This site contains affiliate links. Please see Policies for more information.

All Instant Pots are the same, right? Not really! There are a few differences in cook times for the 6 and 8 quart Instant Pot, but once you know your pot you’ll be all set. Some of the Instant Pot cooking differences are time to come to pressure, release time, water needed, and wattage.

There should be no major difference in cook times between a 3, 6 and 8 quart Instant Pot, however, users report a few differences. Time to come to pressure, pressure release time, water needed, and wattage are different in each Instant Pot size. #instantpot #pressurecooker #IPcooking

Do different sizes of Instant Pots cook differently?

I’m sticking by my statement that each Instant Pot is different. This is so true when you hear people talk about how long they cook their hard boiled eggs.

In addition to each pot being different, everyone has preferences about their hard boiled eggs, and how old your eggs are makes a difference too. There are a lot of cooking variables to consider.

With regard to noodles, I have realized that I like my noodles overcooked a little rather than undercooked. After making a few recipes in my IP, I know that if I am cooking a dish with noodles I’ll always add a minute.

You can make changes to recipes you find online to get the best possible results when you make them at home. Like I said, every Instant Pot is different. It is always going to take some trial and error to figure out how your own pot differs from others, and understand what your cooking preferences are.

These tips and tricks will show you some common Instant Pot cooking differences and how to adjust your timing, pressures, and liquid in order to avoid a flop!

close up image for front of Instant Pot

General information about size differences

Let’s start out with some general information about Instant Pot wattage, diameters, and elevation.

Instant Pot Wattage for 3 qt, 6 qt, and 8 qt

  • 8 Quart Models are 1200 Watts
  • 6 Quart Models are 1000 Watts
  • 3 Quart Models are 700 Watts

The wattage of your Instant Pot makes a difference because it will determine how quickly your pot can come to pressure and the amount heat it produces.

Diameters of the inner Instant Pot liners:

  • 8 Quart Models have an inner pot diameter of 9.25 Inches
  • 6 Quart Models have an inner pot diameter of 8.5 Inches
  • 3 Quart Models have an inner pot diameter of 7 Inches

For those of you who like to use all the Instant Pot accessories that can make cooking fun and exciting, these measurements come in handy for determining if certain accessories will work in your pot. It’s also great to know for sizing batches of whatever meals you are cooking or baking.

four instant pot safe ramekins in the pot

Instant Pot Elevation Adjustments:

Elevation effects cooking in any pressure cooker–the IP is no different.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out my post on how elevation or altitude impacts pressure cooking you can see it right here —>  High Altitude Cooking Time Adjustments <— this post has lots of great info on how to adjust for different altitudes.

How to adjust the elevation settings on some Instant Pots:

It’s a pretty simple process:

  1. Return the cooker to the ‘Standby’ mode by pressing ‘Cancel.’
  2. Press and hold the dial until the cooker beeps and enters into the settings change.
  3. Rotate the dial to ‘Alt’ and press to select and rotate to the desired altitude units in feet or meters.
  4. When the altitude unit is selected, press the dial to enter the ‘Altitude’ adjustment mode, spin the dial to make the changes.
  5. Once the adjustments are made, press the ‘Start’ key to save the system-level settings changes and exit

Why do different size Instant Pots take more time to come to pressure?

The difference in times it takes to build pressure and release pressure in electric pressure cookers are significantly different between the 3 quart, 6 quart, and 8 quart models. This is not surprising because they are all different sizes (see the Instant Pot diameter sizes above). The 8 quart pot will take the longest to build and release pressure because there is more space to fill and empty.

That being said, I would always assume that recipes you see online are built for the 6 quart model unless it’s noted otherwise. That means you have to adjust for cooking times and the amount of liquid added in the other sized models: more on this below.

How much water do I need to add to my Instant Pot?

We all know that different sizes of pots need different amounts of water in order to cook food properly. After all, they’re using steam and pressure to cook things quickly. Here are the breakdowns of water needed in order for each size pot to function correctly.

  • The 8 Quart Models need 2.5-3 cups of liquid
  • The 6 Quart Models need 1.5-2 cups of liquid
  • The 3 Quart Models need .75-1 cup of liquid
    • these numbers came from the Instant Pot website. The numbers have changed over the years and as of 8/2021 they are what I can find directly from Instant Pot.

I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll mention it again, your Instant Pot is going to be at least a tiny bit different from every other one out there. Do your own test to see how much water your pot needs in order to come to pressure and hold for 5 minutes. Use the amounts above as a general guideline.

What kind of liquid should I add to my Instant Pot?

When we say that you need water or liquid for your pot to come to pressure, know that liquid can also come from the food in your pot. Vegetables usually release a lot of liquid when cooking–think about zucchini.

Also, frozen chicken releases a lot of liquid when it’s cooking, which is why it’s great to use when cooking dry beans and rice like in my Instant Pot Burrito Bowl Recipe.

Can I use thawed meat instead of frozen meat in an Instant Pot recipe?

It’s not advised to use thawed chicken in a recipe that calls for frozen chicken without considering the dry ingredients that would need extra time and liquid to cook.

Instant Pot Cooking Times

How long will my Instant Pot take to come to pressure?

While it may take longer for the 8 quart to come to pressure than the 3 quart and the 6 quart, once it comes up to pressure your cooking times should be the same. You might not notice any significant Instant Pot cooking differences when it comes to cooking times though. They should be relatively spot on no matter which pot you are using.

It takes an average of 5-10 minutes for my 6 quart Instant Pot to come to pressure, depending on how much food is in it and if that food is frozen. An Instant Pot with frozen food takes longer to come to pressure than one with refrigerated food.

Note: Technically the cook times should be the same. If you want to see how crazy different cook times can be, head over to the Instant Pot Facebook group and ask how long it takes to make hard boiled eggs in the Instant Pot. You’ll quickly see what I mean by every pot and every size being different.

You can safely assume that unless noted otherwise, every Instant Pot recipe online is made for a 6 quart size. If you’re using a 3 quart size or “mini” Instant Pot, divide the recipe in half and the cook time stays the same. If you’re using an 8 quart Instant Pot, you can easily double the recipe you’re cooking and the cook time stays the same.

Instant Pot parts

Common problems with Instant Pot cooking:

What is the Instant Pot BURN Warning?

The Instant Pot can alert you when the food inside is starting to burn, your screen will show the words BURN. Personally, I notice that I get the BURN error more when using the 8 quart recipes when I know the recipes have worked fine in the 6 quart.

This is a personal note, it’s something I’ve experienced issues with. You might not see this issue but don’t be surprised if you do!

What should I do if I see the Instant Pot burn warning?

When I see the Instant Pot BURN warning, I consider what is in the pot. If it’s hard boiled eggs that get the burn warning, I can bet that all of the water has evaporated and I should have added more (I always add extra water to hard boiled eggs now). If I have something in my Instant Pot with tomato sauce, I can bet it’s that because tomato products tend to burn in the Instant Pot.

If my pot has just come to pressure and still has some time to cook, I’ll release pressure and stir the contents. I’ll also add more liquid to the pot to get rid of the burn warning. I’ll then start the pot again, after reducing the cooking time (since the Instant Pot is actually cooking while it is coming to pressure, your food will already be cooked a little).

Sometimes I see the BURN warning  towards the end of the cooking cycle. If I see that, I’ll release the pressure and stir the contents. Especially if I have noodles in the pot, I can usually put the lid back on and let them finish cooking without adding additional time to the pot.

Other Instant Pot Resources

Which Instant Pot is right for you? A post  and printable chart that talks about the different models–Instant Pot DUO, Instant Pot Smart, Multi Cooker, and more. Which have a yogurt maker, which can sous vide, which have a slow cooker.

Healthy Instant Pot Recipes All of my favorite healthy recipes, with directions for the slow cooker, stovetop, and electric pressure cooker.

How long to cook vegetables in the Instant Pot A free printable to help you cook perfect veggies.

How long to cook meat in the Instant Pot Another free printable with instructions for cooking your meat perfectly.

How to remove odors from your Instant Pot sealing ring This is such an issue with owners–but the good news is that there are some great tips in this post and in the comments!

Similar Posts

Did you love this recipe?

Make sure to comment below so we can chat about it! Or follow on your favorite social network for even more family recipes.


  1. This is such a great article! I am a Korean food blogger and have started to develop recipes for the Instant Pot and I had a reader telling me that my recipe keeps burning in her IP (8qt) when it comes out fine in mine (6qt). I suspected it but now I know exactly why! Thank you!

  2. so, how to avoid the BURN error, add more water?

    1. It depends–more water, deglaze the pot after sautéing, stir the ingredients (or don’t stir the ingredients)–it truly depends on what you’re cooking! It’s a lot of trial and error.

      1. When I bought a ceramic lined inner pot for my 8 Quart Instant Pot, I stopped getting a lot of the “burn” warning. It deglazes easier and the tomato ingredients no longer give the burn warning. I still get it sometimes. Generally it’s a fake warning. Nothing is burning. I now use my original inner pot to hold most of my accessories.

  3. The Instant Pot website and the chat representative says that the 8 quart needs 3 cups of liquid to come to pressure. She said there was not much liquid in vegetables so to be sure and use the full 3 cups unless there was other liquid (e.g., sauce) added.

    1. Thanks for this! When I got my 8qt the manual said 2C, I appreciate your comment!

      1. You are welcome. I just got my IP, and I too got a 6 quart user manual! Look at the March 26 2018 reply to a March 18 comment. I revisited IP chat today and was told that cooking time would not change. (You may know that, but I’m completely IP ignorant! I look forward to viewing more of your informative website!

    2. What if I wish to cut the recipe in half? Does this change the cooking time?

      1. Hey Sheryl! I’ve never cut the cooking time in half when halving a recipe. If you’re using a 3 qt, that could change the game though.
        I always err on the side of undercooking because you can easily put the top back on and add a few minutes. With overcooking, you’ve ruined the meal.

        Do you have a specific recipe in mind?

  4. Hi! I found this wonderful recipe book at the library recently “cooking with your instant pot mini”. There are some really great recipes in here I want to try. But I have an 8qt. How do I convert? Do I double the recipes?

    1. I think if you add some more liquid it will be fine! I often cook recipes (as is, or adding a little liquid) in my 8 ;)

  5. your table contradicts what the instant pot app says:
    We all know that Instant Pots need water in order to cook food properly. After all, they’re using steam and pressure to cook things quickly. Here are the breakdowns of water needed in order for each size pot to function correctly.
    8 Quart Models – 1.5 Cups
    6 Quart Models – 1 Cup
    3 Quart Models – .75 Cups

    the app says:
    8 qt 3 cups
    6 qt 2 cups
    3 qt 1 cup

    1. Meagen Brosius says:

      Hi Alan,

      Thanks for your input! Personally I’ve found that unless I’m cooking something that has absolutely no liquid content, I don’t need to add all that much water. As soon as the process begins the liquids from whatever I am cooking start to come out and they’ll be part of the cooking liquids as well as the liquids that remain when the process is finished. The measurements that are included here have come from some research, personal experience, and the Instant Pot Facebook page. There is MUCH debate about this topic and it does seem to vary slightly from pot to pot. Thanks for including this info for those who don’t use the app!!

    2. Karen Boml says:

      I bought a 2 qt. instant pot and have yet to use it…can’t find any recipes for it!! Thousands for the 3 qt. and the 6 qt. (3 of which I own), but nothing for the 2 qt….help!

      1. Karen, I’d reduce down the 3 qt recipes :)

  6. Thanks for this article. I have the mini and am never sure how the recipes are going to fit and hate to waste ingredients. I really wish the makers would indicate pot size for recipes. It would make it much ch easier. The mini is a perfect size for 2 of us!

  7. I have an 8 quart so I have to or will be having to do alot of converting recipes since they all are 6 quart.
    Is there a place that talks just about going from 6 to 8?
    I like the recipes but also like to eat 😅 … I’m afraid I’ll starve before I figure it all out LOL

    1. Alicia, there is no converting necessary–just add extra water! Time and everything stay the same.

      1. What if the recipe doesn’t call for water? How can you prevent burning? I had a 6qt but traded my mom for her 8qt. I have cooked some pasta recipes in my 6qt that have sauces in them. Will they require more sauce in the 8qt? Won’t that affect the recipe?

      2. All Instant Pot recipes should call for water unless they have enough other liquid. Frozen meat will produce liquid and some veggies will produce liquid.

        You can cook recipes in the 6 or the 8 and you won’t have to change the recipe at all except for the amount of liquid used. The 8 requires just a bit more liquid :)

      3. If you just add extra water, aren’t you going to be causing your dish to be more watery, and have less flavor?

      4. Not necessarily. The pot uses water to come to pressure–it can’t function without water. If you’re getting a burn warning, adding more water is a good place to start.

  8. I made this in my 8-quart Duo IP, and it turned out great. I was worried it wouldn’t make enough, so I used just under 2 pounds of chicken; 2 cups of white rice; and around 3 c. broth. After reading the BURN comments left before me, I was worried it might burn, but it worked out great. Pressure cook on high for 8 min and natural release for about 10 – rice had a TON of liquid left (I thought it was going to be too soupy); I left it on warm for a few minutes while veggies finished and I cut chicken. When I took the IP top off again, ALL the liquid had been absorbed; and when I got done stirring everything together, it was almost too thick (more broth next time.)
    Thanks for the great recipe!!!

  9. Great article. My 6 qt died and I decided to get the 8 qt because it was the same price. First use, got the burn notice while I had never seen it before on the 6 qt with the recipe. It was a spaghetti dish so I did exactly as your said and it was perfect. Thank you for all of the information. You definitely answered all questions I was having. On to rib making … :)

  10. Can you answer my question? I’ve tried looking everywhere (online) and have had no luck.
    I just bought an 8 quart IP, and I know cakes can be baked in IP but do I have to make adjustments since pot is larger than the 6 qt that I see used with baking? I just hope I don’t regret having gotten the larger pot….

    1. Hey Iris! You might have to add a bit more water like I stated in the article, but that’s probably it! I don’t notice any big changes with mine :)

      1. Stephanie says:

        My cakes and bites don’t get done in my 8qt. I follow the recipe..1.5 cups of water in the liner. Baking is a disappointment. HELP!

      2. Most recipes are made for a 6qt, and have to be slightly adjusted for an 8qt. If they aren’t done, put the lid back on and cook for a few more minutes :)

  11. Cheri Peyton says:

    What adjustments do I need to make for preparing half of a beef stew recipe in my 6qt. IP? Will it take less cooking time?

  12. Sara Anderson says:

    Hi Barb,

    Yes, you can. It’ll be a little smaller than the 8 qt but it can be done :)

  13. I have a 3 qt mini bc it’s often just myself and my son for dinner. I have two great cookbooks plus the manual that came with my 3 qt – but I’m wondering if I need to cut all recipes in half to accommodate the smaller IP? The IP recipe book I received has a recipe for pulled pork using a 4# pork butt – I’m pretty sure that’s not going to fit. So, should I – as a rule – adjust all recipes by 50%?

    1. You could adjust to cook half the recipe, but I’ve also heard several people say that many recipes fit as is in the 3qt. Obviously, not the pork butt, but just an idea to watch out for down the road :)

  14. I have a 10 quart and I am having so much trouble converting recipe amounts and times. More liquid or more time?

    1. Just more liquid – not more time unless you double the recipe (and then even not always more time) .

  15. Victoria Zawacki says:

    I could really use some help. I was gifted an 8 quart instant pot for Christmas. It’s only myself so how so I cut a recipe in half and cook in the 8 quart? Please don’t tell me to cook and freeze for leftovers. I want to learn how to convert recipes.

    Thank you!

    1. In general, cut the ingredients in half and cook for the same amount of time.

      There isn’t a set formula for this because all recipes are different. The 8 qt requires more liquid, so if you’re cooking rice or pasta and cut the recipe in half you’ll end up not having enough liquid–this might be why you’re being told to cook the entire recipe and freeze half?

  16. Do you notice a difference on the slow cooker/crock pot setting? I gave the 8 quart to my mom, but she said when she has tried to cook a roast on the slow cooker/crock pot setting, it doesn’t cook it fully as her regular crock pot for the same amount of time.

    1. Sara Anderson says:

      Hmm, I haven’t noticed that!

    2. I have found that my Instant Pot doesn’t slow cook as well as my actual slow cooker. I don’t know if it’s because it’s large (I have the 8 qt.) and needs more time, but I don’t use that feature anymore and just stick to my regular slow cooker.

  17. Patricia1 Loe says:

    I just purchased a 3 q mini duo instant pot. The instructions say Always add at least 500 ml (2 cups!) of liquid for minimum liquid requirement.

    The recipe I had for bone in country ribs said to use 1 can of beef broth and 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce. and cook on high for 45 min. which I did.
    When I opened after a natural release , the liquid was all gone and the bottom had lots of burned “stuff”.

    Now I don’t know if I should follow the instructions for the instant DUO mini or the recipe itself.??

    1. Always follow the instructions on the pot. Recipes are typically written for the 6qt models.
      Also, Instant Pot has changed the amount of liquid they recommend over the years–older recipes are probably written for the earlier amounts, but of course any good recipe creator will test a recipe several times before posting it on the internet so the “old” amounts should still work fine.

  18. I purchased an 8 qt IP and now think I made a mistake. An IP cookbook I was recently given has lots of wonderful recipes, most of which are designed for 6 qt pots, as you said. But to account for the size difference, this cookbook says to increase all ingredients by 50%. There’s just my husband and myself now, so making a three pound meatloaf or 3.5 pounds of pulled chicken doesn’t make sense. Halving the recipe would make more sense than increasing it. If simply adding more liquid would enable me to use the recipes designed for a smaller pot, why wouldn’t have the cookbook mentioned that?

    1. Emilie, I urge you to try the recipes as written, while adding the extra liquid that it takes the pot to come to pressure. You should be fine :)

  19. I use my 6 quart IP mainly for cooking whole gold potatoes. I get different results in the texture of my potatoes every time I cook them. I always use 1 cup of water but different cook times depending on the size of the potatoes. Sometimes they are mushy (overcooked) or still crunchy on the inside (undercooked). I hardly every get perfectly cooked potatoes and nothing seems to be consistent. Do you have any suggestions or am I doing something wrong? My simple task of cooking potatoes has become very disappointing. Thank you.

    1. Hi Barbara, I’d try to buy the same size potatoes the next few times to get your time right. Also, I’d always err on the side of undercooked–you can always put the lid back on and cook them for more time. Also, cutting the potatoes into chunks of the same size every time you cook them might help?

  20. meera kharbanda says:

    Im thinking of getting a instapot 8 quart but bit concerned about the burn notice. However, there is a ceramic pot that can be bought. Now would it be better to use that instead of the stainless steel pot and avoid the burn issue?

    1. Hi Meera! I’ve never used the ceramic pot–but I can tell you that the burn notice isn’t a huge issue. I have a 6 and an 8 qt and they both do it, but maybe once every 30 times that I use the pot? It’s all about what you put in and how you layer it :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *