I have cooked a lot of poultry in the Instant Pot like turkey legs and thighs, but these bone-in turkey breast with crispy skin and a beautiful presentation might be my favorite. When you’re cooking in the Instant Pot, you can walk away and tend to other things, whereas an oven-roasted bird needs more time and attention.
Sautéed onions and garlic become the base for your gravy, and the turkey breast cooks right on top. The mixture of fresh chopped sage, rosemary, oregano, and thyme fills your kitchen with the smell of the holidays. Brown the skin by placing it under an oven broiler or with the air fryer lid.
Some Instant Pots come with a separate air fryer lid, and there are also air fryer lids you can buy to pair with older models.
The Best Turkey Breast
This recipe uses a whole bone-in, skin-on turkey breast. Find one that’s on the smaller side—4 1/2 pounds or less before trimming excess neck bone, rib bones that go beyond the breasts, or extra skin will work best in a 6-quart Instant Pot. If you have an 8-quart pot, up to 6 1/2 pounds before trimming is fine.
You can also go smaller and use a split turkey breast if you’d like. Just reduce the cook time. Look to the recipe notes below for details.
Flavoring the Turkey
I choose not to brine my turkey breast before cooking, as it stays moist in the pressure cooker. I simply season the outside of the breast with a flavorful paste of butter, paprika, salt, black pepper, and fresh chopped herbs.
If you prefer the flavor and texture of brined meat, feel free to use your favorite brining method or one of ours.
Instant Pots Make Great Gravy!
My favorite part of cooking turkey in an Instant Pot is that you end up with a very fast and tasty gravy. Sauté onions and garlic until they’re browned and add chicken or turkey stock. The turkey cooks right on top.
It’s a cooking liquid that does double duty—it provides enough moisture to flavor the turkey and helps create pressure in the Instant Pot, and then it can be blended and thickened into a gravy.
Ingredient Substitutions and Swaps
This recipe provides a basic template for flavoring your turkey breast and gravy, but the possibilities for variations are many, including dairy-free and gluten-free options:
- You can use shallots in place of onions in the gravy, or even sub in carrots or other root vegetables if alliums aren’t your thing.
- For the turkey seasoning, you can use a mixture of dried herbs, or even a poultry seasoning blend. Just reduce the amount from 4 teaspoons of fresh herbs to 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried herbs since the flavors are more concentrated. Here are more tips on How to Swap Dried Herbs for Fresh.
- For a dairy-free variation, use vegan butter or olive oil in place of the butter.
- To make the recipe gluten-free, replace the flour with a mixture of 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water.
Serve your turkey with traditional holiday sides, such as mashed potatoes, stuffing, dinner rolls, macaroni and cheese, roasted vegetables, the obligatory cranberry sauce, or whatever dishes you and your dining companions enjoy.
Storage and Reheating
If you have leftover turkey and gravy, they will both keep tightly covered in the refrigerator for three to four days. I like to reheat the leftovers in the microwave, pouring a little gravy over the turkey before reheating so that it doesn’t dry out.
Love Instant Pot Recipes? Try These!
- Instant ot Ginger-Soy Tilapia
- Instant Pot Guinness Beef Stew
- Instant Pot Mushroom Risotto
- Instant Pot Chicken Wing Ramen
- Instant Pot Chicken Adobo and Rice
Instant Pot Turkey Breast and Gravy
This recipe works best with a turkey breast that’s 4 1/2 pounds or smaller. Anything bigger will be too large to fit in a 6-quart Instant Pot. You can also use a split turkey breast, up to 3 1/2 pounds. Just lower the cooking time to 25 minutes. If you have an 8-quart Instant Pot, you can use turkey breasts that are up to 6 pounds.
If you do not have an air fryer lid for your Instant Pot or an oven large enough to fit the Instant Pot insert under its broiler, you can brown the turkey by searing it in the Instant Pot with a little oil for 5 minutes. The skin won’t be as crispy, but it will still get some browning and taste very good.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 4 teaspoons combination of chopped fresh sage, rosemary, oregano, or thyme, divided
- 1 skin-on, bone-in whole or split turkey breast (4 1/2 pounds or smaller), thawed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Make the turkey seasoning:
In a small bowl, stir the butter, salt, black pepper, paprika, and 3 teaspoons of chopped herbs.
Trim and season the turkey:
If needed, place the turkey breast on a cutting board and using a sharp knife trim the turkey breast of any excess neck bone, rib bones that go beyond the breasts, or extra skin. Pat the turkey breast dry with paper towels. Use your fingers to rub the butter mixture all over the turkey breast.
Cook the onions and garlic:
Select the Sauté setting on the Instant Pot and add the olive oil. When the olive oil is hot (after about 2 minutes), add the onions and garlic. Sauté until the onions are softened and browned, about 8 minutes.
Add the broth:
Stir in the chicken broth and the remaining 1 teaspoon of the chopped herbs. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
Transfer turkey breasts into Instant Pot:
Place a steam wire rack in the Instant Pot on top of the onions and garlic. Make sure the two handles are facing upwards. This will help you pull it out after the turkey cooks.
Place the turkey breast on the steam wire rack.
Cook the turkey breast:
Secure the lid on the Instant Pot and make sure the vent on the lid is turned to sealing, not venting. Select the Pressure Cook or Manual setting and set the cooking time to 35 minutes at high pressure. The Instant Pot will take about 15 minutes to come up to pressure before the cooking program begins.
Release the pressure:
When the cooking program ends, carefully (the steam will be very hot, so use heat-resistant oven mitts or use a kitchen towel) release the pressure in the pot by moving the vent on the lid from sealing to venting.
When the pressure has fully released (you will stop hearing a hissing sound, and the float valve will sink down), open the Instant Pot. Press the Cancel button to reset the cooking program.
Check for doneness:
Use a meat thermometer to take the temperature of the turkey breast at its thickest part. It should be at least 165ºF. If the temperature is below 165ºF, secure the lid back on and cook the turkey on the Manual setting at high pressure for another 5 minutes.
Crisp the skin:
Using and Air Fryer lid: If you have an air fryer lid for your Instant Pot, place it on top. On the Broil setting, set it to 400ºF and 10 minutes. When the broiling program ends, press the Cancel button to reset it.
Using the oven: If you don’t have an air fryer lid, set the oven to broil on high. The oven rack should be set so that the turkey breast is 6 to 8 inches from the heating element, but it should also be low enough to fit the pot insert.
Transfer the Instant Pot’s stainless steel inner pot with the turkey breast into the oven. Broil for about 5 minutes, or until the skin is browned, checking often to make sure that it has not burned.
Remove the turkey from the Instant Pot:
Whether you transferred the stainless steel inner pot to the oven or used the air fryer lid on the Instant Pot to crisp the skin, it’s time to remove the turkey and the wire steaming rack from the pot.
Wearing heat-resistant oven mitts, grasp the handles of the wire rack and lift the turkey out of the pot. Transfer it to a serving platter or carving board to rest while you finish making the gravy.
If you broiled the turkey in the oven, return the stainless steel inner pot into the Instant Pot.
Make the gravy:
Sprinkle the flour over the onions and cooking liquid. Use an immersion blender to blend the mixture until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, carefully transfer the mixture into a blender to blend until smooth, then transfer it back into the pot.
Select the sauté setting on the Instant Pot. Let the gravy simmer for a minute or two until thickened. Turn off the pot.
Carve and serve:
Use a sharp knife to carve the turkey breast off the rib bones. Carve the meat into 1/2-inch slices and serve with the gravy ladled on top.