Pressure Cooker Minimum Liquid Requirement

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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.


pressure cooking schoolCONTINUE Lesson 2: The First Recipe:

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  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. ; )



    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.

  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


    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.



  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.

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