This Instant Pot Chicken Biryani has fragrant rice cooked with tender juicy chicken along with lots of warming spices and caramelized onions. This Indian chicken and rice dish is popular all over the world. This one-pot version made in a pressure cooker is easy to make even on busy weeknights in less than an hour.
This biryani has been on repeat in my house. My older daughter absolutely loves it. If you ask anyone to make biryani, all that would come to their mind is - first, the best, most flavorful rice dish, and then, it takes a long time to make and involves multiple steps.
This recipe is different than the traditional biryani. It is made as a one-pot dish in the pressure cooker, similar to my vegetable biryani. Yes, that's right, I use just one pot to cook this biryani, and one bowl to marinate the chicken. And the biryani is just as flavorful with the complex flavors from mixing the rice, marinated chicken, caramelized onions, spices and saffron!
What is Biryani?
Biryani is one of the most popular Indian dish that is made with rice, meat and/or vegetables, and spices. Traditionally biryani has layers of meat and rice that are slow-cooked in a heavy bottom pot on the stovetop or in the oven. This is called Dum Biryani.
It is believed that Biryani originated in Persia and was brought to India by the Mughals. There are many variations of biryani in different regions of India. Hyderabadi, Chettinad, Malabar, Sindhi, are few of the variations you might hear about.
Why you will love this Instant Pot Biryani?
- One-pot: This biryani made in the instant does not require to cook chicken and rice separately and then layer it together. This means we make it all in one-pot, which means less mess and dishes. But mind you, it is just as flavorful as the authentic dum biryani.
- Takes less than an hour to make: This is including marination and pressure cooking time. So it is just 30 minutes of active effort to make this one-pot meal!
How to make Chicken Biryani in Instant Pot?
When I think of biryani, layers of meat and rice, topped with lots of caramelized or fried onions, come to my mind. And I did not want that to change even if I was making this one-pot version of my Chicken Biryani. So let me show you how I achieve that in the instant pot!
Let's start with getting the ingredients ready for the biryani.
Onions: In this recipe, I am caramelizing the onions by sautéing in the pot before adding the other ingredients. Traditionally, fried onions are also added to biryani. However remember that store-bough fried onions are not gluten-free. So feel free to fry them separately at home if you like. You can add some fried onions when marinating the chicken and some on top after cooking the biryani.
Chicken: I used boneless chicken thighs in this recipe. You can also use bone-in chicken when making biryani. Just pressure cook for 4 minutes before layering the rice. More details in notes.
Marinating the Chicken
We will marinate the chicken as that makes it much more tender and flavorful. Add the yogurt, spices, ginger, garlic paste, lime juice and mint, cilantro leaves. Mix all well and refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
At the same time, rinse the rice with water and soak it. I always use long grain basmati rice for biryani. The final dish looks amazing with the extra long cooked rice.
When you are ready to start cooking, soak the saffron strands in warm milk.
Caramelize the Onions
Start the instant pot on sauté mode and let it heat. Add ghee, and then the cashews, raisins and saute them for about a minute until they are lightly golden. Take out and reserve for later.
Then add in sliced onions and caramelize them. This is the cooking step that takes some active effort, as you need to stir the onions frequently as they caramelize. Once caramelized, remove and keep aside half the onions. We will use these to garnish at the end.
Add the whole spices and saute for 30 seconds to release their aroma. Add in the marinated chicken and cook for 3 minutes stirring frequently.
Pressure Cook the Biryani
Make sure to deglaze the pot as you sauté the chicken. This is important to avoid the bur message. Then spread the chicken at the bottom of the pot.
Add in the rice and spread it over the chicken. Spread the saffron soaked in milk.
Then add the water, and pressure cook the biryani.
After pressure cooking, the rice should be well cooked and fluffy. They should not be mushy.
Garnish with the reserved caramelized onions, cashews and raisins. Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.
Do not overmix the biryani in the pot. When you scoop out the biryani from the pot, do from the bottom of the pot, so you get both chicken and rice with each scoop.
Enjoy this tasty Chicken Biryani with raita.
Tips to make Perfect Chicken Biryani
- Prep the ingredients: It helps to have all the ingredients ready before you start to cook biryani.
- Marinate the Chicken for at least 20 minutes. It helps to make the chicken tender and flavorful.
- Deglaze: Make sure to deglaze the pot well, so that you don't get a burn message.
- Use high quality spices. If possible, make Garam Masala at home for the extra bold flavor. Here is my mom's Garam Masala recipe.
- Use ghee to get the real flavor of biryani. I like to make ghee at home in the instant pot.
- Enjoy this biryani with a cooling raita such as this Cucumber Raita. And serve Sheer Khurma as a dessert.
Hope you enjoy this easy one-pot biryani. Do share how it turned out in comments or share a photo on instagram with #pipingpotcurry.
Instant Pot Chicken Biryani
- 1 lb Chicken boneless cut into 1.5" inch pieces
- 1 cup Basmati Rice washed and soaked for 20 minutes
- 2 tablespoon Ghee
- 10 Cashews
- 12 Raisins
- 1 Onion thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoon Milk warm
- 10 strands Saffron (Kesar)
- 1 cup Water
- ½ cup Plain Yogurt I used full-fat
- 1 teaspoon Garam masala
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
- ½ tablespoon Ginger paste
- ½ tablespoon Garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon Salt adjust to taste
- ¼ teaspoon Ground Turmeric (Haldi powder)
- 1 tablespoon Lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon Mint leaves chopped
- 2 tablespoon Cilantro leaves chopped
- 1 stick Cinnamon (Dalchini)
- 2 Bay leaf (Tej Patta)
- 5 Green Cardamom (Elaichi)
- ½ teaspoon Cumin seeds (Jeera)
- ½ teaspoon Black Peppercorns
- 4 Cloves (Laung)
Marinate the chicken:
- Add chicken in a bowl with all the marinate ingredients. Mix well and refrigerate it for 30 minutes (or up to 8 hours).
Preparing the biryani:
- Add the milk to a small bowl and warm it in the microwave. Add the saffron strands to it. Keep aside.
- Start the instant pot on sauté mode and heat it. Add ghee, and then the cashews, raisins and saute them for about a minute until they are lightly golden. Take out and reserve for later.
- Add in the sliced onions. Cook them for about 10-12 minutes until onions caramelize. Stir frequently, so they don't stick to the bottom. Take out half of the caramelized onions.
- Add the whole spices and saute for 30 seconds. Add the marinated chicken. Mix well and saute for about 3 minutes minutes. Make sure to deglaze the pot well. Then spread the chicken evenly on the base of the pot.
- Spread the rice evenly over the chicken. Spread the saffron soaked in milk on top of the rice. Then add the 1 cup of water to the pot. Close the lid with vent in sealing position.
- Change the instant pot setting to manual or pressure cook mode at high pressure for 4 minutes. When the instant pot beeps, do a 10 minute NPR. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then quick release the pressure manually.
- Garnish with the reserved caramelized onions, cashews and raisins. Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves. Serve chicken biryani with raita.
Note: Nutrition values are my best estimates. If you rely on them for your diet, use your preferred nutrition calculator.
Ruth Powers says
If I am cooking for someone who does not tolerate milk, can I substitute coconut milk or just leave the milk out?
This was super tasty!! However, I think 1 cup of water for 1 cup of soaked rice and chicken with marinate is too much. Rice was a bit too mushy, any way to make it more fluffy?
I used Kirkland Signature Basmati rice and cooked it for 10min, no soaking. So maybe that was too long. Next time I will try 20min soaking and 4 min manual setting.
Meeta Arora says
Thanks for the details, Becky. You can also reduce the water just a little (about 2 tablespoons) so that the rice is not mushy. Happy to hear you enjoyed the taste of the biryani!
Can we add potatoes to this? Same cooking time?
Meeta Arora says
Hi Nabila - Sure, you can add potatoes to the biryani. Cut them into 1.5-2 inch pieces. I hope you enjoy it!
Great recipe! Followed directions exactly other than sauté my onions in the lower setting half way through & using canola oil instead of ghee. I would probably want to make it a bit more spicer next time around. The results made me feel confident about cooking. Appreciate your detailed and accurate instructions!
Meeta Arora says
Glad you enjoyed the biryani. Thanks for sharing your experience!
Thanks for sharing this recipe. From your notes it clear that we need to pressure cook for 4 minutes If using chicken with bone . But do we need to add some water at this step. First time using chicken in instant pot and not sure if water is needed. Please advise
Meeta Arora says
Hello - Great question. You can add 1/2 cup of water at this point with the chicken. Then reduce the water you add later with the rice by 1/2 cup. Hope you enjoy the biryani!
What are the measurements in pressure cooker?
Meeta Arora says
Hi Jyoti - The same measurements would work for a stovetop pressure cooker too. Pressure cook for 2 whistles and then let the pressure release naturally.
Sarah T says
I made this today and it turned out great! My Desi husband will be so thrilled! (I am not Desi.) I ended up emptying out the IP after sauteeing the raisins/nuts as there was too much residual "nut crumbs" and I didn't want them to burn when doing the onions. Also, the onions started to burn for me on Normal sauté heat so WHEN I make this again, I will set the sauté feature to "low" instead. I didn't have cashews so I used slivered almonds instead and it was perfect. The flavors were great and just enough heat for me. My husband will probably want to add a little bit more heat though. I used about a 2" stick of cinnamon and that was the perfect amount. I want to double this recipe for next time as the portion was small for our family of five. I'm wondering how much longer I should cook for once I get to the pressure cooking part. Any advice?
Meeta Arora says
Hi Sarah - So glad that you enjoyed the biryani. The pressure cooking time will remain the same even if you double the quantity in the recipe.
Would the pressure cook time increase if I use bone-in chicken?
Meeta Arora says
Hi Kunal - I have included details in notes. You will need to precook a little for bone-in chicken. Use the same time as chicken legs. Hope you enjoy the biryani!
This is really delicious! Question: if I was using boned-in chicken would the cooking time change?
Meeta Arora says
Hi Sheena - Glad you enjoyed the biryani. I have included details in notes. You will need to precook a little for bone-in chicken. Use the same time as chicken legs.