what happens if you overfill a pressure cooker

What Happens If You Overfill A Pressure CookerPressure cookers (both electric pressure cookers and stovetop) are not designed to be overfilled. If you overfill a pressure cooker you could cause a blockage of the safety valves, which might also be referred to as a pressure release valve, resulting in excessive pressure generated and the appliance’s pressure reaching dangerous levels. If this were to occur you may not be able to remove the lid and the pressure will be too great and would therefore have to perform a natural pressure release.

No matter the size of your pressure cooker or the type you are using (stovetop or electric), you should not be filling it up above the recommended capacity.

Not only is it a safety concern, but you will also experience a loss of flavor and texture to the food you are cooking.

When preparing foods that expand during cooking, such as cooking beans, rice, or other grains, fill no more than halfway. You should be looking to fill the cooker no more than two-thirds of the way full for all other foods.

Your pressure cooker needs open space within the pot once you have secured the lid for the pressure and hot steam to build for it to function safely and correctly.

Safety valves and features (such as the pressure release) of a pressure cooker are primarily in the lid, and there is a real danger of food or hot liquid causing a blockage if too much is placed inside.

If you have an electric pressure cooker, there are additional safety systems if you put too much in your appliance. One of these safety features is that it can turn itself off if the chamber’s pressure becomes too high as the pressure cooker will detect that there is too much pressure building inside. Most pressure cookers (electric) these days are fitted with this safety system.

This safety feature is not available with stovetop pots, so extra care is needed. 

Why Should I Care About My Pressure Cooker's Maximum Capacity?

pressure cooker capacity

A pressure cooker’s maximum capacity is a built-in safety feature. If a pressure cooker manufacturer wants to get safety approval, it must state somewhere in the manual what the maximum capacity within that particular model is.

It is worth noting that not all pressure cookers have the maximum and minimum levels marked out on the inner pot, so care must be taking if this is the case.

As mentioned above, the maximum limit safety feature applies to all types of pressure cookers, no matter what shape or what size they may be.

So whether it’s electric pressure cookers or stovetop or whether your appliance is weight modified, wiggle top, or has spring valves, you should abide by the recommended maximum capacity.

Is There A Minimum Pressure Cooker Capacity?

Pressure cooking works on the appliances’ ability to create hot steam from the liquid placed inside it, which generates the pressure inside the chamber. Therefore, a certain amount of fluid must be used to help create that steam.

The amount needed depends on several factors such as the size of the pressure cooker, the cooking time required, the type of food you are cooking, and the type of pressure valve.

If you are using a larger pressure cooker, you will be required to use more liquid as more steam will be needed to pressurize the appliance. 

Some pressure valves vent by function or design. While a spring valve releases little or no steam to keep a cooker at pressure instead, a weight-modified or jiggler-type valve must release pressure and steam rhythmically to maintain a set pressure.

The extra venting means that a longer cooking time will evaporate more liquid, and the cooker will require more to keep it from running dry.

Depending on which pressure cooker you have, you may find a minimum line on the inside of the cooking pot.

This line indicates the minimum amount of liquid or food that is required. If in doubt, refer to the pressure cookers manual.

Choosing The Right Size Pressure Cooker

correct size

When buying a pressure cooker, it’s important to remember that you can cook small amounts of food in a large pressure cooker but can not cook large quantities of food in a small one.

It would help if you kept this in mind before purchasing a pressure cooker, as even though you may only require a small one from day to day, you may want to buy an appliance that can cook for small groups for when you entertain.

Therefore, if you feel you will need a little more room in your cooker, I would advise purchasing a slightly bigger one than you need daily, not to run the risk of overfilling it.

Here is a snippet on the size of pressure cooker from our article: 10 Things to Consider When Buying a Pressure Cooker.

“Pressure cookers come in many sizes, from the compact 5-liter model to huge 15-liter models that can easily feed a large group of people. The first thing you need to decide is what size is right for your needs.

  • Singles/couples. The small 5-liter model is just enough for two servings and won’t take up a lot of space on your kitchen counter.
  • If there are about 3 to 5 people in your household, then you might want to consider looking at a 5 to a 7-liter pressure cooker. They are big enough to make a hearty family meal but are still small enough to be stored in a kitchen cabinet.
  • Average family. This is the most popular size pressure cooker. Get a 7 to 10-liter model if you need to make meals to feed up to 9 people, or you prefer to cook and freeze large batches for future use or wish to have enough for lunch the following day. You also need at least a 6-liter model to be able to roast a whole chicken.
  • Large families. You can get pressure cookers that are more than 10 liters, although this is only practical if you have more than ten people in your family or if you entertain often. This size is also ideal if you plan to cook big batches of broth from large bones.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Overfilling a pressure cooker is when you put too much liquid in the pot. This can cause it to fail to create enough pressure, overflow, or in extreme circumstances explode.


Never overfill a pressure a cooker. Buy a larger appliance if needed.

You can tell if your pressure cooker is too full by looking at the liquid level. If it's above halfway up, then you should probably remove some of that water or other cooking liquids before continuing to cook.

Overfilling a pot can cause it to fail at creating enough pressure, overflow, or in extreme circumstances explode. This is because the liquid level will be above halfway up and that's too much for your cooker!

The maximum capacity of a pressure cooker varies by brand. For example, the maximum capacity of a Presto pressure cooker is 16 quarts or 12 liters while an All-American Pressure Cooker has 18 quart or 16 liters

Not all pressure cookers have a maximum fill line on the pot. If your pot does have a maximum fill line, it will be on the inside of one side.

If you're not sure if there is an indication for max capacity and don't want to risk overfilling or under-pressurizing then err towards less water rather than more! It should also indicate in the user's manual what the maximum capacity is.

No, you do not need to be an expert in cooking to use a pressure cooker. Pressure cookers are very easy and safe for anyone who is able-bodied enough, regardless of age or skill level!

The only thing you need before using your new pot/pan set (or any other kitchen appliance) the first time: read instructions carefully !!!

The size of the pressure cooker you purchase depends on your needs. If you are cooking for a family of four, then it is best to purchase the larger size pressure cooker as this will allow more space and time in which food can cook properly before reaching its desired tenderness level

If on the other hand, only one or two people live at home you could get away with purchasing the smaller size pressure cooker.

6 Great Pressure Cookers

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Instant Pot Duo

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Yedi 9-in-1 Cooker

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Ninja Foodi 8-Quart

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All American 921

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Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus

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Breville Fast Slow Pro