How to Cook the Juiciest Instant Pot Turkey Breast Ever

This step-by-step guide will walk you through how to make Instant Pot turkey breast that's crisp, juicy and tender.

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Whether youre looking for a low-fuss way to enjoy a turkey dinner or have a smaller crowd planned for your next Thanksgiving, preparing your turkey in an Instant Pot is the way to go.

Why Cook Turkey in an Instant Pot?

To start, making an Instant Pot turkey frees up oven space. This makes preparing side dishes so much easier, because that valuable kitchen real estate is available. Plus, turkey made in the Instant Pot is almost guaranteed to be moist. It can be done in four simple steps and cuts down your cooking time by more than half! You can have a plump and juicy Instant Pot turkey breast on your table in around an hour (depending on size). Keep reading to see how it all comes together.

Next: Learn how you can make an entire Thanksgiving meal in an Instant Pot.

How to Cook Instant Pot Turkey Breast

This recipe comes to us from Jessica Kunz of Springfield, Illinois, who says, This recipe makes some of the most succulent turkey Ive ever eaten. High in lean protein, its a smart entree for a special occasion.

ingredients for instant pot turkey breastLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Ingredients

  • 1 pound carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium onions, cut into wedges
  • 3 celery ribs, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 whole lemon, sliced
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) chicken broth
  • 1 bone-in turkey breast (6 pounds), fully thawed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 6-8 sage leaves

Editors Note: You may substitute fresh herbs for dried herbs in the following amounts: 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 2 teaspoons dried rosemary, 1 teaspoon rubbed sage.

Tools Youll Need

  • For cooking a large turkey breast in an Instant Pot, youll want to invest in at least a 6 to 8 quart Instant Pot. We especially love the 8-Quart Instant Pot Duo Nova for its larger size and easy-read LED display. Here are some of our other favorite Instant Pot models to consider.
  • You can certainly carve a turkey breast with a standard, non-electric knife, but using an electric carving knife makes working around the bones a breeze.
  • Remember how we said this Instant Pot turkey is juicy? A carving board is well worth the investment as it helps ensure all those tasty turkey juices dont drip all over your counter and floor.

Directions

Step 1: Prep turkey and veggies

placing vegetables, lemon and broth in instant pot before adding the raw turkey breastLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Place the carrots, onions, celery, sliced lemons and broth in a 6 to 8-quart electric pressure cooker. Brush the turkey breast with olive oil and rub the skin with the salt and pepper.

Place the turkey breast over the vegetables. Then tuck the fresh herbs into the broth around the turkey.

Editors Note: If using dried herbs, rub these directly onto the skin of the turkey, on all sides, with the salt and pepper.

Step 2: Cook on high

all ingredients in the instant pot ready to cook pressure cook on highLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Lock the lid and close the pressure-release valve. Set your Instant Pot to pressure cook on high for 36 minutes for a 6-pound turkey. When time is up, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes and then safely quick-release any remaining pressure. Carefully remove the turkey from the pressure cooker.

Step 3: Broil

fully cooked instant pot turkey on a broiler pan ready to crisp the skinLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

For crispy skin, transfer the turkey breast to a broiler pan and place the turkey under a preheated broiler, skin-side-up, until the skin turns golden brown; about 5 to 10 minutes.

Step 4: Rest and carve

fully cooked instant pot turkey breast on a carving board after broiling to crisp the skinLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Tent the breast with foil and let it stand 10 minutes before slicing using an electric carving knife. Serve warm.

Need to go back to the basics? See how this method compares to the traditional method for cooking a turkey.

How to Store Leftover Turkey

overhead shot of sliced turkey breast on a platter with a second plate of turkey in the cornerLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

In our humble opinion, if you make a turkey and dont have any leftovers, youre missing out. Save any leftover Instant Pot turkey in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. You can also store it in an airtight container or freezer storage bag in the freezer for 3 to 4 months.

Have other leftovers? Heres how long Thanksgiving leftovers last in the fridge.

Sides to Serve with This Turkey Recipe
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Turkey Cook Times

Cooking a turkey breast thats larger or smaller than 6 to 7 pounds? Heres an Instant Pot cook time guide for fully thawed, bone-in turkey breasts. A general rule of thumb is to allow 5-6 minutes per pound of cooking time in the Instant Pot on high pressure plus a 10-minute natural pressure release.

Turkey Weight
Time
3 Pounds18 minutes
4 Pounds24 minutes
5 Pounds30 minutes
6 Pounds36 minutes
7 Pounds42 minutes
8 Pounds48 minutes
9 Pounds54 minutes

Helpful Tips and FAQs for Making Instant Pot Turkey

Can you cook Instant Pot turkey breast from frozen?

Yes! Another benefit of cooking a turkey breast in an Instant Pot is that you can cook it from frozen if you forget to thaw the meat in time. Just know that the cooking time will need to increase to 60-70 minutes for a 6- to 7-pound turkey breast, or about 10 minutes per pound.

How do you know when a turkey is done?

The best way to determine if your turkey is done is to use an instant-read meat thermometer (we especially love the Thermapen meat thermometer). Upon removing your turkey breast from the Instant Pot, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast. Your turkey is done when it reads 160F.

Editors Note: The turkey will continue to cook as it rests and reach the USDAs recommended 165F cooking temperature. Removing the turkey at 160F ensures the turkey does not become overcooked, tough and dry. Follow these tips to avoid other common turkey mistakes.

How do I keep turkey breast moist?

Luckily, using an Instant Pot to cook your turkey breast is, on its own, a great way to ensure a plump, moist bird. However, if you want to really ensure a tender, moist turkey breast, here are three other tricks you can try.

  1. Brine: If youre loyal to brining your bird, you can still brine your turkey breast ahead of cooking it in the Instant Pot.
  2. Add fat: One of our go-to tricks for adding moisture to turkey is tucking a little butter or mayonnaise under the skin before seasoning and cooking. As the meat cooks, the fat melts and creates a protective heat barrier while also absorbing into the meat.
  3. Add citrus: Similarly, you can also tuck some thinly sliced lemon, limes or oranges under the skin of the turkey to infuse the meat with extra moisture while cooking.

Can you get crisp skin in an Instant Pot?

Unfortunately, the one downside to the Instant Pot is you will not be able to get that crispy, golden turkey skin using this method alone. However, all hope is not lost.

To crisp up the skin, simply remove the turkey breast from the Instant Pot once its fully cooked and transfer it to a broiler pan. Pop it under a preheated broiler for 5-10 minutes (keep a close eye on it) and youll have a perfectly juicy Instant Pot turkey WITH crispy skin in just a few extra minutes.

Editors Note: Make sure you still let your turkey rest for 10-15 minutes before carving after you remove it from the broiler to let the juices redistribute through the meat.

Can you make gravy from the drippings?

If youre worried about the gravy, dont be. You can easily make gravy in the Instant Pot, too (just avoid these gravy mistakes). To make the gravy, strain the cooking liquid through a fine mesh strainer to separate it from the vegetables, herbs and lemon slices. Next, return the turkey drippings to the Instant Pot and set the machine to its saute function. Bring the drippings to a boil and then add a slurry of 2 tablespoons of cornstarch dissolved into 2 tablespoons of water. Whisk to combine and continue to cook until the gravy has thickened.

Editors Note: For an extra indulgent gravy, swap the 2 tablespoons of water for 1/4 cup of half-and-half.

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Lauren Habermehl
Lauren Habermehl is a recipe developer, food photographer and creator of the blog, Frydae. She is a prolific quoter of FRIENDS, lover of weekend DIY projects and procrastinating fitness enthusiast who enjoys exploring the Milwaukee-area with her husband, daughter and ugly mutt named Tyson Doodles.