The Top 6 Reasons Your Electric Pressure Cooker Won’t Pressurize…..and What To Do About Them. 

Electric pressure cooking is all the rage. Everyone wants one, and for good reason. Not only does an Electric Pressure Cooker maximize the time we spend in the kitchen creating great meals, it also intensifies flavor profiles.  Within mere minutes we can have a healthy, delicious meal on the table for our family, using fewer resources and more whole foods to do so. Hallelujah!

So what happens when your “magic machine” isn’t so magical? Your family is starving, demanding dinner, and for some idiotic reason, your electric pressure cooker is refusing to cooperate. Now what??

I’m sharing the top 6 reasons I’ve discovered that can keep an electric pressure cooker from pressurizing. I’ve experienced all of these at one time or another, and you likely will too at some point.  So before you toss your pressure cooker out in frustration, consider which one is likely your culprit and set things right.

The Top 6 Reasons Your Electric Pressure Cooker Won’t Pressurize….and what to do about it.

1. There’s not enough liquid in the bottom of the pressure cooker pot.

**Open the pressure cooker, add a bit more liquid; lock lid into place and begin again.  Remember – pressure is made from steam; if there’s not enough liquid in the bottom of the pressure cooker pot to circulate and create steam, it absolutely cannot pressurize. Always be sure there’s a minimum 1/2 cup – 1 cup of liquid in the pressure cooker pot before you lock the lid into place to begin pressurizing.

2. Food is stuck to the bottom of the pressure cooker pot.

**Let’s say you’re browning off  pork chops in a bit of oil and one of them has partially adhered itself to the bottom of the pressure cooker pot somehow.  This often restricts the circulation of liquid, and if you’ll remember from reason #1, without the circulation of liquids, no steam is created, so there will never be pressure. Open the pressure cooker, and using a spatula, give a stir to gently rearrange everything inside the pot, checking to see if something is stuck to the bottom. If so, loosen its grip, add more liquid (only if needed), then start the process again.

3. The sauce is too thick.

**So you’ve got a nice marinara sauce simmering in your pressure cooker pot and you’ve just added your meatballs to the sauce. After locking the lid into place, you soon discover that the pressure cooker won’t pressurize. Odds are, that beautiful  sauce is just too thick and therefore can’t circulate properly to generate steam.  To address this, open the pressure cooker and thin the sauce by adding a bit of broth. Lock lid into place and start again. After you’ve cooked the meatballs and released the pressure, you can re-thicken the marinara sauce by whisking in a little cornstarch slurry, simmering until the sauce thickens up again. Voila!

4. The pressure cooker gasket isn’t adjusted to fit properly.

**Open the pressure cooker to check inside the lid; adjust the gasket as needed, making sure it fits snugly inside the lid and around the insert. Lock lid into place, and start the process again. If there’s a gap in the gasket anywhere inside the lid, this allows steam to escape and the pressure cooker cannot pressurize. FYI – once the gasket becomes yellowed and/or limp from use, you will want to purchase a replacement gasket for your electric pressure cooker to keep it in tip top shape.

5. Steam is escaping from the valve.

**Touching the spewing valve only from the side, gently adjust it a bit. By “nestling” the valve into the area where it’s located on the pressure cooker’s lid can often put a stop to the steam that’s escaping. You will notice that there are indicators on or around the valve that tell where the valve placement should be to both CREATE pressure, and to RELEASE pressure. Lining up these indicators should help the valve to seal off, allowing the pressure cooker to fully pressurize.

6. The Pressure Cooker is Over-Filled.

**Most manufacturers recommend that their pressure cookers only be filled 2/3 full before pressurizing. Filling past 2/3 full can  cause 2 sad things: 1. A pressure cooker that can’t pressurize. 2. A huge kitchen mess. If an overfilled pressure cooker DOES happen to pressurize, performing a quick release of pressure when the timer sounds will prove why overfilling is a bad idea: the contents of what’s inside the pressure cooker (especially soups) are spewed everywhere…..such a mess! It’s just not worth it!

I hope learning about these can help you figure out what’s delaying dinner.

Let’s Get You PRESSURE Cookin’,
Chef Alli 


Note: Although electric pressure cooking works technically the same way (using steam) for every pressure cooker, these guidelines may not apply to all pressure cooker models. Please refer to the user manual of your particular brand/model for the most accurate troubleshooting tips.

One thought on “The Top 6 Reasons Your Electric Pressure Cooker Won’t Pressurize…..and What To Do About Them. 

  1. My valve you turn to lock the pressure and have it cook right just spins. It doesn’t lock. What am I doing wrong? And it goes all the way around not just from lock and unlock. What do I do?

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