Top Tips On “What’s the Best Way to Release Pressure?”

Pressure cooking alone is not sufficient. The process has to be perfect all the way from the beginning to the end. Pressure cooking occurs in several phases. The first phase is adding the right amount of cooking liquid necessary for pressure cooking. The next phase is building pressure and stabilizing it to command the pressure cooking process. After this phase, the food is allowed enough time to pressure cook. The final phase is expertly releasing pressure from the pressure cooker so that the lid can be removed and the food considered ready to be served. This final phase is very significant as it determines the final result of the food. If pressure release is done in the right way, the food will be of great quality. The vice versa is true. In this article, we share tips on how to assimilate proper pressure release tactics that are best for various recipes.

Factors to Consider When Releasing Pressure​

  • The food being pressure cooked is a key determinant when choosing a pressure release method. Pressure cooker users must have a clear understanding of the type of food they intend to pressure cook. Does the food require extra pressure cooking time? Does the food require less pressure cooking time? Is the food delicate? All these issues have to be given a lot of thought before making a final decision on the best pressure release method to use.
  • Ensure your body (mostly the hands and the face) is not exposed to the steam being released.
  • Do not release the steam near kitchen surfaces such as hanging cupboards because they are at risk of being damaged by the steam.

Releasing Pressure After Active Pressure Cooking

After pressure cooking is finalized, the method used to release pressure has to be given some thought. While most of pressure cooker recipes give clear information pertaining the best pressure release method to use, others do not. The pressure release method chosen has an impact on the food cooked.

Examples of Pressure Release Methods​

Natural Release Method​

This is viewed as the slowest pressure release method. Pressure is released naturally after cooking is complete. For this to happen, the valve has to remain closed. The pressure cooker will automatically and independently release the pressure in a gradual manner. When all the pressure has being released, the lid lock becomes disengaged. As the pressure gradually drops, cooking of food continues. The type of pressure cooker used, the type of food pressure cooked and the food amount put in the cooking pot dictate the average time taken to release pressure using this method. This method is fit for the following types of foods:​

  • Foods that are mostly liquid such as soup
  • Meat recipes to ensure the meat becomes very soft
  • Foods that enlarge during pressure cooking- beans and other legumes
  • Rice
  • Frothy foods such as pasta

Quick Release Method

The modern pressure cookers have a special valve that is used to enact a quick pressure release. The special valve is opened and the pressure is rapidly released from the pressure cooker. Immediately the process is complete, the float valve drops followed by unlocking of the lid making it possible to open the pressure cooker. This method heightens the safety of a pressure cooker as it only opens when all the pressure has been released. This method is fit in the following circumstances:​

  • When putting extra ingredients to the pressure cooker especially when cooking stew
  • Pressure cooking eggs
  • When preparing potato salads
  • When cooking vegetables

10 Minute Natural Release Method

Rather than using the natural method which is very slow, a 10 minute natural release method is quicker and better. Pressure is released naturally for 10 minutes. The rest of the pressure is released by opening the pressure valve which quickens the release process. At times, the pressure might take less than 10 minutes to release. But the lid should not be removed until 10 minutes elapse.

Slow Normal Release Method​

The pressure valve is opened partially to enhance pressure release slowly. It takes utmost 6 minutes for total pressure release.

Cold Water Release Method​

It is perceived as a very fast method of releasing pressure. The pressure cooker is placed on a sink and cold water is poured on the outer edge of the lid and the sides. This method is suitable when pressure cooking vegetables to ensure they are not overcooked after active cooking occurs. This method is ineffective for liquid and frothy foods. These foods have a tendency to block the valve. They obstructing pressure release. Quick release method is also inappropriate when pressure cooking meat. If used to release pressure, there is a high possibility that the meat will become very tough instead of tender.

Normal Release Method​

The pressure valve is opened completely to enhance pressure release completely. This method is very fast and pressure release takes 2 to 3 minutes depending on the pressure cooker being used.​


To conclude, the pressure release technique used has to be prudently considered. Foods that require a lot of time to cook are best suited for the natural release method. Those that pressure cook within a short while are served well by the quick release method. It is also worth mentioning that the pressure release technique embraced impacts on the functioning ability of a pressure cooker. A great pressure release method for one pressure cooker might be 'poison’ for another pressure cooker. For instance: a cold water release technique is unsafe for an electric pressure cooker because it threatens its lifespan. But the key consideration that overpowers all other factors when choosing the best way to release pressure is the type of food being pressure cooked.

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