Instant Pot Chicken Biryani| Chicken and Rice

August 8, 2017 (Last Updated: April 18, 2019)

Chicken Biryani or Chicken Dum Biryani is a one-pot Indian classic food dish, where marinated chicken is steam-cooked with aromatic basmati rice and flavored with saffron and cardamom.

In this simplified and easy Instant Pot Chicken Biryani recipe, I create authentic biryani flavors using my electrical pressure cooker, the Instant Pot.   And it’s all done in under an hour, from start to finish!

What is Biryani

Traditionally, Chicken Biryani is slow-cooked by steam-cooking basmati rice, with chicken that has been marinated in yogurt and fragrant Indian spices like garam masala.

The process of cooking the meat and rice in steam is called Dum, where the cooking vessel is sealed with wet dough and an airtight environment is created for cooking.  In this easy chicken dum biryani recipe, I mimicked that ‘Dum’ cooking style using my electric instant pot pressure cooker

Biryani rice is typically made with long grain Basmati Rice and has many variations all over India.  It is traditionally made with chicken or lamb.  The vegetarian biryani is typically made with paneer (Indian cottage cheese) and fresh vegetables.
Close up of Instant Pot Chicken Biryani served on a plate

There are many theories about the origin of ‘Biryani’.  From what I’ve read about it, I believe that it originated in Persia and was brought to India by the Mughals.  As per this this theory, Biryani is an Indian adaptation of the Persian Pilaf.

Two Styles of Dum Biryani: Kachhi & Pakki

There are two basic ways of cooking a BiryaniKachhi (meaning ‘raw’) Biryani, in which marinated meat is steam cooked with partially cooked rice.

The rice is 50% cooked when I add it to the biryani pot.   The rice finishes cooking in the juices released by the meat and marinade.  The result is a perfect infusion of flavors.  The rice often turns out multi-colored, depending on what it was closest to in the pot– the meat, fried onions or saffron.

The other way of making biryani is Pakki (meaning ‘cooked’) Biryani,  where I prepare a meat curry first, and then cook the rinsed rice in that curry.

I find that between the two, the Kacchi Biryani seems to be the more popular one and is served in restaurants world over.  Traditionally, this is a slow-cooked recipe that takes a couple of hours to make.  I made a 45-minute version of it using my electric pressure cooker- the Instant Pot.

Making the Biryani Masala Marinade

In this Instant Pot Chicken Biryani recipe (see video recipe), I use a non-traditional ingredient, Paprika.  Paprika, adds a smoky-peppery taste, and color, which infuses in the meat when the biryani is steam-cooked.  You can use Kashmiri Red Chili Powder instead of paprika if that’s what you have on hand.

Occasionally, I also add a teaspoon of Chaat Masala to the biryani masala marinade.  Chaat Masala adds a nice zing to Chicken Biryani, which my family really enjoys.

Instant Pot Chicken Biryani on a white plate

How to Make Instant Pot Chicken Biryani

Here’s how I make Chicken Biryani in Instant Pot in about 45 minutes, from start to finish:

Wash and soak rice: I start by soaking basmati rice in water.  Set is aside for 15 minutes, while I do the following prep-work.

Start the onions: If I am making fried onions from scratch, I add them to the Instant Pot, on Saute mode.  They continue to saute and get brown while I prepare the marinade and rice.

Marinate chicken: I marinate chicken by mixing all ingredients listed under “marinade for chicken”.  Toss chicken in it and keep aside.

Partially boil rice: Rinse the rice 2-3 times, till water runs clear.  Then, I partially cook the rice in fresh water in the microwave for about 5 minutes, till it’s 50% done, and then strain it.

Layer Biryani: Now onto layering biryani in the Instant pot.  Add 1/2 cup water (for 6 qt). This helps avoid a burn message. Layer the chicken evenly.  I layer the rice on top of that in an even layer.  Add 1/4 cup water over rice.

Top with fried onions and herbs: Then, I sprinkle fried onions on top followed by chopped cilantro-mint. Add cashews and sprinkle 1 teaspoon garam masala. Pour the saffron-milk evenly followed by melted butter.

Pressure cook: Close the lid.  Press Manual (High pressure) for 6 minutes, sealing position.  When done, manually release the pressure with quick release (QR), or, let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes (NPR 5) and then release the remaining pressure manually.

Rest Biryani: Open the lid and using oven mitts, I remove the inner pot from the Instant Pot base, to stop the cooking process. Let it rest for 5 minutes, uncovered.  This allows for any excess moisture to evaporate.

Serve: Carefully fluff up the biryani with a fork, without breaking the rice and enjoy with a cucumber-yogurt dip!

Chicken Biryani cooked in Instant Pot pressure cooker.

How to Double Chicken Biryani Recipe for a Party

Multiplying this Indian food recipe is easy.  To double up this recipe, I create alternate layers of chicken and rice, basically repeating step 3 in the order mentioned.  Add 2-3  tablespoons of water in between each layer of rice.

How to Make Chicken Biryani in a Stovetop Pressure Cooker

Before I got my Instant Pot, I used to cook it in my stove top pressure cooker.  Here’s how:

  • Follow all instructions and assemble the biryani in the pressure cooker.  Close the cooker and place it on medium-hi heat.
  • As soon as the first whistle goes, reduce heat to medium.  Place a flat skillet(frying pan) on the stove and place the pressure cooker on top of that.  This will ensure that your chicken doesn’t burn at the bottom of your pressure cooker.  Continue cooking on medium-high heat for 6 minutes.

Chicken biryani cooked in Instant Pot served on a white plate

Homemade Garam Masala

In this recipe, I use a popular Indian spice-blend, called garam masala, for flavoring the chicken, as well as the rice.  You can find garam masala at most grocery stores, but I prefer to make my own garam masala blend.

It takes under 15 minutes to make enough to last me a month, and the end results are so worth the little effort.  If you have the time to make yours at home too, try this easy recipe for Homemade Garam Masala.

Making Fried Onions for Chicken Biryani in Instant Pot

I feel that fried onions are a huge contributor of flavor in any Biryani.  I mostly make it them at home, but that takes a bit of time.  When I’m short on time, I use store-bought fried onions from Trader Joe’s, and those work great for Biryani.  When I am preparing them at home, I use one of these two ways:

Sautéing in a Skillet or Using the Saute Feature in Instant Pot

I slice 2 medium onions thinly.  Then, I heat the Instant pot on SAUTE (high), or, a griddle on medium high heat, and add 2-3 tablespoons ghee or oil and add the onions.  I add a pinch of salt to the onions to speed up the process.

It is important to keep stirring every 3-4 minutes till the onions are golden brown, which takes around 12-14 minutes, depending on the size of the cooking pot.  The wider the surface area, the quicker they brown.

In the Oven (my preferred way)

Alternatively, I toss thinly sliced onions with melted ghee or oil.  Pre-heat the oven to 425°F and cook the onions for about 20 minutes, till they are golden brown.

This is a nice hands-off way of making fried onions.  I typically make mine using this method, and while the onions are cooking, I do the prep-work for Biryani.

What to Serve with Chicken Biryani

I like to serve Chicken biryani warm, with a Cucumber Raita (cucumber-yogurt dip) and a garden salad, drizzled with fresh lime vinaigrette.

Cucumber RaitaTop view of Cucumber Yoghurt Dip or Cucumber Raita

More Biryani / Rice Pilaf recipes that you may enjoy

Lamb Biryani or Mutton Biryaniinstant pot Lamb Biryani
Quinoa Vegetable Biryani
Top view of Quinoa Vegetable Biryani
Achaari Paneer Biryani (Veg)Achaari Paneer Biryani- combining two popular dishes in one pot, garam masala kitchen
Chana Masala Biryani
Chana Masala Biryani

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Top view of Instant pot Chicken Biryani

Chicken Biryani in Instant Pot

Chicken Biryani is a rice-based dish, which is made by steam-cooking aromatic basmati rice, with chicken marinated in yogurt and fragrant Indian spices.   Chicken Biryani in Instant Pot, is my simplified, convenient and one-pot recipe, that gets it done in 35 minutes!
Print Pin Discuss Recipe
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Resting Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 628kcal
Author: Spice Cravings

Ingredients

MARINADE for CHICKEN:

  • 1.5 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste 1 inch ginger + 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro & mint
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder adjust to your spice level
  • 2 teaspoons Paprika or Kashmiri Red Chili Powder
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt adjust to taste
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice

FOR PARTIALLY COOKING RICE

  • 2 cups Basmati Rice or long grain rice, soaked for 15 mins and rinsed
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons salt we're adding more salt than normal, since we will strain the rice before using
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ghee or oil

BIRYANI

  • 1 tablespoon butter melted : put before shutting lid
  • 10 whole cashews
  • 1/2-3/4 teaspoon saffron soaked in 3 tbsp warm milk
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala : put before shutting lid
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro & mint
  • 1/4 cup fried onion store bought or homemade
  • 1/4-1/3 cup water

FRIED ONIONS(If making your own)

  • 2 medium onions thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons ghee oil for sautéing

Instructions

Fried Onions (skip this step if using store bought fried onions)

  • Instant Pot or Stove top method: Slice 2 medium onions thinly.   Heat the Instant pot on SAUTE (high), or a griddle on medium high heat, and add 2-3 tablespoons ghee or oil and add the onions. Add  a pinch of salt to speed up the process.  It is important to keep stirring every 3-4 minutes till the onions are golden brown, which takes around 12-14 minutes, depending on the size of the cooking pot. The wider the surface area, the quicker they brown.
    Oven method: Toss thinly sliced onions with melted ghee or oil.  Pre-heat the oven to 425F and cook the onions for about 20 minutes, till they are golden brown. This is a nice hands-off way of making fried onions. I typically make mine using this method, and while the onions are cooking, I do the prep-work for Biryani.

Marinating Chicken

  • Prepare marinade by mixing together yogurt, olive oil, lime juice, ginger-garlic paste, salt, spices, 2 tablespoon chopped cilantro & mint. Mix well. Add the chicken thighs and coat well with marinade. Keep aside while you partially boil the rice.

Partially Cooking the Rice

  • Rinse basmati rice 2-3 times, till water runs clear. Soak them for 15 minutes in warm water. Strain rice. You can partially cook the rice in a microwave or stove-top. 
    Microwave: Place rice, water, salt, ghee and garam masala in an oven safe bowl, and cook for about 5 minutes on high, or till they look 50% done. Strain the rice and keep aside. 
    If using the stove-top method, boil 4 cups of water in a sauce pan, add rice, salt, garam masala and ghee/oil. Bring back to a boil and cook rice on high-heat for 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and strain the rice.

Cooking the Biryani

  • Turn on the Instant Pot.  Add 1/2 cup water (for 6 qt). This helps avoid a burn message. Layer chicken evenly.  Top with the remaining marinade. Layer the partially boiled rice evenly all over the chicken. Add 1/4 cup water over rice.  Sprinkle fried onions on top followed by chopped cilantro-mint. Add cashews and sprinkle 1 teaspoon garam masala. Pour the saffron-milk evenly followed by melted butter.
  • Close the lid.  Press Manual (High pressure) for 6 minutes, while the vent is set to sealing position. You can manually release the pressure (QR) right after, or, let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes (NPR 5) and then release the remaining pressure manually.  Open the lid and using oven mitts, remove the inner pot from the Instant Pot base, to stop the cooking process. Let the biryani rest for 5 minutes.  This allows for any excess moisture to evaporate.   Carefully fluff up the biryani with a fork, without breaking the rice.  Enjoy with a cucumber-yogurt dip!

Video

Notes

Time: Prep time includes preparing onions, marinating chicken and partially boiling rice.  Estimated Time includes roughly 10 mins for pressure build-up.  Cooking time = Time to set for pressure cooking.
If you are new to the Instant Pot, please read my FAQ on Instant Pot Terminology and Accessories to learn more.
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates.  If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.

Nutrition

Calories: 628kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 148mg | Sodium: 1761mg | Potassium: 723mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 15.8% | Vitamin C: 9.3% | Calcium: 19.7% | Iron: 15.2%
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Biryani, Chicken, instant pot indian recipes, instant pot rice recipes, Rice
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Aneesha holding a glass of white wine Hi, I'm Aneesha, a foodie by birth and the mind, body and soul behind Spice Cravings. Here I share quick, easy & healthy global recipes that are low in effort and big on taste! A recipe doesn't make it on the blog unless it gets a thumbs-up from my taster-in-chief, my husband, and my teen-chefs, my twin girls!

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Sana
    May 14, 2019 at 3:45 am

    If I want to increase the qty, you said you do alternate layers. So you do one time uncooked chicken then put 50 percent partially cooked rice and then uncooked chicken n again uncooked rice on top? Will the first layer of rice be overcooked? Should it still be 50% cooked?

    • Reply
      Aneesha | Spice Cravings
      May 14, 2019 at 9:12 am

      Hi Sana, You got the layering pattern right. The rice should be 50% cooked for both layers. Since everything steam cooks in an Instant Pot, my rice turn out evenly cooked at the end. If you are doubling all the ingredients, skip adding extra water on the top layer. After opening the lid, remove the pot so the rice at the bottom don’t get over cooked and let the pot rest for 5-10 mins, uncovered, so the extra moisture gets evaporated. Hope this helps!

  • Reply
    Afroz Alam
    March 29, 2019 at 1:14 pm

    i used to make chicken biryani but couldn’t make it tastier but after trying your recipe i made it better so thanks for sharing such an amzing post.

    • Reply
      Aneesha | Spice Cravings
      March 30, 2019 at 1:05 pm

      Hi Afroz, thank you so much for sharing that! I am glad you liked this recipe. It’s one of our favorites:) Try the Lamb Biryani, you’ll enjoy that too!

    • Reply
      Sana
      May 14, 2019 at 3:47 am

      And do you also double all the ingredients mentionned as well?

      • Reply
        Aneesha | Spice Cravings
        May 14, 2019 at 9:13 am

        Hi Sana, if you are doubling the chicken, the marinade doubles as well. Same goes for rice and other additions. Hope you enjoy it!

  • Reply
    Shauna
    January 3, 2019 at 8:23 pm

    My instant pot is 8qt. I was wondering if I need to make any adjustments to the Chicken Biryani recipe. I’m still learning!

    • Reply
      aneeshasg
      January 3, 2019 at 11:54 pm

      Hi Shauna, I’ve never made this in an 8qt, but I would suggest increasing the water to 3/4 cup instead of 1/2 cup. I would love to hear how that works in an 8qt.

  • Reply
    Capital Region Finds
    December 3, 2018 at 7:40 pm

    This came out excellent! Even my young kids asked for seconds!

    • Reply
      aneeshasg
      December 3, 2018 at 9:09 pm

      That is always wonderful to hear! I am so glad your family enjoyed this- it’s one of our favorite family meals 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing your feedback! If you wish, you can rate the recipe by clicking on the stars in the recipe card. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Dinesh
    December 2, 2018 at 11:50 am

    Quick questions, so you cooked chicken for only 6 mins ?

    • Reply
      aneeshasg
      December 2, 2018 at 1:25 pm

      Yes, I use boneless skinless chicken thighs which I cut in half, width-wise. They cook in 6 mins.

  • Reply
    Melanie
    August 19, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    I used this recipe however additionally sauteed diced red and green peppers with a diced red onion along with the flavors together with the additional ingredients was really yummy. Thank you

    • Reply
      aneeshasg
      August 19, 2018 at 6:08 pm

      That sounds yum! Glad you enjoyed the recipe!

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