Instant Pot High Altitude Cooking Time Adjustments- If you live at an elevation above 2000 ft. you will need to modify the cooking time for most Instant Pot recipes. See below for printable chart on how to calculate cook time for your specific altitude. Instant Pot Ultra and MAX models can be set for automatic altitude adjustments, see below for directions.
How does altitude affect cooking in the Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker?
The Instant Pot (and other Pressure Cookers) work by elevating the temperature inside the pot and trapping the steam produced from boiling the cooking liquid.
Because the air pressure is lower at higher altitudes the boiling point of water is lowered (by just under 1 degree for each 500 feet of increased elevation) For example, the boiling point of water at sea level is 212 F and at 7500 feet it is 198 F.
Since foods will be cooking at a lower temperature they will take longer to cook. The higher the elevation the lower the boiling point and therefore the longer the cooking time.
Formula to adjust high-altitude cooking time in the Instant Pot (and other Pressure Cookers)
Increase pressure cooking time by 5% for every 1000 ft above 2000 ft elevation
For quick calculation of increased cooking time locate your altitude and multiply the recommended cooking time by the corresponding multiplier (see chart below) .
For example: The elevation in Denver, CO is 5280 ft. If you had a recipe that called for cooking for 20 minutes you would calculate the adjusted cooking times by looking at the 5000 ft column(15%) and using the "multiply by" of 1.15
20 (minutes) x 1.15 = 23 minutes (round to the nearest minute if you end up with a decimal number)
For a printable version of the Instant Pot High Altitude Adjustment Chart above click here
How to Set Instant Pot Ultra and MAX models for Automatic Altitude Adjustment
Instant Pot Ultra and MAX Models have an altitude setting which allow you to enter your altitude and the Instant Pot will automatically adjust cooking times. You simply enter the cook time specified in the recipe (for sea level) and the Instant Pot Ultra or MAX will automatically adjust according to your elevation.
To Set your Instant Pot Ultra or MAX
- Put the Instant Pot in 'Standby' by hitting the 'Cancel' button
- Press and hold the central dial until you hear the unit beep and enter into the system-level settings change mode
- Rotate the dial to 'Alt' and press select to rotate to the desired altitude. You'll have the option to enter 'feet' or 'meters'.
- When you've selected either 'feet' or 'meters', press the central dial and enter 'Altitude ' adjustment mode, rotate the central dial to make the adjustments, then press the 'Start' key to save the changes and exit.
The altitude only needs to be set once and it will apply to all preset programs ( like soup/broth, meat/stew etc). There is no indication that the altitude has been adjusted, however, you will notice that the 'cook time' will automatically adjust after you enter the recipe time. For example: if you are at 5000 ft. (and you've adjusted your Instant Pot for your altitude) when you enter 20 minutes cook time for any of the preset program buttons (soup/broth, meat/stew etc) and press start, your Instant Pot will automatically adjust to 23 minutes. ( 20 (mins) x 1.15 multiplier (for 5000 ft.- see chart above) = 23 minutes. Please note that this adjustment only adjusts the preset program buttons (like soup/broth, meat/stew, bean/chili etc) and if you are using the Pressure Cook/Manual Mode you will still need to manually adjust the time (according to the chart above) as the Ultra and MAX will not make adjustments to that mode (which is the mode most frequently used).
I live at 2200 ft, so no adj necessary?
Bob, technically your multiplier for high altitude would be a 1.01 for an elevation of 2200 ft. But, since the Instant Pot only uses whole number of minutes for cooking once you round your results to the whole minute you'll be using the stated cooking time in the recipes. Long of way of saying...no adjustment necessary 🙂
I recently purchased the Instant Pot Ultra for my altitude of 9,000 feet. The only thing that the altitude adjustment does is to change the times for the pre-programmed buttons. It does not change manually entered times after entering nor after pushing the Start button. I still have to do plenty of math, and searching websites to determine the elevation of the author so I can do the math appropriately. Most website authors don't think to share this information. What is your elevation, by the way?
If you've set your Ultra to adjust for your altitude it will adjust to the manually entered cooking times as well. You'll enter the cooking time indicated on the recipe and once you press "start" you'll notice the cook time has been adjusted ( it won't adjust until you press start). If it's not adjusting, you may want to make sure you've got the altitude adjustment entered correctly (it should just need to be set once) .
Here's the instructions on setting up the Ultra:
To Set your Instant Pot Ultra or MAX
Put the Instant Pot in 'Standby' by hitting the 'Cancel' button
Press and hold the central dial until you hear the unit beep and enter into the system-level settings change mode
Rotate the dial to 'Alt' and press select to rotate to the desired altitude. You'll have the option to enter 'feet' or 'meters'.
When you've selected either 'feet' or 'meters', press the central dial and enter 'Altitude ' adjustment mode, rotate the central dial to make the adjustments, then press the 'Start' key to save the changes and exit.
The altitude only needs to be set once and it will apply to all programs. There is no indication that the altitude has been adjusted, however, you will notice that the 'cook time' will automatically adjust after you enter the recipe time. For example: if you are at 5000 ft. (and you've adjusted your Instant Pot for your altitude) when you enter 20 minutes cook time and press start, your Instant Pot will automatically adjust to 23 minutes. ( 20 (mins) x 1.15 multiplier (for 5000 ft.- see chart above) = 23 minutes.
Hope that helps!
Thanks for responding. I do have the elevation set correctly, and it did change the times on all the pre-programmed buttons. It does not change manually entered times, not even after pressing start. I have confirmed this by talking with the Instant Pot support on the phone and also back and forth with them by email. I think that their description of this feature is misleading, and I told them so. They say that the Ultra "takes the guesswork out of recipe conversion." That's only true for pre-programmed buttons that don't involve any guesswork anyway. I rarely use those.
What IS nice about the Ultra is that it will remember the time that I last used for any program. So, if I chose 30 minutes at high pressure for the Soup button (or even the manual "Pressure Cook" button), it will remember that time the next time I use the pot. Or if I set a custom temperature for the Saute button, it will remember that.
Another nice thing about the Ultra for high altitude is that I can set custom temperatures. Because water boils at such a lower temperature here, sometimes things will roll at a full boil when I don't want them to, and I prefer that they not. With the Ultra, I've got medium, low or any temperature I choose. For instance, the Saute at high is often way too hot, and I can easily turn it down. It often is better at this altitude to take more time, cook things more slowly, and just live with the fact that I have already adjusted my lifestyle to live here, and this is one more thing to learn to live with.
As far as altitude adjustments in general, at 9,000 feet I am instructed to add 35% time to all recipes. This is not always necessary, and I am still trying to figure out when to add that much and when not to. It's a guess. I'm finding some things to be overdone when I do that. It will be a process learning when I need the extra timing and when I don't.
Additionally, I've been getting a lot of my recipes online, from different websites & blogs. The authors of those recipes don't always share their own elevation. I have found some Instant Pot recipes authors in Utah, who have shared their elevations at 5,000 or 7,000 feet. In the case of the recipes from 7,000 feet, I only add an additional 10% for my adjustment. I understand that many flatlanders don't even know about the need for mountain people to make adjustments, but it would be nice to have an idea where they are located so I can adjust appropriately. I always look at their "About" page, to see if I can find any clues as to their elevation, but many do not share their location or elevation. If any of you bloggers out there see this, please add an elevation in an obvious spot on your website!
Thanks Laurie! Much appreciate the info and I have reached out to Instant Pot and confirmed that the adjustment does not automatically take place when using the Pressure Cook/Manual Mode. ( I really hope they change that!) I've updated the post to reflect this info. Also, I think you had a really great idea about bloggers adding their location info and altitude that they've tested the recipes. I'll spread the word! and have updated my about page as well! Thanks for taking the time to share all your great info!
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I'm in Denver. I'm new to using an instant pot. I was thinking that I would have to make adjustments due to the high altitude. You took the guess work out for me. I made rice for dinner and used your instructions. The rice came out perfect!
I live at 896 ft. I am not sure what I did but I came upon the settings to adjust altitude. I was trying to get to set cooking time and didn’t realize I was messing with the attitude. How do I know what the factory default setting was?
You shouldn't need to set adjustments for altitude unless you live above 2000 ft. If you've accidentally adjusted your Instant Pot it can be reset to factory specs. How to do that varies slightly by model. If you want to let me know which model you are using I can help you troubleshoot resetting it to factory settings?