Canning in an Instant Pot Max

November 26, 2018(updated on September 20, 2021)

Earlier this year, Instant Pot announced that they were adding a multicooker to their line that would include a canning setting. The internet (well, as least the portion of it interested in home food preservation) went wild with hope and curiosity. Would this be the electric pressure canner that many of us have hoped for?

It quickly became clear that the answer was no. The Instant Pot Max is a very able electric pressure cooker that has the ability to go up to 15 pounds of pressure, but it is not the electric pressure canner of our collective dreams. There are a couple reasons for that.

The first is that no testing has been done by the National Center for Home Food Preservation or any other US-based cooperative extension to determine if products processed in the Instant Pot Max reach a sufficient internal temperature to kill off any botulism spores that might be present.

Additionally, when pressure canning times are developed, the time required to come up to temperature and back down again are factored into the total process. These pre- and post-processing times are altered with an Instant Pot Max and there’s no understanding yet of how that change will effect the finished product.

Setting aside the first reason (which pretty effectively shuts down one’s curiosity about the device from a canning perspective), the second reason why the Instant Pot Max isn’t an ideal canning vessel is simply its size.

It’s a six quart pot and can only hold four pint jars. If you are someone who does pressure canning on any scale, you will find this limitation totally infuriating. There’s very rarely an instance when four pint jars is the sum total of a batch of stock, or beans, or pumpkin cubes.

Despite knowing all of the above, when a representative from Instant Pot reached out back in the spring to ask if I might want to test a review unit of the Instant Pot Max from a canning perspective, I said yes. I wanted to be able to speak about this particular unit with some level of first-hand experience and this seemed like a very good way to gain it.

(If you’re curious about how Instant Pot instructs people to use this device as a pressure canner, click over to the user manual and read that section – pages 23-26. It is quite thorough.)

So sometime in June, the Instant Pot Max arrived at my apartment. I used it for cooking almost immediately upon arrival and I quickly found myself preferring it over my Instant Pot Duo. I appreciated the large LED screen and the fact that the controls were more intuitive.

I liked the fact that the read-out always showed the pot’s internal temperature. And I loved the Automated Steam Release feature, that allows you program the pot to do a quick release when the cooking time is up (this is particularly useful when you’re using it to hard boil eggs).

Because I’m a thorough person, I even tested the canning setting. While I didn’t feel comfortable using the Instant Pot Max to process low acid food (my hesitations are laid out in the third and fourth paragraphs of this post), I decided it wouldn’t be too risky to use it to process an acidified product that had optional pressure canning instructions.

And so I made a batch of acidified whole peeled tomatoes packed in water and used the timing for pints in a weighted gauge canner. When you can in an Instant Pot Max, it gives you two pressure options. There’s the low setting, which reaches 6.5 PSI (this setting is recommended for high acid foods), and the max setting, which reaches 15 PSI (this is the level they recommend for low acid foods). For my tomatoes, I opted to go with the max pressure, thought it was more pressure than was strictly required.

It was an entirely smooth experience and the jars came out beautifully. There was less siphoning than you often see with water packed tomatoes processed in a pressure canner. And I loved the fact that I didn’t have to watch a dial gauge and monitor my stove temperature.

I look at this experience canning in the Instant Pot Max as a glimpse of what might be possible in the future. I makes me wish that Instant Pot would team up* with the National Center for Home Food Preservation and fund some extensive testing on this device so that we home canners could use this unit for pressure canning without reservations. Once that was done, I’d then wish for a slightly larger capacity unit that could hold quart jars in addition to pints.

The bottom line is that if you are looking for an exceptionally user friendly and hard working multicooker, the Instant Pot Max is a fantastic unit. However, until more data is available, I cannot recommend that you buy it to use as a pressure canner.

Disclosure: Instant Pot sent me a review unit of the Instant Pot Max at no cost to me. No additional compensation was provided and all thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own. 

*Just after I published this post, my contact at Instant Pot provided the following information: 

For Max Canning, Instant Pot is currently working with McGill University, a 3rd party food science research facility to validate the Max meets canning regulations. There are 3 phases to the process, (1) Validating the temperatures, (2) Canning food (low and high-acid) and verifying post-canning result, and (3) Potentially, developing new canning times for certain food groups.

We can confirm phase 1 has been completed and the “Low Pressure” 230°F (110°C) setting sustains an average temperature between 110 and 111°C which can be for high-acid canning foods. With “Max Pressure” we can confirm a sustained temperature of 240-247°F (116.5-119°C) for low-acid canning foods.

When canning, recipes must be closely followed, modifying cooking times, ingredients or temperatures can be dangerous.

So some testing is being done, but I worry that because it’s being done at a Canadian university, the National Center for Home Food Preservation may still not accept it. Additionally, until all three phases of testing are complete, I still do not recommend that people go out and buy an Instant Pot Max expressly for canning. 

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85 responses to “Canning in an Instant Pot Max”

  1. It’s still pretty encouraging. I mostly do jam and most use pints or smaller so this would work for me. But mostly I’m interested in all of the other things it can do like pressure cooking and yogurt.

  2. I tell you one thing I would can a LOT if the testing came out ok: beef. I love to can roasts in pint jars (about a pound of beef per pint). It cooks fork-tender in the jar, then is ready for nearly instant beef tips just by adding carrots, cabbage, and flour to thicken.

    Thanks for the thorough write-up! I will be watching this very eagerly!

  3. I have been looking to get the 10-1 Instant Pot, because I like the programs on the device. Does the Max have a cake program? Thanks.

  4. One other consideration when canning is altitude. I live at 6200 feet, and I have to adjust my water bath canning times for my altitude. So when testing is done, please be sure that a variety of altitudes is factored into the equation. Thank you for your support with this. There re a lot of us out here who can, and an Instant Pot canner would be WONDERFUL!

  5. With a family of two, pints are really all that I can. On rare occasion, I do quarts and will use my All American Canner for those. I really hope the IP Max tests are positive.

  6. So they confirmed that the Max pass the test for temperatures, and it already claim to maintain 15PSI.

    Now they have to test that it can well, and if not adjust times.

    From what I understand, there are 3 elements that are important: Time, Pressure and Time.

    Hopefully we can soon get the confirmation that the Times are correct.

    • Where did you hear that they confirmed that it is reaching the proper temperature? I’d love to see the documentation!

  7. I want to can food to share with my family and until the proper pressure testing is done and safety confirmed I will not buy one. When they complete that process I will purchase one for each household in my family and gardening club! Cannot risk C.bot in food!!!!!

  8. I really would love to get into canning! I’d totally buy this once all the proper testing is done as I make lots of bone broth and they take up so much room in the freezer!

    My instant pot needs an upgrade too so I’m holding out until the Max is certified or proven to be safe in canning low acid foods ????

  9. It’s obviously not going to be a great solution for people with an overflowing garden full of tomatoes, but I could really see using it to put away a bit of extra stock from the thanksgiving turkey carcass, or to make a double batch of refried beans and can half..

    • Instant Pots aren’t actually approved for pressure canning. It is not safe to use your DUO for canning.

  10. McGill is a very prestigious university. If McGill says the Instant Pot is meeting the minimum pressure and temperature requirements, that is encouraging.

  11. @Syd C. I came here to say the same thing, it’s really encouraging! Also, yes, McGill is a very prestigious university, and one of the top-ranked universities for science in North America. It even outranks some of the Ivy League schools in certain fields. It would be very short-sighted of the National Center for Home Food Preservation to disregard their findings, but I don’t think the author is disparaging the university’s credentials, necessarily. I believe her comment is more to do with the possibility that the “National” part of the NCfHFP may have rules about only basing recommendations on research conducted in the US. I say this as both a Canadian working in the USA and a career academic researcher – sometimes there are rules that make no sense. Until the Center approves it though, it makes sense for her to err on the side of caution.
    @Instapot: I hope you make McGill’s findings easy to check out once testing is complete. Perhaps consider publishing a report on your website? Because I don’t much care about the NCfHFP approval, if the food science checks out. I’d bet my best knife that I’m not the only food nerd here who feels that way, too. If McGill says it’s good to go, then that’s good enough for me, and I’d consider biting the bullet on this product.

  12. I am like so many others I am sure, looking forward to being able to can with an instant pot, but waiting for proper approval. Maybe next years canning season.

  13. I bought the Instant Pot MAX a few months ago. I gave my two Instant Pot DUO’s to my granddaughters and I have the 8 quart and the 3 quart DUO’s, I also had a 6 quart Ultra, so I’ve had a few Instant Pot’s. I’ve been canning for over 40 years and using a pressure cooker for 57 years. I have canned 20 pints of green beans with my MAX with no problem. I live in Denver, so I live at high altitude. You set your altitude on the MAX and it adjusts automatically. Doing 4 pints at a time is all I can do at a time now. It is perfect for a small garden or an elderly, handicap person like myself. I love the MAX and is well worth the money. It cooks faster than the other Instant Pot’s and it comes to pressure faster too.

    • Mary, the issue is with whether the MAX is able to sustain the proper temperature. Just because the display is telling you that it can doesn’t mean that it actually is. That’s why it hasn’t been approved by the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Testing is still ongoing.

  14. I just canned 4 pints of pickled asparagus in the Instant Pot Max, with no canning failures. I’m consuming their contents, and so far, no hospitalizations for C. botulinum. Thanks for making these posts (and this information) available. I love my I.P. Max, and I plan to use it very often, though I’ve only rarely canned in the past. It sterilizes my jars as well as doing the pressure canning. The process of canning is now mindlessly simple with my Max: After I press “Start,” there’s no need to babysit the device in my kitchen to monitor a pressure gauge, or to remain within earshot of a toggling weight. My Max’s ease of use brings a quantum leap forward in my actual joy of canning. I’m looking forward to hearing about final test results from Canada.

    • Pickled asparagus is a high acid food and so doesn’t require pressure canning. All it needs to be safely processed is a boiling water bath canner. So you wouldn’t need to monitor a pressure gauge or a weight to preserve those pickles.

  15. I actually think a smaller capacity would be fine. With a small backyard garden, I’ve often had just enough extra produce to want to can it, but never enough to justify a huge pressure canner. And the stock off of one chicken carcass would be just about right to can four points and put some in the fridge for immediate use.
    Does anyone know how we can contact NCHFP and let them know we are all in? I’ve tried their generic Contact Us and never got a response.

  16. I agree with Alanna B. I happen to be a Canadian so naturallyhave no prejudice against science coming out of Canada. I am more interested in the reputation and the integrity of the institution doing the testing. And McGill is tops. So I don’t really care if your NCHFP endorses it or doesn’t. They are secondary, if their endorsement is muddied by nationalism, politics, or non fact based red tape. If McGill gives it the thumbs up, I am in!

  17. I do not own an instant pot yet. Being able to can a few pints of soup, meals ect would tip the favor of it to me but I will wait for the approval from reliable sources before I dash out to buy my first instant pot. I can a lot but many times its just a few jars of leftovers. If Instant Pot wants me as a customer then they need to master the requirements for canning low acid foods.

  18. I agree with Alanna B, Karen and Syd C. I’m Canadian as well and if McGill provides approval, then I’d enjoy reading the paper (if published) and would be quite comfortable using the Max to McGill’s recommended specifications. I would encourage Instapot to make the final paper available to the public, Pint size is perfect for our small salsa and semi-jellied jalapeno batches.

    • I’ve recently reached out to Instant Pot to see if there’s any news about this study, but haven’t heard anything back.

  19. Have you tried contacting McGill Univerisity to see who’s conducting the study? To ask them what the progress is?

    • I’ve reached out to my contacts at Instant Pot, but I haven’t tried McGill yet. That’s a good idea.

  20. I bought the Max to use as a pressure canner. I should have researched farther…,,disappointed. but will use to can high acid.

  21. Hey! Thanks so much for this thorough review. I want to purchase an instant pot for many reasons, but especially to help with canning high acid foods. I make a lot of small batches of tomato sauce, so I think it will work well for me. Would you suggest for me to purchase a Max, and use the canning function? Or should I opt for a different model and stick with the steam canning? I am feeling a little overwhelmed with all the canning rules and knowing which option is most safe. Thank you!

  22. New on the market Presto Precise® Digital Pressure Canner. It’s USDA approved, $229.99 on Presto’s website.

  23. Hi Marisa – Looking forward to what you find out about the USDA approval and this canner!

  24. I am very interested if and when it is approved. I would love to start canning some foods, but too nervous to do it the old way my mom did. I love my Instant Pot so hoping they can get full approvals.

  25. Hi, I tried canning cherry and peach jelly in Instant pot Max yesterday. I followed the manual-Fill water to 1/4 Of jar height, max pressure, Venting PR, 10min for jelly. I was very upset it ruin the jelly. Jelly was boiled over from jars, and water got into the jars. I was very upset. One of the reason I bought Max is canning and SouS vide function.

    • I’m sorry you had a negative experience, but jelly should never be canned at pressure. It’s too much force for something delicate.

  26. After reading other related posts, I was finally convinced that testing is critical by your sentence, “…when pressure canning times are developed, the time required to come up to temperature and back down again are factored into the total process”.

    We are not put off by the small size. As a retired couple canning mostly from our city back yard garden, the smaller capacity would be just right. But I can sure see why those canning for larger families would want a unit that processes quarts.

    However, since we have a relatively new 8 quart IP-LUX, we are not about to buy an additional IP. I ask the following question as an IP novice. Would it be theoretically possible to program an IP using the manual setting(s) to provide conditions suitable for pressure canning? I guess there would have to be testing to determine the suitable amount of time at the “high” pressure setting.

    Thanks for hosting the thread!

  27. I also am interested in the results of this study because I, too, might want to get an electric pressure cooker that could successfully can. I have done both water-bath and pressure canning with the large cumbersome pots and have had enough of that! However, our tomatoes and other veggies are getting ready to be picked very soon, so I could use a canner NOW!

  28. I am having difficulty finding suggested times for canning corn using the insta pot. Does anyone have info to share on this please?

  29. I am new to the canning family 🙂 and guess i am just not understanding if a well known, highly respected university confirmed that it reached the safety numbers then why is this last one stating its a no? i am sooooooooo scared of the canning cookers due to horrified stories and even taking about it my anxiety raises a tad due to that fear. Can someone please explain how this last one said no its not safe to can in the instant pot please. thank you in advanced.

    • Do you have data from McGill University? I’ve not seen it. Until I see their results, it remains unsafe in my mind.

  30. i’m attempting to can chicken but I don’t know how to figure for the “venting”….I have been googling and cant find that information.

    I can find information (for any canning actually) for all the different parts (time, psi, etc.)….just not for the “venting” .

    I see the QR (quick release) selected for sterilizing the jars for canning….but nothing selected for the actual canning.

  31. I am using the 6 QT Instant Pot Max for canning stuffed bell pepper soup right now, and I am totally impressed! It is exceeding my expectations and maintaining proper temperatures at 15 pounds. Not even for a moment has it failed to keep the proper temp!!!! WOW!!!!

    • Please know that the Instant Pot Max has not yet been approved for pressure canning, despite the fact that it features a canning setting.

  32. I bought the MAX to do canning pints of various items. So it cannot pass the canning test. Do you buy back the instapot max since you figure it doesn’t reach the criterea
    Of what it is advertised to do

    • This blog doesn’t have any ongoing affiliation with Instant Pot. You’d need to reach out to the company to see if they’ll refund your money for your unit.

  33. Thank you for the information on the Instantpot Max.
    The information from Utah https://extension.usu.edu/preserve-the-harvest/files/foodsafetyelectricpressurecookers.pdf is very informative. The fact that if you are canning at high altitude, EPPC can be a problem. The models used in the research are indicated in the above link but unfortunately is not the InstantPot Max model.
    I will be hesitant to use my Max for canning low acid food until McGill or another competent research site says otherwise. I don’t need a neurotoxin in my body at anytime.
    P.S. If McGill does the testing in Montreal Canada, it will be at low altitude.

  34. I bought the Max and have canned kidney beans and we have consumed them with no problems what so ever, I have used a pressure cooker for years and fully realize that in order to can low acid foods you must have a 215 psi which is a temperature of 250 degrees and the max does that with no problem and then I let it naturally release and then take my jars out the four took their seal with no problem and like I say they were perfect I use to can a lot when younger and they turned out the same as then so I will use it to can feeling confident in the results.

  35. What about some of the findings of Jim and Pam Cantrell? (Rose Red on YouTube)..
    She is in Utah at a 5000 or so elevation and tested her Instant pot Max quite thoroughly.
    She tested three items – green beans, pinto beans and chicken.
    In 1 jar of each batch, she tested and recorded minute by minute using a logger, once in upright position and once in upside down position in order to make very sure to get the temperature in the middle and centre of the jar. This logger can then be downloaded on a computer and one can read the time line, the temperatures by the minute, the changes, the heating up period and the cool down period.of each batch, of each content. She has the information. I don’t know this person other than what I see on YouTube and I was impresses. She does not strike me as some bimbo seeking fame but someone who is genuinely concerned about food safety. I know she has had some contact with the University of Utah and does have a background in science.
    You may want to contact her about her findings. Watch her video entitled j
    Jim and Pam present evidence supporting their claim.

    • There’s no way that I can endorse a piece of gear based on the tests done by a random Youtuber. Even if she has a science background, it’s not enough.

  36. Just my two cents in this discussion, i contacted several months ago the head office of Instant Pot in Kanata, Ontario requesting the résultats from McGill university. They said that they did not have it and it was the property of the University. I will try to talk to someone directly at the office and see what i can obtain.

  37. Ok, just talked to the representative on the phone and the testing that was done at McGill was about maintainning the 15 pounds pressure on the canning setting. So… I guess as for the rest, it’s up to all to follow usda guidelines and beware if you are at high altitudes (see warning page 23 of the user manual). Good luck to all.

  38. Marissa – you really should watch Rose Red Homestead on you tube. She is a science professor and teaches this stuff. https://youtu.be/w62NdXOKROg
    She knows more about this than all of us on here put together. I wouldn’t class her as a ‘random you tuber’.
    She cans at 5000’ elevation. She shows her test on insta pot max and she was in contact with university of Utah. WATCH IT! It’s very informative. She follows the science.

  39. I just have a simple question. I’m confused by all the acidity talk and the types of IPs. I have an IP Viva. Can I can pickles in it?

  40. Why would it be a problem that a Canadian Universities studies would be a problem? McGill is a Canadian equivalent to an ivy league University in the States.
    That is just a little bit insulting saying that their research data may being a little bit unacceptable.

    • It’s not an issue with the quality of a Canadian university’s work, it’s more about regulations and the readiness with which American institutions will accept their findings.

  41. Great discussion! I have a small Rival pressure canner, so the smaller size is actually been a plus for me living in an urban environment with small harvests. I stopped using the Rival because it was quite the pain and with my crappy electric pulsing stove, not worth the trouble for me with the only product I want to can–green beans. I can freeze those if I’m really desiring of saving some . . . but I would like to can due to saving freezer space. Too bad on the Instapot but really, in the end, I don’t think electric burners and pressure canning are going to cut it. This year I’m getting a community garden plot, so will either freeze my beans or haul out the pressure canner and do them on the porch with my small butane burner.

  42. What in the world is so hard to understand about this?

    Unless the University of Utah, McGill and preferably the National Center for Home Food Preservation or some other research center writes a report of approval and verification that puts their name and reputation on the line I don’t think that I would use it for canning. I don’t care what some person on YouTube “says”, that is not an official, documented certification. Don’t you think that Instant Pot would be shouting that certification to the hills if they had one? Well, they ain’t. No mention of it on their website as of this morning.

    So you can do it the known safe way or you can takes yer chances.

    I guess that I will be getting a regulation issue known to work and cook normal stuff Instant Pot.

  43. Check out RED ROSE homestead on YouTube. She has put this through testing using a data logger. The max passed with flying colors holding the temp in the kill zone even after the heat shut off for the required time. Both this and the presto are for those who don’t can huge amounts of food or do them in small batches. Instant pot makes a MAX in 8 qt as well. I got tired of lugging heavy hot pots full of heavy jars off burners etc. this is set it and forget it.

    • I understand that she has done extensive testing. However, given the liability and safety issues at play here, I am still not able to recommend or endorse this unit for pressure canning.

  44. Canada is NOT a third-world country, and I’m confident that the data coming out of McGill will be accurate and trustworthy. Data seals the deal.

    • No one said that Canada is a third world country. I was simply trying to express the fact US institutions can be myopic on occasion and might not be willing to accept those findings. I would be perfectly willing to accept the data from McGill, but as far as I know, so data has yet been released even though it’s now been three years since I was told that the research was being done.

  45. Do you think you would be able to use two layers of half pint jars, instead of one layer of pint jars? There is just me and my husband and sometimes even a pint jar is too much.

  46. Gee..I just bought and started canning chicken in the max bc I did watch rose red. She seemed to be convinced by her findings that the canning feature was usable. I wonder …she didn’t question why the max wasn’t certified yet? Thats strange. With her background you would think she would have. I guess i wasted my money. Yes I agree Marisa until we all see the verifications from the research centers the max is not a canner.

  47. The USDA does not test any equipment or recipes and hasn’t since 2016. It does not recommend any canning equipment other than dial-gauge which MUST be checked and calibrated annually (good luck with that) or weighted gauge. USDA certainly HAS NOT tested or recommended the Presto Digital Canner.
    USDA has not tested Tattler lids or Weck jars. I use those. They have not specifically tested canning of cured, brined or corned meats and don’t recommend those either. Yet those items are likely just as safe to can as fresh meats, perhaps more so with the additional preservatives they contain, such as salt.
    Stovetop canners must be used precisely and properly and monitored continuously during the entire canning process, rendering them highly subject to human error and variations depending on the heat source.
    I have every confidence in my Max which attains proper temperature and maintains it beyond the time necessary to kill Clostrudium spores based on the time guidelines from NCHFP including the natural realease cooldown period which is extensive. I have watched my Max through the entire processing time. It adjusts pressure automatically based on your altitude (which must be programmed in for altitudes above 2000 feet.) Venting is an automatic process without having to manually time for 10 minutes. The interior temperature is monitored and displayed continuously. If it were to drop below 240 degrees F at any step of the process (mine never has) it would shut off and display an “error” code.
    I don’t need anybody else to do my thinking for me, nor will I rely on the corrupt US government to test and approve my kitchen equipment.

  48. As a highly experienced canner of high and low acid foods, I have to commend A. Canner for the insightful analysis. I’d trust an IP Max far more than my manual canner any day to maintain an even temperature over the time period required based on food type.

  49. I have a question I was wondering if I have to reprocess my jars of applesauce. I heated the jars and the applesauce was boiling and I put the lids on and left overnight. They all sealed but I didn’t have time to process the jars like it says so I was going to do it the next day can I re process sealed jars?

    • At this point, you need to reopen the jars, reheat the sauce, apply new lids, and process. In the future, if you have to stop midway through the process, the better choice is to stop while the sauce is in the pot. Cool it and refrigerate it overnight. Then reheat, funnel into jars, and process. Once the sauce is in the jars, you have to process.

  50. Thank you for the review. I have been watching YouTube videos from Red Rose Homestead and she is a college professor. She used the same internal gadget that is used in testing canned products in which it is put into the jar of food being canned as it is programmed to show time and temperature lengths used. Very informative. She is very intelligent and I have no fear canning in the Max.

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