More and more cooks are falling in love with the Instant Pot, a multi-tasker that does everything from searing to slow cooking, as well as steaming and finishing foods in a flash under pressure. I'm among the obsessed, on a mission to try adapting some of my favorite recipes. The biggest success so far has been Southern-inspired Thanksgiving dinner in under an hour. Yes, really. Here's a step-by-step guide to the easiest feast ever:

Photo by Meredith Publishing

Meal Planning

The star of the show is a turkey breast, so this is method isn't going to work for a crowd, but it's perfect for a party of four. Breaking it down, following the recipe, here's the shopping list:

  • Turkey breast (3-4 pounds)
  • Butter
  • BBQ dry rub seasoning mix
  • Chicken or turkey stock (homemade or store-bought)
  • Cornbread (homemade is great, but most bakeries now stock this Southern staple)
  • Onion
  • Celery
  • Pecans
  • Sweet Potatoes (Do you know the difference between sweet potatoes and yams?)

Painless prepping

For the juiciest bird, plan on brining it overnight. It's really easy, promise. (Just follow these instructions.) Shortly before searing the breast, skin side down, rub it with the barbecue dry rub. (I use Rendezvous's famous seasoning mix all the way from Memphis, available online, but you could also DIY a dry rub.) The barbecue spices infuse a smoky, roasted flavor without coming off as straight-up barbecue. Chop the veggies and peel the sweet potatoes. You're all set, ready to get the party started.

Set the Instant Pot to Saute

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in the Instant Pot and when it begins bubbling, add the turkey breast, skin side down. While it's cooking, saute the onions, celery and chopped pecans over medium high heat in a separate skillet. Yes, I considered trying to do everything in the Instant Pot, but this process worked best for me. When the onions begin to caramelize, turn off the heat and crumble the cornbread on top and gently mix.

650 x 465 Instant Pot overview photo by Leslie Kelly
Photo by Leslie Kelly

Crafting a Couple of Rafts

There are all sorts of gadgets and additions for Instant Pot, but it's easy enough to build a foil raft to hold the cornbread dressing and the sweet potatoes. Use a cake pan as a size guide, bringing the sides of a double sheet of foil up at least 3 inches so the contents don't spill out when it's lifted off the turkey after cooking. Poke half a dozen holes in the bottom of the raft containing the dressing. That's so the stock can slowly seep through, down to the cooking surface, where it'll make incredible pan drippings for gravy.

Crank Up the Pressure

When the breast is golden brown on the skin side, flip it and nestle the raft of cornbread dressing on top of the turkey. Drizzle the stock over the cornbread dressing. Place the raft of sweet potatoes on top and seal the Instant Pot. Set it for pressure, and hit the poultry button, setting the time for 30 minutes, noting it takes some time to bring the pressure up. Cooking under pressure is much quicker because the temp rises in that contained environment.

Letting off Steam

Build in at least 10 minutes to let the steam release after the timer ticks down to zero, so you can easily remove the lid. If you're in a hurry, there's a release button, but it still takes at least 5 minutes.

650 x 465 turkey breast cooked in 30 minutes in Instant Pot photo by Leslie Kelly
Photo by Leslie Kelly

No Need to Rest, Ready to Serve

Carefully remove the layers. Slice the breast, spoon out the dressing and sweet potatoes. All that's missing is cranberry sauce or chutney. (If you're looking for a fuller table, try these quick/easy sides.) With all the time saved cooking, that means you can focus on what's really important: Thanksgiving desserts!

650 x 465 turkey day meal photo by Vanessa Greaves
Photo by Vanessa Greaves

How'd it Turn Out?

The best surprise of this alternative to roasting was that the turkey was so juicy and so tender. The barbecue seasoned had mellowed in the short cooking time. The sides were memorable, too, with the dressing full of flavor and the sweet potatoes shining in their simplicity. I'd definitely do this again, and it wouldn't even have to be Thanksgiving.

More Instant Pot Inspiration