Pressure Cooker Minimum Liquid Requirement
pressure cooking school  Welcome to Pressure Cooking School!
 This article is part of Lesson 2: The First Recipe

Pressure Cooker Minimum Liquid RequirementThe minimum liquid requirement is the least amount of liquid your pressure cooker needs to create enough steam to build and maintain pressure. To pressure cook!

Now, the amount will vary by brand. And that’s because of how the pressure cooker is made and the type of valve it uses.

For example, the Instant Pot requires at least 1 1/2 cups (375ml) of water; while the Fagor LUX (which has a spring valve) only needs 1/2 a cup (125ml)! Your instruction manual should state this minimum, but if it doesn’t or if it isn’t clear I’ve come up with an amount that will bring just about any pressure cooker to pressure: 1 1/2 cups (375ml).

More Info: Pressure Cooker Instruction Manual Library

Make sure that any recipe you cook in your pressure cooker contains at least the minimum required by your pressure cooker – otherwise the pressure cooker won’t build pressure.

CONTINUE…


pressure cooking schoolCONTINUE Lesson 2: The First Recipe:

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17 Comments

  1. A month ago I bought a WMF perfect pro 6.5l pressure cooker, which I’m really pleased with, and have used it every day, and I am a full convert to the benefits of pressure cooking. However the manual specifies 250ml as the minimum liquid volume, which is quite high for the quantities I want to cook, especially as I make a lot of meals such as risotto where this is crucial, and leftovers don’t keep well.

    To address this, I’ve invested in a 3l and 4.5l set in the same range. I’m rather disappointed to find that the minimum liquid volume is also 250ml for these.

    Can this be right? Surely it should be proportionate to the total volume? I’m annoyed at this- it seems lazy to send out the same manual for any size pot. I haven’t got time to test three pans with different amounts of liquid to try and work out what it is, and don’t want to wing it and have scorched dinners.

    Please can you tell me what the minimum liquid volumes are for a similar design of pressure cooker?

    Thankyou for your marvellous website and book. I really appreciate your scientific approach.

  2. 250ml is actually quite low as pressure cookers go. 375ml is far more common.
    Kuhn Rikon is lower, with 50ml specified for short cooks and 100 for longer ones.

    The minimum liquid requirement is related to how well a PC seals and the cooking time rather than its volume. It has more to do with loss of steam (and therefore maintaining pressure) than reaching pressure in the first place. So it is reasonable that WMF use the same value for all their PCs as they probably use the same sealing mechanism.

    But for Risotto, cooking for 4, Laura specifies 1 litre for 4 servings. Which means even if you are cooking for one, you will still be OK with your WMF.

    I made some for dinner for two last night. delicious.

  3. I have a Breville Fast Slow cooker and it says the minimum liquid is 1 litre (4 cups, 1000ml) is this correct? That seems like a huge amount of liquid especially compared to some other pressure cookers!
    Breville have recipes on their website that use far less liquid too, so wondering if you know what the actual minimum amount of liquid is, that I can get away with using? Thanks

    1. Lexi, you can safely use 1 1/2 cups (350ml)- this is the minimum that works on almost all electric pressure cookers and I’ve used it myself without ANY problems. BTW, all of my recipes include this minimum. And, remember, even if the liquid does not add up to this my recipes also count the liquid from the veggies and meat that will be released to get the most concentrated flavor. ; )

      Ciao,

      L

    2. I have the Fast Slow Pro, and have successfully gone down to 1 cup.

      If you want to check what yours really needs, put in 1 litre of water ( what they say!) and “cook” it at high pressure for an hour. Let it cool down and measure what is left. The difference between what you put in and what is left will give you a good working indication of the minimum required for most cooks. You may want to add some more for longer cooks. But they are usually stocks/stews anyway so will have more liquid just for the recipe. Also for real cooking, you will want to consider any liquid absorbed (e.g. rice/pasta) or released (e.g. veggies/meat) by the food. And of course any that you want to keep for the dish. You don’t want to pull your meal out just as it starts to burn.

      1. Thanks Greg and Laura,

        This is really helpful, I have just purchased an FSP and this 1L minimum was really bugging me, especially when it came to cooking rice or grains, it seemed like I’d just have to cook a huge batch every time which isn’t ideal when cooking for 2 (especially considering standard advice on not leaving cooked rice in the fridge too long). I’d been anxiously cutting down to 2 cups of water minimum, but cowering at the other end of the kitchen in fear of an explosion! I’m guessing when it comes to minimums, the actual risk is a a somewhat less dramatic “failure to reach pressure”, or at worst, burnt food.

  4. Hello Laura,

    A number of people commented that they didn’t add add’l liquid to this recipe in their electric PC and it came out fine. Would you still add 1 1/2 cups of water or do the tomatos have enough liquid? Thanks so much!

    4 large Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1- to 2-inch chunks
    1 large onion, sliced into 1/4-inch slices (about 1 1/2 cups)
    4 medium beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1- to 2-inch chunks (about 3 cups)
    1 whole chicken, back removed, cut into 8 pieces (about 4 pounds), or 4 whole chicken legs, cut into thighs and drumsticks
    2 bay leaves
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Jack

    1. Between the chicken (especially in the US) and the tomatoes there should be ample liquid for the pressure cooker. My concern is whether there would be enough liquid at the start of the cook.

      If not, things could scorch and burn before the liquid gets released. Perhaps add a couple of tablespoons of water – or better, stock – just to get things going without scorching.

      There is no oil. Is there a frying (braising) stage at the beginning? Of so there may well be enough liquid released then while you still have the lid off and can control things.

      Cheers. Not Laura.

  5. Hi there! I am surprised to read here that “the Instant Pot requires at least 1 1/2 cups (375ml) of water”. The manual of my Instant Pot (DUO) says “Always ensure there is a minimum of 1 measuring cup of liquid for the cooker to pressurize.” I think it is also the case with other models of Instant Pot, since I have seen the 1-cup minimum often on the Facebook community group.

    1. When the 6L Instant Pots first came out the instructions indicated to use two of those rice- measuring cups as the minimum liquid requirement – they are 180mls each and that roughly translates to 1 1/2 cup. Since then, Instant Pot has told me that you can use less than that but keep in mind that the lid and valves have not been updated to be any more efficient and I have not gotten consistent results with using less than 1 1/2 cup of liquid (or ingredients that contribute liquids) in the Instant Pot for my recipe testing. And, believe me, if I could use less and be assured things work 100% of the time I would!

      Because of the same hardware and my testing experience, I still recommend the original minimum liquid requirement as calculated by the factory for their cookers.

      A brand new Instant Pot with all new seals will reach pressure with 1 cup – but as the silicone ages before the gaskets and seals actually, need replacement they will take longer to seal or let out more steam during operation.

      Bottom line: If you’re comfortable using the 1 cup minimum liquid requirement – do it. But, if the cooker struggles to reach pressure, doesn’t reach it at all, undercooks or scorches food, please understand that these are all symptoms of too little liquid.

      Since I want my readers to always have a good experience with my recipes (which is why I call them no-fail), I do not recommend the new, 1 cup, minimum liquid requirement for Instant Pot.

      Ciao,

      L

  6. I should have precised in my first comment I have the standard 6 qt capacity Instant Pot. Maybe the newer and bigger one, 8 qt, would need more water… Anyhow. I do read some recipes online for Instant Pot pressure cooker that say we don’t always need the minimal liquid quantity indicated in the instruction manual because some ingredients are moisture enough. What about this? I do understand the minimum liquid quantity can be other liquid than water or broth. But would the moisture from, let’s say chicken breast, compensate?

    1. Yes you can use the liquid within food as part of the liquid requirement, but it can be tricky to estimate. Also, with electrics you cannot rely on just that. It is not released immediately, so you still need to add some free liquid so the PC will reach pressure.

      Many of Laura’s recipes already take this into account. See for example her Risotto page where she puts the veg into the liquid measuring cup.

  7. Every pressure cooker manufacturer will tell you that you have to add liquid before cooking and almost every recipe site will say the same.

    Is it true?

    No it’s not.

    It’s safer and simpler for pressure cooker manufacturers to say that, and writer of recipes sites that say it don’t know any better.

    I added zero liquid to this meal. It all came from the chicken and vegetables and there was a lot more liquid in the cooker.

    Chicken Thigh Pressure Cooker Stew With No Added Liquid

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    4 whole skin-on chicken legs, cut into thighs and drumsticks
    4 large Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-2″ (2.5-5cm) chunks
    About 3 cups of medium beefsteak tomatoes cut into chunks or use canned equivalent – or any juicy tomato
    About 1 1/2 cups of medium sliced onion – about 1 large one
    2 bay leaves and any of dried thyme, rosemary, parsley, tarragon, marjoram or sage.
    Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    * Optional – 2 carrots and 2 stalks of celery roughly chopped

    Add everything to the pressure cooker including a large pinch of salt and combine well.
    Seal lid and cook under high pressure for 25 minutes. I prefer to use medium heat for the first few minutes.
    Cook time means from when the cooker reaches high pressure.
    Release pressure, remove lid, season to taste, then serve and enjoy!

    * The skin won’t be crispy and will just fall off. It was there to add taste and liquid.
    * Don’t use less tomatoes because they are providing much of the liquid,

    Cerlery 95% liquid
    Tomato 94%
    Onion 91%
    Carrots 88%
    Potato 79%

    And the chicken is probably 75%

    1. For a start, you are wrong.
      Not every Pressure cooker manufacturer says that you must add liquid to everything cooked in a pressure cooker. Check the Kuhn Rikon cook book that is supplied with Kuhn Rikon pressure cookers and available for download from this website. In it (Page 13 IIRC – its been a while) There is a a recipe for Mustard Pork Chops. That recipe from a Pressure Cooker Manufacturer specifically says not to add liquid.

      That said, Pressure Cookers are not all created equal. Some pressure cookers need more liquid than others. and some recipes need more liquid than others. the Kuhn Rikon manual says that for short cooks the minimum liquid requirement is 50ml – about three US tablespoons. And that will readily come from the liquid in a piece of meat, or fruit such as a tomato. Other brands of pressure cooker are not as well sealed and need considerably more liquid. I would not attempt such a recipe in a Presto for example. Nor ANY electric.

      Further, in the US, most meat is brined and so contains significantly more liquid than meat sourced in, say, Italy. Thus a recipe that works in the US may not work in Italy unless more liquid is added.

      A website such as this one does not cater exclusively to one brand of PC. Nor does it cater to a single country. It must therefore publish recipes that will work regardless of where you source your ingredients and regardless of the brand of pressure cooker used. the recipes will as a result be more cautious than they might otherwise be.

      If, based on YOUR experience with YOUR PC and YOUR ingredients, you find you can reduce the liquid specified in a recipe, then by all means do so. But until you have tested the recipe in multiple PCs and sourced the ingredients from multiple locations, then be very wary of recommending that others follow your example.

      1. While I agree that liquid comes from many sources, such as vegetables (see my post), I also absolutely agree with Laura that 1 1/2 cups of liquid is a good base amount. Having a little more liquid won’t harm most recipes. If it tastes diluted, just add more salt and spices. If you don’t want your meat submerged in liquid, elevate it with a rack. So to help your pleasure cooker along, and assure that pressure is reached, 1 1/2 cups liquid is not a bad idea. Manufacturers specify these requirements for a reason.

    2. I’m glad for you that you made a delicious dinner, but you did not mention what kind or size of pressure cooker you have.

      I don’t think you’ve made the discovery you think you’ve made. There are quite a bit of recipes making the rounds for no-water-added chicken, even in electric pressure cookers. They work… sometimes. I can’t tell you the number of e-mails I’ve gotten from people who tried it, got a burned outside and raw inside, a hangry family with no dinner wondering why it didn’t work for them. One thing that will happen every time with this kind of recipe is that the cooker will heat-up to a higher temperature than it was designed for in an attempt to reach pressure, weakening the gasket and silicone seals all the way up to the lid.

      I don’t recommend readers follow these water-less recipes because of the added wear to the parts and the inconsistent results. I’m happy this worked out for you… this time. I also can understand the excitement of your discovery. I hope that you will continue to experiment and find unexpected ways to pressure cook your dinner.

      However, I don’t understand the declaration that everyone is wrong (manufacturers, recipe writers) and you’re right. Maybe if you shared your qualifications for making that statement it would give me confidence to reconsider my recommendations against using this method.

      Ciao,

      L

  8. I’ve successfully used as little as 1/2 cup of liquid in both my Instant Pot and smaller Della pressure cookers. It’s important to note that in addition to wet ingredients like water, wine, soy sauce, tomato paste, etc, many other ingredients contribute liquid as well. Tomatoes, for example, are 94% water while celery is 95% water. Indeed, most vegetables contribute a lot of liquid.

    What surprises a lot of people is that meat, especially fatty meats, also contributes liquid. In fact, there are whole chicken recipes with no added liquid. Melted fat from the chicken is enough to pressurize the cooker. I’m currently cooking 2lbs of ribs, which is also fatty, so I only used 1/2 cup og broth.

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