Today’s modern pressure cookers, like the Instant Pot, have come a long way since the first primitive design known as a “Steam Digester” developed by a French physicist. If a pressure cooker is one of your kitchen staples, you’ve probably encountered a stuck lid or two. If you are new to the pressure cooker scene, you may be wondering, “Can you remove a jammed pressure cooker lid? How easy is it? Will I damage my appliance?”
The good news is you can remove a jammed pressure cooker lid. This issue is common and usually has a quick solution. Lids can stick for several reasons, including damaged or sticky gaskets, high internal pressure, or brand-specific issues.
Read on to learn the reasons behind jammed lids and solutions to deal with them.
What is a pressure cooker?
What is a pressure cooker anyway? Why would you use one over ordinary pots and pans?
A pressure cooker is a sealed pot that cooks with steam. When food and liquid are added to the pot, the temperature quickly rises past the boiling point. Trapped steam cooks foods faster than a traditional pot. Due to the faster cooking time, more vitamins and minerals are retained in the food.
I’ll always remember my grandmother using a pressure cooker to cook her famous green beans. The loud whistle of steam always scared me a bit as I anticipated an explosion. Modern pressure cookers have safety features and are easy to use.
Electric pressure cookers are small appliances that use electricity. You will often hear them referred to as multi-cookers because pressure cooking is just one of their many functions. They are plugged into an outlet and have function buttons and digital displays. In many cases, you can “set it and forget it.”
Stovetop pressure cookers are manual cookers. They require more hands-on attention to change temperature and release steam.
Common reasons for jammed lids
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.
When you encounter a jammed lid, there is usually a straightforward reason. It takes a little investigative work to find the problem.
Troubleshooting a jammed pressure cooker lid should start with these common reasons: high internal pressure build-up, a pin stuck in the up position, a damaged or sticky gasket, or brand-specific issues. Whatever the reason, you can always open it.
When dealing with a jammed pressure cooker lid, start with these possibilities:
1. 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.
How to open a stuck cooker lid
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.
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 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.
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.
How do you quick release a pressure cooker?
You are in a hurry and want to quick release your food instead of waiting for a natural release of pressure. How do you do that?
How you quick release a pressure cooker depends on if you have a stovetop or an electric type. Quick release can be beneficial for foods you don’t want to risk overcooking. Other foods do better with a natural release.
How to do a quick release using a stovetop pressure cooker:
- Turn the heat off.
- Place the cooker in the sink.
- Turn on the tap.
- Allow cold water to run onto the lid for a few minutes.
- Remove the cover.
How to do a quick release using an electric pressure cooker: (this may vary slightly due to make and model)
- Hit the cancel button.
- While wearing an oven mitt, turn the release valve from the sealing position to the venting position.*
- Wait 2-3 minutes for all of the steam to escape before opening the lid.
*For some models, the verbiage may be “closed to open,” “pressure to pressure release,” or “pressure to steam.”
Important Tip: The steam released is extremely hot. If using your hand to turn the valve, make sure to wear protection.
|Quick Release Foods||Natural Release Foods|
|Vegetables||Fatty meats/Large cuts|
|Delicate foods||Beans or potatoes|
Summary of “Can you remove a jammed pressure cooker lid?”
Is your pressure cooker lid jammed? Don’t panic! This is a common problem. Most of the time, it can be avoided by waiting for the pressure to decrease and keeping the gasket clean and in good condition. Electric pressure cooker lids can be released by manually holding down the locking pin or pushing the release button multiple times. If you have a stovetop cooker, you can run cold water over the top to contract the metal and pop the lid off.
Never try to remove the lid before zero pressure is reached, as this can result in injury or property damage.
How do you get a stuck lid off a pressure cooker?
Electric pressure cooker lids can be released by releasing all of the steam, pushing down on the top, or retracting a stuck locking pin. Stovetop pressure cooker lids can be released by running cold water over the top.
How do you force a pressure cooker to open?
You never want to force a pressure cooker to open. It may remain closed because it hasn’t fully depressurized. Forcing it open can cause injury and damage to the appliance.