What is Instant Pot Natural Release?

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Wondering what’s the deal about the Instant Pot natural release function? Here’s a quick guide to help you make sense of it! 

As a proud owner of a new Instant Pot, you might be curious and super excited to try out its different functions and features. I feel you. This device might just be the best kitchen appliance you’ve owned, and you’re going to love every bit of using it. 

But if you’re browsing through the recipe books and blogs, feeling overwhelmed with all the technicalities, here’s a bit of help your way. Keep reading to discover all about the Instant Pot natural release function! 

What Does the Instant Pot Natural Release Do?

The natural release function of your Instant Pot is an incredibly useful feature. It allows your food to stop cooking gradually, and as a result, have a more intense flavor and turn softer too. 

You’ll need to keep one little thing in mind though. When you’re planning to let the Instant Pot depressurize using the natural release function, you’ll need to reduce the cooking time, since the food will continue cooking inside for as long as it takes for the pressure to be completely released.

If you don’t do this, you might end up overcooking your food. 

cooked cashew chicken and vegetables in instant pot

When Do I Use the Natural Release Function?

The natural release function is perfect for when you’re planning to cook meats or grill your protein. This will ensure that the meat is super soft and tender. 

You can also ideally use this function when it comes to cooking foods that are foaming. Steel cut oats, pasta and soup (like this Instant Pot taco soup) are good examples. 

Avoid putting in veggies that cook quickly (broccoli, bok choy etc) and delicate seafood (shrimp and fish). 

chili in a bowl in front of an Instant Pot

Amazon always has great prices and sales on Instant Pots. I've ordered a few there myself.

How is it Different From Quick Release?

So you see a quick release option too, and you’re wondering how exactly it is different from the Instant Pot natural release function.

Well, the natural release function releases the steam in the pot to release naturally, without you needing to take any action. Once the cooker has cooled down and the heat has dissipated on its own, you can open the lid. 

In contrast, the quick release needs you to release the handle from the sealing to the venting position, which helps the cooker depressurize and quickly remove the pressure

Tips & Tricks to Do it the Right Way

The Instant Pot natural release is actually one of the safest ways to use the device. Since you won’t be opening the lid until it is actually safe to, there’s little to no risk of you coming in contact with hot steam and hurting yourself. 

The only thing you’ll need to keep in mind is the cooking time. 

And how do you know that the pressure has been released? You’ll hear a small ‘click’ sound of the float valve dropping down after the cooker has completely cooled down and released all the pressure.

This usually happens 10-25 minutes after you’ve turned off the cooker. You can then unlock the lid easily. Cool right?


  • Jessica McCoy

    Jessica McCoy is a seasoned food blogger with 14+ years of experience in the industry. As a self-taught home cook, she enjoys creating and finetuning easy recipes that are fool proof and simple for anyone to make. Her expertise is in all things kitchen: cooking tips, air fryer recipes, Instant Pot and other pressure cooking recipes, and slow cooker recipes. Jessica was the previous owner of AllSheCooks, where she focused on easy every day recipes including budget friendly dinner recipes and desserts.

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