Instant Pot Keep Warm Mode: What You Need to Know

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You have an Instant Pot and want to cook delicious homemade meals, but how do you make the most of your pressure cooker by using the keep warm button? Today, I’m going to talk about all things keep warm. What is keep warm mode? How does the keep warm button work when cooking food in an Instant Pot and when should you use the keep warm setting?

Sit back, relax and read on as I share my keep warm knowledge with you.


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What Is The Keep Warm Button?

The keep warm button on the Instant Pot makes it possible for your food to stay at its optimal temperature after you turn off the pressure cooker. This lets you keep your food piping hot for hours or overnight without overcooking or drying out your meal.

The keep warm setting is perfect for easy entertaining, like when having friends over for game night, family dinners, potlucks and holidays. Or if you’re just planning to be gone all day at work!

In a nutshell, the keep warm button serves as a setting to keep your food at a certain temperature until you are ready to eat.

instant pot recipes and advice

Why Do I Need The “Keep Warm” Mode?

The biggest reason to use the keep warm mode on your Instant Pot is to do just that, keep your food warm until you are ready to serve.

In fact, how many of you dish up dinner and end up putting one meal aside for someone who will be home later?

Or how about when you want to keep food warm at your potluck or dinner party? With keep warm mode, you can keep your food at the ideal temperature.

Why Do I Love The Instant Pot Keep Warm Feature?

Personally I find the keep warm button super useful as my husband and brother who lives with us both work. If I serve up dinner for John and Chris, it then has to be reheated in the microwave once they return home.

Keeping my husband’s meal portion in the Instant pot allows him to have his meal at the perfect temperature when he is ready to eat!

How To Keep Food Warm In The Instant Pot

Using the Keep warm button on the Instant Pot is super easy. Simply hit the keep warm button before setting your pressure cooker to cook. Then once your Instant Pot finishes cooking it will automatically switch over to the keep warm mode.

Once it’s on keep warm, it’ll keep your food warm until you are ready to eat!

Keep in mind, the keep warm setting will keep your Instant Pot ON and waiting for you. So keep this in mind if you are using the timer to delay your meal.

Instant Pot Keep Warm Setting Does Not Cook Food

First of all, keep warm mode is not a cooking mode. This means the keep warm mode will not keep your food cooking.

The Instant Pot keep warm setting is meant to keep your meal at the perfect temperature while you’re at work, doing errands or simply too busy to eat right away.

While the keep warm mode is beneficial, it does not keep your food piping hot, nor cook or reheat your food. It simply maintains the temperature for an extended period of time. This is great as the keep warm setting can keep your delicious Instant Pot recipes from overcooking.

man and woman cartoon with instant pot

Benefits of Warm Function On Instant Pot

A few benefits to using the warm function on the Instant Pot include:

  • Keeping your food moist. The keep warm mode can prevent your meat, poultry and fish dishes from drying out while keeping them hot until you are ready to eat.
  • Perfect for potlucks as well as cooking your meal then letting it keep warm until you are ready to eat.
  • Allows easy entertaining, by giving you the ability to keep your meal warm until everyone is ready to eat.
  • Perfect for those who may be delayed from coming home after work, an appointment or errands.
  • You can cook a meal such as “Oatmeal” at night and have it warm and ready to serve in the morning.
  • The keep warm button keeps food warm for hours.
  • Keep Warm Mode is an energy-saving function of your Instant Pot that kicks in after cooking.

Instant Pot Keep Warm Temperature

The keep warm button is designed to keep the cooking temperature of your food consistent between 140°F – 172°F after you have turned off the pressure cooker unit.

You can keep food at any temperature within this range for up to 10 hours with the keep warm mode on.

If you keep your keep warm setting to “low,” this will keep your food about 158°F, and “high” keep warm mode sets the keep warm setting to about 184°F.

My husband likes his food very hot, so for him I keep our keep warm button on high.

If keeping a meal warm overnight or using the Instant pot setting for a breakfast recipe, I tend to use the low setting.

How Long Do You Use The Keep Warm Button For?

So how long should my Instant Pot stay on “keep warm” you ask?

Typically the keep warm mode can last your food warm for up to 10 hours. So you are able to keep your meal warm from a few minutes to quite a few hours. It’s down to you and what you need and want.

cooking in the instant pot cartoon

Can I Leave The Keep Warm Setting On Overnight?

Yes, You can leave your Instant Pot warm button on overnight and it will keep your food warm for an extended period of time.

Just keep in mind that if you leave the keep warm button on, the Instant Pot will stay on and the keep warm setting will remain activated using a little electric to do so.

When Not To Use The Instant Pot Keep Warm Mode?

Personally I would not use the keep warm setting if you are looking for crispy food.

For instance, if you are cooking potatoes that you want crispy for potato soup or hash browns, I wouldn’t use keep warm mode as it will keep your meal moist and not crisp the way you might like.

*If using keep warm mode to keep your Instant Pot meal warm while serving or entertaining , keep in mind that foods may thicken a little over time.

Why Is My Instant Pot Counting Up On?

Counting up on keep Warm Mode?

On keep warm mode, your Instant Pot will count up instead of counting down.

You may have noticed that while the keep warm function is on it counts up to a certain number then a new number begins and continues until you reset it or switch the keep warm setting off.

This does not affect the performance of the keep warm function.

The Best Way to Keep Food Warm in the Instant Pot

There is no right or wrong way to keep your food warm in the Instant Pot.

Some keep their keep warm button on low, while others keep it on high.

Start with a lower temp and see how you feel about the temperature after a period of time. You can always adjust accordingly.

5 Instant Pot Recipes The Family Will Love

Here are 5 Instant Pot recipes that work well with the keep warm button.

1.  Instant Pot Potato Soup

2. Instant Pot Creamy Tortellini Tomato Basil Soup

3. Easy White Chicken Chili

4. Instant Pot Shrimp Boil

5. Weight Watchers Zero Point Chicken Taco Soup

Bon Apetit and keep warm my friends!

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  1. I am wondering if you can put already cooked food in and push ‘keep warm’. We are having a funeral and they are purchasing sides that need to be kept warm. I don’t see the option to start with keep warm- just to end with it.

    1. yes, you can pop food into the pot and hit the keep warm function and it will keep the food at the right temperature.

  2. My keep warm function doesn’t kick on automatically (as advertised) after I vent the pressure. I have tried it four times. Twice I just went straight into pressure cooking and twice I hit “keep warm” before I clicked on “pressure cooking” Is there something else I need to do to activate the keep warm feature automatically after cooking is complete?

  3. I have been using the Instant Pot for several years, but I have a question I’ve never been faced with before. I cooked beef and fat to render tallow. I can use the tallow, the stock, and the cooked ground beef to use in different recipes. I’m using the 10qt pot and I’m wanting to know how many cycles it will stay on keep warm? It’s already at the end of the second 10hr period. I have my hands full with my chronically sick daughter and do not have the time or energy to finish the process of getting each portion separated. As long as I have it plugged in and on will I be able to use each when I can get to it, hoping for tomorrow morning. Or does food only stay safe for less than 10 hrs on keep warm? Thank you!

    1. Hi Ann,

      The recommended time for keeping food warm in the Instant Pot is 10 hours. After this there is more chance of the food losing it’s freshness/ going off. As someone who is also chronically unwell, I understand you want to do as much as you can for your daughter. You can totally do a second cycle but for myself I would probably portion the meal out if it’s going to be eaten on day 2 or 3 and reheat in the pot or a microwave.

  4. How do I turn the keep warm button off? I turned it on by mistake and can’t see how to turn it off. Unplugging the pot for hours didn’t make any difference when I plug it back in the keep warm is still in and none if the other buttons work.

  5. Actually, you can use the keep warm setting on high to complete a cooking cycle. I found a fabulous recipe for pork loin. you cook on pressure cooker high for eight minutes then depending upon the size of the pork loin, leave it on keep warm high for another 30 to 45 minutes (part of natural release). Comes out super tender & Super moist.

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