Apple Cider Turkey Breast let me count the ways! 😉 If you’ve never brined a turkey before, just let me tell you that you are truly missing out. This is an easy technique that will up your turkey game, and using the Instant Pot makes it easy to enjoy this year round. Be sure to pair this up with Instant Pot Green Beans with Onions and my Perfect Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes!
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Why brine a turkey?
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. Add some aromatics, garlic, oranges, or other goodies to infuse a host of flavors into the meat as well. The result is a tender juicy turkey breast that is full of flavor. If you would like to read more about the science of bringing head over to Fine Cooking.
Brine the apple cider turkey breast
I used about a three – four pound turkey breast for this recipe. You can however do a larger turkey breast so long as it fits in your pressure cooker. There is plenty of brining solution for a larger one. 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.
Take a large pot big enough to hold your turkey breast in, and pour in the apple cider then add the kosher salt with the dark brown sugar. Heat the mixture until the salt dissolves on medium heat then remove from the heat source. If you don’t have apple cider available you can substitute with apple juice. Once dissolved remove from heat.
Add to the brine the two oranges cut in half. When putting the oranges in be sure to give them a squeeze 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 half of the herb bouquet. Put the other half of the herb bouquet into the cavity of the turkey breast. Place the turkey into the brine, and add water to mostly cover if necessary.
Cover the pot with a lid, and let brine overnight or for 24 hours in the refrigerator. You may add ice instead of the water if you feel that the water is to warm.
Cooking the apple cider turkey breast
I added 1 cup of chicken broth to my 6-quart 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 brined turkey breast on for cooking as well.
Add to this the apple cider brined turkey breast, then close and seal the lid. Cook on high (normal) pressure for 30 minutes then follow with a 10 minute natural pressure release. If you turkey breast is dramatically bigger you may want to increase the pressure time slightly. For example, a five pound breast may be 40 minutes for high pressure time.
If you would like to brown your turkey breast remove from the pressure cooker once it has finished cooking to a cookie sheet with the rack. I covered my cookie sheet to help with the clean up.
Cook on broil for 5-10 minutes until the turkey is browned to your liking. I actually ended up turning the turkey on each side during the process in order to brown but to avoid drying out the meat. Allow the meat to rest for at least 10 minutes prior to slicing. What to do while you wait? Make some gravy of course!
Making turkey gravy with drippings
Remove the vegetables from the remaining broth and drippings in the Instant Pot. 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.
Slice the turkey breast then remove to a platter. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to one week.
Instant Pot Apple Cider Turkey Breast
- 1 turkey breast thawed, about 3 pounds
- 1 herb bouquet thyme, rosemary, parsley, sage, chives, and basil
- 1/2 gallon apple cider can substitute with apple juice
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 10 garlic cloves smashed
- 2 naval oranges quartered
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp hot red pepper flakes
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 onion sliced
- 1 celery stalk sliced
- 1 carrot peeled and sliced
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 3 tbsp water
- salt and pepper to taste
- Combine apple cider, kosher salt, and dark brown sugar in a large pot on the stove. Heat until the salt and sugar dissolve then remove from heat.
- Add brining ingredients to brining solution reserving half the herb bouquet.
- Take the other half of the her bouqet and place inside the turkey cavity. Set the turkey breast into the brining solutions, cover, and leave in the refrigerator overnight or 24 hours. A full 24 hours is best.
- 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.
- 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.