How to cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner in an Instant Pot - WBCB: The Valley's CW |

How to cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner in an Instant Pot

By Erika Rawes

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Oh, the humble Instant Pot. It’s a lifesaver on busy nights when it’s almost dinnertime and you have to prepare a quick meal at the last minute. It can also save a boatload of money on takeout.

One of the best things about the Instant Pot is its ability to cook almost anything in one pot. From large cuts of meat to side dishes to desserts, the magical device can prepare foods quickly and easily. You save time on cleanup because you’re not using four different pots and pans. You can slow cook, pressure cook, brown, saut, and more all in the same pan. You can even use the pot to keep your meal warm.

With the holiday season approaching, you may be starting to make plans for Thanksgiving. If you’re hosting, your Instant Pot might end up being your best friend on Turkey Day. Did you know that you can cook your entire Thanksgiving Dinner in an Instant Pot? No more standing over a hot stove top and having the oven on all day. You can sit back, relax, and spend time with your loved ones while the Instant Pot does most of the work for you.

We collected some of our favorite Instant Pot recipes (online and some of our own recipe creations). Using these recipes, we created an Instant Pot Thanksgiving dinner guide. Here’s how to cook your Thanksgiving Dinner in an Instant Pot. And by the way, if you don’t have an Instant Pot, there are already several Black Friday deals on the device.

Cook the dessert first

Instant Pot asparagus
Jenny McGrath/Digital Trends

Instant Pot Cheesecake (Gluten Free)

Cheesecake may not be the most traditional Thanksgiving dessert. But this recipe is so good, we had to include it. This version is gluten-free, but Dad Cooks Dinner has a non-gluten-free version that’s equally as delicious.


For the crust

  • 1 cup of almond flour
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (half of a stick) of salted butter melted

For the filling

  • 2 packages (8-ounces each) of regular cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of gluten-free vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup of sour cream


  1. Mix the almond flour, brown sugar, and butter until well blended. It should resemble a crumble topping. Press that mixture into the bottom of a 7-inch springform pan. The crust should be about 1/2-inch thick.
  2. Bake the crust on 350 degrees for 7 minutes for best results (you don’t have to bake the crust, as it will cook in the Instant Pot. Baking the crust makes for a better texture though). Once you’ve completed the crust, set it aside.
  3. Prepare the cheesecake filling. Soften the cream cheese in the microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute. After the cream cheese is softened, beat it on low speed until it’s smooth. Then, add the sugar and vanilla and beat again. After that, add the eggs and beat again. Then, gently stir in the sour cream with a fork.
  4. Pour the mixture over the crust.
  5. Tightly cover the springform pan in foil. This is an important step, as the cheesecake will come out wet and gross if you don’t cover it.
  6. Place 1 and 1/2 cups water in the Instant Pot and place the trivet in the pot.
  7. Place the cheesecake in the pot and pressure cook on high for 38 minutes.
  8. Let the pressure naturally release for 15 minutes and then remove the cheesecake from the pot.
  9. Allow the cheesecake to cool at room temp for about an hour, then chill it in the fridge for four to six hours.
  10. Serve plain or with a fruit topping.

If cheesecake isn’t your thing, try this apple crisp recipe by The Typical Mom. It taste a lot like Dutch apple pie, and it’s easy to make. Love pumpkin pie? You can also try these pumpkin pie bites by Sparkles to Sprinkles.

Then cook the mac and cheese

thanksgiving dinner in an instant pot a blue bowl of macaroni and cheese with bacon pieces
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Macaroni and cheese is a favorite for many families on Thanksgiving. Most kids love it, and adults love being able to cheat and enjoy the carb-and calorie-rich side dish.

We’ve tried a number of Instant Pot macaroni and cheese recipes and found two that were far superior to the rest.

You’ll like this recipe by Food Network if you like regular homemade Mac and cheese that doesn’t add extra things like Parmesan or random spices. It doesn’t try to be anything but delicious homemade macaroni and cheese. However, if you want a more complex mac and cheese with a bit of a kick to it, you’ll like this recipe by the Salty Marshmallow.

Cook the sweet potatoes next

nomiku sous chef 2017 charred sweet potatoes with lime and cumin dish 21 01

Sweet potatoes are one of nature’s candies. How do you like your sweet potatoes? Maybe you want whole sweet potatoes, so each person can add butter, brown sugar, and all their favorite toppings to their own potato. If so, this recipe by Amy + Jacky is a good option to go with. You can store the whole sweet potatoes in aluminum foil until serving time to keep them nice and hot too.

While whole sweet potatoes provide benefits, so do mashed sweet potatoes. They’re easy to serve and low-maintenance. If you want a mashed sweet potato, clean eating kitchen has this excellent recipe.

Cook the turkey, potatoes, and stuffing after that

Turkey Thanksgiving

For the main event, the Turkey, the Instant Pot really shines. Depending on the size of your pot, you may or may not be able to cook a whole turkey, but you can cook a tender and juicy turkey breast. This recipe by Simply Happy Foodie is one of our favorites. We also like this one, by Amy + Jacky.

If you have room in your pot, you can also put the potatoes right in with the turkey breast, which packs the potatoes with flavor. Just add red or yellow potatoes into the pot before you pressure cook your meat. You can keep the potatoes whole (especially is they’re smaller potatoes), or cut them into halves or quarters.

After you cook the turkey breast, make sure you set aside some reserved broth (at least a cup) from the Instant Pot so you can use it for the gravy.

Even though people don’t stuff turkeys as much as they used to, stuffing is still a Thanksgiving favorite. If you want to add stuffing to your Thanksgiving menu, this stuffing recipe by This Old Gal is super easy, and it’s our favorite out of all the ones we tried.

Then the veggies

Instant Pot asparagus
Jenny McGrath/Digital Trends

No Thanksgiving is complete without a healthy dose of vegetables. Veggies cook very quickly in an Instant Pot, so the veggies should be one of the last menu items you prepare. Everyone likes different veggies, so we included several of our favorite Instant Pot veggie recipes:

Cook the gravy last

spudtastic 7 eleven vending machine dispenses mashed potato and gravy

Now, you’re at the home stretch. After cooking a buffet including dessert, Mac and cheese, sweet potatoes, turkey, potatoes, and veggies, it’s finally time to cook the gravy. Instant Pot gravy is pretty easy, and should only take a few minutes. Here is our favorite recipe.


  • 3/4 cup of reserved broth from turkey
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup cold milk
  • Salt, pepper, and rosemary to taste


  1. Turn your Instant Pot on Saut.
  2. Add reserved turkey broth and chicken broth to pot.
  3. Whisk together milk and cornstarch until smooth.
  4. Once broth is hot and bubbly, add milk and cornstarch mixture to Instant Pot.
  5. Whisk until thick and smooth. If gravy is too thin, mix together an additional tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold milk, add it to the gravy, and whisk until the mixture is boiling. Repeat until your gravy reaches the desired thickness.
  6. Add salt, pepper, and rosemary to taste (about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of each)

Obviously, you’ll need to give yourself several hours to complete these recipes, as well as reheating time at the end of it all. But the Instant Pot can definitely make your Thanksgiving a delicious fix-it-and-forget it affair.

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