Instant Pot Thanksgiving recipes take some of the pressure off

Using a pressure cooker cuts down on time and effort during the big day.

Jen Wheeler Editor / Chowhound
After 10+ years in customer service, Jen is now an editor at Chowhound and still can't believe she's basically living her childhood dream (of writing for Gourmet magazine). Naturally, she loves to eat, cook, read, and write. Baltimore-born and raised, Pacific NW-matured, she still prefers blue crabs to Dungeness.
Jen Wheeler
6 min read
Chris Monroe/CNET

As much as Thanksgiving is a celebration of family, friends and general gratitude, it's also notorious for being a source of stress, especially for the cook. It doesn't have to be that way. You can approach holiday cooking as meditation, make sure you have a detailed plan to tackle all the minutiae, gear up with kitchen gadgets that make the meal easier and prepare as much food as possible ahead of time.

If you add a pressure cooker to that mix of methods, you can pull off a truly epic feast with practically zero stress -- at least when it comes to the food, your relatives are another matter.

Read moreThe best Instant Pots of 2019

Pretty much every single course can be prepared in the Instant Pot. Yes, you can only do one thing at a time (assuming you only have one such appliance), but not only is each course speedy to make, most everything can be prepared in advance and gently reheated on the big day. For many, that has to sound a lot more appealing than juggling a bunch of different cooking times and temperatures when the company's coming (or is already there).

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Unsurprisingly, some ingredients are better suited to pressure cookers and Instant Pots than others, making every part of Thanksgiving dinner in a shortcut-friendly appliance is probably more of a stunt than a necessity -- but that doesn't make it a bad thing! People enjoy spectacles, most people also enjoy the convenience, so why not combine the two? Or at least consider incorporating one or two of the below recipes into your Thanksgiving repertoire, to help take the pressure off yourself.

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Instant Pot turkey breast

Admittedly, the star of the show might be a bit of a challenge; if you want a big, picture-perfect bird with crispy skin, your best bet is the tried-and-true method of roasting (a high heat turkey recipe helps cut time if that's a priority, and then you can make a great pressure cooker turkey soup from the carcass).

If you're determined (and you either have a really big pressure cooker or only need a smaller sized turkey) you can cook the entire thing in the pot in just one hour, sacrificing nothing but the skin -- and you can broil it to help it crisp a bit afterward.

But we'd recommend going with a turkey breast for the best results from the pressure cooker, like this Instant Pot turkey breast recipe.

Then again, if you happen to have a very small group for the holiday, you can make turkey legs, mashed potatoes and gravy all at once in your Instant Pot!

Read more on Chowhound: How to make Thanksgiving dinner for one (or two)

Instant Pot gravy


If you stick with roasting your bird in the oven (or go with a deep-fried turkey, or smoked turkey on the grill for that matter), you can still use the pressure cooker to make gravy for smothering the meat, mashed potatoes and all the other sides.

This recipe does make use of the giblets (aka, the turkey organs usually packaged in a bag inside the cavity), but if you're adamant about throwing that sachet away, make pressure cooker stock with a pack of turkey wings instead, and then use that to make your gravy. Get the pressure cooker gravy recipe.

Instant Pot mashed potatoes

Make smooth, creamy yet fluffy mashed potatoes in 15 minutes, in a single pot, with no draining or boiling-pot-watching required? Yes! Make mashed potatoes every night now that you have this recipe? Maybe! Get the Instant Pot mashed potatoes recipe.

Instant Pot stuffing

OK, this might be one of those instances where the Instant Pot is not your best bet; to paraphrase Ian Malcolm, sometimes you're so preoccupied with whether or not you could, that you don't stop to think if you should -- because it doesn't save appreciable time or effort, and you still have to crisp it in the oven anyway.

However, if you want to try it out, and you actively desire or just don't mind your stuffing being in a ring loaf shape, go ahead and break out the pressure cooker for this one too. Get the Instant Pot stuffing recipe.

Instant Pot cranberry sauce

The quickest way to cranberry sauce, of course, is to open a can. However, homemade is extra easy in a pressure cooker, whether you like a chunky texture or smooth and gelled. This cran-apple version made in the Instant Pot, includes a little apple brandy -- because cranberries and booze are a perfect pair. Get the Instant Pot cranberry sauce recipe.

Instant Pot sweet potato casserole

Much as it makes miraculous mashed potatoes, the pressure cooker is great for sweet potatoes too. This casserole cooks in only eight minutes (plus a little chopping and mixing time), and is topped with candied pecans instead of mini marshmallows. Broiling is optional. Get the Instant Pot sweet potato casserole recipe.

Instant Pot Brussels sprouts

You need at least one green vegetable on the table, and Brussels sprouts have been in vogue for a while now -- because when cooked properly, they're really good. Bacon helps, too. For something a little spicier, try this variation, or for a vegan version, you can go with these maple-mustard sprouts also made in a pressure cooker. Super simple, perfectly cooked and fuss-free, these bacon Brussels sprouts will be delicious with anything on your table. Get the Instant Pot Brussels sprouts recipe.

Instant Pot green bean casserole

Green bean casseroles are a must for lots of families on Thanksgiving. If you are not in that camp, the Instant Pot can make crisp-tender garlic green beans for you in five while you attend to other things, but it also makes green bean casserole a snap -- without even calling for canned soup. Get the Instant Pot green bean casserole recipe.

Instant Pot pumpkin pie

Yes, you can even make dessert in your pressure cooker. If you must have a traditional flaky crust, you'll probably be better off skipping the Instant Pot (although you can use it to make your own pumpkin puree for pie filling). If you're OK with a nice crumbly press-in crust made from cookies and pecans, though, this pressure cooker pumpkin pie is perfect for you. Get the Instant Pot pumpkin pie recipe.

Instant Pot pecan pie cheesecake

While there are several sources for Crock Pot pecan pies (and, of course, you can use your Instant Pot as a slow cooker), there aren't too many pressure cooker pecan pie recipes out there yet. There are, however, lots of Instant Pot cheesecake recipes, including this low-carb version that's especially perfect for a keto Thanksgiving. It's ready in just 30 minutes too. Get the Instant Pot pecan pie cheesecake recipe. (And here's a non-keto version.)

Instant Pot apple cider

Don't forget about drinks! Slow cooker apple cider is a perfect set-it-and-forget-it treat, but if you forget to set it far enough ahead of time, it won't be as flavorful as it can be. This pressure cooker version solves that problem by producing a big batch of warm, wonderfully spiced apple cider in no time.

It's nonalcoholic and keeps warm indefinitely, so the whole group can enjoy it at their leisure (though adults who are so inclined can certainly doctor their cups with a little extra holiday cheer -- and it's equally good served chilled if you make it that far in advance). Get the Instant Pot apple cider recipe.