In this paper we present a stabilized finite element formulation for the transient incompressible Navier–Stokes equations. The main idea is to introduce as a new unknown of the problem the projection of the pressure gradient onto the velocity space and to add to the incompresibility equation the difference between the Laplacian of the pressure and the divergence of this new vector field. This leads to a pressure stabilization effect that allows the use of equal interpolation for both velocities and pressures. In the case of the transient equations, we consider the possibility of treating the pressure gradient projection either implicitly or explicity. In the first case, the number of unknowns of the problem is substantially increased with respect to the standard Galerkin formulation. Nevertheless, iterative techniques may be used in order to uncouple the calculation of the pressure gradient projection from the rest of unknowns (velocity and pressure). When this vector field is treated explicitly, the increment of computational cost of the stabilized formulation with respect to the Galerkin method is very low. We provide a stability estimate for the case of the simple backward Euler time integration scheme for both the implicit and the explicit treatment of the pressure gradient projection.