Chicken Biryani is a dish that needs no introduction. This rich and layered, chicken & rice delight is the star item of most (if not every) Indian restaurant that serves it. And for good reason.
But if you’ve tried to make biryani at home the traditional way, you know it can be quite the production. Which is okay every now and then, but doesn’t make it possible or practical to make and eat biryani every single week. Which is the dream, right?
However, this is exactly the problem that Instant Pot Chicken Biryani solves. Because with the Instant Pot, you can definitely make biryani every single weekend, and even on a weekday, if you so wish! That too with hassle free perfection!
Don’t trust me? Try this recipe for making Chicken Biryani in the Instant Pot, and I assure you, you’d never want to make Biryani any other way! 🙂
I say this because I have tried making Chicken Biryani the traditional way (on stovetop, using pressure cooker, and even dum biryani) many many times with varying degrees of success. And with that I mean that while most of those attempts tasted good – they did not remotely look like biryani.
Also, I never got that layered cooking of rice to varying degrees of done-ness right. So many instructions called for cooking the top layer of rice till 70% done, then the next layer 80%, and so on. Which is something I only got right by accident, if at all. Nothing I could rely on.
Which is why I fell in love with making Chicken Biryani in the Instant Pot. The only thing I love more than the hassle free perfection it offers, is that it is truly a one pot Biryani!
Fragrant long grain rice, cooked to perfection, along with juicy pieces of chicken, marinated & roasted in the biryani masalas, and topped with fried onions, herbs & nuts – and all in one pot – The Instant Pot. I mean how much better can life get?
What is Biryani?
Biryani is a rich, fragrant and flavorful, layered Indian rice dish, which is usually made by using long grain basmati rice, and some kind of meat as the base, and flavoring them with fried onions, biryani spices, herbs and nuts.
However, with time, this dish has evolved, and is made in many vegetarian varieties as well.
The Different Kinds of Biryani
There are many different kinds of biryani, more than I could possibly list out here. And even if I try, I am sure to miss out some.
But mostly Biryanis are named after the region they are originally from or the ingredients they use.
Hyderabadi Biryani, Lucknowi Biryani , Malabari Biryani, Kolkatta Biryani
Chicken Biryani, Prawns Biryani, Egg Biryani, Paneer Biryani, Mixed Vegetable Biryani.. you get the idea.
Sometimes, they are named after the cooking methods used – for instance kacchi biryani (made using raw meat and uncooked rice), pakki biryani (made using partially cooked meat and rice as the starting point), and dum biryani (which involves slow cooking the biryani in a heavy bottomed pot, and sealing the opening of the pot with raw dough, so as to not let the steam or the flavors escape).
Of-course Chicken Biryani is my absolute favorite of the lot, which is why it’s the recipe I am sharing first.
How to Make Chicken Biryani in the Instant Pot
Making biryani in the Instant Pot is really simple and easy. And when I say simple and easy, I really mean it. Because I don’t use those two words lightly, especially when it comes to making biryani.
Mostly because in the past, simple and easy are two words that I never thought I’d associate with biryani. But Instant Pot has made it possible.
Just get the ingredients together, and follow the steps outlined here. And I assure you of hassle-free delicious biryani every single time!
The Ingredients You Need to Make Biryani + Prep
Rice – Long Grain Basmati Rice is best suited for making biryani. I swear by this brand of rice – India Gate White Basmati – Excel.
Prep: Wash & soak the rice for 30 minutes, and then drain all the water.
Chicken – Boneless or Bone-In Chicken.
I have used boneless chicken for this recipe, but have also shared the adjustments needed for bone-in chicken below.
If you are using boneless chicken, use thigh meat. As breast meat is not suitable for pressure cooking. Because it’s easy to overcook, and will turn rubbery.
Prep: Clean & cut the chicken into bite sized chunks. Pat dry.
In a small bowl, mix together ginger garlic paste, yogurt, Indian spice powders, and salt (exact measurements in recipe card below).
Apply the above spice blend all over the chicken, and let it marinate for 2-4 hours. If you are pressed for time, an hour of marination will suffice.
Biryani Masala – For making biryani masala, you will need the following items. Just keep it all ready to go, by taking them out, and chopping / slicing the things that need to be prepped.
Ghee, Nuts (cashews & raisins), Whole Garam Spices (bay leaf, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, cloves, green & black cardamom, mace), Chopped Ginger & Garlic, Sliced Onions, Indian Spice Powders (exact measurements in recipe card below).
Garnishing – For garnishing the biryani, you can use the herbs and nuts of your choice. I have used coriander leaves, cashews & golden raisins. mint leaves and saffron strands are also great additions.
Instant Pot Chicken Biryani – Step by Step
With the ingredients ready, and prep done, it’s time to make biryani in the Instant Pot!
For making biryani – start the Instant Pot in saute mode (low), add a little ghee, lightly heat it up, and then add in the cashews and raisins.
Roast the cashews & raisins for 2-3 minutes, till the cashews start changing color lightly, and the raisins start ballooning up.
Once done, use a slotted spoon / ladle to take the cashews & raisins out, and set them aside.
Then, switch the saute mode to medium, and in the same heated ghee, add in the whole garam spices, and roast them for 2-3 minutes, till they get lightly roasted.
Once the whole garam spices have been roasted, add in the chopped ginger & garlic, and saute for 3-5 minutes, till they start turning light red in color.
Then add in the sliced onions, and a little salt, to help brown the onions faster, and saute till the onions turn golden brown in color.
At this point, it’s best to switch the saute mode to high, to speed up the browning of the onions. Just ensure to keep moving the onions around, so that they do not stick to the bottom & burn.
Once the onions are roasted, add the Indian spice powders, mix them in well, and saute for 1-2 minutes, till the masalas get lightly cooked. Here you can also add a splash of water to ensure the masalas don’t get burnt.
Next, add the marinated chicken, and mix well.
Saute the chicken for 5-8 minutes, till the chicken is lightly cooked, and is not pink on the outside.
Then turn off the saute mode by hitting cancel.
Finally, add the soaked & drained rice, along with fresh water & salt.
Mix everything well, and ensure to press all the rice under the water.
At this point, you can also add half of the cashews & raisins set aside earlier. The other half can be saved for garnish.
Then, close the lid, ensuring the sealing ring is in place, and move the steam release valve to point to sealing.
Pressure cook for 6 minutes on high pressure. And once the cooking cycle is complete, wait for 10 minutes, before manually releasing all the pressure from the pot.
Instant Pot Chicken Biryani is ready to serve!
Bone-in vs Boneless Chicken Biryani
For the purposes of this recipe, I have used boneless chicken thighs, but of-course you can use bone-in chicken too.
The only thing to adjust is the cooking time for chicken & salt to taste.
For boneless chicken, it’s enough to saute for 5 minutes before pressure cooking. But for bone-in chicken, especially if the pieces are on the bigger side, you may need to saute for 10-12 minutes, before pressure cooking.
How to Make Chicken Biryani in Indian Pressure Cooker
If you don’t have the Instant Pot, you can make this Biryani in the trusty old Indian pressure cooker as well.
Follow the same method as outlined above, with the following adjustments.
- Soak the rice for 1 hour instead of 30 minutes.
- Position the chicken at the bottom & rice at the top, as much as possible.
Pressure cook for 1 whistle, then turn off the gas, and wait for the pressure to release naturally.
If this doesn’t work perfectly for your pressure cooker, and the rice is under-cooked, then after the first whistle, place the pressure cooker on a cast iron pan, and start the flame under the pan, on medium low heat for 10 minutes. This will ensure enough heat for the rice to cook, without burning the bottom layer.
Pro Tips for Making Chicken Biryani
There are many factors that contribute to making a good chicken biryani, but the key elements are obviously chicken and rice – it’s critical to get them right.
- Use long grain basmati rice over regular rice. And ensure to wash and soak it for 30 minutes and drain completely.
- Use chicken thigh meat instead of chicken breast meat if you are making boneless chicken biryani, as breast meat is easy to over-cook, and might turn rubbery after pressure cooking. For bone-in chicken biryani, you can use either chicken drumsticks or chicken leg quarters.
Mistakes to Avoid while Making Chicken Biryani in the Instant Pot
If you are making biryani the traditional way, there are a hundred (?!) things that can go wrong! Though when you are making biryani in the Instant Pot, there is a much smaller margin for error.
But be that as it may, here are two mistakes you must avoid for making perfectly cooked chicken biryani in the Instant Pot.
- Not cooking chicken even a little bit before pressure cooking it. Because depending on the quantity and size of the chicken pieces, it might not get cooked fully in the pressure cooking cycle.
Taking the time to cook the chicken for a few minutes before pressure cooking the biryani, will ensure that the chicken is cooked well, when the biryani is ready.
- Not pushing the rice under the water before closing the lid, and pressure cooking the biryani.
Some videos show a dump & go style biryani, which look simple on video. But taking the extra 2 seconds to push all the rice down, will ensure the biryani rice is evenly and perfectly cooked.
What to Serve with Chicken Biryani
A Biryani is considered a full meal in itself, since it has rice, meat, and veggies too. But still, pairing it with raita, makes an already perfect dish complete.
Because biryani and raita are a match made in culinary heaven!
So pair this chicken biryani with your favorite kind of raita – cucumber raita, onion raita, mint raita, all go very well with it.
Check out more Instant Pot Recipes here:
New to Instant Pot? Check out these Instant Pot beginner posts!
As always, I hope you found this recipe useful. If you did, please let me know your rating ⭐️ and feedback 📲 in the comments below, or simply rate the recipe right on the recipe card. I’d really appreciate it. ❤️
Instant Pot Chicken Biryani
Rice and Chicken
- 2 cup basmati rice
- 2.5 pounds boneless chicken
For Chicken Marination
- 2 tbsp yogurt
- 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp chilli powder
- 2 tsp garam masala powder
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
For Biryani Masala
- 6 tbsp ghee
- 1/4 cup cashews slit
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 inch piece cinnamon stick
- 7 black peppercorns
- 5 cloves
- 5 green cardamom
- 1 black cardamom
- 1 mace / javetri
- 2 tbsp chopped ginger
- 2 tbsp chopped garlic
- 2 cups sliced onions
- 3 tsp salt divided
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp garam masala powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 2 cup water
- chopped coriander leaves or other herbs like mint
- cashews & raisins or other nuts of your choice
Preparation for Chicken Biryani
- Clean and cut the chicken thighs into bite sized cubes. Marinate it with yogurt, ginger garlic paste, salt, chilli powder, garam masala powder, coriander powder, and cumin powder. Ideal marination time is 4-6 hours. But in a pinch, an hour of marination will work.
- Wash and soak the basmati rice for 30 minutes. Drain all the water before use.
Making Biryani in the Instant Pot
- Plug in the Instant Pot, and put it in saute mode – low. Wait for a couple of minutes, and once the display reads HOT, add in the ghee.
- Then add in the cashews and raisins, and roast them for 3-5 minutes. Till the cashews start getting light color on them, and the raisins start ballooning up.
- Once done, using a slotted spoon, remove the cashews and raisins out, and set them aside.
- Now, switch the saute mode to medium saute, and add in the whole garam spices to the ghee (bay leaf, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, cloves, black and green cardamom, and mace). Saute for 2-3 minutes till the whole spices get lightly roasted.
- Then add in the chopped ginger and garlic, and saute for 3-5 minutes, till the ginger garlic get roasted and start turning lightly red.
- Next, add in the sliced onions and 1 tsp salt. Mix well and saute till the onions turn golden brown in color. Here you can switch the saute mode to high to roast the onions faster. It takes about 10-12 minutes to roast onions on high. Just ensure to mix the onions every few minutes, so they don’t burn.
- Once the onions are roasted, change the saute mode back to medium, and add in the spice powders – chilli powder, garam masala powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, and saute for 1-2 minutes, till the masalas get lightly cooked.
- If you find anything sticking to the bottom of the pan, this is a good time to deglaze the pan by adding a little water, and scraping the bottom.
- Next, add in the marinated chicken, mix well, and saute on medium for 5-8 minutes, till the chicken is lightly cooked, and not pink on the outside anymore.
- Once that’s done, turn off the saute mode by hitting cancel.
- It’s now time to add in the rice that has been soaked, and drained well, along with salt and fresh water. I use 2 cups of water for 2 cups of rice, just enough to cover the rice in the pot.
- At this point, you can also add in half of the roasted raisins and cashews that were kept aside earlier. The other half can be used for garnish.
- Once you have added everything, mix it all well. And ensure all the rice is under the water.
- Then close the Instant Pot lid, after ensuring the sealing ring is securely in place, and position the steam release valve to point to sealing.
- Pressure cook for 6 minutes on high. Once the cooking cycle is done, wait for 10 minutes, and then release all the pressure from the pot, by moving the steam release valve to venting.
- Open the lid, and garnish the biryani with the chopped coriander leaves, and the rest of the raisins and cashews.
- Instant Pot Chicken Biryani is ready to serve.
Using Bone-In Chicken
- You can follow the same steps as listed above for making bone-in chicken biryani as well in the Instant Pot, with 2 adjustments, highlighted below.
- Increase the saute time of chicken from 5 minutes to 10 minutes, based on the size of the chicken pieces.
- Adjust salt to taste.
Pressure Cooker Chicken Biryani
- You can follow the same steps as listed above for making chicken biryani in the Indian pressure cooker, with 2 adjustments, highlighted below.
- Soak the rice for 1 hour instead of 30 minutes.
- Position the chicken at the bottom & rice at the top, as much as possible.
- Then, pressure cook for 1 whistle, and turn off the gas, and wait for the pressure to release naturally.
- If rice is undercooked – after the first whistle, place the pressure cooker on a cast iron pan, and heat it on medium low heat for 10 mins. This will ensure the rice gets cooked without burning the bottom layer.
- Long grain basmati rice is the best kind of rice for making biryani.
- For best results, wash & soak the rice for 30 minutes, and then drain completely before using it in biryani.
- You can use either boneless or bone-in chicken. Just adjust the cooking time of the chicken and salt to taste accordingly.
- The quantity of chicken I’ve used in this recipe is on the higher side, because we as a family prefer more chicken. You can use lesser quantity of chicken & adjust the marination masala, chicken cooking time & salt accordingly, and proceed with the rest of the steps as is.
- Before you pressure cook, ensure to press all the rice under water. This is important for the rice to be evenly and perfectly cooked.
Please note: The nutrition values are best estimates provided as a courtesy. The exact values can vary depending on the exact ingredients or brands used. If you rely on them for your specific diet and/or health issues, please consult a registered dietician or nutritionist.
I’ve done my very best to share the exact measurements, and outline every step, but if something is not clear to you, or you have questions about quantities or alternatives, or anything at all, feel free to ask in the comments. I promise to reply to every single query.
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