Cooked Instant Pot turkey breast on a bed of herbs and cranberries on a white platter.

I have a personal vendetta against dry turkey. It’s why you’ll always find me reaching for dark meat (which is naturally fattier and more moist) whenever I’m eating Thanksgiving dinner at someone else’s dinner table—so often, white meat from a roasted turkey is dry, flavorless, and tough.

It can take some serious skill to get moist and juicy white turkey meat! I’ve roasted dozens of turkeys and turkey breasts in my day, and I’ve tested pretty much all the tips and tricks out there, and here’s my final word—for a full-size turkey, the key to getting juicy flavorful meat is to dry brine it before roasting. But for just cooking a turkey breast, the absolute best way to get juicy, delectable turkey is to bring out your Instant Pot! Using an electric pressure cooker to cook a turkey breast makes the meat so moist and flavorful that I prefer it even to my beloved dark meat! You can’t beat it.

Slices of turkey covered in gravy, next to piles of Thanksgiving side dishes, such as broccoli and cranberry applesauce.

How do you cook a turkey breast in the Instant Pot?

The simplicity of an Instant Pot turkey breast is part of what makes it so gloriously wonderful. It’s so simple, you can make turkey for a busy weeknight instead of just reserving it for Thanksgiving dinner! Here are the steps for perfect turkey breast:

  1. Combine fresh or dried herbs with your prefered cooking fat—I like grass-fed butter, but lard and coconut oil both work as well. Spread that goodness all over the outside of the turkey breast.
  2. Add some flavoring to the Instant Pot—carrots, celery, onions, and broth—and add the trivet that came along with the Instant Pot. Then place the turkey breast side-down in there and fill the turkey cavity with apples (yes, apples!) and garlic.
  3. Seal the Instant Pot and cook according to our handy-dandy cooking time chart down below. Release the pressure.
  4. Optional: pop the turkey breast under the broiler to brown and crisp up the skin. This is also a great time to whip up our SUPER EASY turkey gravy from the drippings in the Instant Pot.
  5. Let the turkey rest for 10 minutes before carving (this allows the juices to redistribute in the meat), then slice and serve!

A turkey breast stuffed with aromatics sits in the basin of an electric pressure cooker, ready to be cooked.

Should you use a boneless turkey breast or a bone-in turkey breast?

You’ll see both boneless turkey breasts (which are usually actually a half breast—around 3-4 pounds and sometimes sold as a “turkey breast roast”) and full-size bone-in turkey breasts (which run from 6-10 pounds) at the store. Both are usually frozen, although occasionally in November you can find them fresh at a speciality meat counter or butcher.

I highly recommend sticking to the full-size bone-in turkey breast. Why? Well, there are a lot of advantages:

  • You’re getting more bang for your buck. Any time you buy something boneless, you are paying for the convenience of someone else removing the bones. You are paying $1-2 more per pound for boneless—and actually getting less! Because those bones are useful for our next point.
  • You can use the leftover bones to make amazing turkey bone broth. Whenever I make this recipe, I just pop the leftover breast bone right into the same Instant Pot (no need to even clean it) to make delicious and nutritious turkey bone broth.
  • Bone-in helps the meat stay even more moist and flavorful. The best flavor is going to come from a bone-in breast.

Ingredients sit on a white plate on a dark background - turkey breast, carrots, celery, apple, onion, herbs, and spices.

But wait, how do you make sure a turkey breast will fit in the Instant Pot?

Using an electric pressure cooker limits the size of the turkey breast you can cook—if I had a big enough Instant Pot, I’d cook a whole turkey in there! But alas, Instant Pots are limited in space. No matter what, your bone-in turkey breast will probably go above the “Max Fill” mark—this is the one and only time it’s okay! Just as long as the lid can seal well and the breast is below the rim of the pot, you’re good. Here’s what I’ve figured out during my rounds of testing for different size Instant Pots:

  • The 5 quart, 6 quart, and 8 quart Instant Pots will easily fit either a boneless turkey breast or a medium to large bone-in turkey breast. In my 6 quart DUO, I tested both a smaller sized bone-in turkey breast (~6 pounds) and a big one (~11 pounds), and they both fit. I did have to trim off a bit of the neck on the big one to get it below the rim of the basin. If you have a 5 quart Instant Pot, stick to smaller sizes—between 5-7 pounds. If you have an 8 quart pot, you can easily fit in one of the bigger breasts—10+ pounds.
  • The 3 quart Instant Pot Mini will probably be too small for even the smallest of bone-in breasts, but you should be able to fit a small boneless breast. I do not own a 3 quart, so this was tricky for me to test, obviously! If you do own one of the Instant Pot Minis and try out this recipe, please chime in with your experience in the comments so you can help everyone out!
  • The key here: test it out! Buy your turkey breast, and see if you can get it to fit in your Instant Pot. If not, you can always roast it in the oven.

Cooked Instant Pot turkey breast on a bed of herbs and garnished with sage.

Can you cook a frozen turkey breast in the Instant Pot?

You sure can. And below you’ll find instructions and cooking times for it. I will warn you that a lot of times (like almost always) frozen turkey breasts come with plastic gravy packets inserted into the cavity, which are nearly impossible to remove until the turkey is defrosted. Promise me (PROMISE ME) you will not try to cook a frozen turkey breast with a gravy packet still inside. If you are able to get your gravy packet out—or happen to find a turkey breast without one—you can easily cook it from frozen following the same instructions laid out below and just adjust your cook time.

Sliced turkey on a plate and drizzled with gravy.

How long do you cook a turkey breast in the Instant Pot?

Electric pressure cooking can be a bit like cooking blind because you can’t see or test anything to check for doneness! Because of this, we created an easy-to-follow chart to help you get the perfect amount of doneness. The rule of thumb for poultry in the Instant Pot is six minutes per pound from fresh, and 10 minutes per pound from frozen. I’ve found that I can cheat that to slightly less in my Instant Pot.

Cooking Times for Fresh/Thawed Bone-In Turkey Breasts

Always double check for doneness by using an instant read thermometer to make sure your turkey is at 160°F in the fleshiest part of the breast—you’ll get the additional 5°F (which gets you to the 165°F safe zone for poultry) by resting and browning off the skin.

  High Pressure/Poultry Natural Pressure Release Rest Time
3-4 lb. Turkey Breast 21 minutes 10 minutes 10 minutes
5-6 lb. Turkey Breast 33 minutes 10 minutes 10 minutes
7-8 lb. Turkey Breast 37 minutes 10 minutes 10 minutes
9-10 lb. Turkey Breast 45 minutes 10 minutes 10 minutes

Cooking Times for Frozen Bone-In Turkey Breasts

Make sure to remove any gravy packet from the turkey breast before cooking. Because the meat is frozen, the Instant Pot will take longer to get up to high enough temperature to seal. Always double check for doneness by using an instant read thermometer to make sure your turkey is at 160°F in the fleshiest part of the breast—you’ll get the additional 5°F (which gets you to the 165°F safe zone for poultry) by resting and browning off the skin.

  High Pressure/Poultry Natural Pressure Release Rest Time
3-4 lb. Turkey Breast 35 minutes 10 minutes 10 minutes
5-6 lb. Turkey Breast 55 minutes 10 minutes 10 minutes
7-8 lb. Turkey Breast 70 minutes 10 minutes 10 minutes
9-10 lb. Turkey Breast 90 minutes 10 minutes 10 minutes

 

How do you make turkey gravy with the drippings?

I used to think making gravy was hard. But it turns out it is one of the easiest kitchen tasks on the planet! I promise you can do it. To make easy turkey gravy, all you need to do is:

  1. Strain the drippings from the Instant Pot through a fine mesh sieve.
  2. Melt some cooking fat (I like butter, but lard and coconut oil work, too) in a saucepan, and then sprinkle on arrowroot powder.
  3. Pour in the strained drippings and heat until thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

A silver spoon dips into a white bowl of easy turkey gravy.

What side dishes can you serve with turkey breast?

How can you use up leftover turkey?

If you’re roasting a larger turkey breast, you’re bound to have some leftovers! Once you are sick of sandwiches, take those leftovers and turn them into these dishes:

[gdlr_core_row] [gdlr_core_column size=”1/3″]Turkey Vegetable Soup in a stockpot on a marbled backgroundNext Day Turkey Vegetable Soup[/gdlr_core_column] [gdlr_core_column size=”1/3″]Creamy Turkey Gnocchi SoupCreamy Turkey Gnocchi Soup[/gdlr_core_column] [gdlr_core_column size=”1/3″]Turkey Pot Pie with Sweet Potato BiscuitsTurkey Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Biscuits[/gdlr_core_column] [/gdlr_core_row]
 
Cooked Instant Pot turkey breast on a bed of herbs and cranberries on a white platter.

Herb-Roasted Instant Pot Turkey Breast with Easy Turkey Gravy

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Ready for the juiciest, most delectable turkey you'll ever taste? Cook this Herb-Roasted Instant Pot Turkey Breast from fresh or frozen in under an hour!

Ingredients

For the Turkey Breast

  • 1/4 cup butter, ghee, lard, or coconut oil, softened
  • 2 teaspoons dried sage OR 2 tablespoons fresh chopped sage
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme OR 2 tablespoons fresh chopped thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary OR 2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 bone-in full turkey breast (~7 pounds), defrosted and any gravy packet removed (see notes to cook from frozen or different size turkey breasts)
  • 1 cup chicken or turkey broth
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 small carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 small apple, sliced

For the Turkey Gravy

  • 2 tablespoons butter, ghee, lard, or coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • 1 1/2 cup strained drippings from turkey
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the softened butter, ghee, lard, or coconut oil with the sage, thyme, rosemary, garlic powder, salt, and cracked pepper. 
  2. Dry off the turkey breast with paper towels. Then spread the herb mixture over the entire breast, including separating the skin from the breast meat and putting it between. If using coconut oil, the mixture might start to solidify on a cold turkey breast—that’s okay, just spread it the best you can; the flavor will still be there in the final meat. Set aside.
  3. In the basin of your Instant Pot, place the broth, onion, carrot, and celery. Then place the metal trivet on top. Place the turkey breast, breast side down, in the Instant Pot. Fill the cavity with the garlic and apple slices.
  4. Close the Instant Pot lid and turn the level to “Seal.” Cook on high pressure (or use the Poultry setting) for 6 minutes per pound, following the chart above in the post.
  5. When the cooking time is up, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then manually release the remainder of the pressure. Preheat oven broiler to high.
  6. Transfer the turkey breast to a baking pan—breast side up—and cook under the broiler until the skin is crisp and brown, about five minutes. Remove from broiler and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
  7. To make the gravy: While the turkey is broiling, strain the drippings from the Instant Pot through a fine mesh sieve. 
  8. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter, ghee, lard, or coconut oil. Sprinkle in the arrowroot powder and whisk until well combined. Pour in 1 1/2 cups of the strained drippings. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.
  9. Serve turkey slices topped with turkey gravy.

Notes

  • Turkey breasts come in one of two ways—either full size, which is actually two breasts still connected by the breast bone (about 6-8 pounds on average), or a half breast (about 3-4 pounds). You’ll see the full size breasts more frequently in the store, and just as long as it isn’t too big, a full size breast should fit fine in a standard Instant Pot. If you happen to find a larger breast, you can halve it and cook one half at a time to make it work.
  • Many frozen turkey breasts come with a gravy packet in the cavity of the breastbone. I recommend discarding this packet and making your own gravy from the drippings. It’s a breeze to do, it tastes much better, and most of the gravy packets contain ingredients that can be off-putting to health conscious folks.
  • To cook from frozen: Make sure you can remove the gravy packet and all packaging. Begin with Step #3 of the recipe, placing the frozen turkey breast in the Instant Pot without the herb coating. Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes per pound, following the chart in the blog post. When cooking time is up, transfer the turkey breast—breast side up—to a baking pan. Melt the butter, ghee, lard or coconut oil and combine it with the herbs, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Brush this mixture liberally onto the turkey breast, and then cook in a 425°F oven for 7-10 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.

YouTube video
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 281Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 78mgSodium: 827mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 13g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

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4 Comments

  1. Sorry. I can’t promise to not try to cook it frozen without removing the gravy packet. I can’t get that thing out!!!! It was ripped wide open though while trying, so I’m hoping that’s actually a helpful thing. I’m totally going to try it right now. I’ll try to post an update on how it went 🙂

      1. Hi, Heather! Any apple you have on hand will do. As long as it’s something you enjoy the flavor of, it will be great!