Skip to Content

Instant Pot Chicken Biryani

Treat yourself to mouth-watering biryani without setting aside the day to prepare it. This easy Instant Pot chicken biryani recipe combines tender chicken pieces, basmati rice, and warm spices for a meal that’s ready in one hour! Complete the meal with raita and kachumber salad.

Instant Pot chicken biryani in a serving dish.

What is Biryani?

Biryani is a flavorful and aromatic South Asian dish made by layering marinated meat (such as chicken, lamb, or beef) or vegetables with basmati rice and cooking them with warm spices and aromatics. It’s usually garnished with fried onions, cilantro, or nuts and paired with raita or hard-boiled eggs.

Preparing traditional biryani is a lengthy cooking process, but this Instant Pot chicken biryani recipe reduces the preparation time, bringing the popular meal to your table in just one hour! The name biryani comes from a Persian word, ‘biran,’ which means fried before cooking in English. Like other tasty South Asian meals, such as pulao and kabobs, biryani found its way to India and Pakistan with the Mughals via trade routes. The dish is popular across India, Pakistan, and other parts of the subcontinent, with regional variations putting their unique spin on the meal with local ingredients and dietary preferences.

This easy recipe makes it possible to enjoy biryani as a weeknight meal, but it’s perfect for special occasions like Eid, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and other holidays.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Yogurt: Use plain yogurt to tenderize the chicken and carry the flavor of the spices and aromatic throughout the dish.
  • Lemon Juice: Combine fresh lemon juice with yogurt to marinate and tenderize the chicken.
  • Biryani Masala: Prepare homemade biryani masala using garam masala, Kashmiri chili powder, turmeric powder, and salt.
  • Garlic and Ginger Paste: Garlic and ginger paste add depth and flavor to the chicken. Mince three fresh garlic cloves and grate 1 inch of fresh ginger if you don’t mind the extra work.
  • Chicken: Use skinless, bone-in chicken thighs, legs, and quarters. I recommend using chicken thighs over chicken breasts if you prefer to include boneless chicken.
  • Ghee: Ghee is a staple in South Asian cooking and provides a deep, nutty flavor.
  • Onion: Layer caramelized onions into the rice dish and use them to garnish the meal.
  • Whole Spices: Combine cumin seeds, green cardamom pods, bay leaves, and star anise in a spice ball for easy removal. You can add them straight into the pot, but my husband hates picking out the whole spices.
  • Ground Spices: Season the Instant Pot chicken biryani with coriander powder, ground cumin, and Kashmiri chili powder (paprika) or red chili powder (cayenne powder) if you prefer a spicier dish.
  • Basmati Rice: The key to delicious biryani involves soaking basmati rice in water beforehand – the longer, the better! Soaking it beforehand helps give the rice the length and luxury you expect from biryani recipes. If you want the bright color of restaurant-style biryani, consider combining powdered food coloring and a small amount of water or milk to drizzle over the plain rice before layering it with the other ingredients.

How to Make Instant Pot Chicken Biryani

The full recipe with measurements is in the recipe card below.

How to Cook Biryani:

Step 1: Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a mixing bowl. Add the chicken and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Biryani masala in a bowl.

Step 2: Wash the rice until the water runs clear, then soak it in water for 20-30 minutes.

Rice soaking in a bowl.

Step 3: Meanwhile, warm two tablespoons of ghee in an Instant Pot on the saute mode setting. 

Add the onions and cook for 15-20 minutes until they brown and caramelize; use a slotted spoon to remove half the onions and set them aside.

Onions searing in the pot.

Step 4: Add a tablespoon of ghee to the Instant Pot (as needed) and stir the cumin seeds, green cardamom pods, and star anise into the onions. Saute for 30 seconds.

Whole spices and onions cooking in the pot.

Step 5: Arrange the marinated chicken pieces in the pot with the paste from the bowl. Add the Kashmiri chili powder (red chili powder), ground cumin, and coriander powder.

Fry for 3-5 minutes until the chicken changes color.

Seasoned chicken in a pot.

Step 6: Deglaze the Instant pot with two to three tablespoons of water, scraping up any leftover bits from the bottom of the pot.

Add the bay leaves, secure the lid, and cook on manual high pressure for 4 minutes with a quick release.

Chicken and biryani masala in an Instant Pot.

Step 7: Drain the rice and transfer one cup to a rice cooker or saucepan with one cup of water and a teaspoon of salt to cook separately.

Bring a saucepan to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat, cover, and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender for 10-15 minutes. Remove the rice from heat and fluff it with a fork. Cover with the lid and set it aside.

Basmati rice resting in the sauce pan.

Step 8: Remove the lid from the Instant Pot and add 2 cups of uncooked rice, 2 cups of water, and one teaspoon of salt. Stir to release anything stuck on the bottom.

Secure the lid and cook on manual high pressure for 8 minutes with a quick release.

Seasoned chicken in a pot with biryani masala.

How to Assemble Biryani:

Step 9: Add a layer of the biryani mixture from the Instant Pot to a serving platter. Top it with a layer of plain basmati rice, followed by some of the reserved caramelized onions. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, and garnish with fried onions and fresh cilantro to serve.

Expert Tips

  • I recommend scoring the chicken pieces with a paring knife and marinating them for at least 30 minutes to ensure the flavor penetrates.
  • Rinse the rice under cold water until it runs clear to remove excess starch and prevent the rice grains from sticking together as it cooks.
  • Soak the rice in cold water for 20-30 minutes to lengthen and soften the rice.
  • What is a quick release? A quick release on an Instant Pot is a method for rapidly releasing the pressure. Turn the pressure valve from the sealing position to the venting position. It usually takes a few minutes for all the pressure to release, and you can safely remove the lid.
  • Why do you separate the rice in this recipe? Preparing biryani in a pressure cooker like an Instant Pot is a cooking hack to avoid the delicious but labor-intensive process of making authentic biryani. The high pressure can cause the rice to be sticky (not a word you want to describe your biryani). Counteract this by cooking plain, fluffy rice to incorporate with the rest of the dish. Feel free to combine food coloring powder with a small amount of water or milk to pour over the rice, giving it a bright color.
  • Skip the step of preparing the rice separately if you are in a hurry. Instead, add all three cups of rice to the Instant Pot with three and a half cups of water.

I’m Getting a ‘Burn’ Notification on the Instant Pot

  • How do I keep this from happening? Don’t forget to deglaze the Instant Pot with a small amount of water after frying the chicken to release any onions or paste stuck on the bottom of the pan. When you add the rice and water to the Instant Pot, I like to stir it together to release anything stuck on the bottom after the first cook. 

If you enjoy this meal, try one of these Indian recipes!  

Instant Pot chicken biryani in a serving dish.

Serving Suggestions

Biryani is a favorite one-pot meal because you have everything you need all in one. However, you can serve it with raita, a cooling yogurt sauce that balances the spices. Add a crispy salad, like kachumber salad or avocado cucumber tomato salad. Biryani also goes well with other entrees such as kabobs, korma, and aloo gosht. Complete the meal with a glass of sweet mango lassi.

Toppings for Biryani

  • Garnish with chopped cilantro or mint leaves.
  • Include boiled eggs for additional protein and color.
  • You can add toasted almonds, cashews, or golden raisins.
  • Serve the delicious chicken biryani with lemon or lime wedges.
  • Drizzle saffron milk (made from saffron threads) over the top of the rice as I do for saffron rice, or add a few drops of rose water or kewra essence for a floral flavor.
  • Green chiles are a must for those who enjoy a little extra heat.

What to do with the Leftovers

  • Refrigerate: Store leftover Instant Pot biryani in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
  • Freeze: Let the dish cool and transfer it to a freezer-safe container or bag. Instant Pot chicken biryani freezes for 2-3 months.
  • Thaw: Defrost the rice dish in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Repurpose: Warm a single serving in the microwave, or add it to a saute pan for a quick and easy meal the whole family will enjoy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make vegetarian biryani or vegan biryani?

I have a deep admiration for biryani. It’s a versatile meal, and the protein options are endless! Most biryani recipes feature different types of meat, but others make boiled eggs or vegetables the main ingredient.

Use a combination of fresh vegetables like green beans, cauliflower florets, carrots, and peas for a mixed vegetable biryani. Replace the yogurt and ghee in the recipe with coconut oil and coconut milk for a vegan-friendly meal.

More Instant Pot Recipes:

Your Feedback is Valuable

Did you try this recipe? Consider leaving a ⭐️ rating and comment below. And for more healthy international recipes for everyday cooking, sign up to have recipes emailed right to you.

Instant Pot chicken biryani in a serving dish.

Instant Pot Chicken Biryani

Tressa Jamil
Instant Pot chicken biryani has all the mouth watering appeal of traditional biryani but our recipe cuts the cooking time in half!
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Marinating Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian, Pakistani
Servings 8 Servings
Calories 514 kcal
Ingredients
  
For the Marinade:
For the Biryani:
Instructions
 
  • Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a mixing bowl. Add the chicken and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Wash the rice until the water runs clear, then soak it in water for 20-30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, warm two tablespoons of ghee in an Instant Pot on the saute mode setting. Add the onions and cook for 15-20 minutes until they brown and caramelize; use a slotted spoon to remove half the onions and set them aside.
  • Add a tablespoon of ghee to the Instant Pot (as needed) and stir the cumin seeds, green cardamom pods, and star anise into the onions. Saute for 30 seconds.
  • Arrange the marinated chicken pieces in the pot with the paste from the bowl. Add the Kashmiri chili powder (red chili powder), ground cumin, and coriander powder. Fry for 3-5 minutes until the chicken changes color.
  • Deglaze the Instant pot with two to three tablespoons of water, scraping up any leftover bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the bay leaves, secure the lid, and cook on manual high pressure for 4 minutes with a quick release.
  • Drain the rice and transfer one cup to a rice cooker or saucepan with one cup of water and a teaspoon of salt to cook separately.
    Bring a saucepan to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat, cover, and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender for 10-15 minutes. Remove the rice from heat and fluff it with a fork. Cover with the lid and set it aside.
  • Remove the lid from the Instant Pot and add 2 cups of uncooked rice, 2 cups of water, and one teaspoon of salt. Stir to release anything stuck on the bottom. Secure the lid and cook on manual high pressure for 8 minutes with a quick release.
  • Add a layer of the biryani mixture from the Instant Pot to a serving platter. Top it with a layer of plain basmati rice, followed by some of the reserved caramelized onions. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, and garnish with fried onions and fresh cilantro to serve.
Notes
Expert Tips:
  • I recommend scoring the chicken pieces with a paring knife and marinating them for at least 30 minutes to ensure the flavor penetrates.
  • Rinse the rice under cold water until it runs clear to remove excess starch and prevent the rice grains from sticking together as it cooks.
  • Soak the rice in cold water for 20-30 minutes to lengthen and soften the rice.
  • What is a quick release? A quick release on an Instant Pot is a method for rapidly releasing the pressure. Turn the pressure valve from the sealing position to the venting position. It usually takes a few minutes for all the pressure to release, and you can safely remove the lid.
  • Why do you separate the rice in this recipe? Preparing biryani in a pressure cooker like an Instant Pot is a cooking hack to avoid the delicious but labor-intensive process of making authentic biryani. The high pressure can cause the rice to be sticky (not a word you want to describe your biryani). Counteract this by cooking plain, fluffy rice to incorporate with the rest of the dish. Feel free to combine food coloring powder with a small amount of water or milk to pour over the rice, giving it a bright color.
  • Skip the step of preparing the rice separately if you are in a hurry. Instead, add all three cups of rice to the Instant Pot with three and a half cups of water.
Nutrition Disclosure:
  • The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.
Nutrition
Serving: 1 Serving | Calories: 514 kcal | Carbohydrates: 64 g | Protein: 21 g | Fat: 19 g | Saturated Fat: 7 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7 g | Cholesterol: 74 mg | Sodium: 1257 mg | Potassium: 387 mg | Fiber: 3 g | Sugar: 3 g | Vitamin A: 508 IU | Vitamin C: 6 mg | Calcium: 86 mg | Iron: 3 mg
Did you make this recipe? Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and follow @thejamilghar or tag #thejamilghar on Instagram!
4.80 from 5 votes (3 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating




Christine Gipson

Monday 14th of November 2022

This was such a wonderful recipe to follow! I had to improvise as I went with some things since I do not own an instant pot (I know- I should really have one by now) but it was so simple to translate to a stove top and crock pot. The flavors were exactly the comfort food I was looking for and such simple steps to follow! I will definitely make this again. You should definitely make this meal too.

Vince Pinto

Monday 11th of April 2022

Like what?!? This legit might be the best meal I have ever had in my life. Such a perfect balance of literally everything. I would suggest this meal to absolutely everyone.

Tressa - Jamil Ghar Team

Monday 11th of April 2022

That's such high praise! Thanks, Vince!