How to Cook a Frozen Turkey Breast in an Instant Pot (In 5 Easy Steps!)

A golden brown turkey breast that has been sliced on one side to reveal the internal part of the turkey breast.

Are you looking for a way to streamline Thanksgiving dinner?? Here are the easy instructions for How to Cook a Frozen Turkey Breast in an Instant Pot.  You’re never going to believe how tender and juicy a turkey breast can be when cooked for just minutes in the Instant Pot….from FROZEN! #turkey #turkeybreast #Thanksgiving #Instant Pot #recipe

**Please Note: This recipe was created for cooking a frozen, bone-in turkey breast that weighs approx. 7 lbs. and is cooked in an 8-quart Instant Pot. If you are using a standard size 6-quart Instant Pot, you will need a turkey breast that weighs closer to 5 lbs. A 9-10 pound turkey breast will need a 10-12 quart electric pressure cooker to do the job. 

Golden brown turkey breast nestled on a bed of Italian parsley in a cast iron skillet.


How to Cook a Frozen Turkey Breast in An Instant Pot 

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First of All, You May Be Asking Yourself: Who Would Want to Make a Frozen Turkey Breast in their Instant Pot?

Well, if you aren’t feeding lots of folks at a large family gathering this holiday, you may find that cooking a turkey breast is the perfect alternative to a big, fat turkey. Our family loves white meat so a turkey breast is a great choice – it’s entirely white meat, quicker to cook, and easier to slice. We love it!

Plus, sometimes in the frenzy of a holiday gathering, it’s easy to forget to thaw our turkey or turkey breast ahead of when we want to cook it.  This method is pretty fool-proof and allows you to leave the thawing worry behind! I’ve personally test this a couple of times, just to be sure.

Plus, cooking a frozen turkey breast in your Instant Pot guarantees a juicy and tender eating experience.  Nobody likes dry, tasteless turkey!

  • Step 1 – Choosing a Turkey Breast

Look for the giant pile of whole frozen turkeys in the meat department of your local grocery store, piled high in a freezer bunker; the frozen turkey breasts will be close by. Turkey breasts will range in size from 5-10 lbs, though most will weigh between 7-8 lbs, according to the butcher.

  • Step 2 – Preparing the Turkey Breast for the Instant Pot

Carefully unwrap your frozen turkey breast. (This may be the most difficult step of this entire process.) Depending on the brand of the turkey breast that you purchase, you may have a gravy packet that is frozen to the inside of the cavity of the turkey breast which must be removed prior to placing the turkey into the Instant Pot.

Turn the turkey breast over and run hot water directly over the gravy packet until it becomes pliable enough to remove it; toss the gravy packet away, since you may be running hot water over it for 5-10 minutes or so.

  • Step 3 – Cooking the Turkey Breast in the Instant Pot

Place 1 cup of broth into the Instant Pot. Season the frozen turkey breast with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning on all sides, then place it into the Instant Pot; securely lock the Instant Pot lid into place. Using the high pressure setting, set the timer for 42-48 minutes, if you’re cooking a 7-8 lb. turkey breast, bringing the Instant Pot to full pressure. (This is approx. 6-7 minutes of cooking time under pressure per pound of turkey.)

  • Step 4  – Using the Natural Release on the Instant Pot to Ensure a Super Tender and Juicy Turkey Breast

When the Instant Pot timer sounds, use a 20 minute natural release, letting the pressure in the Instant Pot come down naturally on its own. (Walk away from the Instant Pot and let it be!) At that 20 minute mark, perform a quick release of the Instant Pot in case there is still some residual pressure that may still be contained in the Instant Pot. Carefully remove the lid.

Now, insert an instant-read meat thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey breast to be sure the internal temperature registers 160-165 degrees F. If the turkey temps below the internal temperature of 160-165 degrees F., lock the Instant Pot lid into place and re-pressurize the Instant Pot for an additional 5-10 minutes, followed by a second natural release of 20 minutes, then check the internal temperature once more to be sure it’s 160-165 degrees F.

  • Step 5 – Browning the Turkey Skin

This step is completely optional! I usually do it since the beautifully browned skin sure makes the turkey breast look very impressive, especially if you’re planning to carve it at the table. It also makes the skin nice and crispy! For this step you’ll just rub a bit of olive oil over the skin and place it onto the center rack beneath the oven broiler for a few minutes, keeping a close eye on the turkey breast as it will brown very quickly.  Just know that the flavor of the turkey breast itself is not really affected by the browning of the skin – it’s pretty much strictly for show. 🙂

What Tools Will I Need to to Cook a Frozen Turkey Breast in the Instant Pot?

  • Instant Pot (any brand of electric pressure cooker works just fine, FYI)

If you’re cooking a 7 lb. frozen turkey breast or larger, you’ll need an 8-Quart Instant Pot.  If your frozen turkey breast is closer to 5 lbs. you can cook it in a 6-Quart Instant Pot. I cooked a 10 lb. frozen turkey breast, so I used a 12 quart electric pressure cooker. (Instant Pot doesn’t make an electric pressure cooker in the 12-quart size.)

  • Instant-Read Meat Thermometer

This is an essential tool for any meats you are cooking.  Not only does an instant-read meat thermometer let you know when the internal temperature is a safe, hot temperature at the center of the meat, it will also keep you from overcooking meats causing them to be dry, chewy and tough.

When you purchase an instant- read meat thermometer, it will usually include a chart that tells you the recommended internal temperature for specific cuts and types of meat.  This is super handy for sticking to the front of your fridge for reference.

  • Flat Whisk (Not to be Mistaken with a Balloon Whisk Made for a Mixing Bowl)

If you’ve made gravy or sauce that turned out lumpy, it’s likely caused by one of two reasons:  You didn’t have a flat whisk that allowed you to easily and quickly whisk the ingredients in the skillet, clear up the very edge of the pan, OR, when you added the liquids to the roux (the flour and fat that makes the gravy thicken), the roux and the skillet were too hot.  (See below for steps on how to make the turkey gravy)  I recommend getting a silicone flat whisk so you can use it on any pan type without having to worry that it will scratch the finish of your pan.

A golden brown turkey breast sliced open to reveal the internal part of the turkey.


Easy and Helpful Recipe Tips

  • Is This a Healthy Recipe for Making Instant Pot Turkey?

Sure is! A turkey breast is the leanest part of the turkey (or any poultry for that matter) and since that’s all your cooking in this case, you’re definitely cooking a healthy Instant Pot turkey breast.  Cooking the turkey breast in broth instead of water, adds lots of flavor, but few calories and almost zero fat.

  • How Long Do I Cook a Frozen Turkey Breast in The Instant Pot?

A FROZEN turkey breast will take 6-7 minutes per pound to fully cook.  That said, as an example, if you’re cooking a 7 lb. breast, it should be fully cooked in about 42-48 minutes; a 5 lb. frozen breast would cooked in about 30-35 minutes.  Keep in mind that as you use the natural release (this is the step right after the breast cooks under pressure and timer sounds) this will allow your breast to continue to cook and also to rest during this period.  The natural release rest time is a very important step when you are cooking ANY meat in your Instant Pot….providing you want it to be juicy and tender!

  • I Feel Pretty Overwhelmed about Using an Instant-Read Meat Thermometer.  Is Using an Instant-Read Important when Cooking a Turkey or a Turkey Breast?

I used to feel intimidated too.  Then, I realized how easy it actually is to use an instant-read meat thermometer to temp all of my meats, keeping them from being overcooked and dried out. The more I cook, the more I realize how important this kitchen tool is.  Guessing whether meat is done by looking at it from the outside is a bad idea, anyway, so the sooner you get on the instant-read thermometer band wagon, the better off you’ll be.

Here are My Top 4 Tips for Using an Instant-Read Meat Thermometer:

  1. Know that an instant-read meat thermometer is one that you insert, watch for the dial or the numbers on the display to stop, then you’ll immediately remove.  It’s not one like your Mom or Grandma probably used back in the day where they inserted the meat thermometer into the turkey or meat at the beginning of the cooking process and left it in there the entire cooking time.
  2. When you insert the instant-read meat thermometer, be sure that you insert it right into the center of the turkey breast or hunk of meat, taking care not to touch any bones or the bottom the roasting pan.  Doing either one of these can cause you to get a false read of the internal temperature.
  3. If you are temping something that’s not super thick, say a chicken breast in a skillet or a hamburger patty on the grill, insert the instant-read meat thermometer from the side instead of from above.  This angle will let you easily get right to the center of the meat to check the internal temperature.
  4. Have a back up thermometer!  People often think I’m crazy when I advise this, but here’s why I always do, especially for someone who’s a newbie at temping internally and using an instant-read meat thermometer:  At some point, you are going to insert that instant-read meat thermometer into a turkey breast or a  tri-tip roast on the smoker.  You’ll look at what instant-read thermometer reads as the internal temperature and suddenly you’ll be filled with doubt, worry, and wonder, never a good thing when you’re worried about ruining a piece of meat!This is where your back-up thermometer enters the picture to save the day.  When you’re worried that the first reading “can’t possibly be correct”, use the second thermometer to check the internal temperature.  If you have two readings that turn out to be the same (which you likely will) this will assure you that you’re not crazy and you’ll know how to proceed – more cooking time or the meat is done! This is the instant-read meat thermometer that I recommend when you want to have two of them – it’s very inexpensive and they work great. I’ve still got several of these in my utensil drawer that I use all the time.
  • Why Do I Need A Cup of Chicken Broth in the Bottom of the Instant Pot When I Cook My Turkey Breast?

For an Instant Pot to work properly, there HAS to be liquid of some sort in the pot.  This liquid circulates creating steam that then causes the Instant Pot to pressurize.  No liquid, no pressurizing! And this is a real problem if you need that Instant Pot to come up to pressure, trust me.  You need just enough liquid in the bottom of your Instant Pot to cover the bottom – this is usually 1 cup of broth/water for a 6-quart Instant Pot or 1 1/2 – 2 cups for an 8-quart Instant Pot.

If you are having problems getting your Instant Pot to pressurized, visit this helpful article for how to address that.

  • How Do I Make Turkey Gravy?

There are lots of ways to make turkey gravy, and here’s how I do it: 

I save the gravy packet and the liquids from the Instant Pot that have accumulated with the chicken broth.  Using the saute setting on my Instant Pot, I bring these liquids to a low simmer, then whisk in a small amount of slurry (equal parts water and cornstarch whisked until smooth), a little at a time, whisking constantly until the gravy is nicely thickened.  Serve over mashed potatoes (this is my favorite mashed potato recipe) and the sliced turkey – yum!!!

Side Dish Recipes to Include As Part of Your Turkey Dinner –

Printable Directions for Cooking a Frozen Turkey Breast That’s Juicy, Tender and Delicious

How to Cook a Frozen Turkey Breast in the Instant Pot 

Are you looking for a way to streamline Thanksgiving dinner?? Here are the easy instructions for How to Make a Frozen Turkey Breast in an Instant Pot.  You're never going to believe how tender and juicy a turkey breast can be when cooked for just a few minutes in the Instant Pot....from FROZEN! #turkey #turkeybreast #Thanksgiving #Instant Pot

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword instant pot, turkey, turkeybreast
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Natural Release Time After Pressurizing the Turkey Breast 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 1 frozen turkey breast, approx. 7 pounds
  • 1 cup turkey or chicken broth
  • 1 ½ tsp. poultry seasoning
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp.  olive oil, for rubbing over the skin if you wish to brown it in the oven after cooking it in the Instant Pot
  • 1 gravy packet that comes with the turkey breast

Instructions

Make the Turkey

  1. Remove the packaging from your frozen turkey breast. If your breast comes with a gravy packet, thaw it just enough under hot water to remove the gravy packet; reserve the gravy packet.

  2. Pour the broth into the Instant Pot. Using the saute setting, bring the broth to a boil. (This step will help your Instant Pot pressurize more quickly.)

  3. Meanwhile, place the turkey breast onto a large sheet of foil or parchment paper. Sprinkle all sides of the breast with the poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Place the turkey, breast side up, into the Instant Pot.

  4. Lock the Instant Pot lid into place. Choose the high pressure setting for 45 minutes, bringing the Instant Pot to full pressure. When the timer sounds, use a natural release for at least 20 minutes to let the Instant Pot naturally release the pressure itself, allowing the turkey breast to continue cooking under residual heat and also to rest so the meat is very tender and juicy before you slice it.

  5. Carefully remove the Instant Pot lid; using an instant-read thermometer, test the internal temperature of the turkey breast by inserting the thermometer right into the center of the thickest part of the breast. The turkey is cooked when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.

  6. If the turkey breast hasn't reached 165 degrees F., place it back into the Instant Pot and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Again, using the natural pressure release for 10 minutes.

  7. If you want to brown the skin, remove the turkey breast from the Instant Pot to a large cast iron skillet, roasting pan, or Dutch oven; brush the skin with olive oil. Place the turkey breast beneath the broiler to crisp until the desired color is reached.

Make the Gravy

  1. Using the reserved gravy packet and the liquids from the Instant Pot that have accumulated with the chicken broth during the cooking process, use the saute setting on the Instant Pot to bring these liquids to a simmer. Create a corn starch slurry by whisking together equal parts water and cornstarch (I'd start with 1 Tbs. of each). Adding a little of the slurry at a time, whisk constantly until the gravy is nicely thickened and smooth. Serve at once over mashed potatoes and sliced turkey.

Recipe Notes

**Please Note: This recipe was created for cooking a frozen, bone-in turkey breast that weighs approx. 7 lbs. and is cooked in an 8-quart Instant Pot. If you are using a standard size 6-quart Instant Pot, you will need a turkey breast that weighs closer to 5 lbs. 

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Let’s Get You Cookin’,
Chef Alli

Please Note: This recipe was happily shared on The Country Cook’s Weekend Potluck and Southern Bite’s Meal Plan Monday!

 

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Chef Alli

Chef Alli is a home-grown Kansas girl on a mission to strengthen families through enabling kitchen confidence, educating the family cook, and encouraging better food relationships. She believes with her whole heart that time spent with our loved ones and our overall quality of life is greatly enhanced by nutritious food made at home with simple, wholesome ingredients. She loves being able to connect and share this passion with others through her website, her social media presence, and her coveted speaking engagements.

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