A tantalizing serving of Instant Pot Biryani, a classic Indian rice dish, presented in a white bowl. Fragrant basmati rice is beautifully layered with seasoned meat or vegetables, garnished with saffron-soaked milk, and sprinkled with fresh herbs. This aromatic dish embodies the rich and complex flavors of India.

Master the Art of Flavorful Instant Pot Biryani

Biryani, a fragrant and flavorful rice dish, is a cherished part of Indian cuisine. The amalgamation of aromatic spices, long-grain basmati rice, tender meat or vegetables, and the perfect blend of seasonings is what makes biryani so beloved. While traditionally a time-intensive dish, the Instant Pot makes it easier and quicker to savor this culinary delight. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through creating a delectable Instant Pot Biryani that’s bursting with the rich flavors of India.

What Is Biryani?

Biryani is a flavorful and aromatic rice dish that originates from South Asia, particularly India. It’s a beloved and iconic part of Indian and Pakistani cuisine. Biryani is known for its fragrant spices, long-grain basmati rice, and a combination of meat, vegetables, or both. This dish can be made in various regional styles, and it’s often associated with festive occasions and special gatherings.

Key characteristics of biryani include:

Aromatic Rice: Biryani is typically made with long-grain basmati rice known for its fragrance and elongated grains.

Proteins: Biryani can feature various proteins, such as chicken, lamb, beef, seafood, or even vegetables for vegetarian versions.

Aromatic Spices: Biryani is renowned for its blend of aromatic spices, including cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves, and star anise, among others. This spice mix contributes to its distinctive flavor and aroma.

Layers: Biryani is a layered dish. The rice is alternately layered with the cooked protein or vegetables, along with the spice-infused sauce and various herbs, such as fresh coriander and mint leaves.

Garnishes: Biryani is often garnished with fried onions and saffron-soaked milk to add color, flavor, and visual appeal.

Cooking Techniques: Biryani can be made using various cooking methods, including dum cooking, which involves slow cooking in a sealed pot, and the Instant Pot or pressure cooker for quicker preparation.

Variations: There are numerous regional variations of biryani, such as Hyderabadi Biryani, Lucknawi Biryani, and Sindhi Biryani, each with its unique blend of flavors and cooking techniques.

How to Make the Best Instant Pot Biryani

Instant Pot Biryani Recipe

Recipe by Ethan HarrisCuisine: Cuisine Recipes


  • 2 cups of basmati rice, soaked for 30 minutes and drained

  • 1 pound of protein (chicken, lamb, or vegetables for a vegetarian version)

  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced

  • 2 tomatoes, chopped

  • 1/2 cup of yogurt

  • 2 tablespoons of ghee (clarified butter) or oil

  • A handful of fresh coriander leaves

  • A handful of fresh mint leaves

  • Whole spices (bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and star anise)

  • Ground spices (cumin, coriander, turmeric, red chili powder, and garam masala)

  • Salt to taste


  • Sauté the Onions and Whole Spices:
    Set your Instant Pot to the sauté function and add ghee or oil. Sauté the thinly sliced onions until they turn golden brown. Add the whole spices (bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and star anise) and sauté for another minute to release their flavors.
  • Add the Protein:
    Add the protein of your choice (chicken, lamb, or vegetables) and sauté until it’s no longer pink (for meat) or has a golden hue (for vegetables).
  • Spices and Tomatoes:
    Stir in the ground spices (cumin, coriander, turmeric, red chili powder, and garam masala). Add the chopped tomatoes and sauté until they turn soft and the oil begins to separate from the mixture.
  • Layer with Rice:
    Carefully layer the soaked and drained basmati rice over the sautéed mixture in the Instant Pot. Do not stir.
  • Add Yogurt and Herbs:
    Spread yogurt evenly over the rice. Sprinkle half of the fresh coriander and mint leaves on top.
  • Cook:
    Pour enough water into the Instant Pot to cover the rice. Secure the lid and set the Instant Pot to pressure cook on low for 5 minutes. Allow a natural pressure release for about 10 minutes, followed by a quick release.
  • Garnish:
    Enhance the biryani’s appearance and flavor by garnishing it with saffron-soaked milk, the remaining fresh coriander and mint leaves, and fried onions.

Instant Pot Biryani Cooking Tips

Marinade for Flavor: For enhanced flavor, marinate the protein (chicken, lamb, or vegetables) in yogurt and spices for a few hours or overnight before cooking. This helps infuse the meat or vegetables with the spices and makes them tender.

Rice Rinse and Soak: Rinse the basmati rice thoroughly until the water runs clear. Then, soak the rice in water for at least 30 minutes. This step helps the rice cook evenly and absorb flavors.

Proper Layering: When layering the ingredients in the Instant Pot, start with the protein mixture as the bottom layer, followed by the rice, yogurt, and herbs. Do not stir the layers; this allows the biryani to cook evenly and prevents it from becoming mushy.

Measuring Water: Use the right water-to-rice ratio to ensure perfectly cooked and fluffy rice. Typically, for every cup of rice, use 1.5 cups of water. However, variations may exist depending on your specific recipe, so check your recipe for guidance.

Saffron Soak: Soak saffron strands in warm milk before adding them as a garnish. This step infuses the saffron’s color and aroma into the milk, enhancing the biryani’s visual appeal.

Natural Pressure Release: After the Instant Pot’s cooking cycle is complete, allow for a 10-minute natural pressure release before using the quick release to release any remaining pressure. This resting time helps the flavors meld and prevents the rice from becoming mushy.

Monitor Spice Levels: Biryani can be spicy, so be mindful of the quantity and type of chili powder used. Adjust the spice level to suit your preferences.

Customize Spices: While many biryani recipes provide specific spice combinations, feel free to adjust the spices and seasonings to your liking. Experiment with different spices and herbs to create your personalized biryani.

Use the Right Instant Pot Settings: Depending on your specific Instant Pot model, select the appropriate pressure cooking time and setting (usually low pressure) as per your recipe’s guidelines. Refer to your Instant Pot’s manual for instructions on pressure settings.

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