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The best Instant Pot recipes for Thanksgiving

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By Erika Rawes


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Thanksgiving is right around the corner. If you’re hosting this year, it’s time to start planning your Turkey Day menu. Did you know you can cook the majority, if not all, of your Thanksgiving menu items in your Instant Pot? It can be a major time-saver, and the recipes come out just as good as if you stood over the stove all day long.

If you search online for Instant Pot and pressure cooker recipes, you’ll find an overwhelming number of different options. Some of the recipes are excellent, while others are not all that great.

Here at Digital Trends, we test dozens of pressure cookers like the Instant Pot. We cook meats, side dishes, and desserts, and taste test these foods against those cooked using other methods. For this Turkey Day, we gathered some of our favorite Instant Pot and pressure cooker recipes. These are our picks for the best Instant Pot Thanksgiving recipes.

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Turkey breast

Want to skip out on cooking a whole turkey this year? Perhaps you don’t want to deal with thawing a frozen bird, basting it, or worrying about setting a fire if you’re thinking about frying a turkey. If you want tender and delicious turkey without all of the hassle, you can just cook a turkey breast. This turkey breast recipe by Spruce Eats is super easy, and you make it in your Instant Pot in about an hour.

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Chicken, potatoes, and veggies

Want to try something a little different on Thanksgiving? This recipe by You Brew My Tea creates tender, fall-apart bone-in chicken breast, flavorful potatoes, and vegetables all in one pot. If you don’t want to use chicken breasts, you can substitute small Cornish Hens and make the recipe the same way.

thanksgiving dinner in an instant pot a blue bowl of macaroni and cheese with bacon pieces
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Macaroni and cheese

Oh, macaroni and cheese — the carb- and fat-loaded side dish is a guilty pleasure that’s perfect for the one holiday when you can eat whatever you want. This Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe by Food Network really surprised us because it came out strikingly similar to oven-baked mac and cheese. We suggest you add a bit more butter than what’s called ofr in the recipe. We doubled the amount of butter in the recipe, added a bit of extra table salt, and had a mac and cheese dish that was just as good as any oven-baked mac.

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Mashed potatoes

Instant Pot mashed potatoes are difficult to mess up. You chuck potatoes in a pot with about a cup of water, steam the potatoes, mash them with a potato masher, then add butter, milk, salt, and whatever else you like. We particularly like this recipe by This Old Gal, because it doesn’t try to be too fancy or add too many extra ingredients. It also provides an option for a healthier potato and carrot mash.

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Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are one of those rare foods that some people actually like better out of a can. Soaked in sweet syrup, a can of yams can make a pretty darn good casserole on Thanksgiving. But if you want to use fresh sweet potatoes, this recipe for whole sweet potatoes by Amy and Jacky is our top pick.

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Veggies

The Instant Pot is an excellent tool for steaming vegetables. Broccoli comes out firm and bright green. This recipe by Amy and Jacky makes perfect steamed broccoli.

For many people, the Turkey Day veggie of choice is green bean casserole. If you’re looking for the best Instant Pot green bean casserole recipe, we have you covered. Once you try this Instant Pot Green Bean Casserole by The Spruce Eats, you’ll never want to use canned green beans in the oven again. It tastes so fresh, and the flavors become infused into the green beans.

If you’re looking for a side veggie that’s a little different than the traditional green bean casserole, corn, or broccoli, we also really like this recipe for green beans, potatoes, and bacon by Simply Happy Foodie.

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Gravy

Some people feel gravy is the most important part of the Thanksgiving meal. A good gravy can salvage dry meat or kick bland potatoes up a notch. This is our go-to Instant Pot gravy recipe. We love the taste, texture, and the fact that it’s gluten-free for our guests with dietary restrictions.

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  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)
how to make pumpkin pie without an oven
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Pie

Pumpkin pie is one of those things you either love or don’t. For you pumpkin pie lovers, this Paleo Instant Pot Pumpkin Pie recipe by All the Nourishing Things is pretty good. It’s not as tasty as a full-sugar, full-fat pie, but it’s very good compared to many of the other Paleo recipes we’ve tried.

If you want something a little sweeter, you might like these pumpkin pie bites by Sparkles to Sprinkles. When we made the pumpkin pie bites, we added an extra 1/4-cup of sugar.

If you’re not a pumpkin pie fan, maybe you like apple pie. This apple crisp recipe by The Typical Mom is one of our favorite Instant Pot desserts.

best instant pot recipes for thanksgiving brownies
Erika Rawes/Digital Trends

Brownies

Brownies might not be the most traditional Thanksgiving dessert, but these Instant Pot brownies are worth mentioning because they’re nothing short of amazing. Unlike oven-baked brownies, Instant Pot brownies cook very evenly, and they have a very moist texture. They don’t have any hardness around the edges, nor do they have a doughy texture in the middle. They are fudgy throughout, regardless of which piece you choose. This recipe by Taste and Tell makes absolutely phenomenal Instant Pot brownies.


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