A large number of multi cookers with pressure programs have an inner bowl with the “max/full” line at a level that is unsafe for pressure cooking.
Multi cookers are electric pressure cookers that offer additional cooking functions such as Slow Cooking, Rice Cooking and even Yogurt making in the same machine. These machines can run temperature and time-controlled programs with and without pressure.
Every pressure cooker manual has an “Important Safeguards” section at the beginning that says a pressure cooker should not be filled with food and liquid more than 1/2 full when pressure cooking beans, grains and rice (or “foamy” foods) and no more than 2/3 full for cooking anything else. The handful of instruction manuals we reviewed for affected multi cookers also had this notice. This filling requirement is one of the safety features. It ensures that foods do not bubble-up and clog or interfere with the valves in the lid. The level for beans, grains and rice is lower to compensate for the fact that these foods can double or triple in size when cooked and generate foam. If the pressure and/or safety valves in the lid become clogged the cooker will continue to build pressure beyond the cooker’s ability.
Also, some multi cookers may have photos on the box or other materials that show inner bowl filled to the top; or, infomercial chefs may lift the lid of a multi cooker to “reveal” food coming up to the edge of the cooker. These are just marketing illustrations to make the food more visible. They are not filling guidelines or recommendations.
See Also: Pressure Cooker FAQ: Filling The Pressure Cooker
Some electric multi cookers with pressure programs have inner bowls with “max/full” markings that are designed for non-pressure programs (such as slow cooking). Depending on the model, the lines may indicate the fill level at 4/5ths full or using just the words “max” or “full” close to the top edge of the bowl.
These non-pressure max/full markings are too high to be used for pressure programs and, especially when combined with recipes that expand (such as a split pea soup or a chili), it is very likely that food could be trapped into the safety systems in the lid and compromise their functionality.
Even though electric and multi cookers can detect an unsafe temperature/pressure level inside the pressure cooker and automatically turn off the appliance – the food inside will continue to boil and build pressure for at least 20 additional minutes until the heating element has cooled.
There are at least six injury reports filed with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in the last two years likely attributed to this defect. The reports describe unexpected forceful ejection of the lid and contents during use of a pressure program while the consumer is cooking soup, beans or chili.
It is absolutely safe to pressure cook soups, beans and chilis, as long as industry-recommended fill levels noted in the instruction manual are followed.
how to check if a pressure multi cooker is affected
If your electric pressure cooker’s inner bowl already displays the “1/2 full” and “2/3 full” markings, your cooker is likely not affected by this alert.
Instead, if your cooker’s inner bowl shows cups, liters, quarts or just “max” near the top edge we recommend checking that the markings are in the right place. To check if your pressure cooker’s max or full line is at the right level fill your electric pressure multi cooker with the appropriate amount of water for its size.
Taking these measurements can be a little bit tricky for U.S. Consumers. As of the writing of this alert, all electric pressure cookers on the market are manufactured in China and their inner bowls are actually produced in “liter” sizes even though they are marketed in the U.S. in “quarts.” In addition, some inner-bowls have scales for “cup” but because of these different measuring systems the ticks may not match-up with standard U.S. 8 oz. measuring cups – specifically the “cup”markings might be a reference for the rice program. If you already have a 1 liter pitcher taking these measurements will be a little bit easier -some 4-cup U.S. Measuring cups may already have 1 liter (aka 1000ml) markings. Another way to easily measure the insert, is to put it on a scale, set it to zero (tar) and add water up to the indicated weight in ounces or milliliters.
Here’s a table that gives the measurements at each fill level in liters and U.S. 8oz measuring cups.
correct multi-cooker inner bowl MAX/FULL levelsCups measurements have been rounded down to the nearest 1/4 cup measurement - for ease of measurement.
|Pressure Cooker Size|||||Max 1/2 Full capacity|||||Max 2/3 Full Capacity|
||||(beans, rice, grains & fruit)|||||(all other ingredients)|
|4 liters/quarts|||||2 (2,000 ml)||8 1/4 cups||68 oz|||||2.64 (2,640 ml)||11 cups||90 oz|
|5|||||2.5||10 1/2||85|||||3.3||13 3/4||112|
|6|||||3||12 1/2||101|||||4||16 3/4||135|
|8|||||4||16 3/4||135|||||5.28||22 1/4||179|
if your cooker is affected
If the markings in your pressure cooker do not match-up with the 1/2 and 2/3 full fill levels noted above, write down at which mark the water level arrived on the cover of your pressure cooker manual. If another member of the household will be using the pressure programs of your multi cooker, be sure explain the maximum fill levels – also do this also when you lend the cooker or give one as a gift.
There is no danger in using multi cookers with high max/full line noted on the liner as long as the correct maximum fill levels (1/2 full for beans, grains & rice, 2/3 full for everything else) are respected while pressure cooking.
initial list of affected/un-affected cookers
We took a look at marketing photos and videos online to compile this initial list of affected cookers. If you have a multi cooker that is affected by this alert, please take a photo of the inner bowl and post it along with your measurement results in the comments to help others with cookers affected by this alert. Thank you.
Thank you for this. I just got the InstantPot LUX60 6 quart last week. I just filled it with water to check and the measurements listed here seem off for what I have. When I did the measurements in the chart above, it’s way too much. If 12.5 cups is considered half, then you should be able to fit 25 cups in this pot, but that would completely overflow the pot. So I figured it out myself, assuming we want 1/2 and 2/3 of the Max line. 20 cups goes right to the Max line. So, half of that is 10 cups, which comes just below the 8 cup line marking (why are the cup markings not true cups??). 2/3 of the Max line would be a little over 13 cups (I did 13 1/4 cups) and that comes to the 10 cup line marking. So I will assume that I won’t fill it over the 8 cup line for 1/2 full and not over the 10 cup line for 2/3 filled. Now I see that my measurements seem more like the 5 quart in the chart above, but my InstantPot is labeled as 6 quart, which really isn’t true. 6 quarts completely overfill the pot. 5 quarts goes right the Max line. So, moral of this story (other than don’t believe what manufacturers tell you as far as size!), if you have the InstantPot LUX60 6 quart, you really have a 5 quart pot so you should follow the chart above for the 5 quart.
I just checked my Instant Pot 6L insert and it is actually 5.5L to the top edge – I have added the measurements for that size in the table. My Breville Fast Slow Pro is 5.9L to the top edge.
The cup markings inside match the cup that came with the machine. It is rice measures.
No, try it. They don’t match that cup size, either! They could be rice “serving sizes” but they don’t match the 180ml rice cup.
The markings correspond to (but do not equal) the rice cups. If you put 5 rice cups in, then you put water in to the “5” line. That way you can rinse and still see where to leave the water level at. It is not a cup measurement.
Thanks Tamara, it looks like the Instant Pot scale is a hold-over from the electric pressure cooker’s origins as a rice cooker!
So you are saying the Instant Pot Smart is not safe? Or the inner pot is not safe?
Will they have to recall them all?
I have seen many articles saying how safe electric PC’s are.
Max I fill mine is halfway for stock but still.
It is not that the pot is unsafe, but that the markings on the pot are misleading.
If you are only filling half way then you will be OK.
The problems happen when someone fills the pot to the “Max” line then attempts to pressure cook the contents. If the “Max” line on that particular pot is above 2/3, then it could be a disaster waiting to happen. But only for the uninformed or forgetful ( like me !)
As the alert states, it is safe to use your Instant Pot or affected multi-cooker as long as you follow the industry-recommended filling recommendations written in your manual instead of the “max” that is printed, stamped or pressed in the inner-pot.
The multicooker pots are perfectly safe.
It is the user who doesn’t read the manual, doesn’t follow the instructions, and thinks the multicooker works just like their rice cooker, slow cooker, or stockpot who is unsafe. In other words, user error. ;-)
Laura, I hit the send post too quickly. My earlier comment wasn’t meant to suggest there isn’t a need to be concerned about the max fill lines on the liner pots. There definitely is.
I’ve been on the Facebook Instant Pot Community forum for enough time to see the same problem (I joined when the group had less than 2000 members, now it’s something like 70,000!).
It’s a bit horrifying reading about the way people blithely start using a pressure multicooker without reading the manual, without knowing basic cooking principles (let alone pressure cooking principles), or feel they are such experienced cooks that they don’t need to learn about how pressure cooking differs from conventional cooking before diving in. Then they blame the appliance when they run into issues instead of realizing they unknowingly pushed the appliance beyond its limit.
I understand completely – I left the Instant Pot Facebook group as I was personally attacked for recommending people not cover their pressure cooker’s valves during pressure release. I find that electric pressure cookers, and especially Instant Pot, are so easy to use they make anyone who’s had it for a month feel like an expert. This is fantastic, and speaks clearly to their ease of use; HOWEVER, it also emboldens this type of person to ignore safety warnings and take unnecessary risks and recommend and insist that others do as well.
I walk the thin line of ensuring people that their pressure cookers are safe, while at the same time making sure they respect that although it cooks rice or slow cooks – it is not a rice cooker or a slow cooker. An electric pressure cooker bends the laws of physics to cook (which a rice and slow cooker do not) and requires a certain level of caution and attention from the cook.
I agree. I joined that same group last November and now they have over 1 1/4 million members. A week doesn’t go by where someone says I just bought one and… They’ve run into probs because they started using it and think they can wing it. Just yesterday someone posted a picture of applesauce that flew out all over the kitchen area where the IP was being used. You also see the posts where some of these failed so horribly that after one use they are (already) fed up and want to return the Instant Pot. I have the 6 qt Duo, live alone, and have only filled the liner almost to the top when making two particular dishes and have had no problems because I also know not to QR. I have never been a fan of adding liquid to the level marked in the pot, so that marking error wouldn’t affect me. The simple solution is to measure the liquids with a measuring cup if not sure.
I’ve tried several times to participate in the Instant Pot Facebook group to answer questions – but honestly, I got tired of being contradicted by someone who’s been using their instant pot for a week and having and then having my answer lost in a slew of 50 other comments.
I wish I had more time, patience, and energy to stay on the group – but I don’t!
Does this apply to stovetop with same markings? They don’t have programs per se but the times are the Samish. Are the stovetops somehow safer overall?
Possibly. You would have to go on a case by case basis though.
It is more likely to affect Electrics as they started out life as rice cookers.
Greg, I guess I was just taken aback by the dire warning tone, especially as my Instant Pot Smart has a high max fill line and does not have the 2/3 or 1/2 full lines.
I don’t actually need them as it is not hard to figure out, But …. If I had read this article before purchasing I would probably not have bought an Instant Pot or even an electric pressure cooker.
I’m sorry it sounds dire but the issue is serious. I contacted both the UL Standards and CPSC to encourage them to investigate the matter. I’m also looking into how to inform the EU Consumer Protection division – as these cookers are sold in Europe as well.
I stick to the facts when writing alerts, or anything really, and try not to add any superfluous language. In fact, to make it sound less scary I said “unexpected forceful ejection of the lid and contents” instead of the “e” word, which I NEVER use myself.
Well if there is a safety mechanism someone will bypass it eventually. I am over it now as I know many people are confused by the current lines and or ignore them, and the only way to address all issues it to have lines for every scenario. Probably require at least 6 max full lines for instance it being a multi-cooker. Thanks for the reply.
What Greg said. Basically since the electric pressure cooker was borne from the same shells, factories and accessories that were, and still are, used to make rice cookers so this scale and max-line is a hold-over from that.
It’s worth noting that a few factories have added the industry-recommended max fill lines to their pressure and multi-cookers years ago.
The “urgency” of the alert is borne from the growing popularity of electric pressure cookers along with the disturbing trend of cooks not reading their pressure cooker manuals plus rise of bloggers, youtubers and questionable e-book slingers sharing un-tested recipes that do not follow any standards – much less safety considerations.
I review the U.S. CPSC report and recall database daily for updates and additions. I began to see a pattern of incidents that were not attributed to a single manufacturer. Delving deeper in the issue I realized all of the pressure cookers involved were multi-cookers and the only way those injuries could happen would be if they were too full (which is usually a cook or recipe issue). But why would this keep happening and primarily with soups and beans? That’s when I put 2 and 2 together. In fact, each and every multi-cooker involved in the six injuries I reference have a too-high max line.
I told an affected manufacturer on this list three years ago that their max line did not match with 2/3 full but I received a plausible explanation for why it was OK (the microprocessor-controlled heat regulation stops foods from boiling over). This logic may have worked a few years ago when there were a handful of careful electric pressure cooker users using high-quality tested recipes but in the specific instances I note above (expanding foods to the too-high max line) the safety systems are rendered completely useless. A microprocessor cannot un-clog valves and release pressure.
Meanwhile, an un-affected manufacturer told me that they not only put the correct markings on the inner pot but they also ensure that all of the recipes that are in their recipe booklet included with the cooker meet the filing standards as well.
Interesting, my Instant Pot has (so far) stopped cooking if valve is clogged. Guess we will all have to stay far away when cooking , as my valve got clogged with pot never actually being even half full.
Helen, what are you pressure cooking that keeps clogging your cooker’s valves?
Not sure. Was a few weeks where it would stop randomly for a few weeks and give OVHEAT message. Tomato sauce for one but lots of liquid. Then I cleaned around valve with toothpick more than a year ago and it is fine. So I am assuming it was slightly clogged? Glad I don’t have one of the ones that just keep on cooking while it counts down.
Stupid question maybe, but how would you know if you valve is clogged? …the cooker doesn’t start it’s cooking program, or, it does but then it just stops? In other words, is it just safest to wait at least twenty minutes after anything “funny” happens to open the cooker?
Mine says OVHEAT or similar and beeps about 20 times. Newer models apparently just keep cooking (or not) and start counting down with no warning and no pressure. I like getting the beeps myself but others perhaps prefer wasting the time to the noise.
Also, is this safe?
Rice tip: I cook rice in my instant pot almost every time I use it. I found an old aluminum camping pan. I add 1 cup basmati rice and 1 cup water to the pan. I put the trivet upside down in the IP (thus, standing up on the handles) and put the rice pan on the trivet.
I can’t really tell from the photo the height of the heat-safe bowl holding the rice. In general, rice cooked this way does a lot less foaming. I don’t know of any independent research that has proved or explained exactly why that is. My theory is that there is no direct heat coming only from the bottom as it would cooking directly in the pressure cooker base. Likely, there is actually more heat applied to the top of the rice (from the superheated steam) which negates the need for the liquid underneath to bubble to release heat.
Going with that theory, and my experience, I would say that as long as the water-level of the rice in the bowl is below the 2/3 full mark of the pressure cooker might be OK.
But, unfortunately, I cannot confirm that it is safe nor officially recommend that you go above the 1/2 full mark when pressure cooking rice.
More theories about rice foaming are related to poor quality or poorly washed rice. Type of rice used and country of origin are also important factors. Just my 2¢ bit.
Thanks for the answer! It’s not actually my photo. I saw someone post this soon after reading this article and just wondered.
@Andrea – Hard to answer your concern about safety.
1. Your pic does not reveal the affected parameters (as commented by Laura). You should place the rice container on the trivet, turn the pot around so that your picture clearly displays the measuring scale, take your pic, then ask your question.
2. Furthermore, I’m not quite sure if pressure cooking in an old aluminium pan is safe at all. May I suggest that you substitute with ovenproof glass or stainless steel. A 7″ or 7.5″ (glass) pie plate will do the trick if you can’t find SS. ;-)
Thanks for the answer! It’s not actually my photo. I saw someone post this soon after reading this article and just wondered.
I have found one other practice that can clog the vent mechanism — and learned this the hard way. Using my IP Duo (6Qt), I made tomato sauce. The pot was 1/2 filled (the IP manual is clear on this) when I started cooking. When I finished it was about 2/3 filled from the water released by the tomatoes. I only pressure cooked for 3 minutes, and wanted a quick release so I could reduce the volume by using the Saute mode for about 30-min after blending the sauce. I failed to wait 10-min before manually releasing the pressure, and as a result tomato sauce splattered all over the lid and into the valve. Had to remove the valve cover and practically pick out tomato pieces from every orifice in the pot. Finally got them all but it was tedious. Lesson learned.
I have the Instant Pot Duo 50 (5 qt). I poured 20 U.S.cups (5 qt) of water in and it hit slightly above the Max Line on the stainless steel pot. I removed 1/3 of the water (6 1/2 cups) and it looks like I should plan my “2/3 Fill” to be right about the line that would be a 9 (halfway mark between 10 and 8). I then removed another 3 1/2 cups of water (leaving 10 cups water in the pot) and it then it looks like my “1/2 Fill” should be the line marked 6.
So for the Instant Pot Duo 50 (5 qt).
– 2/3 Fill is the half-way mark between 10 and 8 (ie 9)
– 1/2 Fill is the line marked 6
My Cuisinart CPC-600 series states don’t fill over 3/5 full & 1/2 for rice beans etc. I measured with a liter cup & a scale & 1/2 full is at the 12 1/2 cup line & 3/5 full is at the 15 cup line. It does hold 6 qts. I hope this helps someone.
3/5 (60%) is not industry standard. But it is LESS than the industry standard of 2/3 (67%) so it will be fine. I take it from your comment though that the markings are not on the pot itself.
WHY I WAS COOKING IT STOPPED AND HAS TO LETTERS COMING WITH IT NOW DOES NOT WORK. I BOUGHT MINE AT WALMART WHAT HAPPEN
What are the letters?
In what way does it “not work”?
It probably showed an error code but without knowing a little more it is impossible to tell.
My pot has markings from 4 – 16 cups.
Do canned beans have the same rule for 1/2 full if cooking them in a chili/soup or can you do 2/3 in that case?
Yes, the 1/2 full rule applies even for canned beans. Although they will not expand, they will still generate foam and that can bring parts of the beans up to the valves.
Thank you for the valuable info. I wanted to save this page to Pinterest to look back on but it won’t save. I have an icon on the top menu of my browser for this purpose and it allows me to choose an image, but when saving the loader bar won’t stop. I tried the link at the bottom of the article as well, with the same results.
I just burned myself this morning cooking pinto beans. I read the instructions for pinto beans in the recipe book. It did say that I should not fill the pot with dried beans over halfway, but I had soaked my beans. I knew they wouldn’t expand much more, so I filled the pot with the beans one inch under the max line (IP-LUX 60, 6qt Instant Pot) and water to the max line. After 30 minutes on warm after the cooking time, I tried to open the lid and couldn’t get it off. I realize this was a safety feature and am so grateful for it. I thought that there might be a tiny big of pressure still in the pot, so I did an instant release. Immediately the pot started spewing hot liquid from the valve and I burned myself. I was surprised that it took several minutes and a huge mess to release the pressure. I wish there had been instructions on the beans recipe page where people mostly look and not just on the safety page. Also, there needs to be different instructions for soaked beans if there are different cooking times. I LOVE my Instant Pot, just not my burn.
Angie, I’m sorry to hear about your injury and I hope you recuperate soon. I hope you learned the important lesson about not “interpreting” the safety guidelines. They should be followed literally as the fill rule applies for both soaked and dry beans. The issue is not only expansion but also the fact that soaked, dried and canned beans still generate quite a bit of foam. Specifically for beans, I (and your manual should also recommend this) also using only Natural Pressure release (aka not releasing pressure through the valve).
Thank you for sharing your story, it couldn’t have been easy to do. Hopefully, you now have an explanation for what happened will be more careful about filling the cooker and how pressure is released for beans and grains.
Pressure cooking is a safe cooking method – but we have to do our part of learning and following the safety guidelines.
P.S. If you get a chance, take a look at the segment on “pressure releases” from the pressure cooking school – it explains why beans spray out of the valve and the best opening method for them and why..
Laura, I just received my instant pot for Christmas and welcome any advice you have. I have carefully read my manual and so far I have made stew beef & potatoes, and pork chops in my Instant pot, it all turned out great. I am confused about the measuring, my inner pot does have a max line close to the top. I also worry about the vent being clogged, without me knowing. At this point after reading the many replies here I am thinking I should be very limited on what I cook to be on the safe side. How do you clean your lid and vent and how often? Do you take off the rubber seal and clean and dry carefully under it? Please give some advice on safely using my instant pot. I am thinking also when I use my instant pot as a slow cooker, there is not really any safety issues with that if I don’t leave it unattended, is that correct? Thank you.
Exactly, no safety issues with using your Instant Pot as a slow cooker.
As for taking care of the lid, I remove the gasket and valve and put the whole lid in the dishwasher’s top rack. Place also the gasket in the top rack and the valve in the utensil holder. It’s unofficially OK from Instant Pot – but they do warn that the black plastic parts on the lid may eventually not be as shiny as they were when they were new. But there are no other materials or glue or anything that is not heat-safe that would prevent you from washing your Instant Pot lid in the dishwasher. BTW, I don’t know if this applies to the MAX which has a sensor integrated on the lid – I’ll ask.
P.S. Apologies for the late response I was in the hospital during the holidays. Everything’s OK, now. : )
I’ve found that we can cook one pound of beans safely in the InstantPot 6 qt model but 2 pounds is way too much and cannot be safely cooked. We don’t tend to measure when cooking but we can easily eyeball the level and keep our quantities under the max recommended.
Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Andrea!
What would we do (well myself anyway) without Laura and all the hard work and long hours put into the testing of the Electric Instant Pots and all the recipes we can try!
My goodness, we are so fortunate! I am not a cook without a recipe to follow, so big Koodos for all you do!
Thank you, SharonOK! <3
Thank You so much for all your information. I got my Instant Pot about two months ago.
I only done to water test, then started reading the whole manual. Then I went on YouTube,
and watch so many of your videos. And now I feel better about my Instant Pot. Only thing
That confuses me is the wattage and the time, I might need to adjust. I have the six quart and the eight. Do I need to adjust my time with the eight quart, because of it being 1200
Watts? And Thanks again for all of the videos and websites. You really care about us. And I
have never liked Facebook and never do many posting on YouTube, way too many badgers
In this world.
Hi Sherl you don’t need to adjust the cooking time the different wattage is like using a larger flame on your stovetop. The cooker is designed to reach a specific temperature based on the program or pressure chosen. A larger “flame” doesn’t change the target temperature. With any size, besides the mini, there are no time adjustments needed.
Thank You so much for letting me know. My husband kept on asking me if I had asked
someone about the difference in the two of the Instant Pots. I was able to tell him today. He is a safety nut like I am. We both would like to Thank You for all of the recipes and the cooking school videos. They have really help so much. I made your ketchup today, oh my goodness, it is fantastic. My roast and chicken has turned out great. I think everyone should watch all of them, because of letting some meats natural release. It does make a big difference.
Your little girl is so beautiful, just like her mother. Let her know a family in Michigan thinks she is a living doll.
Thanks a million for all you do.
I just bought the Instant Pot Nova Plus from Costco. There is a 1/2 Full mark and a 2/3 Full mark inside the stainless steel inner cooking pot. . This would seem to be an updated feature as opposed to the Instant Pot models shown on your chart. I feel so relieved. (But will measure the capacity just to be sure.)
And thanks for a very informative website. I’ve been reading all evening!
Hi Mary, since I put out this alert, all the liners in the newer batches of Instant Pot for all models have both of these markings. You’re not the only one reading this website. ; )
Oh, it’s serious. There have been a number of explosions that covered people with scalding hot food. Domestic napalm.
Also, thanks for this. Whenever a friend posts soliciting recipes for their brand new IP, I give them a link to this page.
6 injuries reported out of 330 million people. Sounds like a huge safety problem to me.
Chris, where did you get the data that 330 million people own pressure cookers and did not report problems? Please share.