Chicken Biryani is a fragrant and flavorful rice dish packed with tender chicken pieces marinated in yogurt and a blend of spices. It is layered with perfectly cooked rice and topped with crispy fried onions. With this tried-and-tested recipe, you can learn how to make the most flavorful restaurant-style biryani with tender, succulent chicken and fluffy rice!

Homemade Chicken Biryani in white plate garnished with crispy onions and cilantro leaves
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Biryani might be the most popular Indian and Pakistani rice dish worldwide. It is simply irresistible. Every bite is a burst of savory and aromatic goodness that leaves you craving more.

It is not only delicious but also comforting and satisfying. You bet! This biryani is a hit at my place – my picky eaters, aka my daughters, love it!

Whether enjoyed by itself or with cooling raita, Chicken Biryani will become a favorite in any home, just like my mutton biryani, shrimp biryani, and egg biryani.

Biryani can be made with any type of meat or even vegetarian with paneer or tofu. Today, I am sharing the authentic chicken biryani recipe. I have also shared one-pot chicken biryani and vegetable biryani made in the Instant Pot, which you all loved.

Watch How to Make Chicken Biryani

What is Biryani? 

Biryani is a popular South Asian dish that originated in the Indian subcontinent. It is a flavorful, aromatic rice dish made with various spices, herbs, meat, and vegetables.

There are two types: Kacchi biryani, where raw meat is cooked with parboiled rice, and Pakki biryani, where cooked meat is layered and steamed with parboiled rice. Here I am sharing pakki biryani recipe.

This Hyderabadi-style biryani is typically cooked in layers, with the meat or vegetables marinated in a mixture of yogurt and spices and then layered with partially cooked rice.

The layers are then sealed with a lid and cooked over low heat, allowing the flavors to meld together and the rice to absorb all the delicious juices. The result is a rich and indulgent dish perfect for special occasions or a cozy night.

Pakistani Chicken Biryani with salad on the side

Restaurant-Style Chicken Biryani Recipe

This recipe creates a restaurant-quality Chicken Biryani at home. It’s broken down into easy-to-follow steps:

Ingredients

For Marinating Chicken:

  • Chicken Thighs: Tender, juicy bone-in chicken pieces, perfect for absorbing all the flavorful marinade.
  • Plain Yogurt: It adds a hint of acidity.
  • Garlic and Ginger: Adds a bold and aromatic flavor to the marinade, enhancing the dish’s overall taste. 
  • Spices: You’ll need turmeric, Kashmiri red chili powder, garam masala, coriander powder, and salt.
  • Lime or Lemon Juice: It gives a tangy kick and helps to balance the marinade flavors.

For Fried Onions:

  • Yellow Onions: They add sweetness and texture to the biryani.
  • Oil for frying: Fry the onions until they are caramelized and crispy.

For Saffron:

  • Warm Milk: Use to infuse saffron threads.
  • Saffron: It adds a vibrant color and distinctive flavor.

For Parboiled Rice:

  • Basmati Rice: I like to cook biryani using premium extra long-grain basmati rice. If you use other rice, the biryani will be less fragrant.
  • Water: Used for boiling the rice.
  • Bay leaf, Cloves, Green Cardamom, Star anise, Shahi jeera: These aromatic spices enhance the flavor.

For Biryani:

  • Mint leaves and cilantro leaves: Fresh herbs chopped and used to garnish.
  • Ghee: Adds richness and a buttery flavor.
Ingredients you'll need for Chicken Biryani

Variations and Additions

Nuts: I did not add any nuts, but you can add roasted cashews or almonds for the extra richness.

Dried Fruits: You can add dried fruits such as dried chopped apricots or plums. They add a sweet, rich flavor to the biryani.

Boneless Chicken: You can use boneless chicken in this recipe too. Just the saute time for the chicken will reduce a little.

How to Make Biryani?

Marinate the Chicken

  • In a big pot with a heavy bottom or a Dutch oven, mix the chicken marinade ingredients: yogurt, oil, garlic, ginger, spices, salt, and lime juice.
marinate chicken in a pot
  • Toss the chicken pieces in this mixture and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. The longer you wait (up to 10 hours!), the tastier the chicken will be.

Pro-Tip: Marinate the chicken overnight for the most flavorful tender pieces in biryani. Also, great to prep ahead.

Marinated Chicken in a pot

Fry the Onions

  • Slice the onions nice and thin.
  • Heat some oil in a separate pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onions and fry them until they turn golden brown and crispy. Don’t burn them, or they’ll taste bitter! If there’s a lot of onion, fry them in batches.
scooping out fried onions using strainer
  • Once golden brown, remove the onions and put them on a plate with paper towels to drain any oil.

Pro-Tip: If you are feeling lazy, you can use store-bought fried onions. It is best to get the fried onions from a South Indian market, as they will have an authentic taste. Other American grocery stores might have French fried onions, which are coated in flour before frying.

Crispy fried onions on a white plate

Soak the Saffron

  • Add some warm milk and saffron threads to a small bowl. Let it sit for 10 minutes so the saffron can release its flavor.

Pro-Tip: I do not add any color, but if you like, you can add natural yellow food coloring for that extra pop of color.

add saffron strands to the milk

Cook the Rice (Parboiling)

  • Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add salt, whole spices, and rinsed basmati rice.
  • Let the rice cook in the boiling water for just 5 minutes. Then, drain the water immediately and spread the rice on a plate or bowl. The rice should be about 70% cooked and a little soft but not mushy.
cook Basmati Rice in a pot

Layer the Biryani

  • Place the pan or Dutch oven with the marinated chicken on medium-high heat.
  • Cook the chicken for 8-10 minutes, stirring it around sometimes. Then turn off the heat. The chicken should be about 70% cooked through.
  • Now comes the fun part—layering! Spread half of the fried onions on the chicken. Then, sprinkle half of the chopped mint and cilantro leaves on top.
  • Then, add the parboiled rice on top, spreading it evenly. Press it down a little with a spatula.
  • Drizzle some ghee over the rice and then some saffron milk.
  • Top it off with the remaining fried onions, mint, and cilantro.

Cook with Steam (“Dum”)

  • Put a tight lid on the pot. You can even wrap a kitchen towel around the lid to seal it tightly. This will keep all the steam inside.
  • Cook the biryani on the lowest heat setting for 20 minutes. This slow cooking with steam is called “dum,” which helps make the rice fluffy and flavorful.
Cooked Chicken Biryani garnished with birista, cilantro, and mint leaves in a pot

Rest and Enjoy

  • Take the pot off the heat and let the biryani rest for another 5-10 minutes. This will allow the flavors to come together.
  • When ready to eat, fluff the biryani with a fork and serve it. Try to get a bit of everything in each scoop – chicken, yellow rice (from the saffron milk), white rice, and fried onions. Garnish with extra fried onions and cilantro for a pop of color!
  • Serve it with raita and kachumber salad on the side for a complete meal.
Authentic Chicken Biryani with raita and kachumber salad on the side

Recipe Tips

Chicken: I recommend using bone-in chicken thighs for this recipe, as they don’t dry out during cooking. You can also use chicken drumsticks. Marinate the chicken overnight if you have the time.

Fried Onions: This is the most tedious part of the recipe. You can fry and store the onions ahead of time in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

You can substitute with store-bought onions or shallots if you like. Ensure that gluten-free ones are obtained and are not mixed with other ingredients before frying. 

Oil for marinade: If you have fried onions before marinating the chicken, you can use the oil used to fry the onions in the marinade. That adds some extra flavor to the marinated chicken. 

Basmati Rice: I like to use premium extra long-grain basmati rice to cook biryani. If you use other rice, the biryani will not be as fragrant. Don’t overcook the rice – it should be about 70% cooked before layering.

Cooking Biryani: Seal the pot tightly for steaming (dum) to create fluffy rice. If you don’t have a heavy-bottom pan, place a tawa or griddle below the pan with biryani. This helps to diffuse the heat and ensures the bottom layer of biryani is not overcooked or burnt. You will need to turn up the heat to medium.

Don’t like whole spices in the final dish?  If you don’t want to have whole spices when serving the biryani, then you can add them to a spice pouch and then add them to the water to boil the rice. 

How to Double the Recipe?

To easily double this Chicken Biryani recipe, follow these steps:

  1. Double all Ingredient Amounts: Simply multiply the quantity of each ingredient by two. This applies to everything from the chicken marinade to the garnishes.
  2. Use Bigger Pots: You’ll likely need bigger pots or Dutch ovens to accommodate the doubled ingredients.
  3. Fry Onions in Batches: Since you’re doubling the recipe, there will be more onions to fry. Fry them in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan, which can make them soggy instead of crispy.
  4. Cook Rice in Larger Pot: Use a larger pot to cook the doubled amount of rice and water.

What to serve with Chicken Biryani? 

Chicken biryani pairs wonderfully with refreshing cucumber raita, tangy kachumber salad, or a side of spicy pickle for added zing.

How to store leftover Biryani?

If you happen to have any leftovers (although it’s unlikely!), store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

I often double the recipe as it is easier to make the biryani once and enjoy it for 2-3 days. It is also great to pack for lunch.

To store biryani for longer, you can freeze it. When ready to enjoy, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator, and reheat it in the microwave.

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5 from 1 vote

Authentic Chicken Biryani

With this tried-and-tested recipe, learn how to make the most flavorful restaurant-style chicken biryani with tender marinated chicken, fluffy rice, and topped with crispy fried onions. 
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients 

  • 1.1 pound Chicken Thighs , bone-in and skinless, cut into small pieces (500 grams)

Marinade

Fried Onions

  • 2 Yellow Onions, about 350 grams, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup Oil, for frying

Saffron

Parboiled Rice

Biryani

  • 1/4 cup Mint leaves (Pudhina), fresh, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro leaves (Corainder), chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Ghee

Instructions 

Marinate Chicken

  • In a Dutch oven or heavy bottom pan, mix all ingredients under the marinade section. Then, add the chicken pieces and mix well. Marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight for up to 10 hours for best results. (Note: you can use the same pan or Dutch oven to layer and cook the biryani)

Fry Onions

  • Slice the onions thin and evenly. Separate the layers so they fry well.
  • Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and shallow fry for 12-15 minutes till they are golden brown, without burning them (or they will have a bitter flavor). Fry in batches if needed.
  • Remove the fried onions on a large plate lined with paper towel. Spread them out. Set aside.

Saffron

  • Soak saffron strands in warm milk. Set this aside for 10 minutes.

Parboiled Rice

  • Add water to a large pot and bring it to a rolling boil. Add salt, whole spices, and basmati rice (after draining the soaking water). Cook for 5 minutes, then drain the water immediately and spread the rice in a large plate or bowl. The rice will be about 70% done at this stage. Don't overcook the rice. Check by taking a grain between your fingers; it should break easily but is still not completely done at the center.

Layer and Cook Biryani

  • Place the pan or Dutch oven with the marinated chicken on medium-high heat (If you marinate chicken in a separate bowl, transfer it to a Dutch oven or deep pan). Cook the chicken for 8-10 minutes, stirring the chicken in between. Then, turn off the heat. The chicken is about 70% cooked by this time.
  • Spread half of the fried onions on top of the chicken. Then, spread half of the chopped mint and cilantro leaves.
  • Now, layer the parboiled rice on top evenly. Using a spatula, flat the surface. Now, drizzle the ghee over the rice. Then, drizzle the saffron milk all over the rice. Spread some more fried onions, mint leaves, and cilantro leaves on top.
  • Cover with a tight lid and cook on the lowest flame for 20 minutes. You can also wrap a kitchen towel on the lid to get that tight-fitting lid to keep the steam inside while cooking the biryani. This process is called "dum" which is basically cooking on low heat. (See notes)
  • Remove from heat and let the biryani rest for 5-10 minutes. When serving, dig deep to get all the layers with the yellow rice, white rice, and chicken in one scoop. Garnish with fried onions and cilantro leaves. Serve with raita and salad!

Video

Notes

Chicken: I recommend using chicken thighs for this recipe, as they don’t dry out during cooking. You can also use chicken drumsticks. 
Fried Onions: This is the most tedious part of the recipe. You can fry and store the onions ahead of time in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 
You can substitute with store-bought onions or shallots if you like. Ensure that gluten-free ones are obtained and are not mixed with other ingredients before frying. 
Oil for marinade: If you have fried onions before marinating the chicken, you can use the oil used to fry the onions in the marinade. That adds some extra flavor to the marinated chicken. 
Basmati Rice: I like to use premium extra long-grain basmati rice to cook biryani. If you use other rice, the biryani will not be as fragrant. 
Cooking Biryani: If you don’t have a heavy-bottom pan, place a tawa or griddle below the pan with biryani. This helps to diffuse the heat and ensures the bottom layer of biryani is not overcooked or burnt. You will need to turn up the heat to medium.
Don’t like whole spices in the final dish?  If you don’t want to have whole spices when serving the biryani, then you can add them to a spice pouch and then add them to the water to boil the rice. 
Make it Spicier: This recipe is family-friendly and not very spicy. Increase the amount of red chili powder or add a couple of diced green chilies to the chicken masala to make it spicier. 
Storing leftovers: You can store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days. This biryani will also freeze well.  

Nutrition

Calories: 606kcalCarbohydrates: 46gProtein: 19gFat: 38gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 91mgSodium: 1658mgPotassium: 427mgFiber: 3gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 553IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 93mgIron: 2mg

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian, Pakistani
Diet: Gluten-free, Nut-free
Tried this recipe?Mention @pipingpotcurry or tag #pipingpotcurry!

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5 Comments

  1. Looks yummy. I will make it soon. I plan to put in some potatoes, but I don’t know at what stage I should put in the potatoes.

    1. Hi Fareeza – Great question. You can add cut potatoes to the chicken marinade just before starting to cook the chicken. That way, the chicken and potatoes will cook along and then with the layered biryani. I hope you enjoy the biryani.

  2. hi! Thanks for another easy to follow recipe. can you give a vegetarian option? would paneer work with the same process?