Well, yes, you can leave it unattended. But this is not what the Instant Pot manufacturer’s official statement says. There are some exceptions. According to the Instant Pot official statement, it is advised to refrain from leaving your Instant Pot unattended for long periods.
But why not? Well, for starters, let’s talk about why we buy an Instant Pot in the first place? For fast and easy cooking, of course.
The Instant Pot is a multi-cooker, meaning it does a lot of things that you’d normally need several different appliances to do. It can pressure cook, slow cook, steam, sauté, keep foods warm, time your cooking, and even make yogurt.
Surprisingly this is still not everything these amazing appliances can do. There are models with even more functionalities. Above all, every Instant Pot performs these functions automatically with the push of a button.
Since the Instant Pot is automated, it comes with a lot of safety features. For example, there is a safety lid lock that keeps it in a tight position minimizing the chances of an accidental explosion.
The Instant Pot also has an internal temperature sensor that regulates the heat and keeps it within safe levels.
Aside from these two extremely useful safety features, the Instant Pot has a pressure sensor to regulate pressure, a overheat protection mechanism, an electrical fuse, and a thermal fuse.
Is It Ok to Leave Instant Pot Unattended?
So, in theory, all of these functionalities should make the Instant Pot extremely safe to leave unattended. Then why does the official statement say otherwise? The company says that because its product is not perfect; it’s man-made and accidents can happen.
Plus, they need to cover themselves from liability. To minimize the risk of something bad happening, a few things must be made sure of before leaving the pot unattended for some time.
- Before using, check the pot for any physical defects like a torn gasket or blocked valve.
- Make sure the lid is properly closed.
- Make sure your Instant Pot has come to full pressure.
- Make sure your Instant Pot is not close to the stovetop or any other incendiary device.
- Make sure to keep it running in a place that is out of your children’s and pets’ reach.
Even after making note of every single precaution, you still can’t leave your food unattended for the advertised 99 hours and 50 minutes. The reasons? We have detailed them below.
Two built-in functionalities allow you to leave your food inside the Instant Pot for a long period. The Keep Warm mode and the Instant Pot Timer.
Keep Warm mode:
Every Instant Pot has a Keep Warm mode which is there to keep your food from getting cold once it has finished cooking. It turns on automatically after your cooking is done and runs for 10 hours unless you switch the appliance off before then.
The mode can also be triggered manually and can be set for up to 99 hours and 50 minutes. We do not recommend doing this! The Keep Warm mode keeps the food at temperatures between 145 to 172 degrees Fahrenheit.
Although this temperature can kill almost all harmful bacteria, long periods of storage for up to 12 hours or more can lead some of the harmful bacteria to re-emerge. Also, your food quality will start to deteriorate and it will become mushy and overcooked.
If you have left soup lying inside the pot unattended for that long, you will have to throw it away or boil it for at least 10 minutes if there are no visual or nasal indicators.
Also keeping foods like rice, vegetables, porridge, and oatmeal inside on warm mode will either get them overcooked or the foam they produce may end up clogging the float valve. The long periods of heat during Keep Warm mode will also eliminate the flavors from your dish.
Thus, you can leave the Instant Pot unattended in Keep Warm mode, but not for too long.
Instant Pot Timer
Your Instant Pot’s timer allows you to set a time after which the pot will automatically start the cooking process. This is great if you want to leave for work and come home to a perfectly cooked meal.
However, foods like raw meat and fish will go bad if kept outside the fridge for too long.
So, if you have foods that are not susceptible to rotting when kept outside, such as fruit or vegetables, you can use this feature to allow you to attend to other matters whilst the Instant Pot counts down to its cooking time.
Alternatively, you can use this feature for meat by putting frozen meat into the pot.
One of the main reasons most of us probably bought an Instant Pot is that it allows us to get on with other jobs while the food is cooking. Unforeseen issues can be prevented if you are nearby to check the warning signs.
However, there’s no need to hover around in the kitchen because Instant Pots are manufactured with 10 basic safety features to prevent accidents.
Our final word on the matter is that a properly functioning Instant Pot with no defects can be left unattended while it’s working provided it’s in a safe space (flat, uncluttered, and away from heat sources).