How Do You Use Delay Start on Instant Pot?

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Last Updated on May 18, 2022 by Share My Kitchen

The Instant Pot can do so many wonderful things to save time in the kitchen, which includes the delay-start function. This is one of the reasons why I fell in love with it, its great functions and its many advantages.  No wonder some people, moms, and dads included, can’t survive without it. 

However, it may be a bit difficult to understand all the capabilities, as you might with other new appliances. Many Instant Pot users won’t use the delay-start function, either because they don’t know where it is or how to use it.

This great feature will allow you to get more from your Instant Pot and save you a lot of time. This is a quick guide to show you how to use the Instant Pot’s delay start.

What is the Instant Pot Delay Start Function?

Instant Pot is a rice cooker, slow cooker, and pressure cooker all in one kitchen appliance. Nearly every Instant Pot has a Delay start function. This function was also known as “timer” on older models. You can use the Delay Start function program on your Instant Pot to start cooking later.

This is a great tool for:

  • It is necessary to first soak something, like rice or beans, and you want to start the cooking process automatically after the soak.
  • In the Instant Pot, cook steel-cut oatmeal. It can be set up at night and then delayed start it for when you wake up in the morning.
  • If you are preparing a meal, and you desire to set up for the recipe to cook after 1 to 2 hours.
  • If you are residing outside the U.S. and eggs have not been washed at the collection point, they don’t need to be stored in the fridge. Then, eggs can be placed in an Instant Pot overnight to be cooked on delay-start in the morning.

Is It Safe to Use the Delay Start on the Instant Pot?

The delay start function is safe, but you need to be aware that there are some limitations. Delay start cannot be used to cook meat, seafood, eggs (in the US), and any other items that need to be refrigerated.

According to the USDA, most food can be safely left in the refrigerator for two hours. Therefore, perishable foods can be cooked using the delayed start safely up to two hours after preparation. You could, for instance, set up a roast to cook at 4 pm, then set the delay start time at 6 pm. For lunch, you could make chicken soup at 10 am and have it cooked at 12 noon.

However, you can set the Instant Pot up for longer than two hours if the food you are putting in it does not need to be refrigerated, such as oats, rice, beans, or other dried foods.

How to Properly Set Delay Start on an Instant Pot

There are many Instant Pot models, so some models may call it “Delay Timer.” But you can still use the following steps for delayed cooking in any Instant Pot variation.


  1. First, set a cooking program based on your recipe.
  2. Use the “Timer” key. Then, use the “+” or “-” buttons to set the delayed hours as you prefer. To change the minutes, press the Instant Pot key once more. The set time is the delay before the Instant Pot begins to operate at the specified cooking program.
  3. The “Timer” function will start within 10 seconds after the second press of the timer key. The LED display indicates the countdown, and the flashing green indicator on the “Timer” keys becomes solid green.
  4. Press the “Keep Warm/Cancel” button at any time to cancel the Timer operation.  

When the delay timer reaches 0, the Instant Pot will automatically start the cooking process. After the food has been prepared, the Instant Pot will automatically enter the Auto “Keep Warm” cycle for approximately 10 hours.

When Should You Use The Delay Start Function?

These are some situations where you might consider using the Delay Start feature in your Instant Pot.

  1. Soaking rice: To cook the rice, set the Delay Start 15 minutes later.
  2. Soaking beans: You may set the Delay Start to cook the beans 6-8 hours later.
  3. Preparing for a party: You can prepare a recipe for the Instant Pot up until 2 hours before it is ready to cook.

The Instant Pot may display a “burn” message on its screen. This is an indicator that the food might be burning or the pot might be getting damaged. The pot will turn off automatically, so you don’t have to worry about it popping.

It could be because the water is too little, and it isn’t reaching the bottom and sides of the pot, or that there are some burned food particles on the bottom. This will prevent you from starting the delay. Therefore, before you proceed, you will need to resolve the problem.

The Instant Pot Keeps Beeping

When the Instant Pot’s timer is turned on or off, the pot will usually make a beeping sound. However, make sure to check the pot if it makes a sound besides the one you set. Check the screen for any coded messages, and try fixing the problem. The Instant Pot overheating is usually the cause of the beeping.

An Error Code Message Has Appeared

Your Instant Pot will display an error message like a “C1 error code” message. This means that your temperature sensors may not be functional. A “C5 error message” indicates that the inner pot does not have enough water. For assistance with any other error codes, please contact customer service.

Why Should You Use An Instant Pot?

Because it dramatically reduces the time required to cook, the Instant Pot is one the most useful kitchen appliances that you can purchase. It also helps in developing flavors in soups and stews, making tough cuts of meat tender, and you can even bake a cheesecake. Furthermore, there are a lot of accessories to allow you to get more from your Instant Pot.


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