“Don’t talk to me for AT LEAST two days!” “Don’t ask me to do this again next year.” “WHERE’S. THE. WINE?”
All things they usually say after spending a day cooking, roasting and basting a turkey in the oven, making sure it doesn’t dry out and looks and tastes absolutely spectacular for everyone at the table. This is, after all, a turkey we’re talking about here – the crown jewel centerpiece at EVERY Thanksgiving table. No room for error or humiliation!
But forget all of that stress. That game is about to change by cooking your turkey in the Instant Pot – and for the moist, flavorful and set-it-and-forget-it better! I’m going to take your hand and show you how to do this – NO TURKEY INTIMIDATIONS HERE!
Now, because the Instant Pot is only so large (I made mine in an 8qt, but you can also do it in a 6qt), this method is meant for smaller size turkeys that will generously feed a family of 4-6 people. But after perfecting this method, I can tell you here and now, I will NEVER go back to eating turkey any other way again (unless it’s deep fried). And that says something since I’ve never been a huge turkey fan to begin with – but I sure am now!
AND what is even more incredible? Your turkey, gravy AND stuffing are all going to be done in one shot!
Your turkey is going to look so absolutely top-notch magnificent when done, that everyone will be praising you and giving YOU thanks!
Here’s How I Made It!:
It begins with a frozen turkey…
…that we’ll put into the fridge to thaw for a solid 4 days.
Once the turkey’s thawed, it’s ready to be brined. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
(it kinda looks like stuff you found while walking in the forest, doesn’t it?)
…and add it to the boiling water.
When it’s done, allow it to cool down on the stove for a few…
…before covering with a lid and popping it in the fridge so that it’s no longer hot. (Be a little patient here – it MUST be cool or lukewarm at the very least before submerging the turkey in it or the heat from the liquid will begin to cook the turkey and we definitely don’t want that!)
Now let’s get to that thawed turkey…
…remove it from the packaging and scoop out all the insides from the cavity (neck, heart, giblets).
Now take either an oven bag, sturdy garbage bag, tall stockpot (with a lid) or cooler…
…and place the turkey in it.
Now, with the help of a loved one, CAREFULLY pour in the cooled brining liquid…
…as well as additional cold water.
Make sure you get any excess air out of the bag and then carefully tie a VERY tight and secure knot in the bag so the water doesn’t leak out.
I should mention that it would be very wise to do the pouring of the brining liquid + additional water submerging the turkey while the bag was already in a stockpot or cooler. This way, you don’t have to be on pins & needles when you transfer a bag filled with 2 gallons of liquid and a near 10 lb turkey and worrying about it ripping and re-enacting the moment when the parted Red Sea collapses.
Okay – there we go. All transferred safe & sound! (seriously, add the turkey and brining liquid when the bag’s already supported by a stockpot or cooler)
Pop it in the fridge and let it sit for 12-24 hours.
When ready to cook, discard all of the bringing liquid and elements…
…rinse the turkey thoroughly…
…and pat it dry really good. Make sure you also rinse out the hollowed cavity and dry that out as well.
Also, remove the plastic handle if your turkey had one hooked in there…
…as well as the pop-up timer if that was also included.
Now take the stuffing and, well, STUFF that turkey’s butt!
Make sure you pack in as much of the stuffing as possible. (If you have any leftover, just cook it in the oven in a little tin for 10 mins.)
Now go to the Instant Pot and add in the trivet with the handles facing upwards (you’ll thank me for this later)…
…and some turkey (or chicken) broth.
Carefully place the turkey on the trivet, with the stuffing side facing towards the top so it stays inside.
Maneuver the turkey so it properly fits into the pot and so that the lid will properly close.
Just before securing the lid, take some onions, celery and carrots…
…and coarsely chop ’em up.
Add the veggies to the turkey in the pot and just fit all of it in as best as possible, filling any gaps. Secure the lid and cook at high pressure.
When done, it’s gonna looks like this and smell incredible. It will also be very tender.
Now, using those trivet handles, you can easily transport the turkey (but STILL be careful as this could be a bit of a balancing act)…
…to a lovely roasting pan (I told you those trivet handles would make your life easier).
Make sure you position the turkey so the breast-side is up. Take some of the broth drippings from the pot and ladle it into the bottom of the roasting pan so the bottom’s just covered.
(We’ll get back the the broth drippings in just a minute).
Now comes the magical secret ingredient – the thing that makes this amazing turkey look like its been roasting in the oven for hours – Gravy Master!
Take a little of that magical potion and brush it on. ONLY USE A LITTLE and don’t overdo it! It goes a LONG way and TOO much can make your turkey look like it may have burned (even though it didn’t)!
It should look exactly like this when you’re done
painting brushing it onto your glorious turkey.
We’re in the home stretch! Pop that turkey right into the oven for 5-10 minutes and keep a good eye on it as all ovens vary!
When it looks nice and golden brown, it’s done!
Take the turkey out of the oven and let it cool down to prep for carving.
So let’s go back to our broth drippings and turn this into some thick, amazing gravy! Return the inner pot to the Instant Pot…
…and give it some heat until it bubbles.
Take a packet or two of gravy mix…
…add it to the bubbling broth…
…and whisk it together really good.
Now create a cornstarch slurry…
…add it in…
…stir immediately and allow it to bubble for a couple minutes and then turn the heat off.
The broth drippings will have now formed the most amazingly rich gravy!
Transfer it to a gravy boat.
Now that our turkey’s had a chance to rest, carve it up!
Plate the turkey…
…carve up more…
…plate more turkey…
…and finally, remove the stuffing from the turkey’s cavity.
…and add it to the serving plate. And there’s our turkey, stuffing and gravy trifecta! Now get thee to a table!
Let the jury weigh in…
And this photo really oughta speak for itself!
HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!
For the Turkey + Gravy:
- 7-9.5 lb whole turkey, fully thawed (for a 6qt pot, do not exceed 7 lbs; for an 8qt pot, do not exceed 9.5 lbs)
- 2 cups of Turkey Brine (I used Rodelle which you can get here OR at Costco!)
- 2 stalks of celery, sliced
- 2 large carrots, sliced into discs
- 2 medium yellow onions, quartered
- 2 cups of turkey (or chicken) broth (I used 2 tsp of Turkey Better Than Bouillon + 2 cups of water)
- 1-2 packets of gravy mix (optional, but I used 2 packets of Turkey Better Than Gravy)
- 2 tbsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp water, for a cornstarch slurry
- Gravy Master, to brush on for browning
For the Stuffing:
- 1 loaf of white bread, sliced, cubed and toasted
- 1 1/4 cup of turkey (or chicken) broth (I used 1 1/4 tsp of Turkey Better Than Bouillon + 1 1/4 cup of water)
- 6 tbsp (3/4 stick) of salted butter
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 tsp seasoned salt
- 1 tsp dried sage
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
- 1/2 tsp celery salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- Non-stick cooking spray, for lining the bundt pan
- Thaw that turkey! Take it out of your freezer and allow it to thaw for a good 4 days in your fridge
- Create the brine by mixing 2 cups of brine mixture with 1 gallon (16 cups) of water in a large pot. Boil for 2-5 minutes on the stove and then turn off the heat and allow to fully cool (you can do this before work or before bed and let it on the sit on the stove to cool during that time or just put a lid on the pot, place in the fridge and let it cool for about 2-2.5 hours to speed up the process)
- Remove the thawed turkey from its packaging and remove the heart, neck and giblets from the cavity so it’s hollowed and pat it dry (either discard the innards or save them for whatever). Then, place it in a large oven bag (or even a sturdy, fresh/clean garbage bag) and then carefully set the bag in something very deep that will hold and support a turkey plus 2 gallons of water (I used a stockpot which would fit in my fridge, but you can also put it in a good, insulated cooler too). Once the brining liquid has cooled or is somewhat lukewarm (it CANNOT be hot as the turkey will prematurely cook from the heat of the liquid), pour it into the oven bag/stockpot/cooler with the turkey and then add another gallon of cold water (use teamwork for this – have one person hold the bag open while the other person pours to ensure there’s no spilling). The turkey should be totally surrounded by the liquid. Lightly squeeze out any excess air and TIGHTLY secure the bag with a good knot so NO water spills out (remember, there is a LOT of water and a whole turkey in there). Leave the turkey to brine in a refrigerated climate from 12-24 hours ahead of cooking time
- When ready to cook the turkey, dump/discard all the brining liquid, remove the turkey from the bag/stockpot/cooler, rinse the turkey well, pat the turkey totally dry (including the cavity) and let it rest. Discard any plastic handles or pop-up timers that may be attached/embedded into the turkey as well
- Make the stuffing (see the recipe here and follow steps 1-3. When done, tightly pack the stuffing into the cavity of the turkey)
- Now it’s time to go the Instant Pot, add in the trivet with the handles facing up and pour in the turkey (or chicken) broth. Carefully place the turkey on top of the trivet with the cavity side facing up to make sure the stuffing stays in. Add in the carrots, celery and onions, filling in any gaps where possible
- Secure the lid and hit “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” for 42 minutes if you have a 7 lb turkey and 50 minutes if you have a 9.5 lb turkey (and average somewhere in between if your turkey ranges from 7-9.5 lbs). It may take a good 10-15 minutes to come to pressure due to the volume in the pot. When done, allow a natural release for 12 minutes followed by a quick release. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
- Using the handles of the trivet, VERY CAREFULLY remove the turkey from Instant Pot and set in a roasting pan with the turkey still sitting on the trivet. Now carefully position the turkey to ensure it’s facing breast-side up on the trivet in the roasting pan. Add in a little of the broth drippings from the pot to just cover the bottom of the roasting pan (we’ll get back to the broth in the pot in a jiffy)
- Now comes the secret step – what will make our turkey not only look gorgeous and give it a little extra flavor, but will also make it look like it was cooking in the oven for HOURS! Take a little Gravy Master, gently pour a little over the turkey and brush it on for coloring (go easy on it – a little goes a long way and the darker it looks now, the darker it will look once it comes out of the oven)
- Roast the turkey in the oven for 5-10 minutes until golden in color (keep an eye on it as ovens vary and we don’t want it to darken too much in color). When the turkey comes out of the oven, allow it to cool down before carving
- As the turkey’s cooling, let’s turn the broth drippings in the Instant Pot into gravy! Hit “Sauté” and Adjust to “More” or “High,” add in the gravy packets (if using) by whisking it up well, bring the broth to a bubble, add in the cornstarch slurry, stir well and let bubble for 2 minutes, turn the pot off and the gravy to thicken beautifully. Transfer to a gravy boat when done
- Lastly, carve up that turkey, transfer the meat and the stuffing from the cavity to a serving plate and serve with gravy poured over everything!
- GOBBLE GOBBLE!
In case you were wondering, a 9.5 lb turkey will feed up to 6-8 people.
If you don’t care to brine your turkey, you can skip steps 2 and 3 and just go from thawing your turkey to cooking it. BUT I do STRONGLY suggest you brine it. It gives it a truly remarkable flavor + moisture and does make a difference!
Don’t want to make it with stuffing and cook that separately? No problem! Leave it out! The cook time remains the same!
While the stuffing should absolutely be 100% safe to consume seeing it was cooked in the turkey at high pressure for over an hour of time (factoring in pressurizing, cooking and releasing times), if concerned, take a thermometer and make sure the temperature reads about 165 degrees.
Timing is everything with this dish. So prepare and know exactly when it will be served to ensure you take the proper steps. Here’s a little chart to help you out:
If Making The Turkey On Thursday, 11/28
Monday, 11/18 (or earlier – don’t wait til the last second) – Buy the frozen turkey to ensure you get the proper pick of the litter.
Saturday morning, 11/23 – Follow Step 1. Take the turkey from the freezer and put it in the fridge to thaw for 4 days.
Wednesday morning, 11/27 – Follow Steps 2 & 3. Make the brining liquid and allow a solid 2-3 hours for the liquid to cool down. Then, brine the turkey for 12-24 hours.
Thursday, 11/28 – Follow Steps 4 – 13. Cook the turkey, stuffing and gravy.