Must-Know Instant Pot Terminology & Acronyms

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When you first get your Instant Pot, it might feel like you’re on the outside of an exclusive club with all the acronyms and Instant Pot terminology being thrown around. You’ll need to learn a few of them in order to get on with your cooking, especially if you’re using online recipes that often use the abbreviation or acronym to explain what to do.

We’ve put together this useful guide to the most commonly used Instant Pot terminology, so you can just buzz down the list and acclimate yourself to the world of Instant Pots in the quickest way possible.

» Check out What To Do When Your Instant Pot Says Burn and Instant Pot Size Comparisons: 3, 6, 8, or 10 Quart.

8 Quart and 6 Quart side by side

There’s no need to fret over what HP or QPR is. Eliminate the frustration and speculation right now by reading through the list below. You’ll be in the know before long.


Commonly Used Instant Pot Terminology

Below is a list of the most common Instant Pot terminology, or abbreviations, that you will come across in many Instant Pot recipes on the internet, including right here on A Pressure Cooker Kitchen.

IP: Instant Pot

PC: Pressure Cooker

EPC: Electric Pressure Cooker

HP/High: High Pressure

LP/Low: Low Pressure

DP: Dual Pressure (you’ll see this when an IP does both HP & LP)

Delay Start/Timer: Sets the time delay before a cooking program starts.

Manual/Pressure Cook: Use Manual/Pressure Cook program to set custom time and/or pressure level when you pressure cook.

Steam release valve

QR/QPR or Quick Release/Quick Pressure Release

A quick pressure release is when the cooking is done and you let the air out of the pot manually by opening the valve. You would use this for vegetables or pasta that cannot sustain additional cooking.

MR or Manual Pressure Release

This is another way of saying QR or QPR. When you manually release the pressure from the machine by opening the valve, it is a manual pressure release.

NR/NPR or Natural Release/Natural Pressure Release

If you’re doing a natural pressure release, you allow the pressure to naturally escape from the pot without opening the valve. It takes longer to do this, and it is only used in certain cases where you might want to continue to cook the food longer, like for slow braised meats.

» Read more about Natural vs Quick Pressure Release.

HA: High Altitude

The altitude at which you live will affect the pressure in your pot and thus the cooking times. If you live over 3000 feet above sea level, you’ll need to adjust the cooking time based on a High Altitude Cooking Chart.

PIP: Pot-In-Pot

The pot in pot cooking method allows you to put food in another pot inside the Instant Pot. It’s most useful for cooking multiple foods at once, or for cooking foods that can’t sit in the water needed to pressurize the pot.


You’ll see people say they used the 5-5-5 method to cook hard boiled eggs in the Instant Pot. This means they let it cook for 5 minutes, did a natural pressure release for 5 minutes, then cooled the eggs in an ice bath for 5 minutes.

hard boiled eggs in an Instant Pot


Venting is a term for letting the pressure out of the Instant Pot. There are two methods for venting, discussed above.


Sealing the Instant Pot allows it to build pressure. On some models, you twist the sealing knob to seal. On other models, you push down a tab that seals it.

Inner Pot

The inner pot is the stainless-steal or non-stick pot that you place inside the base of the Instant Pot, where you put the food. You cannot cook without this pot.

Instant Pot lid with sealing ring

Sealing Ring

The sealing ring is the silicon ring that goes around the inside of your lid to ensure that the air does not escape. If your Instant Pot is hissing, it might need a new sealing rings.

Float Valve

The float valve is a small metal piece in the lid of your Instant Pot that indicates when the pressure has been fully released so you can open the lid. The float valve will pop up when under pressure and drop when the pressure is gone.

Venting Knob

Many Instant Pots come with a venting knob. It’s a round knob at the top of the lid that you can twist. It has a pointer on it that you will aim toward the sealing or venting position.

On other newer models there is no venting knob. The Instant Pot will automatically turn itself from venting to sealing without your intervention.

Sealing Position vs Venting Position

Many Instant Pots come with a venting knob that you will turn in order to seal it. If the pot is on sealing it will build pressure and start cooking. If it is set to venting, no pressure can build.


instant pot sealing position

When you set the IP to pressure cook, the time starts counting down. When it reaches zero, you will hear 10 beeps and the Instant Pot will go into “Keep Warm” mode. The display will now show an “L” in frontof the time and it will begin to count up, indicating how long it has been on Keep Warm.

D & S

If you use the beans setting on your Instant Pot, you may have wondered what the D & S stand for. The D stands for dried and the S stands for soaked. This will help you set the cook time appropriately depending on whether you are using dried or soaked beans.

Why Use An Instant Pot?

The Instant Pot is one of the most useful kitchen appliances you can buy, because it drastically cuts down on the cooking time for developing flavors in soups and stews, getting tough cuts of meat tender, and even baking a cheesecake. And there are many accessories that will help you get more out of your Instant Pot.

If you don’t have one yet, check out our guide on which one to buy. Also see our guide to How to Use an Instant Pot for more information.

Instant Pot Error Messages

Just as with any other appliance, the Instant Pot can malfunction or give an error when something is wrong. Knowing what that error message means is half the battle. Here are the error codes you might get and what they mean.


When you’ve not put the lid on correctly or it isn’t seated properly, this error message will come on. Take a look at the sealing ring to make sure it’s in correctly, then twist on the lid again until it’s locked in.


This stands for Overheat. While it’s very unlikely you’ll ever get this warning, the only thing to do is to unplug it and allow it to cool. It’s possible the motor is damaged.


The burn notice is there to prevent food from burning on the bottom. It can happen most often in saute mode when you’re searing meat or the food gets too hot and burns on the bottom.

The burn notice also comes on when under pressure and there isn’t enough liquid to keep the food from sticking and burning on the bottom. It’s fixed by removing any burned food and adding additional water.

instant pot reads "burn"


This tells you that the pot has not reached pressure in the allotted time. If you see this warning, it is most likely due to the seal not properly sealing to hold in pressure. Reseat the seal and start the program again.


This error code will flash, along with beeping, to let you know that pressure is building in the pot even though it is not in pressure cook mode. That sounds confusing, but it often happens when you’ve sauteed some food on hot then put the lid on in sealing mode. The hot pot will build pressure even though you’ve not selected a cook mode.

It’s best to keep the lid in venting position if you’ve cooked in saute mode and are resting the food, or when you have finished cooking but are resting the food, so pressure doesn’t build. When pressure builds, your food will continue cooking.


Faulty temperature sensor – contact support.


Temperature is too high. To correct this, make sure the inner pot is placed properly in the base unit and make sure there is enough liquid in the inner pot.


Faulty pressure sensor – contact support.


Faulty low-pressure sensor – contact support.


Faulty high-pressure sensor – contact support.


As you can see, there are many words and phrases that Instant Pot users have to explain functionality on the electric pressure cooker. Now you don’t have to worry about not knowing what the terminology means, since we’ve laid it all out for you above.


🥧 If you’re interested in more great recipes, I share all my favorite recipes over at A Food Lover’s Kitchen, and you’ll find air fryer recipes at Air Fry Anytime, and cocktails and drinks at Savored Sips. Check it out today!

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An Instant Pot with a burn notice

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