Last Updated on August 4, 2021 by Corinne Schmitt
This Instant Pot Whole Turkey is the perfect way to free up your oven for side dishes this Thanksgiving. Better yet, you don’t have to babysit the turkey all day to keep basting it. Your Instant Pot will do the job of keeping it moist and delicious!
Thanksgiving is my husband’s favorite holiday since it’s all about spending time with the people you care about. With that in mind, I try really hard to make our Thanksgiving celebration about togetherness, rather than slaving over the feast.
Of course, a grand feast is still a priority. I just plan all the Thanksgiving dinner details ahead of time so that I don’t have 6 things that need to be in the oven at the same time.
That’s why I decided to hand off the biggest oven hog (can I say that when I’m referring to a turkey?) to my Instant Pot.
This year, make an Instant Pot Turkey and save the oven for casseroles and pies.
Why I Love This Recipe
Aside from freeing up my oven, which I’ve already mentioned, the thing I love most about this recipe for Thanksgiving turkey
is that the main entrée is ready in a fraction of the time it normally takes in the oven.
Another great thing about making turkey in a pressure cooker is that the moisture gets locked into the meat, as opposed to evaporating out like it can in the oven. No dry turkey woes with this recipe!
And, if you’re a regular reader, you know I am always a fan of an easy recipe and this one is definitely that! So, for all these reasons, I think pressure cooking your turkey is the best way to prepare a turkey dinner.
What You’ll Need
As I already mentioned, my goal was to keep this simple. You’ll have enough groceries to buy for your Thanksgiving feast, so we’ll stick with just the basics here.
As far as ingredients, all you’ll need are:
- A whole turkey (see notes below for more details)
- Water or chicken broth
- Garlic Cloves
- Fresh Herbs
About the Turkey
This recipe is for a fresh whole turkey. I used an 8 pound turkey which JUST fit inside my 8 quart Instant Pot.
If you have a frozen turkey, you’ll want to follow these instructions for safely thawing your turkey before cooking.
Don’t like dark meat ? You can follow this recipe using a bone-in turkey breast instead and stick with white meat !
It’s the same calculation for the cook time (6 minutes per pound) so a 5 pound turkey breast will require a 30 minute cooking time.
That’s right, this Instant Pot Whole Turkey recipe is also an Instant Pot Turkey Breast recipe too!
The only equipment you’ll need are:
- Instant Pot (6 qt capacity or larger)
- Metal rack that came with your Instant Pot
- A broiler pan or roasting pan if you want to crisp the skin at the end
How to Make Instant Pot Turkey
I break my recipes down into steps out of habit but don’t be fooled. Really this is a dump and press start recipe!
Step 1: Add Everything BUT the Turkey
Add 3/4 cup water, celery, carrots, onion, and garlic cloves to the inner liner of your electric pressure cooker.
Place the metal trivet on top of the vegetables.
Step 2: Add the Turkey
Now it’s time for the star of the show. If you want, add fresh sprigs of rosemary, sage and thyme inside the cavity of the turkey. This adds a nice flavor but it tastes great without the herbs too.
Carefully lay the turkey on top of the trivet. You can use the trivet handles to hold the wings down.
Step 3: Cook
Secure the lid and make sure the valve is set to sealing. We’re going to cook it at high pressure for 6 minutes per pound. I used an 8-pound turkey so I set the time for 48 minutes.
When the cook time ends, allow for a 10-minute natural release before turning the steam valve to venting to release the rest of the pressure.
To get a nice, crispy brown skin, move the turkey to a broiler pan and broil for just a few minutes.
Slice the turkey just like you normally would and serve with gravy and your favorite sides.
Instant Pot Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes:
- Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes
- Instant Pot Stuffing
- Instant Pot Sweet Potato Casserole
- Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce
- Instant Pot Broccoli Rice and Cheese Casserole
While you have all those yummy turkey drippings in your Instant Pot, go ahead and make Instant Pot Gravy too.
After the feast is over, you can use your leftover turkey to make this Instant Pot Turkey Chili. If you have leftover cranberry sauce too, these Turkey Cranberry Sliders are a great way to use them both up.
Instant Pot Whole Turkey Recipe
Ready to make your own Instant Pot Thanksgiving Turkey? Here’s the recipe card with exact measurements.
Instant Pot Turkey
- 1 Turkey 8 pounds
- 3/4 cups water
- 3 ribs celery cut into chunks
- 3 carrots cut into chunks
- 1 onion halved
- 3 garlic cloves halved
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 sprig fresh sage
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey. Set aside for gravy or dispose.
- Add water, celery, carrots, onion and garlic cloves to Instant Pot inner pot. Place the metal rack on top of the vegetables.
- Place sprigs of rosemary, sage and thyme into the cavity of the turkey.
- Place the turkey on top of the rack and use handles to hold wings.
- Secure the Instant Pot lid and turn valve to sealingl. Cook on manual high pressure for 6 minutes PER POUND, so for an 8-pound turkey, that would be 48 minutes.
- After the timer beeps indicating that the cook time is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then let out the remaining pressure by turning the valve to venting.
- If desired, transfer to broiler pan and broil for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown on top.
Wondering if this recipe would work just as well with a whole chicken instead? It sure does!
More Thanksgiving Inspiration
Need more help to prepare for Thanksgiving? Check out these posts: