Instant Pot Natural Release vs Quick Release

Did you get a new Instant Pot, but as you read through the recipes, you are super confused how to release the pressure? Some recipes call for a natural release where others call for a quick release, but what’s the difference and how do you do it? In this post, you are going to learn to know the difference between Natural Release vs Quick Release and how to do each one.

natural vs quick release guide instant pot

Natural Release vs Quick Release: What’s the Difference?

There are two ways you can release the pressure from your Instant Pot when the food is done cooking: Natural Release vs Quick Release.

Natural Release: Natural Release is letting the pressure release naturally. Instead of manually releasing the pressure, you wait for the pressure to release from the pot on it’s own.

Quick Release: A quick release method is immediately letting the pressure out of the pot once the food is done cooking. This process usually only takes a couple of minutes.

In recipes, you may see natural release as NR or NPR. You will see quick release as QR or QPR.

How do you do a NR?

This is where things get tricky. A recipe tells you to do a natural release, but how do you do that?! You don’t turn the valve in a certain direction, you don’t push any buttons, and you don’t remove the lid.

So, what do you do?

The answer is NOTHING! For natural release, you are not going to do anything except leave your pot alone. It will release the pressure naturally on its own. How cool is that?!

When is it Done?

You may be wondering though, how do I know when the natural release is done. Well, that is a great question because your pot will not say, “Hey I’m done.”

A full natural release takes about 15-20 minutes. Once all the pressure is released, you will know because the lid will unlock and you will be able to open your pot. The lid will stay locked until all the pressure has been released.

Most recipes, however, only require you to do a natural release for 10 minutes. In this case, you would let the pressure naturally release for 10-minutes then, you would do a quick release to get rid of the rest of the pressure.

The Keep Warm Function

Some of you may notice that once the pot is done cooking, the time begins to count up. You will see an L00:05 or something like that. This is telling you that the keep warm function is on.

Many people have asked whether or not this effects natural release. It does NOT! You can leave it on or turn it off and your pot will still naturally release the pressure.

What I love about the keep warm function is that I don’t have to keep track of the time while I am doing a naturally release. So, if the recipe says natural release for 10-minutes then do a quick release, the timer will say 10-minutes when I do a quick release.

Therefore, the keep warm function is useful for doing a natural release, but it is not necessary.

easy instant pot dinners - what is an instant pot

How do you do a QR?

With quick release, you do actually have to do something. When you start your Instant Pot, you move the valve on top of your pot to the “sealing” position (hard to read but its on there).

When you do a quick release, you will move that same valve to the “venting” position. This releases the pressure quickly through the valve. Once all the pressure has been released, you will know because your lid will unlock.

When do you use Natural Release?

During a natural release, the cooking continues and allows the cooking to stop gradually. Therefore, you want to use the natural release for things like large cuts of meat, soups, or other foods that you would normally let cook longer or simmer.

For example, this Frozen Ground Beef Recipe requires a natural release.

sealing on the instant pot

When do you use Quick Release?

Letting the pressure out instantly with quick release stops the cooking process. Most recipes call for a quick release. You want to use a quick release for things you don’t want to continue cooking such as veggies, pasta, and casseroles.

For example, this Instant Pot Spaghetti Recipe requires a quick release.

Does Quick Release Make Meat Tough?

Quick release does not necessarily make your meat tough. There are many recipes that have a longer cook time, so doing a quick release is better. It really just depends on what you are making.

However, if the recipe calls for a natural release and you do a quick release, then yes your meat could come out tough.

Do you have any other questions about the Instant Pot? If so, share them in the comments below, or visit our post What is an Instant Pot for more information.

Kelley Easy Instant Pot Recipes

Hey y'all! I'm Kelley!

I am a Texan living in the woods of mid-Michigan with my husband, 4 kids and a whole farm of animals. I heard amazing things about the Instant Pot and knew that I had to give it a try. Many of these recipes are family favorites, and I want your family to enjoy them as well!