Instant Pot Turkey Breast is so quick and gives you a juicy turkey breast each time! This is really a game changer for the holidays, freeing up your oven for other delicious food. Brining the turkey first makes the flavor stand out so be sure not to skip this step!
Why this works
- Quick and easy - this cooks in just a fraction of the time than you normally would cook just like my holiday ham recipe. It also leaves the oven open to cook other dishes.
- Flavor-packed - the brine infuses this Instant Pot turkey breast with A LOT of flavor layers. Get a medley of citrus, apple, rosemary, ginger, and garlic in this recipe.
- Versatile - this can used for a turkey breast or whole turkey. You can choose to do the optional brining, or just go for an herb crusted version instead.
Ingredients you will need
- Turkey - this can be a bone-in or boneless turkey breast. You can also use this recipe for a whole turkey. Just be sure to pick one that fits inside your pot.
- Thaw the turkey breast in the refrigerator according to the directions on your package. If you're unsure how to thaw the turkey head over to the USDA to find out different and safe methods for doing this.
- Herbs - use an assortment of herbs. I usually like to use rosemary, parsley, thyme, and chives.
- Apple cider - you can use apple cider or a high-quality apple juice for this recipe. I like to use my Homemade Apple Cider for this recipe!
- Brown sugar - you can use light or dark brown sugar. I prefer to use dark brown sugar.
How to make this
Step 1: Make the brine solution (optional)
Making and brining the turkey is a great way to make a turkey, but you can skip this step if you want to go straight to making the turkey breast at step 3 below. Instead of the brine just coat the bird in your favorite seasonings or simply poultry seasoning then follow the directions for cooking.
Note if using a small turkey instead of a turkey breast then double the brining solution.
First, we are going to make the brining solution. A brine is simply a solution of salt and water that combine to help turkey, which is a lean meat, to become moist once you cook it instead of drying out. The meat absorbs the liquid while brining, and retains more once cooked.
Heat the mixture until the salt dissolves on medium heat then remove from the heat source. Once dissolved remove from heat, and cool for 15 minutes.
Step 2: Brining the turkey (optional)
Stuff the cavity of the turkey or turkey breast with some of the herbs, and some orange sections. Place the turkey or turkey breast into the brine. You can use either a large pot or a brining bucket for this step.
Add to the brine the orange sections, and squeeze the oranges a bit so some of the juice is released into the brine immediately. Add a small handful of sliced fresh ginger, the smashed garlic cloves, apple cider vinegar, hot red pepper flakes, and the rest of the fresh herbs.
If using a large pot then cover the pot with a lid, and let brine overnight or up to 18 hours.
If using the bucket then cover with ice, and close lid. Leave in a cool part of your house to brine.
Step 3: Pressure cooking the turkey
I added 1 cup of chicken broth to Instant Pot with half a sliced onion, celery, and carrots to give my stock a little more flavor for when I made gravy later. I added the rack to the pot to set my turkey breast on for cooking as well.
Remove the turkey or turkey breast from the brining solution. Place the brined turkey breast, then close and seal the lid. Cook on high pressure for 30-minutes then follow with a 10-minute natural pressure release.
If doing a turkey then estimate the high pressure time for 8-minutes per pound followed by the 10-minute natural pressure release.
Turkey should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165-degrees. To check the doneness of your turkey breast you can use a meat thermometer like a ThermoWorks MK4 Thermapen or a ThermoWorks ThermoPop.
Allow the cooked Instant Pot turkey breast to rest for about 10-minutes prior to slicing.
If you would like to brown your turkey breast remove from the pressure cooker once it has finished cooking to a baking sheet with the rack. Cook on broil for 5-10 minutes until the turkey is browned to your liking. Or, use your Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid at 400-degrees for a few minutes to do the browning.
Yes, to safely thaw it should be in the refrigerator. It is also better to cook the turkey from cold rather than room temperature.
At minimum a turkey should be brined at least 8 hours and up to 18 hours.
No, do not rinse the turkey. This will remove the salt and make the turkey less likely to brown well.
Serve this with some gravy that you can make with the drippings. Remove the vegetables from the remaining broth. Set the pressure cooker to saute. Once bubbling add the cornstarch slurry to the pot. Salt and pepper the gravy to taste. Stir until thickened then remove to gravy boat or container.
Storage & Reheating
Slice the turkey breast then remove to a serving platter. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to one week. Serve leftover cold or reheat in microwave.
Side dishes to serve with turkey
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Instant Pot Turkey Breast
- 1 turkey breast thawed, about 3 pounds
- 1 herb bouquet thyme, rosemary, parsley, sage, chives, and basil
- ½ gallon apple cider can substitute with apple juice
- ½ cup kosher salt
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 1 handful ginger sliced
- 10 garlic cloves smashed
- 2 naval oranges quartered
- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes
- ice for brining bucket or pot if brining outside of the refrigerator
- 1 cup chicken broth
- ½ onion sliced
- 1 celery stalk sliced
- 1 carrot peeled and sliced
- 3 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3 tbsp water
- salt and pepper to taste
Brining solution and brining the turkey
- Combine apple cider, kosher salt, and dark brown sugar in the Instant Pot. Set to saute and cook just long enough to melt sugar and dissolve salt. Turn off and remove inner pot from heat. Cool for 15 minutes.
- Stuff cavity of thawed turkey breast or turkey with some of the fresh herbs, and some orange quarters. Add turkey to large pot or brining bucket.
- Add the remaining brining ingredients to large pot or brining bucket.
Cooking the turkey breast or turkey
- Add the sliced onion, celery, and carrot along with the chicken broth to the Instant Pot. Add rack on top. Place turkey in Instant Pot and seal lid.
- Cook on high (normal) pressure for 30 minutes then follow with a 10 minute natural pressure release. Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes prior to slicing and deboning.
- If desired, brown in oven on broil for 5-10 minutes. Or brown with air fryer at 400-degrees for a few minutes.
- To make a gravy combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Turn the pressure cooker on to saute. Add the cornstarch slurry, and stir until thickened. You can add additional cornstarch slurry if you like. Salt and pepper the gravy to taste.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to one week.