The Instant Pot is a brand of electronically controlled multicookers that combine a slow cooker and a pressure cooker into one compact kitchen appliance. The Instant Pot makes cooking a breeze by allowing the sauteeing, using pressure cooking or slow cooking, all in one simple-to-use device. If you are in a hurry, you can never go wrong with an Instant Pot.

One of the problems many people have when starting out using their Instant Pot is food sticking to the bottom of the pot. It is possible to try and mitigate this problem if you follow a simple order of operations or a few methods to try and prevent sticking. Keep reading to find out how to stop your Instant Pot from sticking to the bottom.

How Do I Stop my Instant Pot from Sticking to the Bottom?

Keeping food from sticking to an Instant Pot isn’t much different than keeping food from sticking in a traditional pot or pan on your stove. Adding fat or liquid can help prevent sticking. The main hurdle with using the Instant Pot is that many people think of it as a slow cooker when the Instant Pot’s Saute function acts more like a high-heat electric burner on your stove.

  • Add oil to the pot before cooking
  • Heat your oil before adding other ingredients
  • Add your sauces or liquids before adding your other ingredients.

These simple steps will help you whether you cook in your Instant Pot or a traditional pot on your stove. 

The Saute function on your Instant Pot is where most of the sticking occurs, especially when you get that “Burn” notification on the display screen. The Saute function also mimics an electric burner on a stove. The methods can be transferred easily. 

Add Oil to the Pot Before Cooking

Take a small amount of oil and spread it by turning the pan, using a brush to get a good coating and amount of oil on the bottom of the pan, or even using a paper towel to spread it around before the Instant Pot gets hot.

Keep in mind that different oils have different smoke and burn points. However, extra virgin olive oil is one of the best oils to use in an Instant Pot. 

Also, note: that the Instant Pot is not designed for frying; only a minimal amount of oil should be used when cooking.

Can you Spray Cooking Spray in an Instant Pot?

It is possible to utilize cooking spray with an Instant Pot. However, regular cooking oil will probably yield better results. 

Simply spray the inner pot before adding your ingredients, and that’s all you have to do.

Heat Your Oil Before Adding Other Ingredients

It’s also important to bring your cooking oil to a hot temperature before adding the other ingredients.

 Not only does it allow the browning Maillard reaction to carmelize the sugars in the food and impart better flavor, but it also forms an almost polymerized coating on the pan to keep food from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Add Sauces and Liquids Before Adding Other Ingredients

Another method is to add your liquids or sauces before you add carbs, proteins, or vegetables to keep them from sticking. The extra liquid acts as a barrier and keeps the food from sticking. 

This won’t always work, especially if you use a thick cream sauce, which is more likely to stick.

What Do I Do After the Food is Already Stuck?

Depending on the severity of the stuck-on food, you can deal with food that has already stuck to the bottom of the pan. You can deglaze the pan if you are trying to salvage the food and it is only stuck a little bit. If you have scorched the pan and the food has practically been vaporized into a black mark on the pan, there is a way to get that out as well.

Deglaze The Pan

When cooking carbs, proteins, and vegetables, the sugars in the ingredients can often become caramelized and cause sticking to the bottom of the pan. 

This happens in an Instant Pot mainly when using the Saute function. Deglazing the pan just means adding a liquid so that the caramelized stuck bits release from the bottom of the pan.

Deglazing a pan is simple all you have to do is:

  1. Pour a liquid into the pan while over medium-high heat
  2. Liquids can be anything such as vinegar (or another acid), wine, stock, or any sauce
  3. As the liquid begins to simmer – scrape the stuck-on bits from the bottom of the pan
  4. This also has the added benefit of imparting more flavor by saving the caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan

Many chefs and recipes call for the deglazing of the pan just as part of the recipe. Just because your food is stuck doesn’t mean it can’t be salvaged. If you always deglaze the pan after using the Saute function, you will yield much better results.

Fix a Scorched Instant Pot Pan

If your food went well past the point of being saved and you scorched the bottom of the pan, you don’t have to break your arms to get it cleaned. 

  1. You can mix a solution of equal parts vinegar and water in your Instant Pot.
  2. Set a regular pressure cook cycle
  3. Let the Instant Pot cool 
  4. In the morning, you should be able just to wash away the scorch easily.

If you need to use the pan immediately and don’t have time to wait overnight, a scouring pad and elbow grease might be your only method to get rid of the scorch.


Using an Instant Pot the first couple of times can be frustrating as it seems like you can’t keep food from sticking to the bottom of the pan. But as you use it more and more, you will start to suss out the quirks and little peccadillos of your Instant Pot. Then you will be cooking your way to fabulous meals in no time.