(GUIDE) How To Cook Turkey In Pressure Cooker?

Cooking a turkey in a pressure cooker can be a quick and convenient alternative to traditional oven roasting. Pressure cooking helps retain moisture and infuse flavors into the turkey, resulting in a tender and juicy bird. However, it is crucial to follow some essential guidelines and cook times to ensure the turkey is cooked thoroughly and safely.

In this article, we will guide you through the process of cooking a turkey in a pressure cooker, including preparation, cook times, optimal pressure cooking techniques, troubleshooting, and variations for added flavors.

Quick Answer: How Long To Cook Turkey In Pressure Cooker

The cooking time for a turkey in a pressure cooker depends on the weight of the bird. As a general guideline, you will need to cook the turkey for about 6-8 minutes per pound on high pressure. However, this is a rough estimate, and there are a few factors that can affect the cooking time, such as the size of the pressure cooker and the desired doneness of the meat.


Before you begin cooking your turkey in a pressure cooker, there are a few necessary preparations to ensure the best results.

  1. Thawing the Turkey: If your turkey is frozen, make sure to thaw it completely before cooking. Thawing can take several days in the refrigerator, so plan accordingly. Never attempt to cook a frozen turkey in a pressure cooker, as it will result in uneven cooking and potentially dangerous food safety issues.

  2. Cleaning and Seasoning: Remove the giblets and neck from the turkey cavity and rinse the bird thoroughly with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. At this stage, you can season the turkey with your desired herbs, spices, or a dry rub. This step is crucial for maximizing the flavor of the turkey.

  3. Prepping the Pressure Cooker: Ensure that your pressure cooker is clean and in proper working condition. Check the seals and valves to make sure they are functioning correctly. You may also want to add a trivet or a metal steam rack to elevate the turkey slightly above the liquid during cooking.

Pressure Cooker Basics For Turkey

Using a pressure cooker to cook a turkey requires an understanding of its basic functions and settings.

Pressure Levels

Pressure cookers typically come with two pressure levels: high pressure and low pressure. When cooking a turkey, it is recommended to use high pressure for faster cooking and better results. High pressure helps break down the turkey’s connective tissues, resulting in tender and moist meat.

Pressure Release Methods

There are two primary pressure release methods for pressure cookers: natural release and quick release.

  1. Natural Release: This method involves letting the pressure inside the cooker decrease naturally after the cooking time is complete. It is done by simply turning off the heat and allowing the pressure cooker to sit until the pressure valve drops on its own. Natural release is ideal for delicate meats like turkey since it allows for gentle cooking and keeps the moisture intact.

  2. Quick Release: Quick release involves manually releasing the pressure by turning the pressure valve to the venting position. This method is faster and suitable for recipes that require less cooking time. However, when cooking a turkey, it is generally not recommended to use quick release, as it can result in a loss of moisture and potentially toughen the meat.

Cook Times For Turkey In Pressure Cooker

As mentioned earlier, the cook time for a turkey in a pressure cooker depends on its weight. Here is a general guideline:

  • Small Turkeys (8-10 pounds): 60-80 minutes
  • Medium Turkeys (10-12 pounds): 80-90 minutes
  • Large Turkeys (12-14 pounds): 90-100 minutes
  • Extra-Large Turkeys (14+ pounds): 100+ minutes

It is important to note that these times are estimates and can vary depending on factors such as the size and shape of the pressure cooker, the starting temperature of the turkey, and the desired level of doneness.

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How To Cook Turkey In Pressure Cooker

Now that you are familiar with the basic preparation steps and cook times, let’s walk through the process of cooking a turkey in a pressure cooker.

  1. First, place the turkey on a clean cutting board and season it with your desired herbs, spices, or dry rub. Make sure to season both the inside and outside of the bird thoroughly.

  2. Heat the pressure cooker on the stove over medium heat. Add a small amount of oil or butter and wait for it to heat up.

  3. Carefully place the seasoned turkey in the pressure cooker, breast-side up. If desired, you can also add vegetables like onions, carrots, and celery for additional flavor.

  4. Add about 1-2 cups of liquid to the pressure cooker, such as broth or stock. The liquid will generate steam and create pressure, which aids in cooking the turkey.

  5. Securely lock the pressure cooker lid in place, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure the pressure valve is set to the sealing position.

  6. Increase the heat to high and allow the pressure to build inside the cooker until the pressure valve indicates high pressure has been reached. This may take a few minutes, depending on your pressure cooker.

  7. Once the pressure has reached the desired level, reduce the heat to maintain high pressure. Set the timer and cook the turkey for the appropriate amount of time based on its weight.

  8. After the cooking time is complete, turn off the heat and allow the pressure to release naturally. This will take some time, usually around 10-15 minutes.

  9. Once the pressure has been fully released, carefully open the pressure cooker lid, ensuring that any remaining steam is released away from your face. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the turkey. It should register at least 165°F (74°C) in the thickest part of the meat.

  10. If the turkey is not fully cooked, return the lid to the pressure cooker and cook for an additional few minutes until the desired internal temperature is reached.

  11. Once the turkey is cooked to perfection, carefully remove it from the pressure cooker using tongs or a large serving spoon. Transfer it to a cutting board and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.

  12. Serve your pressure-cooked turkey with your favorite sides and enjoy a delicious, tender, and flavorful meal.

Optimal Pressure Cooking Techniques For Turkey

To ensure the best possible results when pressure cooking a turkey, we recommend the following techniques:

  1. Searing the Turkey: Before placing the turkey in the pressure cooker, you can choose to sear it in a hot skillet to add some color and enhance the flavor. Searing also helps seal in the juices, resulting in a more succulent turkey.

  2. Elevating the Turkey: Placing a trivet or metal steam rack at the bottom of the pressure cooker will elevate the turkey slightly and prevent it from sitting in the cooking liquid. This helps avoid a soggy texture and promotes even cooking.

  3. Using Aromatics: Adding aromatic vegetables like onions, carrots, and celery to the pressure cooker along with the turkey can enhance the overall flavor of the dish. These vegetables also contribute to the cooking liquid, creating a delicious broth or jus.

  4. Basting the Turkey: Since pressure cooking locks in moisture, basting is not necessary. However, if you prefer a browned and crispy skin, you can transfer the cooked turkey to a baking dish and broil it in the oven for a few minutes. Basting the turkey with melted butter or pan drippings during this process can help achieve a more appealing appearance.


Sometimes, issues may arise when cooking a turkey in a pressure cooker. Here are a few common troubleshooting tips:

  1. Cooking Time Not Sufficient: If the turkey is not fully cooked after the recommended cooking time, you can return it to the pressure cooker for a few more minutes. Make sure to bring the pressure back up to high before continuing the cooking process.

  2. Burnt or Stuck-on Food: If you encounter burnt or stuck-on food at the bottom of the pressure cooker, it may be due to insufficient liquid or heat control during cooking. To avoid this, always ensure there is enough liquid in the cooker and regulate the heat properly. If food is stuck, soak the pressure cooker in warm soapy water to loosen any residue before cleaning.

  3. Dry or Tough Meat: If the turkey meat turns out dry or tough, it may have been overcooked. Reduce the cooking time slightly for the next attempt to achieve a more tender result.

  4. Insufficient Flavor: If you find that the turkey lacks flavor, you can adjust the seasoning or experiment with different herbs, spices, or marinades to enhance the taste. Remember to factor in the cooking time for any additional flavoring ingredients.

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Variations And Flavoring Options

While cooking a turkey in a pressure cooker can yield delicious results on its own, you can also explore various flavoring options to further enhance your dish.

  1. Seasoning Blends: Experiment with different seasoning blends such as Cajun, Italian, or Moroccan to add unique flavors to the turkey. Apply the seasoning mix generously to the entire bird before cooking.

  2. Herb and Citrus Infusion: Stuff the turkey cavity with fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage, or tarragon, along with citrus fruits like lemon, lime, or orange. These aromatic ingredients will infuse the meat with subtle flavors during the pressure cooking process.

  3. Broth or Stock Variations: Instead of using plain water as the cooking liquid, consider using a flavorful broth or stock. Mushroom broth, vegetable stock, or even a homemade turkey broth will add depth to the dish.

  4. Basting Glazes: If you prefer a glazed turkey, you can apply a basting glaze made from ingredients like honey, maple syrup, soy sauce, mustard, or cranberry sauce. Brush the glaze onto the turkey before placing it under the broiler for a few minutes to caramelize.

  5. Spice Rubs: Create your own spice rub by combining various spices like paprika, cumin, coriander, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper. Rub the mixture onto the turkey before cooking to add a flavorful crust.

By incorporating these variations and flavoring options, you can customize your pressure-cooked turkey to suit your taste preferences and create a unique culinary experience.

In conclusion, cooking a turkey in a pressure cooker can be a time-saving and flavorful alternative to traditional roasting methods. By following the guidelines, cook times, and optimal pressure cooking techniques outlined in this article, you can achieve a succulent, tender, and delicious turkey that will impress your family and guests. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different seasonings and flavors to create a memorable holiday meal. Enjoy the convenience and fantastic results of pressure cooking!


Can I Cook A Whole Turkey In A Pressure Cooker?

Yes, you can cook a whole turkey in a pressure cooker, but it will depend on the size of your pressure cooker. You will need to measure the size of your pressure cooker to ensure that a whole turkey will fit inside before attempting to cook it.

How Long Does It Take To Cook A Turkey In A Pressure Cooker?

Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the turkey and the type of pressure cooker used. Generally, a 14-pound turkey will take about 30 minutes to cook in a pressure cooker.

Do I Need To Add Liquid When Cooking A Turkey In A Pressure Cooker?

Yes, it is important to add at least 1 cup of liquid, such as water, broth, or wine, to the pressure cooker before cooking the turkey. This helps create steam which is essential in cooking a turkey in a pressure cooker.

Is It Safe To Cook A Turkey In A Pressure Cooker?

When used correctly, pressure cookers are safe for cooking a turkey. It is important to follow all safety precautions and instructions provided by the manufacturer. It is also recommended to use a certified tested pressure cooker for added safety.

Do I Need To Adjust Cooking Times For Frozen Turkey?

Yes, cooking time will need to be adjusted if using a frozen turkey. It is recommended to thaw the turkey completely before cooking in a pressure cooker to ensure even cooking. Adjust cooking times by adding 5-10 minutes per pound of frozen turkey.