Must A Lid For A Pot Used For Steaming Be Vented? (Solved)

Steamed food like crunchy veggies, succulent seafood, and moreish Tamales are far more nutrient-dense than the soggy-boiled versions my grandma used to cook. And, it’s only natural to wonder if steamed food would need a vented lid to release all that built-up moisture.


A pot lid used for steaming must be vented if you use a pressure cooker or an Instant Pot with a sealed lid to contain the build-up of hot pressurized steam. Electronic and stove top pot lid vents are essential as they incrementally release steam. So, it’s a vital safety measure.


Using steaming methods to cook highly nutritious food in a matter of minutes may seem straightforward. Still, it could end up in a kitchen disaster. So, if you want to know why pot lids have vents and how they keep you safe – read on!

steam lid
New metal cooking pot isolated on white background

Why Is There A Hole In The Lid, And What Is The Benefit?

A pressure cooker hole or vent is used to release steam at a steady pace once your food is cooked.


On the other hand, stove top pot vented lids are ideal for those times when you want to partly steam veggies in a tiny bit of water instead of boiling them (to a pulp) without a lid.


The lid’s hole allows for a limited amount of steam or moisture to evaporate, so your food will not be saturated in too much liquid.


Another great advantage of cooking with lids equipped with holes is that they are typically produced from see-through glass, which allows you to monitor your cooking progress and better regulates heat as you don’t have to remove the lid as often.


Contrary to belief, lids that contain holes are also perfect for cooking messy pasta sauces. Once the sauce has simmered without a cover to let it thicken, placing a vented lid on it when it reaches a boiling point will stop it from spilling over the place. Hence, there’s far less cleaning up to do.


Do Pot Lids Need Vents?

Close up of a new aluminum pot on a kitchen table with checkered napkin

Mainstay pot lids don’t need vents if you are using them for cooking certain types of food.


Although, they are essential for pressure cookers and Instant Pots with locked or sealed lids as the vents slowly release the pressurized steam.


So, why are most commercially available pot lids for home cooking vented? Especially when professional cooks never use them.


Pot lid vents stop the pressure from built-up steam from lifting the lid when a liquid’s moisture tries to escape due to built-up pressure.


Vents allow excess humidity to escape as it would otherwise explode.


This release function is especially vital when cooking liquids like stock, wine, or water. It also prevents the lid from bumping up and down when the contents reach the rolling boiling phase.


Conventional stovetop pot lids with vents are predominantly manufactured from glass that has the potential to shatter into a thousand pieces if it is not protected from excessive thermal stress brought about by the build of heat and steam.


Furthermore, vents allow steam and intense heat to dissipate, which could otherwise damage your food’s taste, texture, and quality.


Another potential hazard of using non-vented pot lids is that when they cool down a little, it creates a vacuum or suction that locks the lid into place.


So, if you try to forcefully remove the pot’s lid, its piping-hot contents could splash all over you (been there, done that!). That is probably why most pot lid manufacturers include vents, to avoid a potential lawsuit.


Which To Pick: Single Hole Steamer Instead Or Bottom Hole?

Which To Pick: Single Hole Steamer Instead Or Bottom Hole?
Which To Pick: Single Hole Steamer Instead Or Bottom Hole?

Even though there are several types of stovetop steamers on the market, some prefer steamers with a single upright vent or hole to allow the built-up steam to enter the upper compartment.


While single and bottom-hole steamers are both highly effective in cooking nutritious food – in a matter of minutes. Single-hole, upright vents are far more convenient as they are less likely to touch your food, so they don’t have to be cleaned as often.


Pro tip: If you use a steamer with a bottom hole that encounters food, wash it in hot soapy water by hand (to play it safe).


And should it become cloudy due to the water’s mineral build-up, soak it overnight in a solution of water and vinegar, as washing alone will not remove it.


How To Use The Steam Cap

How To Use The Steam Cap
How To Use The Steam Cap

There’s no doubt that pressure cookers and Instant Pots are fabulous, as they allow you to cook meals far quicker than being hunched over a piping hot stove for hours.


Although, using them can be intimidating at first, mainly because they can lead to nasty accidents if not used properly.


Pressure cookers and Instant Pots rely on locked or sealed lids to contain the steam’s built-up pressure to reduce cooking times.


The most critical safety feature on any pressure cooker is the steam cap or release valve which you may need to push up when a “quick release” of steam is required or when you are short on time.


The safest way to release built-up steam is to use a long-handled, wooden spatula or utensil to push the steam cap up, as you need to create space between yourself and the potentially dangerous release of scalding steam.


Most importantly, ensure that the pot has released all its steam before you open the lid. A promising sign that the pot is safe to open is if the float controller pin near the steam cap or release valve has dropped, and you can easily remove the lid.


Pro-tip: manual steam venting or quick-release methods are not suited to all foods. So avoid using that technique if you are cooking meat, as it has the potential to reduce moisture content.


Instead, let it release steam naturally by leaving it untouched so that the pressure cooker can release the vapor at its own pace without removing too much moisture in one go.


Even though the natural venting process takes far longer than the quick-release method, it’s worth it on those lazy days when you have time to spare.



Vented pot lids are essential if you use a pressure cooker, Instant Pot, or a stovetop pot to partially steam your veggies with less water.


Vented lids allow the pressurized steam to be released safely to avoid potentially nasty kitchen accidents. So, always tread with caution when you use this cooking method!   

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