Pressure Cooker Parts Reference Guide

Get your new pressure cooker out of the box and get cooking! In this Pressure Cooker Parts Reference Guide, I break down the basic parts of electric pressure cookers, including specific details for the Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi, Crockpot Express, Power Pressure Cooker XL.

Welcome to Part 1 the Getting Started Guide! This section will help you get to know the different parts of your machine. For a full understanding of your specific pressure cooker’s parts, be sure to check out the diagrams in your user manual. 

All electric pressure cookers are made up of similar parts with similar functions. However, the various electric pressure cooker brands use slightly different terms to refer to the different parts and pieces that make up the machine. To help you make sense of everything, I’ve compiled a quick guide to the different pressure cooker parts with the terminology I use on my blog as well as the terminology used by the different pressure cooker user manuals.

Pressure Cooker Parts Reference Guide

Housing

This is the exterior pot, the outside of the pressure cooker. The housing contains the electronics, the buttons, and the heating element. Also called:

  • Instant Pot Duo: Exterior Pot
  • Ninja Foodi: Cooker Base
  • Crockpot Express: Heating Base
  • Power Pressure Cooker XL: Base

Always use your Housing with the interior pressure cooking pot in place. NEVER ADD INGREDIENTS DIRECTLY TO THE HOUSING. 

When cleaning your housing, wipe with a soft, damp cloth. NEVER submerge the housing in water. 

Pressure Cooking Pot

This is the interior pot, the one that fits inside the housing. This is where you’ll put the ingredients. Also called:

  • Instant Pot Duo: Inner Pot – a stainless steel pot, with a ceramic nonstick pot available for purchase
  • Ninja Foodi: Removable Cooking Pot – a ceramic nonstick pot
  • Crockpot Express: Cooking Pot – a nonstick pot (no teflon coating)
  • Power Pressure Cooker XL: Inner Pot – a nonstick pot with a teflon coating.

When cleaning your pressure cooking pot, you’ll want to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Some brands, like Instant Pot and Ninja Foodi, allow you to wash the cooking pot in the dishwasher. However, I baby my pots and pans and prefer to hand wash my pressure cooking pot. 

Lid

The lid locks in place on top of the housing—pretty self-explanatory. The pressure cooker lid contains a pressure release switch and float valve on top, while the underside of the lid holds the silicone gasket and a mini-gasket that locks into place on the float valve. 

In most brands, the lid is a single solid piece that the silicone gasket attaches to; however, the Power Pressure Cooker XL has an inner liner that attaches to the gasket and presses into place on the lid.

To clean the lid, I prefer to use a cloth or sponge with soapy water to clean the metal underside of the lid and rinse immediately in the sink. I never submerse my lid in water and let it soak. (It can make it hard for the water to come out.) 

Pressure Release Switch

In my first cookbook, I called this part the Pressure Release Valve. However, after getting a number of questions from readers confused by having both a float valve and a pressure release valve, I’ve started calling this little part on the lid’s exterior a pressure release switch to avoid confusion. This part goes by a slightly different name in each model. Here’s the terminology for some of the most popular brands:

  • Instant Pot Duo: Pressure Release Handle – turns from Venting (steam icon) to Sealing (triple-S icon)
  • Ninja Foodi: Pressure Release Valve – turns from Vent to Seal
  • Crockpot Express: Steam Release Valve – turns from Open/Release (steam icon) to Closed/Seal (X over the steam icon)
  • Power Pressure Cooker XL: Pressure Valve – turns from Open (steam icon) to Lock (bulls-eye icon)

(Names used by other brands include including pressure limit valve, pressure regulator knob, steam release handle, steam release reset button, and rapid release button.)

No matter what you call it, this switch controls whether the steam inside the pot can escape. Switch it closed to build pressure in the pot and open it to release pressure.  

In some models, like the Instant Pot Max, the steam release switch is replaced by a button. It is not removable and resets itself to the Sealed position each time you remove the lid. 

In other models, the pressure release switch just sits loosely on top of the lid. (Don’t worry if you notice it jiggling—totally normal!) For these models, the switch can be removed for cleaning. Clean the switch with soap and water; do not put in the dishwasher.

Float Valve

This tiny pressure cooker part has a miniature silicone gasket attached to it to keep the pressure cooker airtight. This small valve is one of the safety features of electric pressure cookers. As your pressure cooker comes to pressure, the float valve is pushed up until the mini-gasket seals the cooker. When the float valve is up, the lid locks and cannot open.

Exact names and cleaning instructions vary by brand; here are the recommendations for the most popular brands:

  • Instant Pot Duo: Float Valve – take apart the float valve and mini gasket when cleaning
  • Ninja Foodi: Float Valve – do not take apart the float valve assembly when cleaning
  • Crockpot Express: Bobber Valve – the manual doesn’t specify whether to take it apart; however, it does encourage you to gently press the valve up and down 2-3 times and ensure it
    is clear from debris before you begin using it
  • Power Pressure Cooker XL: Floating Valve or Floating Valve, depending on your model – the manual doesn’t specify whether to take it apart; however, it says to when you clean the lid to make sure the float valve is free from debris and are able to move up and down freely.

Sealing Ring

This removable ring is made of tough, food-grade silicone and attaches to the underside of the lid. When the lid is locked in place, this ring creates the airtight seal that lets the pressure cooker come to pressure. Also called: 

  • Instant Pot Duo: Sealing Ring
  • Ninja Foodi: Silicone Ring
  • Crockpot Express: Sealing Gasket
  • Power Pressure Cooker XL: Rubber Gasket

You can choose to wash this in the dishwasher or by hand. (Some people think washing it in the dishwasher helps get rid of the smell; however, I haven’t found anything that fully gets rid of it.)

Anti-Block Shield

Some models of pressure cookers, including the Instant Pot, have a metal shield shield over the opening to the pressure release switch. It prevents food and foam from entering the pressure release switch. This shield is removable, though it can be difficult to get off of a brand new machine. After a few times taking it on and off, it gets easier to remove. 

If your model has a shield, I recommend removing it to clean and immediately replacing it to avoid losing any pieces. 

>> That’s it for the pressure cooker parts! You’re ready to move on to the next section! 

Part 2 in our Getting Started Guide will discuss everything you need to know about choosing a pressure release method, including how and when to use each type. 

If you’re in a hurry to get cooking, you can always skip to our Make Your First Meal post and come back to review this information while you’re waiting for the chicken to cook.

Once you have your first meal under your belt, move on to some easy pressure cooking recipes. Before you know it, you’ll be making fabulous pressure cooker meals and wondering how you ever cooked without it!

Pressure Cooking Today's Getting Started Guide—get to know your Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi, Crockpot Express or other brand of electric pressure cooker

The Getting Started Guide Series

Other How To Guides