Pressure cooker, Sunday dinner
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Instant Pot Turkey Thighs with Thanksgiving Flavors

A turkey thigh on a bed of cranberries and onions and sauce, with a sprig of thyme and sage on top, and a cup of cranberries in the background
Instant Pot Turkey Thighs

Instant Pot Turkey Thighs with Thanksgiving Flavors. Dark meat turkey with a traditional Thanksgiving flavor profile, done in about an hour thanks to pressure cooking.

Could you cook the whole Thanksgiving turkey in a pressure cooker?

The gauntlet was thrown at the writing workshop. What could I do to make an entire Thanksgiving dinner in the pressure cooker? Could I do the whole turkey?

Well…no. Turkey breast is too lean, with a narrow window where it is cooked properly. Go a couple of degrees too high and you’re dealing with dry, stringy white meat.

The dark meat, now, that’s a different story. It stands up to pressure cooking. In fact, it’s better when it’s a little overdone, tenderizing the tougher, harder working legs. So, as usual, I’m going to the dark side…of the Turkey.

Recipe: Instant Pot Turkey Thighs with Thanksgiving Flavors

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A turkey thigh on a bed of cranberries and onions and sauce, with a sprig of thyme and sage on top, and a cup of cranberries in the background

Instant Pot Turkey Thighs with Thanksgiving Flavors

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 thighs 1x


Instant Pot Turkey Thighs with Thanksgiving Flavors. Dark meat turkey with a traditional Thanksgiving flavor profile, done in about an hour thanks to pressure cooking.


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 turkey thighs, bone in and skin on (about 4 pounds)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 sprig fresh sage (or ½ teaspoon dried sage)
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary (or ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary)
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme leaves (or ½ teaspoon dried thyme)
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup turkey broth (or chicken broth)
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt (If using homemade broth)
  • ½ cup dried cranberries

Cornstarch Slurry (optional)

  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch


  1. Brown the skin side of the turkey thighs: Sprinkle the turkey thighs with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper. Melt the butter in an Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker on Sauté mode. (Medium heat in a stovetop PC). As soon as the butter is melted, add 2 of the turkey thighs to the pot, skin side down, and sear until the skin is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Move the browned thighs to a bowl, then sear the skin side of the remaining 2 thighs, about 3 more minutes. Add them to the bowl of browned thighs.
  2. Sauté the aromatics: Add the onions, celery, carrot, and garlic to the pot, and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt. Sauté until the onions soften, about 5 more minutes, stirring and scraping the pot with a flat-edged wooden spoon to loosen any browned turkey bits stuck to the bottom.
  3. Simmer the herbs and the wine, then put everything in the pot: Add the sprigs of parsley, sage, and rosemary, then pour in the wine. Bring the wine to a simmer and simmer for 1 minute to boil off some of the alcohol. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon one last time, to make sure nothing is sticking. Pour in the turkey broth and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt. Add the turkey thighs – I put them in sideways, so they are all slightly submerged in the liquid – and add any turkey juices in the bowl. Scatter the dried cranberries over the top.
  4. Pressure cook for 30 minutes with a natural release: Lock the pressure cooker lid. Pressure cook on high pressure for 30 minutes in an Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker (or for 25 minutes in a stovetop PC). Let the pressure come down naturally, about 20 minutes more. (If you’re in a hurry, you can quick release any remaining pressure after 15 minutes).
  5. Thicken the sauce and serve: Unlock the lid, opening it away from you to avoid any hot steam. Move the turkey thighs to a platter with tongs or a slotted spoon. (Be gentle – they will be fall-apart tender). Scoop out the cranberries and onions with a slotted spoon and add to the platter with the turkey thighs, discarding the herb stems when you find them. Whisk the water and cornstarch in a small bowl, making a slurry, and then stir the cornstarch slurry into the pot. Ladle some of the pot liquid over the thighs and pass the rest at the table as a gravy. Enjoy!


  • Dry white wine: I like Gewürztraminer or a dry Riesling wine with turkey. That said, we’re adding wine for the acid and a hint of fruit – if you have a different white wine, throw it in there, it will be fine.
  • Don’t want to use wine? Use apple cider, or more turkey broth.


  • Category: Sunday Dinner
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Instant Pot Turkey Thighs, Pressure Cooker Turkey Thighs

What do you think?

Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Pressure Cooker State Fair Turkey Drumsticks
Pressure Cooker Day-After-Thanksgiving Turkey Carcass Soup
Instant Pot Day-After-Thanksgiving Turkey Soup with Mashed Potato Dumplings
My other Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Recipes

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Filed under: Pressure cooker, Sunday dinner


Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.


  1. Kerry Keller says

    So easy to follow and came out delicious. So juicy!

  2. Adrienne Weiss-Harrison, M.D. says

    Great recipe! I added some lemon juice and zest.

  3. Adrienne Weiss-Harrison, M.D. says

    Planning to make this for dinner this evening. It looks great!
    —> If I use 2 thighs, will the cooking time be the same? Thanks.

  4. Jacqueline Boller says

    Question: If I only have two turkey thighs, do I cut the cooking time in the pressure cooker? Thanks!

    • No – the cooking time is the same. (It takes the same amount of time to cook each leg through, no matter how many there are.)

      • Jacqueline Boller says

        Oh, my goodness!! This was so delicious!! Definitely a keeper!!! Thank you!!

  5. Jenifer O’Connor says

    FIVE STARS ⭐️. Truly excellent! I’m going to try it again with more readily available chicken thighs.

  6. Kelli Z Ryan says

    This recipe is a game changer – hands down the best turkey I have ever had! This will be a new staple for Thanksgiving (and beyond!). Thank you Mike for this incredible recipe!

  7. Katie C says

    I think I’m going to try this! First time turkey cooker and I’m just doing the thighs. What would be your suggestion if I also wanted to cook stuffing with the turkey as well? Is it possible?

    • I don’t think adding stuffing to this recipe is a good idea. The wet environment of a pressure cooker won’t make good stuffing, at least in my opinion. I’m cooking my stuffing separately in the oven.

  8. Razzy 7 says

    This recipe looks wonderful assuming I can find turkey thighs. Of the majors: Dillons stores (owned by Kroger), Aldi’s, Whole Foods, Target, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, Sam’s, Costco as well as some local stores it’s Ialmost impossible to find turkey thighs. The only place I’ve seen them is Sprouts and they don’t always have them. I’m apparently the only person in my city with a metro area population of 579,000 who likes turkey thighs.
    We prefer dark meat turkey so will hope I can find turkey thighs this year.

  9. Eileen Mccarthy says

    My husband is in a nursing home and because of Covid I can’t see him but I can take him and 2 others meal.s. Just got an instant pot and this is the first thing I made. Absolutely delicious and easy.. Gravy was spectacular. I am sure they all enjoyed it. Thanks for the great recipe!

  10. Janet says

    AWESOME! Love this recipe, it’s so flavorful and yummy. Thank you for another fabulous recipe.

  11. Taammi says

    Mike, this was FANTASTIC. I have a Ninja Foodi so did it a bit differently procedurally (pressure cooking then browning using the Air Crisp lid/function) but the ingredients were all the same and the results were spectacular. Served it with oven-roasted Brussel sprouts and mushrooms. Thanks for sharing this!

  12. Jennifer Y says

    This was INCREDIBLE, AMAZING. The BEST turkey thigh recipe I have ever come across. A HUGE hit in our family. Thank you so much!

  13. Patty says

    Fantastic recipe! Thank you so much. My family just loved it and I will make it again, for sure. (PS. There’s a little turkey left over and I’m going to try to shred it, add BBQ sauce and have a “pulled bbq sandwich for lunch tomorrow)😃

  14. This recipe is delicious! I have made it 4 or 5 times now. It has become a favorite. The flavors are as described: Thanksgiving in the Instant Pot! The recipe is easy to follow and simple. Thanks for sharing it, Mr. Vrobel!

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