Instant Pot Natural Pressure Release vs. Quick Release -What does it mean when an Instant Pot recipe calls for " Natural Pressure Release" and/or "Quick Release"? and how do you know which method to use?
One of the first things you’ll want to understand when cooking in the Instant Pot is how to release the steam that’s formed in the pot while you’ve been pressure cooking. How you release the steam will depend on what you are cooking.
Here's a visual for the terms ( "pressure release valve", "steam release valve" and" float valve") we will be talking about.
Anatomy of an Instant Pot
**Please Note- I have the Instant Pot Ultra model and the photo above is of my Ultra- depending on what model you own, the configuration may be slightly different. In some models the steam release valve and the quick release handle are combined.
Ways to Release Pressure in an Instant Pot
There are two specific ways to release pressure
- Natural Pressure Release
- Quick Pressure Release
You will use one or a combination of both methods to safely release the pressure/steam in your Instant Pot.
What is a Natural Pressure Release (also called Natural Release) ?
(sometimes shortened to NPR or NR in recipe directions)
This is where you just let the Instant Pot ”be”, you don’t need to do anything. The Instant Pot will begin to cool down and release pressure all on its own. Upon the completion of the cooking cycle you will hear the Instant Pot "beep" to signal it has completed the cooking cycle and it will automatically begin the Natural Pressure Release process.
You will know the Natural Pressure Release process is complete when you see/hear the float valve (metal pin) drop down. Depending on what you are cooking this could be as short as a couple of minutes or up to 30 minutes. Generally the shorter the cooking time the shorter the Natural Release time.
When to use Natural Pressure Release
A Natural Pressure Release means pressure within the Instant Pot is released in a very gradual manner (as opposed a Quick Release which forces the steam out quickly) so it’s perfect for foods that are primarily liquid (like soups) or “foamy” foods (those high in starch content that tend to foam when cooking like oatmeal, potatoes or beans). Releasing pressure slowly means the food stays in the Instant Pot and just the steam is sent out of the Steam Release Valve. Releasing the pressure too quickly when cooking liquids or “foamy” foods would result in the food and steam being sent through the steam release vent which = big giant mess in your kitchen!
While the Instant Pot is Naturally Releasing Pressure it is still cooking which also makes doing a Natural Release a great option for foods like roasts. Think of it like letting a larger cut of meat “rest” after cooking.
What is a Quick Pressure Release (also called Quick Release)?
(sometimes shortened to QPR or QR in recipe directions)
This is when you turn the pressure release valve/quick release valve to "open" or "venting" (depending on IP model) at the completion of the cooking cycle. This forces the steam to release from the Instant Pot quickly.
When you hear the "beep/s" that the cooking cycle has been completed, immediately switch the pressure/steam release valve ( or quick release valve on IP Ultra) to "venting". This opens the vent and allows all accumulated steam/pressure to release from the Instant Pot right away.
Use caution when switching the pressure release/quick release valve to venting. Use a pot holder or silicone glove to avoid burns and always keep your face/hands away from the steam release valve.
You will know the Quick Pressure Release is complete when you see/hear the float valve (metal pin) drop down. Once that has happened it is safe to open the Instant Pot.
When to use Quick Pressure Release
A Quick Pressure Release means pressure/steam within the Instant Pot is released very quickly (as opposed a Natural Release which releases the steam/pressure gradually) so it’s perfect for foods that are delicate ( like shrimp and salmon) and those that you don't want to cook longer than the cooking cycle ( like veggies, pasta, poultry or anything that could get mushy or become overcooked).
What does it mean when a recipe calls for a Natural Pressure Release (for a period of time) followed by a Quick Pressure Release.
This is something you will see many recipes call for. It simply means to let the Instant Pot release pressure naturally (slowly) for a period of time ( usually 10-15 minutes) and then toggle the Pressure Release/Quick Release valve to "venting" to quickly release any remaining pressure.
Pressure Cooker Recipes
Looking for some Healthy Instant Pot Recipe inspiration?
Great explanation! Thank you so much!
thanks so very much. I just did a meatloaf. It called for 25 min. high pressure and 10 minute pressure release. I thought I had to set the thing twice, but you've cleared it up. Awesome you are !
Thank you for this article! Great explanation between the natural and quick pressure release. I am new to intant pot cooking and was a bit scared to use my pot for the first time. This helped a lot. Thanks!
Thanks so much for this. I am new to instant pot and so far loving the ease of cooking foods quickly. I am making short rubs and several recipes called for natural release which was not mentioned anywhere in the manual. So this was a life saver! Thanks again!
Hi. Could you please tell me what this means: Pressure Cook at High Pressure for 15 minutes + 10 minutes Natural Release? Do I set timer for 15 mins and then shut off/cancel and leave for 10 mins? Ugh. Im lost. Thank in advance!
Helen- you'll set the Instant Pot to cook on High for 15 minutes. Here is information on how to do a Natural Release https://healthyinstantpotrecipes.com/instant-pot-natural-pressure-release-vs-quick-release/ it also includes info on what to do if a recipe calls for a Quick Release. Hope that helps!
Donna M Petersen
Hi Susan! I am really glad I found your blog. All the information you provide is so helpful to us beginners of the Instant Pot, Great explanation of Quick Release vs Natural Release, or combo of both. I also love how you have organized your site! I will be visiting your site often!! Thanks again Susan 🙂
Thanks Donna! That's so kind of you!
Hi I have a 6qt viva instant pot but the lid doesn’t have a seal turn feature. I’ve used it just by chance where the turn knob is up and metal pin is up while pressure cooking.
Here's a link to the Instruction Manual for the IP Viva (from the Instant Pot corp site) https://instantpot.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Viva-Series_Manual_English_web.pdf
Page 17 shows how to set the steam release to "sealing". Hope that helps.