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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Instant Pot Turkey Breast (Bone-in or Boneless)
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
More Thanksgiving Side Dishes
Need some easy & delicious side dishes to go with your turkey? Try one of these!
- Spiced Cranberry Sauce (the best!)
- Mashed Cauliflower
- Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes
- Vegan Gravy (I prefer this one over turkey gravy, personally)
- Favorite Holiday Salad
- Wild Rice Stuffing
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.