How to Tell if Instant Pot Is Pressurized

Today we’re going to tackle a crucial aspect of using an Instant Pot – understanding whether your Instant Pot is pressurized or not.

Having made 1,000+ meals in my Instant Pots, I have gained a broad comprehension of how to determine its state and utilize it effectively for a variety of recipes.

Recognizing the pressurization status of your Instant Pot is absolutely essential for preventing unnecessary kitchen incidents and giving your recipes the right cooking conditions.

The Indicator: The Pressure Valve

The easiest way to tell whether your Instant Pot is pressurized is to look at the pressure indicator – a small valve that can visually show you the current state of pressure inside the pot. At the conclusion of a cooking cycle, this valve may be raised or lowered, giving you crucial information about the present pressure inside the pot.

Raised indicator (small gray valve on the right) means the pot is pressurized

When pressurized, the valve is raised. This means it pops out, and you can clearly see it. For example, after recently completing a cycle on my own Instant Pot, I could observe this small pop-up valve raised energetically, indicating the presence of pressure within the pot.

If you open the vent while the valve is raised, steam is released – a very concrete proof that the pot is in its pressurized state.

Can’t open the lid? It’s Pressurized!

Another important note is that when the Instant Pot is pressurized, the raised valve serves an essential safety purpose. It effectively seals the lid, making it impossible to open. It’s crucial not to try to force it open at this stage – it’s secure for a reason.

The pressurization process contributes significantly to the unique way the Instant Pot cooks food, and prematurely breaking this pressure can interfere with your recipes, too.

Signs of Depressurisation

Now, what if the valve is down? This is a clear signal that the pressure has been released from your Instant Pot, and it’s now safe to open the lid.

This happened to me on a recent occasion where I had cooked a delightful chicken stew. When the process was complete, and the pressure had naturally released, I found that the valve was no longer raised but was instead lowered.

Furthermore, if you open the vent at this point, little to no steam should be emitted, confirming the lack of pressurization.


Understanding the pressurization state of your Instant Pot is fundamental for safe and effective use. By focusing on the position of the pressure indicator valve, you can ensure you don’t open the pot prematurely or miss the ideal moment to safely release the steam.

Through my numerous cooking experiments and trials, I’ve reinforced this understanding, and I hope that sharing my insights can simplify your cooking experience with the Instant Pot as well. Happy cooking!

Key Takeaways

  • The easiest way to tell if an Instant Pot is pressurized is to look at the pressure indicator (a valve).
  • If the valve is raised, then the pot is pressurized and the lid cannot be opened.
  • If the valve is down, then the pressure has been released and the lid can be opened safely.
  • If the vent is opened and there is no steam, then the pressure has been released.