All this time the secret to the perfect turkey was inside my Instant Pot. Juicy, tender and bursting with flavor. All my tips and tricks revealed right now!
This recipe was first published in 2017. I’ve updated the recipe, images, and text to make it even better!
Sometimes I feel a little awkward gushing about recipes. It’s like, I’ve given birth, I’ve jumped off bridges and out of planes, and married my motorcycle dream man, so isn’t it a bit weird to completely lose my cool over food?
Well today, I don’t care, because . . .
OH MY GOODNESS! YOU GUYS! I HAVE NEVER, IN MY LIFE, TASTED A TURKEY, SO SO SO GOOD!
This turkey is right up there with babies, flying, and dreamy men. I sat there tasting bite after bite wondering how this could be the same meat I’ve been eating since I was a child.
I combined it with my favorite Apple Cranberry Sauce and literally stood up out of my chair and waved a fork at my children exclaiming, “DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW?”
They didn’t . . . but they were scared.
But you don’t need to be scared! Because guess what? This will also be the easiest, fastest turkey you will ever make in your entire life.
WHY YOU WILL LOVE THIS EASY TURKEY BREAST RECIPE
- Easy, no stress Thanksgiving Turkey. Coming from someone who is just now recovering from a 2016 role as Thanksgiving Hostess, this is HUGE
- Juicy, tender, and bursting with lemony, garlic, herb flavor every time. For reals! It’s like magic!
- Make the gravy right in the same pot. Fewer dishes!
- Make 1 for a small crowd, or break out another Instant Pot (we all have at least 2, right?) and make a second for a large crowd
- White meat galore! Sorry ’bout that if you’re a dark meat fan
SECRETS TO A FOOLPROOF, JUICY, TENDER, FLAVORFUL TURKEY
Before I teach you how to make it, I’ll let you in on my discoveries that will guarantee your success
Compound Butter AKA Flavored Butter
Homemade herby, lemony, garlic butter that is. It gets rubbed all over the turkey breasts (under the skin, don’t be scared, wear gloves like I do), keeping the meat nice and moist. No need to brine with this trick!
Season LIBERALLY with salt and pepper! This will infuse the turkey with flavor and season the broth at the same time.
Flip the Bird
When a mom of young children says that, it is with completely innocent intentions. Cook the turkey, BREAST SIDE DOWN. As it cooks and rests, all the juices will settle in the breast, right where we want them.
Let the Meat Rest
I ALWAYS do a full natural release, as well as, let the turkey rest under foil for at least 30 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat instead of running all over the cutting board when you slice into it.
Pour Drippings Over Top
Even the moistest turkey will dry out if you slice it and leave it naked on a platter. Pour some of the pot’s juices over the top, to ensure it stays moist.
You’re dying to try this, am I right?!
VIDEO: HOW TO COOK A TURKEY BREAST IN AN INSTANT POT
STEP BY STEP: HOW TO COOK THE PERFECT TURKEY
- Prepare the Lemon Garlic Compound Butter
- Separate the skin from the breast by gently running your fingertips under the skin to release it without tearing through. You will do each breast individually, don’t tear through the center
- Place half of the butter under one side
- Distribute butter across the breast with your hand on the outside of the skin. Repeat for the other side
- Liberally season with salt and pepper
- Prepare the cooking liquid: water, onion, carrots, celery
- Place the turkey breast, breast side down, on a trivet (can omit trivet if it doesn’t fit) and fill with aromatics – lemon, onion, parsley
- Pressure cook it to juicy perfection
- Let it rest before cutting
HOW TO MAKE EASY GRAVY
The juices in the pot are so heavenly flavored from the turkey, veggies, and flavored butter. It makes the best gravy ever!
- Pour the liquid from the pot into a gravy/fat separator or through a strainer into another bowl
- Pour juices back into the pot, leaving the fatty liquid in the fat separator
- Bring to a simmer. Add a cornstarch slurry and whisk until smooth and thick
Mmmmmm . . . gravy . . .
HOW TO CARVE A TURKEY BREAST
Carving a turkey is a piece of cake, IF you have good knives.
Funny story: My mom gifted me a large set of Cutco Knives when I graduated from High School. Kind of a weird gift, right?
I had a good friend that decided he was going to make a living selling Cutco Knives, and my mom graciously agreed to be his first potential buyer. He was so nervous during his presentation to her that she cut him off halfway through and agreed to buy the largest package, haha! I don’t think he sold a single knife after that day, but he sure came and went with a bang!
My mom didn’t allow me to use them until I was married so they sat in a box for a solid 5 years. They have been one of my favorite kitchen tools ever since. Cutco will sharpen and replace damaged knives for free, so I’m set for life!
Back to carving.
Once the turkey has rested, either remove the skin and discard or place turkey under the oven broiler for 3-5 minutes to brown. Grab your favorite knife and let’s get carving!
- Find the spot where the turkey breast meats the bone. Make long, smooth cuts down until you hit bone, then angle your knife to the outside of the breast to finish cutting it from the bone. Repeat on the other side
- Slice it against the grain into pretty even slices. There will still be meat left on the bone once you cut the breasts off. This can be easily pulled off, by hand
- Place it on a plate and be sure to pour some gravy or warm broth over top to keep it moist
Done! Now tell me, was that not the easiest turkey ever?!
I don’t know that I will ever roast another turkey in the oven. If I ever get put in charge of turkey again, I’m gonna pull out 2 pressure cookers, throw a turkey in each, then go play with all the men and children that don’t think they have to help in the kitchen.
No offense to the rockstar men chefs in the audience that rule the kitchen. May your example shine upon all the brothers and brother-in-laws in my family . . . just teasin’ they’re not so bad, haha!
Now go own that turkey! Enjoy!
MORE TURKEY TIDBITS
Yep, there’s more.
HOW LONG TO COOK A TURKEY BREAST IN PRESSURE COOKER
A 6-pound turkey breast will need 35 minutes. Between 6 – 7.5 pounds, I find 40 minutes is better. To be sure it’s cooked through, use a meat thermometer and place it in the thickest part of the breast, close to, but not touching, the center bone. It should read at least 160° F. The temperature of the turkey may rise to 165° – 170° F as it rests.
HOW TO COOK A TURKEY BREAST FROM FROZEN
Yes! It’s possible and it’s amazing!
If you buy a fresh turkey, rub the herb butter under the skin, add the aromatics to the cavity, place it in a 1 – 2 gallon sized freezer safe ziplock bag, then place it inside your pressure cooker pot to freeze. This will ensure it’s the perfect size later. Once frozen, you can remove it from the pot and place it back in the freezer, until you need it.
Cook it for time and a half – which for this recipe means 55 – 60 minutes, depending on the size.
If you buy a frozen turkey, you won’t be able to put the yummy compound butter under the skin, but it will still turn out moist and almost as delicious.
HOW TO MAKE BONE BROTH FROM THE CARCASS
An electric pressure cooker makes this incredibly simple. Here is a basic, easy tutorial on How to Make Bone Broth in the Instant Pot
FREEZE THE TURKEY LEFTOVERS
I love my Food Saver for this job. It ensures that the turkey tastes as juicy and fresh as the day you cooked it. If you don’t own a Food Saver, use a freezer safe ziplock bag and squeeze out as much air as possible. It will be good for at least 3 months, longer in a Food Saver bag.
WHAT TO DO WITH TURKEY LEFTOVERS
My favorite way to use up leftover turkey is this Ultimate Turkey Panini:
Take 2 slices of Crusty Bread (or a whole grain hoagie bun). On one side spread mashed avocado, on the other, leftover Cranberry Sauce. Pile pieces of turkey on the cranberry side and top with slices of brie cheese. Cook in a panini press until hot and melty. Open the bread to add slices of crispy bacon, spinach leaves, and a thick slather of my favorite Sir Kensington Avocado Oil Mayo. PERFECTION!
Swap out the shredded chicken for turkey in all your favorite recipes. Might I suggest
Drop your favorite leftover ideas in the comments!
TOOLS USED TO MAKE INSTANT POT TURKEY BREAST
- Instant Pot
- Fat and Gravy Separator
- Latex Gloves
- My Favorite Cutco Knives – best knives I’ve ever used!
Don’t miss these other great Holiday goodies!
- Instant Pot Apple Cranberry Sauce
- Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes
- Instant Pot White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake
Instant Pot Turkey Breast
Tender, juicy, flavorful Turkey Breast, ready in less than an hour! Perfect for holidays as well as a weekday because it’s that easy and delicious.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 8 servings
- Category: Entree
- Method: Pressure cooker
- Cuisine: American
For the Lemon Garlic Herb Compound Butter
- 4 tablespoons butter, softened
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 garlic clove, minced
For the Turkey
- 6 – 7 pound bone in, skin on turkey breast
- kosher salt
- black pepper
- handful of fresh parsley
- 1/2 onion, peeled
- 1/2 lemon
For the Broth
- 1 cup water
- 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
- 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 onion
For the Gravy
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons cold water
- To make the Lemon Garlic Herb Butter: In a small bowl, combine butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, salt, pepper, and garlic. Use a fork to mash and combine the ingredients. Set aside.
- For the Turkey: Season the turkey liberally all over with kosher salt and a lesser amount of black pepper.
- Separate the skin from the turkey breast by carefully pushing your fingers under the skin, you don’t want to tear through it, you’re just creating a pocket under the skin. If this grosses you out like it does me, use gloves!
- With your hands, scoop up half of the herb butter and stuff it under one side of the breast. Repeat on the other side with the rest of the butter. Spread the butter around by massaging over the top of the skin. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just get it distributed underneath the skin as much as possible.
- For the Broth: In the pressure cooker pot, combine water, celery, carrots, and 1/2 of an onion. Place short trivet in pot.
- Place the turkey breast side down, on top of the trivet.
- To the under cavity of the turkey breast, add the fresh parsley, 1/2 lemon, and 1/2 onion, stuffing it inside as much as possible (turkey breasts don’t always have a large enclosed cavity like a full turkey does).
- Secure the lid and turn the pressure release knob to a sealed position. Cook at high pressure for 35 minutes.
- When cooking is complete, use a full natural release (this will help the turkey stay nice and moist, compared to a quick pressure release). Check the temperature of the turkey to be sure it’s at least 160°-165° F.
- Place the turkey on a cutting board and cover with foil. Let rest for at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour before carving.
- While the turkey rests, combine 3 tablespoons of cornstarch with 3 tablespoons water, set aside. Strain broth from pot through a fat separator or a fine mesh sieve. If you don’t have a fat separator, skim the top of the liquid with a spoon to remove some of the fat. Pour broth back into the pressure cooker pot.
- For the Gravy: Using the saute or brown function on the pressure cooker, bring broth up to a simmer. Give the cornstarch/water slurry an extra stir to make sure it’s combined, while whisking, slowly pour the slurry into the simmering liquid. Whisk until gravy thickens then unplug the pressure cooker.
- Remove and discard the skin from the turkey. Cut breasts away from the bone, slice, and enjoy with a splash of gravy and a scoop of cranberries.
- Prepare the turkey through step 4 adding lemon, parsley, and onion to the cavity of the turkey.
- Place turkey in a 1 -2 gallon freezer safe ziplock bag and place inside the pressure cooker pot to freeze. Once solid, remove from the pot and place in the freezer until ready to use.
- When ready to cook, proceed with step 5, cooking the turkey for time and a half of the thawed turkey time (so about 55 – 60 minutes) depending on the size.
- For a 6 pound turkey, cook for 35 minutes. For a 6 – 7.5 pound turkey, 40 minutes. Check the temperature of the breast to make sure it is between 160-165° F. If it’s not, cook for another 5 – 10 minutes in the pressure cooker with at least a 10-minute natural release.
- For a browned, crispy skin, place the turkey under the oven broiler for 3 – 5 minutes until nicely browned
Keywords: thanksgiving meal, festive meal, roast dinner