Does your pressure cooker smell like burning? You might not be cleaning it properly. Check these 6 things.

When was the last time you had reasons to complain about your pressure cooker? Probably never, right? These appliances are so convenient, that it’s quite difficult to find something about them that we don’t like.

Be it their versatility or their ease of use. There’s really a lot to love.

But enough of that, I’m not trying to sell you a new model. If you’re here reading this, you already own one, and it smells like something’s burning.

You need to fix it, pronto. 

There are many reasons why your appliance might be releasing this unpleasant smell into the air. From a damaged power cord, to a fried internal component.

Whatever the case may be, I sympathize. I know how frustrating it can be to have an appliance that is supposed to create delicious meals, ruin your appetite with it’s displeasing aroma. This is why I’ve created the list below.

In it, you’ll find the most common causes to this occurrence, and the easiest steps you can take to address each one of them. Rest assured that, by the end of it, your appliance will be as good as new, and the horrible burning smell will be a thing of the past.

Are you ready? Let’s go!

Fixing a Smelly Pressure Cooker

At this point, you might be tempted to pry your appliance open and look for some component burning inside it. Refrain from doing that, please. We’ll get there, but only as a last resort.

The burning smell in your pressure cooker could be coming from something you’re doing wrong as a user, and I want us to look at that possibility first, as ruling it out is both free, and quick.

Your Pressure Cooker Might Smell Like Burning Due To:

#1 First Time Use

There might be nothing wrong with your appliance

This may sound counter-intuitive, but there might be nothing wrong with your pressure cooker.

If you recently bought the appliance, and you’re just getting around to using it, the burning smell could be a normal occurrence. This happens with many household appliances, like waffle irons, and dehydrators.

As you can imagine, the transportation process in your manufacturer’s supply chain can be rough. A lot can happen to your unit between the factory where it’s built, and the store where it’s sold.

This is why, most manufacturers will spray the insides of the appliance with a food-grade protective coating to prevent scratching and other types of damage that would render the product unsellable.

While this substance is completely safe to consume, the smell can be very unpleasant; however, it should be gone after a couple of uses.

Solution: Just try and be patient. You’ll probably have to throw out the first couple of batches you prepare in your pressure cooker, as they might have a weird taste.

If the smell or taste persist after several uses, be sure to call your manufacturer.

#2 You’re Not Cleaning It Properly

Clean your pressure cooker after every use

If you’re in the habit of letting too much time pass between cleaning cycles, there might be food stuck to the bottom of your pot.

While pressure cookers are designed to work by using the steam generated inside them, the bottom of the appliance still gets very hot, and could act as a pan. If there is any kind of food residue stuck to it, it could eventually burn, creating the unwanted smell.

Solution: Maintaining your appliance as clean as possible will not only guarantee that you’re cooking under the most hygienic conditions, but also extend its life span significantly.

Cleaning pressure cooker with toothbrush
After the appliance is unplugged and cooled down, you can use a toothbrush to remove any stuck-on food.

Ideally, you want to clean your unit after every use, and disassemble it for a deep-cleaning session at least once per week.

To do this, you can use a mixture made up of equal parts of water and vinegar that will both kill any lingering bacteria, and make the cleaning process much simpler and sterile.

#3 Check Your Cooking Times

You might be cooking your food for too long

What? Yet another point covering burned food?

Yes.

You might be tempted to think that, since your pressure cooker uses water to deliver the results you want, it must take a miracle to burn food while there’s still liquid in the pot.

Well, I hate breaking the news to you, but it is completely possible, and easier than you think.

If your pressure cooker smells like burning, there’s a very good chance that you’re cooking your food for much longer than recommended.

Solution: In most cases, electronic pressure cookers already include a series of options built into them that set the right temperature and time needed to cook the most popular dishes out there.

That being said, these presets are neither perfect, nor painfully accurate. If you’re not sure as to how long you should cook a particular food, there are tons of online resources that you can check out.

#4 Your Power Cord Is Damaged

A partially damaged cord can be very dangerous

The unpleasant burning smell might not be coming from the appliance itself, but from the cable it draws power from.

While on the outside, this power cord seems thick and sturdy, it’s important to remember that it is made up of much smaller cables that can be easily damaged.

Seemingly unimportant habits, like keeping them tangled, stored improperly or pressed against a wall, are more than enough to do them in.

Partial damage to your appliance’s power cord could be causing an intermittent energy supply. This would not only explain why your pressure cooker smells like burning, but also create the perfect scenario for permanent damage, and short-circuiting.

It is vital that, as soon as you suspect this to be the issue, you refrain from using your unit until the cord has been replaced.

Damaged power cord from pressure cooker
Do not attempt to repair a damaged cord! Purchase a replacement instead.

Solution: Try a different cable.

On the off chance that you happen to have a spare one to test, go ahead. This will save you some money, and give you an immediate answer.

Provided that you do not have a spare, that’s okay too. You can do a quick Google search on your pressure cooker’s make and model to find the right replacement at any online marketplace.

Is the burning smell gone? Great! You solved the mystery.

Is it not? Read on, there’s still plenty of ground to cover.

#5 There’s a Blown Thermal Fuse

Overheating can cause your thermal fuse to blow

If your appliance has overheated in the past, chances are your thermal fuse has already blown.

In case you’re unfamiliar with what this little component does, it’s fairly simple.

Fuses are responsible for “blowing”, and interrupting all electrical continuity inside your unit as soon as they sense extreme temperatures, or a large power spikes that could potentially damage it.

In theory, a blown fuse would render your pressure cooker unable to turn on, but there are some scenarios where this part blows partially, letting the appliance operate normally whilst releasing a burning smell.

Solution: For this you will have to go in. Please follow these steps:

  1. Carefully unplug your pressure cooker, and let it cool down
  • Turn it upside down
  • Locate the screws at the bottom and undo them with a screwdriver
  • Remove the outer panel to expose your appliance’s guts
  • Locate your thermal fuse, and determine its viability

As opposed to other internal components, the naked eye can easily identify a blown fuse. All you have to look out for, are signs of a small explosion, like blackening, and a broken filament inside the part’s glass body.

Should one, or all, of these indicators be present in your fuse, it will need replacing.

#6 A Faulty Heating Element

A failing heating element can damage your appliance permanently

This is what could have blown your fuse.

As you know, your heating element is solely responsible for transforming the electrical power it draws from your outlet, into usable heat to cook your food. When it fails, it might cause overheating, and a myriad of other issues.

If your pressure cooker smells like burning, chances are this component is faulty, and slowly, but surely, burning away your other internal components.

You must address this issue immediately, as leaving it unattended for long can result in permanent damage to your appliance, and even a house fire.

Solution: Please follow the steps from the previous point to expose your heating element and test it for viability.

Provided that you determine that the component does need replacing, you can get a new one, either at your nearest hardware store, or by calling your manufacturer.

If you’re still under warranty coverage, the latter might be able to provide you with a spare for free.

Conclusion

Having a pressure cooker smell like burning can be deceiving, and off-putting.

Cooking should be a satisfying and relaxing activity, so having a burning smell take over your kitchen, is the last thing you want.

Luckily, as you’ve learned on this article, addressing most of the causes behind this issue, is fairly simple. More often than not, slight changes to your user habits can make a night and day difference, and get your appliance back to normal in the blink of an eye.

Thank you so much for reading. If you found this article useful, why not keep learning through our other incredible resources below?

Happy cooking!