Instant Pot Turkey Breast

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Instant Pot Turkey Breast turns out perfectly tender every time! Today I’ll show you how to cook a turkey breast in the pressure cooker, without worrying about it drying out in the oven.

Cooked turkey breast on a white platter

How Many Minutes Per Pound Should You Cook a Turkey Breast?

When cooking an Instant Pot turkey breast, you’ll need about 8 minutes of cooking time per pound. Keep in mind that this is calculated using a 6-quart Instant Pot. A different size might require a different time.

Here are some examples:

  • 5-pound turkey x 8 minutes = 40 minutes
  • 5.5-pound turkey x 8 minutes = 44 minutes
  • 6-pound turkey x 8 minutes = 48 minutes

I’ve experimented with both bone-in turkey breasts and boneless turkey breasts, and in both cases, I’ve gotten consistent results using the timing above.

Don’t forget to take pressurization into account! It will take roughly 10 to 12 minutes for the pot to come to pressure, and you’ll let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes after the cooking cycle is complete. So, add an extra 20-22 minutes to the cooking times above to get a more accurate idea of the total time.

golden turkey breast on serving plate

Can I Cook a Frozen Turkey in the Instant Pot?

Yes, you can cook a frozen turkey in the Instant Pot, but I don’t necessarily recommend it. Turkey will cook the most evenly when it’s thawed first, and that’s how you’ll get the most consistent results.

If you want to experiment with cooking a frozen turkey breast in the Instant Pot, I’ve read that you should add an extra 5 minutes per pound to the cooking time. So, a 5-pound turkey would need at least an extra 25 minutes added to the overall cooking time.

What Size Turkey Fits in the Pressure Cooker?

If you’re using a 6-quart Instant Pot, you can fit up to a 7-pound turkey in the pot, but I would recommend looking for one that is 6 pounds or less to guarantee that it will fit.

seasoned bone-in turkey in the Instant Pot

Turkeys can vary pretty drastically in shape and length, so I’ve had the best luck with the 6-pound size fitting consistently in the pot.

It’s okay if the turkey goes above the “max fill” line, since that mostly applies to liquid-based recipes, like soups, but it’s important that the turkey doesn’t interfere with the lid opening and closing easily.

How to Brown the Skin

When you cook turkey in the Instant Pot, you won’t get a golden brown skin like you would in the oven. It’s cooked with steam pressure, after all!

If you would like to give the skin a more golden-hue, you can place the cooked turkey under your oven’s broiler briefly to help the skin look more appealing. It won’t become as crispy as an oven-baked turkey skin, but it does look nicer.

before and after of turkey under broiler

Alternatively, you can simply remove the skin before serving, if you’d rather not deal with it.

How Long Do You Let the Turkey Rest Before Carving?

While the Instant Pot should prevent the turkey from drying out, it’s still important to let it rest for at least 20 minutes before cutting into it. This allows the turkey to firm-up and retain its juices.

How to Cook Boneless Turkey Breast

Boneless turkey breast typically comes wrapped in netting, and I recommend that you remove that before getting started. This will allow the breasts to cook faster and more evenly.

Ideally, you want both turkey breasts to be the same size, otherwise one half might cook faster than the other. If you have a turkey breast that is drastically larger, you might want to remove the smaller one during the cooking process so that it won’t over-cook.

How to calculate the cooking time for different-sized breasts:

  • For a turkey breast half that is 2.5 pounds, that would presumably come from a 5-pound turkey in total. A turkey needs to cook for 8 minutes per pound, so a 5-pound turkey would cook for 40 minutes. So, if you have one breast that is 2.5 pounds, my best guess is that it will still need 40 minutes to cook.
  • If the smaller breast happens to be only 1 pound, you’d use double that weight to calculate the cooking time. A 2-pound turkey would cook for 16 minutes, so a 1-pound half-breast would also need to cook for at least 16 minutes.

Hopefully that makes sense, let me know in the comments if you have questions! I read them every day.

instant read thermometer in cooked turkey breast

Be sure to use an instant read thermometer, to make sure the turkey reaches at least 160ºF, because it will continue to heat up as it rests and should reach 165ºF before serving.

Making Turkey Gravy in the Instant Pot

After cooking the turkey breast in the pressure cooker, you can make an easy gluten-free gravy from the drippings. For an extra-flavorful gravy, cook the turkey with an onion and a few cloves of garlic, which you can strain out when the cooking cycle is over.

strained juices and slurry added in

Return the strained drippings to the pot and press the “Sauté” button. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of arrowroot start with 2 tablespoons of cold water, and whisk well to combine.

You’ll need to use 1 tablespoon of arrowroot for every 1 cup of turkey drippings, so if you end up with 3 cups worth of liquid, use 3 tablespoons of arrowroot and 3 tablespoons of cold water to make the slurry.

gravy in the Instant pot

Note: Arrowroot, tapioca starch, and corn starch work best when you dissolve them in cold water first. They might make a lumpy gravy if you forget to make this cold-water “slurry” first.

Add the arrowroot slurry to the pot, and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking often. The mixture should thicken within a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then serve warm over the sliced turkey breast.

I use my homemade poultry seasoning mix to season this turkey, but you can use any store-bought blend, or simply dried thyme as an alternative.

gravy poured over mashed potatoes and turkey

Cooked turkey breast on a white platter
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5 from 2 votes

Instant Pot Turkey Breast (Bone-in or Boneless)

Here's how to cook a perfect Instant Pot Turkey Breast! It turns out juicy every time, without turning on your oven. Great for a smaller holiday meal!
Course Main Course
Cuisine paleo
Keyword instant pot turkey breast
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Pressurization time: 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 511kcal

Ingredients

Instant Pot Turkey Breast

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 6-pound turkey breast (bone-in or boneless)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning

Turkey Gravy (optional)

  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • salt & pepper , to taste

Instructions

  • Remove the turkey breast from the package, and cut away any netting if you're using a boneless turkey breast. (Do not cook the turkey in the net!) Rub the olive oil on both sides of the turkey breast, and season both sides generously with salt and poultry seasoning.
    pulling away netting and seasoning turkey breast
  • Pour 1 cup of water into the bottom of the Instant Pot, and place a trivet over that. (I use the one that came with my Instant Pot Duo.) Set the seasoned turkey breast on top of the trivet.
    pouring water and turkey in the Instant pot
  • Secure the lid and move the steam release valve to "Sealing." Use the Manual or Pressure Cook button to cook at high pressure for 40 minutes. (Cook time is determined by the size of your turkey breast; I recommend starting with 8 minutes per pound.) It will take 10 -12 minutes for the pot to pressurize, so it will simply read "ON" until then.
    cooking at high pressure for 40 minutes
  • When the cooking cycle is complete, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. When the screen reads "LO:10" you can move the steam release valve to "Venting" to release any remaining pressure. When the floating valve drops, it's safe to open the lid.
    natural release screen on Instant pot
  • Use an instant read thermometer to check the internal temperatuere of the turkey breast. You want the temperature to be at least 160ºF, knowing that it will continue to rise to 165ºF as it rests. If the turkey isn't done, you can return the lid (be patient, as the floating valve will need to lower before you can seal the pot again) and cook for 5 more minutes, until the turkey reaches a safe internal temperature.
    temperature check of cooked turkey
  • For a more golden turkey breast, place the turkey on a baking sheet and set it 6 inches under your oven's broiler. Watch it closely, as it will brown quickly, within 5 minutes. Turn the pan to help encourage even browning.
    before and after broiling the turkey breast
  • Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes, then slice and serve warm. Leftover turkey can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days, or you can freeze it for longer storage.
    sliced turkey breast on plate

Turkey Gravy

  • Once the turkey is removed, remove the trivet and strain the drippings in the pot through a fine-mesh strainer. You should have roughly 2 cups of liquid leftover. Return the strained liquid to the Instant Pot and press the "Sauté" button.
    strained liquid and pressing saute button
  • In a small bowl, combine the arrowroot and cold water, and whisk together to make a slurry. Pour the slurry into the Instant Pot, and whisk well, bringing it to a boil.
    mix slurry and add it to pot
  • Simmer until the gravy has thickened, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm over the sliced turkey. Leftover gravy can be stored in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
    thickened gravy on ladle

Notes

Nutrition information is for 1 full pound of turkey, which I assume includes the skin. This information is automatically calculated, and is just an estimate, not a guarantee.
For a more flavorful gravy, you can add in a quartered onion, 1 celery stalk, and 2-3 garlic cloves when you cook the turkey. They will be strained out after cooking, but will add extra flavor.

Nutrition

Calories: 511kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 98g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 245mg | Sodium: 1712mg | Potassium: 1098mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 108IU | Calcium: 70mg | Iron: 3mg

More Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Need some easy & delicious side dishes to go with your turkey? Try one of these!

If you try this Instant Pot Turkey Breast, please leave a comment below letting me know how it works out for you! And if you make any modifications, I’d love to hear about those, too. We can all benefit from your experience!

Reader Feedback: Are you cooking a whole turkey this year, or something smaller for a more intimate gathering? If you have leftover turkey, be sure to try my Leftover Turkey Soup to squeeze some extra veggies into your next meal.

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Comments

KIra

Hello! I would love to try this method, but I have a question. Was your turkey breast thawed, or can I cook it right from frozen? Thanks!

    Megan Gilmore

    Mine was definitely thawed in the fridge first. I’ve read that you can cook it from frozen by adding 5 minutes per pound, but I haven’t tested that myself, so I’d probably experiment with it before trying it for a big holiday.

Rachel

We had a low-key Thanksgiving dinner this weekend with my immediate family, so I was excited to try this Instant Pot turkey. It does not disappoint! The turkey was perfectly cooked using the 8 minutes per pound timing. I didn’t bother with broiling the skin, since we just take it off.

Carrie

I made a 3lb turkey breast in the IP following your recipe and it was perfection! Best Thanksgiving bird ever!! Will definitely be making turkey more often now! I’ve been a huge fan of your recipe for years. You always deliver the goods! Thanks Megan!

    Megan Gilmore

    Aw, thank you, Carrie! I’m so glad the turkey breast was a hit! Thanks so much for coming back to let me know.

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