How To Open a Pressure Cooker Lid That Is Stuck or Jammed (Quickly & Safely)

I’ve personally had to deal with many stuck pressure cooker lids over the years and I’ve learned that there are some fairly quick and safe ways to open a jammed pressure cooker lid in a pinch.

The best way to open a stuck pressure cooker lid is to depressurize it by using the manual release, waiting for it to drop naturally, or using cold water to cool it faster. Once depressurized, tap or wiggle the lid gently or use a rubber pad to pull it open.

Read on to learn the reasons behind jammed lids and solutions to deal with them.

How to open a stuck cooker lid (7 Helpful Tips)

We’ve already discussed some possible reasons why your lid is stuck and their fixes. Let’s review and give you one other option.

Waiting sufficient time for the pot to depressurize, keeping the locking pin unobstructed, and the gaskets clean can eliminate many jamming issues. If you have a stubborn jam on a stovetop cooker, you can also run cold water over the top to contract the metal.

  • Use the ‘quick release’ feature on electric pressure cookers
  • Use the manual pressure release on stovetop pressure cookers
  • Wait for the pressure to drop naturally
  • Run the pressure cooker under cold water
  • Tap or wiggle the lid lightly (after depressurizing)
  • Use a rubber opener or cloth
  • Warm it up again

Here are all of the tips in a handy chart for reference!

Quick Release (Electric Pressure Cookers)Rapidly release internal steam.1. Turn off cooker 2. Locate release valve 3. Avoid steam 4. Release steamWatch for foaming foods.
Manual Release (Stovetop Pressure Cookers)Remove or adjust the pressure regulator.1. Turn off heat 2. Keep face/hands safe 3. Lift regulator 4. Release steamRefer to manual for specifics.
Natural Pressure DropLet cooker depressurize by itself.1. Turn off cooker 2. Let sit undisturbed 3. Monitor pressure indicatorTakes 5-30 mins depending on content.
Run Under Cold Water (Stovetop Cookers)Cool exterior rapidly to decrease pressure.1. Move to sink 2. Avoid direct vent water 3. Run cold water on lidOnly for stovetop models.
Tap/Wiggle Lid (After Depressurizing)Dislodge obstructions.Tap or wiggle gentlyEnsure fully depressurized.
Use Rubber Opener or ClothEnhance grip to break vacuum seal.Use rubber/cloth for better grip and turn lidUseful if lid is slippery or tight.
Warm It Up AgainEqualize internal pressure by reheating.1. Ensure depressurized 2. Place on stove 3. Low heat 4. Attempt to openReheat only for few mins. Electric cookers: use “keep warm”.

Use the ‘quick release’ feature on electric pressure cookers

Many electric pressure cooker appliances have a ‘quick release’ feature that allows you to rapidly release the steam inside, thereby decreasing the internal pressure. This is different from the natural release method, where you wait for the pressure to drop on its own.

Step-by-step Instructions:

  1. After the cooking cycle is complete, turn off the pressure cooker.
  2. Locate the pressure release valve or button. It may be labeled “quick release” or something similar.
  3. Make sure your face, hands, and other body parts are away from the steam vent to avoid steam burns.
  4. Use a long utensil to carefully shift the release valve to the “release” or “venting” position.
  5. Allow the steam to escape until the pressure indicator drops, signifying that it’s safe to open the cooker.

Note: Some dishes may froth or foam, and using the ‘quick release’ might cause those liquids to sputter out. Always refer to your recipe or user manual to determine the best release method for the food you’re cooking.

Use the manual pressure release on stovetop pressure cookers

Stovetop pressure cookers often have a weighted pressure regulator (sometimes called a “jiggler”) that sits atop a vent pipe. When there’s pressure inside the cooker, this regulator releases steam in short bursts to maintain the desired pressure level. Manually releasing pressure involves removing or adjusting this regulator to allow the steam to escape quickly.

Step-by-step Instructions:

  1. Once your cooking time has elapsed, turn off the heat source.
  2. Ensure your face, hands, and other body parts are away from the top of the pressure cooker to avoid any potential steam burns.
  3. Using a long utensil or tongs (to protect your hand from the steam), carefully lift the pressure regulator off the vent pipe.
  4. Allow the steam to escape continuously. As the steam releases, the internal pressure will drop.
  5. Wait until the steam has fully released and the pressure indicator (often a pop-up pin or similar device) has dropped, signifying that the cooker is no longer pressurized.
  6. Once the cooker is depressurized, it’s safe to open the lid. Open it away from your face to protect yourself from the residual steam.

Note: Always refer to your pressure cooker’s user manual for specific details on how to manually release pressure, as models can vary. Some stovetop pressure cookers may have a dedicated vent or button for manual release.

Wait for the pressure to drop naturally

Allowing the pressure to drop naturally means letting the pressure cooker sit undisturbed after cooking until it depressurizes on its own. As the cooker cools down, the steam inside will condense back into water, decreasing the internal pressure.

This method ensures that foods, especially liquids, do not foam, froth, or splatter, which can be the case with quick release methods.

Step-by-step Instructions:

  1. Once your cooking time has elapsed, remove the pressure cooker from the heat source (if you’re using a stovetop model) or turn it off (for electric models).
  2. Let the pressure cooker sit undisturbed. Do not try to open the lid during this time.
  3. Monitor the pressure indicator (often a pop-up pin, a float valve, or similar device). Over time, as the pressure drops, this indicator will go down or recede.
  4. Depending on the amount and type of food, as well as the size of the pressure cooker, natural release can take anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes.
  5. Once the pressure indicator has fully dropped, signifying that the cooker is no longer pressurized, you can safely open the lid. When opening, tilt the lid away from you to allow any residual steam to escape away from your face.
  6. Check your food – some dishes benefit from this natural release method as they continue cooking even during this period.

Note: Always refer to your pressure cooker’s user manual to determine how the natural release method is indicated for your specific model.

Run the pressure cooker under cold water

This method involves using cold water to rapidly cool the exterior of a stovetop pressure cooker, which in turn cools the contents inside and causes the steam to condense more quickly, resulting in a fast drop in pressure. This method is often used when a quicker release of pressure is desired, but the cooker’s manual or quick release method is not appropriate for the food being cooked.

Please note: This method is only for stovetop pressure cookers. Never use this method with electric pressure cookers.

Step-by-step Instructions:

  1. After the cooking time is complete, remove the pressure cooker from the stovetop.
  2. Take the pressure cooker to the sink. Ensure that the vent or steam release valve is not directly under your hand to prevent the risk of burns.
  3. Turn on the cold tap, and allow a thin stream of cold water to run down the side of the pressure cooker lid. Do not let water run directly into the vent or any valves.
  4. Continue to run the cooker under cold water, turning it as needed to cool all sides, until the pressure indicator (such as a pop-up pin or float valve) shows that the pressure has fully dropped.
  5. Once the pressure indicator has gone down, indicating that there’s no more pressure inside, it’s safe to open the cooker. Open the lid, tilting it away from you to let any residual steam escape in the opposite direction.
  6. Check the food inside and proceed with your recipe.

Caution: Always ensure that the pressure is fully released before attempting to open the cooker, even after using the cold water method.

Tap or wiggle the lid lightly (after depressurizing)

Sometimes, even after the pressure inside a pressure cooker has fully released, the lid might be slightly stuck due to the vacuum created by the cooling process or food particles caught in the seal.

Gently tapping or wiggling the lid can help dislodge any obstructions and make it easier to open.

Use a rubber opener or cloth

Sometimes, the pressure cooker’s lid may become stuck due to the vacuum created inside during the cooking process or due to slight food residues acting as a sealant.

Using a rubber opener or cloth can give you a better grip on the lid, allowing you to apply a bit more torque without the risk of your hand slipping. This can help break the vacuum seal or free the lid from any obstructions.

Warm it up again

Sometimes, the change in temperature inside the pressure cooker can create a vacuum seal, making the lid difficult to open. By warming up the pressure cooker again, you can equalize the pressure inside, making it easier to open the lid.

Step-by-step Instructions:

  1. Ensure Safety: Before attempting to warm up the pressure cooker, make sure the cooker has been depressurized. This will ensure you’re not dealing with a high-pressure situation when you heat the unit again.
  2. Place on the Stove: Position your stovetop pressure cooker back on the stove.
  3. Low Heat: Turn on the heat to a low setting. You don’t need it to be very hot; you’re just trying to warm up the contents slightly to break any vacuum or adjust the internal pressure.
  4. Monitor the Cooker: Keep an eye on the pressure cooker and allow it to warm up for a few minutes. Do not leave it unattended, as you don’t want it to reach high pressure again.
  5. Attempt to Open: After a few minutes, turn off the heat. Using oven mitts or a cloth for protection, gently try to turn and open the lid.

Note: If you’re using an electric pressure cooker, simply select a brief cooking setting or the “keep warm” function for a few minutes, then attempt to open the lid following the same precautions.

4 Common reasons for a pressure cooker lid to get stuck in the first place

According to the Energy Information Administration, 79% of U.S. households cook at least one hot meal a day at home, and up to 20% of homes used an electric pressure cooker or instant pot. Yes, pressure cookers sure are a handy small kitchen appliance!

When you encounter a jammed lid on your pressure cooker, there is usually a straightforward reason:

  • High internal pressure build-up
  • Pin stuck in the up position
  • Damaged gasket
  • Sticky gasket
  • Brand-specific issues

When dealing with a jammed pressure cooker lid, start with these possibilities:

1. High Internal pressure buildup

The pressure cooker is designed to cook food fast, but in order to do this, hot steam builds up inside the machine. Pressure cookers have safety mechanisms that lock the cooker to keep you safe from explosions or steam burns. This feature ensures the pressure cooker’s lid remains shut even after turning off the appliance. Why? The reason is because of the pressure inside the device. 

If the internal pressure is high and could cause harm, the lid will remain locked for 10-30 minutes until it has cooled down and is safe to open. The fix for this issue is waiting until the internal pressure subsides.

Sometimes after depressurization, the lid is still vacuum sealed. Try pushing down on the release valve multiple times. This should eventually release the air-tight seal.

2. Stuck locking pin

In order to keep your lid locked while the pressure subsides, a locking pin pops up.

Sometimes a locking pin can get stuck in the up position even after the pressure has lowered to a safe level. This occurs most frequently after cooking thicker liquids but can be due to operator error when placing the lid.

If you find that you are still unable to rotate and open the lid even after cool-down, a stuck pin is a likely culprit.

Here are some fixes to try when this happens:

  • Open the valve to release residual trapped steam.
  • Check to see if you put the lid on correctly. You might have forced it on. Try pushing down and then turning to release the pin and lid.
  • Check for food debris around the pin. Manually push down the pin and turn the lid. Make sure to clean around the pin.

3. Damaged gasket

The gasket on the pressure cooker is a rubber ring that promotes a strong seal between the lid and the body of the cooker.

Over time, the gasket can become stretched or torn, impeding a good seal. This can cause issues when trying to remove the lid.

Refer to the owner’s manual of your cooker, and promptly replace a damaged gasket. Damaged gaskets will make the lid hard to open and decrease the cooker’s ability to build pressure.

4. Sticky gasket

When you add food ingredients, liquid, and steam together, sticky messes can occur.

Pressure cooker gaskets can attract food particles and become sticky. This can result in a lid that won’t open. Wash your gasket according to the manufacturer’s directions, usually with soap and water, to eliminate this problem.

Most manufacturers recommend cleaning after every use.

5. Pressure cooker brand

What brand of pressure cooker are you using? Prestige, Instant Pot, T-FAL, Ninja? Does the lid get stuck often? If your answer is yes, the brand could be the problem.

While all pressure cooker lids can get stuck or become challenging to open, the truth is that some brands’ lids get stuck more often than others. Pressure cookers made from cheaper materials could be more prone to jamming than the more expensive ones.

The good news is you aren’t the only one this has happened to. A quick web search of your particular brand and “jammed lid or stuck lid” will often bring up videos or step-by-step instructions to guide you.

What happens if you open a pressure cooker without depressurizing it first?

People have sustained third-degree burns and property damage because they didn’t wait for their cookers to depressurize.

You could sustain severe injury if you first open a pressure cooker without depressurizing it. The contents are under extreme pressure, and the liquid inside is past boiling.

When you open the cooker too soon, the unreleased pressure can make the appliance explode. This explosion and the steam inside the appliance can cause severe burns or injuries to anyone nearby. 

The heat inside a pressure cooker can reach up to 250 degrees. The steam released can cause extensive burns.

Warning: Severe injuries and even death are possible when standing close to an exploding pressure cooker!

Avoid injury by making sure the pressure is at zero before opening the lid.

Opening a pressure cooker too soon can cause injury and property damage!

What should you do If your float valve hasn’t dropped yet?

You know you’ve given your pressure cooker sufficient time to cool down, but the float valve still hasn’t dropped. What do you do?

If your float pressure valve hasn’t dropped yet, it probably needs cleaning. Over time, food particles can clog the valve impairing its function.

Simply clean around the valve and remove any food and gunk.

How long do you have to wait before you can open a pressure cooker?

Pressure cooking can be a quick method of cooking, but you can’t rush to open the lid.

Before opening a pressure cooker, you must wait for the pot to fully depressurize. This could take 10-30 minutes or more, depending on the volume of food and liquid.

The float valve indicates the level of pressure inside the cooker. So, pay attention to this valve. When it falls, the pressure is at zero, and the lid is safe to open.

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