Instant Pot Quick Release vs Natural Release

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When I first got my Instant Pot, I was confused about how to do a Quick Release versus a Natural Release after the cooking cycle. I assumed you would just turn the pressure valve to one of the two, but nope. I was like, how in the heck do I do this?!

In my Instant Pot Group, I see so many people confused with the same thing! So, today, I am going to break it down for you. I’ll be sharing the difference between a quick release and natural release of pressure.

quick release versus natural release

Quick Release Versus Natural Release

Some recipes will tell you to quick release when the beeper on your Instant pot goes off where others will tell you to naturally release. But, what is the difference and how do you do it? Below, you will learn all you need to know about Quick Release VS. Natural Release.

Instant Pot Quick Pressure Release

Quick Release is letting the pressure out quickly or immediately. The reason you would use this feature is because the longer the pressure is in the pot, the longer your food continues to cook (which is not ideal for delicate foods).

If you don’t want it to continue with the cooking process, you do the quick release method which immediately lets all the pressure and steam out of your pressure cooker. Most recipes will use the terms QR or QPR for Quick Release. 

How to Do the Quick Release Method With Your Instant Pot

The pressure release valve at the top of your Instant Pot is where you would do this. Most models say “venting” or “sealing.” When you use your pressure cooker, you put it in the sealing position to keep the pressure in. When you do a quick pressure release, you turn the valve to the venting position. That’s it! The pressure will release and when it is all done, the lid will unlock and you can open your Instant Pot. 

Instant Pot Natural Release

Natural Release is where you allow the pressure to stay in your pot and release naturally. By doing this, it gives your food a little more time to cook. Most meats, you will do a natural release to make them more tender and juicy. Most recipes will use the term NR or NPR for Natural Release.

How to Do the Natural Release Method With Your Instant Pot

To do a Natural Release, you simply just let the Instant Pot do its thing. You don’t have to do anything after the timer beeps. Most recipes will tell you to do a Natural Release for a certain amount of time. If it doesn’t, 10-minutes is usually sufficient.

After the alloted time on the recipe, you will then turn your valve to the “venting” position to release the rest of the pressure. However, you can just continue to leave your pot and the pressure will naturally and completely release within about 20-minutes.

You will know all the pressure has been released from your Instant pot because your lid will unlock and you will be able to remove it. 

What Does the Keep Warm Setting Do?

When it comes to the Natural Release, many people get confused about the keep warm setting. When your Instant Pot beeps that the time of cooking is up, most Instant Pot models will turn on the keep warm feature and begin counting up. 

Can I Turn It Off? Does Keep Warm Affect the Quick Pressure Release vs. Natural Pressure Release?

Yes, you can turn off the keep warm feature. This does NOT affect your Natural Pressure Release. This function literally has nothing to do with Quick Release or Natural Presssure Release. However, I recommend keeping it on because it counts up, so you don’t have to keep track of how long you have been doing the Natural Release. It is a convenience and nothing more. 

Additionally, the keep warm setting is nice because if you aren’t ready to eat yet, it keeps your food warm until you are ready. If you want to turn it off, just hit the cancel button. 

Does It Really Make a Difference Which One You Use?

Yes, it does!

If you use the Natural Release process, your food will continue with the cooking cycle for a few minutes after the cooking time is up. This can affect how tender or hard your meat will become because it continues to cook. Think of it like microwaving your steak for an extra minute at the end. You wouldn’t want it too rare or too well done, right?

Instant Pot Quick Release Conclusion

So there you have it. Now you know what the difference is between Natural Release and Quick Release and which one to use! Follow this rule of thumb: If the recipe doesn’t say what to do, you can choose to Quick Release or Natural Release.

If it says NR, then release naturally for 10 minutes and allow the pressure to completely release on its own. If it says QR, then quick release by turning the valve at the top of your pot to release all the steam.

Other Information and Tips

If you liked this information on Quick Release VS. Natural Release, check out some of our other posts on questions we get asked a lot!

quick release versus natural release

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