panic. The burn message simply means that the Instant Pot has detected that the inner pot has gotten too hot, so it stops heating to prevent your food from burning.
- Press Cancel to turn the pot off.
- Quick release the steam and pressure from the pot by carefully turning the steam valve to the venting position. (Did you have the valve set to the sealing position? If not, too much liquid may have evaporated, preventing the pot from reaching pressure.)
- Check that the sealing ring is clean, fitted in place properly, and not damaged. Check that the float valve is clean.
- Stir to check if there is food stuck to the bottom of the inner pot. Scrape up and remove any burnt food from the pot. If a large area of the pot has burnt food, transfer the food that is not burnt to another container, clean the inner pot, and return the food to the pot. Add more liquid as needed, to make sure you have at least one cup of liquid in the pot.
- Check that the heating element in the cooker base is clean. Also check that the underside of the inner pot is clean.
- Return the inner pot to the Instant Pot base, close the lid, and turn the steam release valve to the sealing position. Restart the pressure cooking cycle. Your meal should now cook just fine!
More Instant Pot Tips:
- How to use an Instant Pot
- Best Instant Pot Accessories
- Best Instant Pots to Buy
- Best Instant Pot Recipes
I cannot thank you enough for this article. I experienced the BURN notification and my instant pot not working yesterday for the first time and I could find no information on it directly from Instant Pot. I followed all of your directions and my instant pot started working again. Thank you again.
I’m so glad this was helpful to you!
Thank you for these tips on the Instant Pot food burn warning. We’ve only tried to use ours twice and both times had this problem. Last night I got frustrated and cooked the dish on the stove. I’ll remember next time to make sure I have enough liquid (you’d think these recipes would take that into consideration) and use the other tips if I get the food burn warning again.
I made a beef stew and the recipe said to mix flour with the liquid in the pot first. Then add the rest, meat, veg etc. So the burn message kept coming on and three times I cancelled, stirred, nothing burnt. So the fourth time, I left it alone but it started the timer all over again. Anyway, ignoring it worked. Guess it was the flour and liquid in the bottom
It sounds like that may have been the problem. I’m glad that it worked out in the end!
What can I do about rolled oats? Have tried several times, burn notice every time:(
Have used lots of liquid, yes, seal and all parts are working fine. Any suggestions?
I haven’t tried cooking rolled oats in my Instant Pot. They cook so quickly, they might be better suited to the stove or microwave. Steel cut oats are better suited for the Instant Pot. Here’s my Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats recipe that I make weekly.
Kristine…Thank you for the tips. This is the first time I had problems with “burn”. In the past, burn meant leave it alone and it will work itself out. Not this time. My instant didn’t pressure so I ended up getting the burn code. Checked my pot, found out I had put the seal back in incorrectly last time I used it. Fixed the seal, set it again to pressure cook. Within a couple of minutes, you got it, BURN. Again it didn’t set itself right. This time I googled and found your article.. Okay..I got the sauce too thick. Took some of the good stuff out so I could added water. Put the lid back on, it pressurized and is now almost done cooking. Yay! Thank you ?
How do we time it? It was half way through, so do I set the timer for half the original time?
Yes, that’s what I would do.
Hi! Thank you for this post! My husband requested and got an instantpot for his birthday. It’s been a little frustrating trying to figure out how to use it well. Your article was most helpful!
What do I do if the ‘fire’ symbol comes on immediately once I have chosen my cooking method!?
I am not sure which pot you have but some pots like the Nova line show a pot with a fire symbol underneath just to indicate that the heating element is on. Check the manual that came with your particular part to make sure the symbol you are seeing is not a warning or fault with your pot before you use it again.
I make steel cut oatmeal and everytime it says burn. I just looked at your recipe. I’ll try It that way nest time. And update you.
I’ve never had a problem with getting the burn warning with my steel cut oatmeal recipe. I hope it works for you!
Hi Kristine, thank you. This was very helpful and I was lucky to find it & you on my first search for this problem. If you could please make this available to print so we could have it handy if this happens again it would be most helpful. Thanks again.
I’ve been getting the burn message on a recipe I’ve been making. It happens as it is coming up to pressure, before the timer comes on. So, if I turn it off, release pressure, stir….then turn back on….how would you have any idea how long to set the timer for the second time? The food is half cooked already.
You just have to make your best judgement of how much longer it will need to cook. It will vary between recipes, how much liquid is in the recipe, what you are cooking, etc. Depending on what you are making, you might try adding more liquid as well as stirring to help prevent getting the burn message again.
For the first time I tried cooking a brisket in the Instant Pot which required me to sear it in the pot first which did then added sauce and set it to pressure cook. Not long after starting I got the “burn” message. I took the meat out to find that the residue from searing was likely the cause. My frustration is why doesn’t the manual for the Instant Pot forewarn you of what is likely to happen from searing? Now it’s too late to set this up again for tonight’s dinner.
Yes, it is important to always scrape off the bits stuck to the bottom of the pot after searing or browning in the saute mode. Otherwise, you may receive a burn message. If this happens again, you can take the meat out and scrape the bottom of the pot and start the pressure cook again.
Margo great minds think alike. Brisket is not one that I would recommend using in an instant pot. From your old friend TJ.
Brava! I got nowhere with InstantPot’s support. Your explanation, remedies and workarounds are brilliant. This happened on a recurring basis with certain recipes but not with others, so I have been running incremental iterations of recipes to narrow the possibilities. You provided the answer before I decided to abandon the appliance. Thank you.
Happy to help! 🙂
I received an Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus for Christmas. I love it! I have cooked several meals in it since I got it. However, I am having an issue and I can’t find it addressed anywhere. When I am making something that requires a sear first, the C8 error message comes on. That correlates with a ‘wrong pot’ being used, but I am using the one that came in the box. I am thinking that it may be getting too hot. Is there a way to adjust the temperature of the sear?
I think you should contact Instant Pot Customer Support, email@example.com or Call: 1-800-828-7280 for your issue.
You are an Instant Pot expert, thank you for sharing.
I’ve found it easier to brown stuff in a big pan on the stove rather than the stainless Instantpot insert. One more pan to wash but it’s worked every time. AND, every SINGLE time I’ve gotten a BURN message it has been “operator error”. I.E. MY FAULT. D’oh!
Hi! Super helpful post!! 🙂 thank you!
So just to be clear, my IP has to be absolutely free of any searing residue?
Sometimes when i sautee, something gets inevitably stuck. If my recipe calls for a good amount of liquid anyway, is it absolutely necessary to really scrape the bottom of my inner pot clean? sometimes scraping won’t get the residue off. I find it time consuming to have to take the pot and clean it with soap and water.
Hi Karla, Good question. I never take everything out of the pot and clean it with soap and water before proceeding with a recipe. I do the best I can to scrape anything that might be stuck and then continue with the recipe. I’ve found that different pots are more or less likely to give a burn error. For example, my 8 quart is more prone to giving a burn warning than my 6 quart. So part of it is about getting to know your pot and what works for you. 🙂
Frustrating frenzy!!!! I tried to make perfect portion mini meatloaves in my 6 quart instant pot and the water couldn’t get past the 2 trays and I have never burned water before today. Now my instant pot is a mess and still no meatloaf
I know it’s been awhile since this post but I wonder if you could stack your pans on an onion, cut in 1 /2, cut sides down, with a cup of water/ broth? Or have you found a trick by now?
I found I had way more burn warnings when the pot was brand new. Now that mine is well used I am not getting these burn warnings hardly ever and I’m not using more liquid than recipes call for. Maybe it’s to do with the stainless steel inner pot getting hotter when brand new.
Dear Kristine, I have an insta pot that said “burn” on it. After I took the pot out and checked it out I found that a soda tab and fallen in the bottom of it. I can’t seem to get it to work now. Just continues to say burn when I turn it on. Is it done for or is there a way I can clear that so that I can use it again. Thanks, Etta
You should contact Instant Pot customer support. Thank you.
Kristine, Thank you for explaining the burn message. I found this information when I was looking for a chili recipe for my Instant Pot. It is a new appliance for me. The burn message appeared on my IP, but I knew what to do because of your instructions. I did not see the burn message even mentioned in the manual. I bought my IP used and with not extras. So, you article about other necessary things is quite helpful. Thank you!
thanks for this. i cleaned the bottom thoroughly, still got the message. i was able to ignore the message a couple of times and it soon started cooking.
Making beef stew today (I make it several times each fall & winter). This time, I got the BURN notice! So glad I found your blog! I was freaking out because I never saw that notice before. I turned off the Instant Pot for a few minutes, then checked the seal, the pressure release, etc. but didn’t see any issues. I didn’t sear the meat in the pot, and used 2 cans of beef broth which went in first. The only thing I did different was to set the pot on warm while I was preparing the potatoes and carrots. Maybe the broth was too hot when I added the ingredients to start cooking? Anyway, I just pray that the rest of the cooking process goes well now.
Thanks for the checklist!
I basically go to step 5 when I get the burn notice.
Often it’s because I put a bunch of cabbage leaves etc. at the bottom which semi-insulates the full-volume of food above it and that causes the heat to work too hard to get the pressure up.
So I use a long, silicone spoon, run it down along the inside wall of the inner pot, flex it under the food to lift it off the bottom, working all the way around the pot, then pour a little water – perhaps 1/4 cup – along the spoon to get it to coat the bottom.
Sometimes the upper food has to get hot enough that the it won’t condense the steam and, a couple times, I’ve gotten the burn notice 3x before it reached pressure then finished pressure cooking for 25 min or more with no problem.