Instant Pot Turkey Breast Recipe

If you grew up outside the U.S. and knew nothing at all about Thanksgiving besides what you saw in American movies, TV shows, and especially in TV commercials (was there ever a more made-for-Madison Avenue holiday?), you'd think that no celebration would be complete without a 20-pound turkey and about 20 of your nearest and maybe not-so-dearest gathered around the table. Well, back in Reality World, while most of us do eat the namesake bird on Turkey Day, not all of us are willing or able to invite so many guests. Whole turkeys, even the smallest ones, tend to be just too much meat for anyone to eat, and leftovers only last so long. What are you going to do?

You're going to pick up a turkey breast, that's what. And what's even better is if you have an Instant Pot in which to cook it. With this recipe from Angela Latimer of Bake It With Love, your turkey can be table-ready in under an hour! When cooking it is this quick and easy, there's no reason to save turkey for holiday occasions. Better stock up on stuffing, since you might just want to enjoy a turkey dinner every month of the year!

Make sure you've got the ingredients you need to make this turkey breast

The cooking times and serving sizes given in this recipe are for a breast weighing around five pounds, which is an optimal size to fit in your Instant Pot. If it looks a bit bigger in the pics, though, that's because Latimer admits, "My turkey breast was just shy of 10 pounds." This turned out to cause a bit of trouble with the Instant Pot (we'll go into detail later). If your turkey breast weighs maybe a pound or two more, that should be no problem since you can simply adjust the cooking time accordingly. As a rule of thumb, half a pound of turkey equals a single serving. This means that a five-pound turkey will serve 10 people (or one person with a lot of leftovers), while a six-pound one will serve 12 people (or even more leftovers).

In addition to the bird itself, you'll be needing butter, salt, dried thyme, black pepper, paprika, and chicken broth. You can also use plain water in place of this last ingredient since the turkey will be plenty flavorful with just the butter and the seasonings.

Butter up your bird before it goes in the pot

First things first: Thaw that turkey! If you don't remember to do so in time, Latimer says you can actually cook it in its frozen state, although in this case, it's going to take more time (see cooking directions below). A frozen turkey breast will also make it much harder to perform the next steps, which start with checking the cavity to see if there's a gravy packet or any other hidden plastic-wrapped goodies in there that you probably shouldn't be cooking. You'll then need to pat down the moist bird (if thawed) with paper towels until it's relatively dry. Let it sit and air dry for a moment longer while you mix the dry seasonings into the softened butter, then rub that butter all over the turkey breast.

If you want, you can also use what Latimer says is her preferred method, which is to slide your fingers under the skin and rub the butter directly on the breast meat as best you can. Remember to save enough of the butter to give the outside of the turkey breast a good buttering, too.

You'll be surprised how quickly this turkey breast will cook

Place your Instant Pot's metal trivet inside the inner pot, then pour in the chicken broth or water. If you have a six-quart Instant Pot, use one cup of liquid, but if your pot is eight quarts, better make it a cup and a half. Place the turkey breast onto the trivet meat-side down, then close and seal the lid and the vent. Set the manual cooking time to half an hour, or if your bird doesn't weigh exactly five pounds, multiply its weight by six minutes and go with this number instead. If you are cooking a frozen turkey breast, though, it'll need to be 10 minutes per pound of cooking time, so a frozen turkey breast weighing five pounds would need to be cooked for 50 minutes.

"If your turkey breast is large," says Latimer, "you may not be able to use the trivet." In this case, she says, you should place the turkey breast in the Instant Pot meat-side up. "Do not place the turkey breast meat-side down without the trivet," she warns, saying "the butter will make your Instant Pot give a burn notice." One workaround might be to skip the butter and then place the turkey breast meat-side down, but Latimer says she doesn't really recommend doing so. This would submerge the meat in the liquid, something she says would make it "likely to fall apart like soup meat."

Let the bird rest before you serve it

After the cooking time is up, you'll then need to do a natural pressure release (NPR) for 10 minutes and vent the Instant Pot for an additional five minutes. Check the turkey's temperature with a meat thermometer to make sure the thickest part of the breast reads 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the turkey breast from the Instant Pot and place it on a cutting board or serving tray, then loosely tent it with aluminum foil. Allow the turkey breast to rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving. As Latimer tells us, "Your turkey will continue to cook while resting," so it needs the full 15 minutes before it's done.

If you miss the crispy skin you get with a roast turkey, you can always transfer the turkey breast to a roasting pan as soon as it comes out of the Instant Pot and broil it for five minutes to crisp up the skin. "Watch your turkey closely while browning the skin," says Latimer, explaining that "it can burn quickly!" Once the skin is brown, place the breast on a platter or cutting board and tent it with foil for that same 15-minute resting period before you slice it and serve it up alongside the cranberry sauce, yam casserole, or whatever your favorite turkey trimmings may be. (Don't forget the pumpkin pie!)

Instant Pot Turkey Breast Recipe
5 from 32 ratings
With this Instant Pot turkey breast recipe from Angela Latimer of Bake It With Love, your turkey can be table-ready in under an hour!
Prep Time
Cook Time
Turkey on platter with parsley
Total time: 50 minutes
  • 5-pound turkey breast
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup chicken broth or water
  1. Remove the turkey breast from its packaging and check the cavity. Remove any gravy packets if present.
  2. Pat the turkey breast dry using paper towels.
  3. Combine the softened butter with salt, thyme, pepper, and paprika.
  4. Rub the turkey breast with seasoned butter. You can also slide your fingers under the skin of the turkey breast until loosened and apply the seasoned butter under the skin before coating the outside of the turkey breast with any remaining butter.
  5. Place the metal trivet into the inner pot of your Instant Pot, then pour in the chicken broth or water.
  6. Put the seasoned turkey breast meat-side down on the trivet, then close and seal both the lid and the vent.
  7. Set the manual cooking time to 30 minutes (or 6 minutes for each pound).
  8. After the cooking time is up, natural pressure release (NPR) for 10 minutes, then vent for 5 more minutes.
  9. Transfer the turkey breast to a cutting board or serving tray, and loosely tent with aluminum foil.
  10. Allow the turkey breast to rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
Calories per Serving 407
Total Fat 20.9 g
Saturated Fat 7.3 g
Trans Fat 0.2 g
Cholesterol 160.3 mg
Total Carbohydrates 1.3 g
Dietary Fiber 0.2 g
Total Sugars 0.4 g
Sodium 598.1 mg
Protein 50.4 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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