Free up your oven at Thanksgiving and use your Instant Pot to make perfectly cooked and super tender turkey breast! Use the Sous Vide function to cook a turkey breast at Thanksgiving or any occasion with little to no fuss. This Instant Pot turkey breast recipe gives consistent results and is foolproof!
Table of Contents
Roasting a turkey breast in the oven can be hit or miss. In order to get good results, you may have to adjust the temperature in the middle of cooking or adjust the cooking time based on the weight of the turkey breast. Often, the turkey breast ends up being dry, tough, or overcooked.
In addition, there are times when you may not want to bake a turkey breast in the oven. In particular, I’m thinking about Thanksgiving. The oven may be working overtime and you might want another option to cook a turkey breast.
I’m going to show you a way to cook moist and tender turkey breast in the Instant Pot. But this recipe doesn’t involve pressure cooking. It uses the sous vide technique.
Turkey breast sous vide involves cooking the turkey at a low temperature for a longer period of time. The result is perfectly cooked turkey every time. I’m pretty sure that once you use this method, you may not go back to the oven again!
If you’re hosting a Friendsgiving get-together this Thanksgiving, you might want to consider this sous vide turkey breast recipe!
I found Kenji’s post on Thanksgiving sous vide turkey to be really useful. If you have the time, it’s worth a read.
Please note that not all Instant Pots have the sous vide functionality.
[Recommended reading: How to use the Instant Pot Sous Vide Smart Program]
TIPS AND SUBSTITUTIONS
Sous Vide Bags
You can use either resealable freezer bags, reusable sous vide bags or machine-sealed bags (e.g. Foodsaver). I just use freezer bags and they work well for me. Just make sure that you’re using freezer bags and not resealable storage bags that are thinner.
Sous Vide Turkey Temperature
The higher the temperature, the more well-done the turkey will be. Feel free to experiment with the timings.
At 145 degrees, the turkey is moist and tender just the way I like it. If you like your turkey to be juicier, try 142 degrees. If you want a firmer turkey breast, try increasing the temperature to 148 degrees.
Sous Vide Cooking Times
The turkey sous vide cooking time can be from 3 to 6 hours. I like to go with 4 hours but the turkey is fully cooked by the 3-hour mark.
The low end of the range is the minimum amount of time you should cook the turkey for food safety reasons. Some people even do 2 1/2 hours and find the turkey to be cooked to their liking.
The higher end of the range is the maximum amount of time the turkey can sit in the water bath without the texture being affected.
I use boneless turkey breast. You should be able to cook a bone-in turkey using the same timing.
I’ve cooked up to 5 lbs of turkey breast using this recipe with great results.
You definitely want to season the turkey before cooking it. At a bare minimum, season all sides generously with salt and pepper.
Use a dry spice rub of your choice. Here are some spices that you can include in your spice mix:
Mix softened butter with the dry rub to get additional flavor!
Dry rubs are less messy than wet marinades but you can use a wet seasoning too such as one from this collection of marinades.
Tying the Turkey Breast
Some turkey breasts come pre-seasoned and with mesh netting to keep the turkey from opening up.
If your turkey breast isn’t already seasoned and rolled up, rub the turkey generously with spices and use kitchen twine to tie around the turkey to roll it into a log shape.
This allows for even cooking since the turkey will have a uniform shape.
When the sous vide time is up, the turkey is fully cooked and perfectly tender but it doesn’t have that golden finished look.
Broiling the turkey after cooking gives it a more appealing appearance. Broil in the oven under the broiler or use an air fryer lid to brown the outside of the turkey.
When I use the turkey breast just for sandwiches, I don’t bother to broil it but if I’m serving it as an entree, I broil it for about 3 to 5 minutes in the oven or about 10 minutes in the air fryer (or until golden brown – check periodically to make sure it isn’t burning!) I brush the turkey with oil or butter halfway through cooking.
You can also sear the outside of the turkey instead of broiling. Heat a large skillet, add oil and when it’s hot, sear both sides of the turkey breast over medium-high heat until the outside turns a golden color.
Thawing the Turkey
I prefer to thaw the turkey before cooking it. Frozen turkey should be thawed in the refrigerator. It will take about a day to thaw.
You can also cook the turkey from frozen. Add an extra 1 1/2 hours to the sous vide cooking time.
General Sous Vide Info
The displacement method is a way to get most of the air out of the freezer bag:
- Place the food in the bag.
- Press out as much air as possible and seal the bag almost all the way, leaving 1 inch open.
- Making sure the bag opening doesn’t go below the water, slowly lower the bag into the water until it’s mostly submerged, using tongs or a wooden spoon to push the bag gently into the water.
- Seal the bag all the way and let the opening stay above the water level.
I would highly recommend you go through my easy-to-understand step-by-step sous vide guide before attempting sous vide for the first time. It tells you all about the displacement method and other important information.
If you’re new to the Instant Pot and aren’t familiar with how to use it, you might find it helpful to first read one of the following guides and then come back here to learn how to make this recipe.
- Instant Pot DUO Beginner’s Manual
- Instant Pot ULTRA Beginner’s Manual
- Instant Pot DUO EVO PLUS Beginner’s Manual
- Instant Pot DUO NOVA Beginner’s Manual
- Instant Pot DUO GOURMET Beginner’s Manual
- Instant Pot DUO CRISP Beginner’s Manual
- Instant Pot PRO Beginner’s Manual
Yes, you can cook a bone-in turkey breast with the same timings.
Turkey tenderloin is a boneless skinless portion in the breast area that cooks up very tender. You should be able to use this recipe and you can even reduce the cooking time to 3 hours.
Yes, you can use frozen turkey breast. Add an extra hour and a half to the sous vide cook time.
In order to make Instant Pot turkey legs, increase the temperature to 155 degrees and the time to 5 to 8 hours.
Turkey wings can be cooked at 155 degrees Fahrenheit for 4 hours.
Sous vide is a very forgiving cooking method. Cooking the turkey using sous vide for any time within the range will give you good results.
The lower end of the range is the minimum amount of time to kill bacteria. Going over the higher end of the range can affect the texture.
Food safety is a function of two factors: temperature and time. You can cook the turkey at a higher temperature for a shorter time or at a lower temperature for a longer time. The lower the temperature, the longer it takes to kill the microbes. Cook’s Illustrated has a good article on sous vide safety.
Yes, you can leave the skin on for sous vide turkey. This article from the Flavor Bender has great information on how to debone and prep a whole turkey breast before you do the sous vide, including a delicious marinade.
Any Instant Pot model that has the Sous Vide smart program can be used to make this recipe. You can also use a traditional sous vide immersion circulator.
Yes, you can freeze the sous vide turkey breast. Place the bag in an ice bath for 10 minutes to quickly cool it and then freeze it.
If you’re going to cook the turkey ahead of time, cool it down quickly in an ice bath for 10 minutes and immediately refrigerate it. Reheat the turkey in a water bath at 135 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour. Sear it or broil it before serving.
Sous Vide Turkey Breast – Ingredients
- 3 to 4 lb. turkey breast
(rolled up and tied with twine)
More details in the recipe card at the bottom of this post
How to Cook Turkey Breasts using Sous Vide in the Instant Pot (Step by Step Instructions)
- Prepare turkey and add water for sous vide
- Program the sous vide function
- Place turkey breast in a freezer bag
- Lower freezer bag into the water bath
- Remove freezer bag from the water bath
- Broil turkey breast
- Brush turkey with oil
- Remove turkey and let it rest
Prepare turkey and add water for sous vide
- Season turkey breast with your choice of seasonings (e.g. salt, pepper, paprika), roll the turkey up and use twine to tie the roll into a log shape. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Fill the Instant Pot with water up to the 1/2-full mark or enough water for the turkey to be completely submerged.
- Close the lid and put the steam release mechanism to Vent.
Program the Sous Vide Function
- Select the Sous Vide smart program
- Set the sous vide temperature to 145 degrees Fahrenheit
- Set the sous vide cook time to 4 hours. The turkey can stay in the water bath for up to 6 hours without affecting the texture.
- Close the lid and start sous vide.
* Find out more details on How to Use the Instant Pot Sous Vide Smart Program.
Place turkey breast in a freezer bag
- Place the turkey breast in a gallon-size freezer bag and press out as much air as possible.
- Seal the bag all the way except for 1 inch. This will allow air to escape when the bag is lowered into the water.
Lower freezer bag into the water bath
- Once the desired temperature has been reached, the Instant Pot will beep. Open the lid.
- Gradually lower the freezer bag into the water. Use a wooden spoon or tongs to gently push the bag into the water, if needed.
- Air will get forced out as the bag gets lowered. This is called the displacement method. Read more about it in How to Use the Instant Pot Sous Vide Smart Program.
- Finally, close the bag all the way until the bag is completely sealed.
- Keep the bag opening above water at all times.
- Close the lid.
- The turkey will begin the sous vide process.
Remove freezer bag from the water bath
- When the sous vide cooking time is up, the Instant Pot will beep.
- Press Cancel, open the lid and remove the freezer bag. Use a pair of tongs if necessary. The water will be quite warm.
- Open the bag and transfer the turkey breast to a plate or cutting board lined with paper towels.
- Dry the turkey using the paper towels.
Broil turkey breast
- Broil the turkey using the air fryer lid. *
- Rub the top of a steam rack or trivet with oil.
- Place the greased trivet in the Instant Pot, place turkey on the trivet, close the air fryer lid and program it to broil or air fry for about 10 minutes (or until the exterior turns golden brown).
* If you don’t have an air fryer lid, broil the turkey in the oven broiler. Brush the turkey with oil and broil it for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown.
Brush turkey with oil
- Halfway through the broiling process, remove the lid and place it on the cooling pad.
- Brush the turkey with melted butter or olive oil.
- Replace the lid and continue to broil the turkey breast. If the turkey has browned to your liking before the time’s up, press Cancel.
Remove turkey and let it rest
- Remove the air fryer lid and place it on the cooling pad when the time’s up.
- Use a pair of tongs to remove the turkey breast from the rack and allow the turkey to rest for 10 minutes on a clean cutting board.
- Cut off the twine and slice the turkey into medallions.
Instant Pot Turkey Breast using Sous Vide
- Season the turkey breast with salt, pepper, and paprika or your choice of seasonings.
- Tightly roll up the turkey breast into the shape of a log and tie with kitchen twine.
- Place the turkey breast in a freezer bag and press out as much air as you can. Zip the bag closed except for 1 inch. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Fill the Instant Pot with water up to the 1/2-full mark or with enough water for the turkey to be completely submerged.
- Close the lid and put the steam release mechanism to Vent.
- Set the Sous Vide temperature to 145 degrees Fahrenheit and the cook time to 4 hours. *[Read More: How to use the Sous Vide in the Instant Pot]
- Once the temperature has been reached, the Instant Pot will beep. Open the lid and measure the temperature of the water with a digital thermometer to make sure the desired temperature has been reached.
- Gradually lower the bag down into the water using the displacement method. ** Close the bag all the way until the bag is completely sealed, but keep the opening of the bag above the water level. Close the lid.
- When the sous vide cooking time is up, the Instant Pot will beep.
- Press Cancel, open the lid and using tongs, remove the freezer bag.
- Open the bag and and transfer the turkey breast to a plate or cutting board lined with paper towels. Dry the turkey with the paper towels.
- Broil the turkey breast in an oven for 3 to 5 minutes or in an air fryer until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Halfway through broiling, brush the turkey with oil.
- Let the turkey breast rest for 10 minutes before serving.
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I am not a certified nutritionist. I provide my best estimate of nutritional information merely as a courtesy to my readers. If you depend on nutritional information for dietary or health reasons, I suggest using your favorite online nutrition calculator to confirm the nutritional value of this recipe based on the actual ingredients that you use.
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