This Brown Rice Chicken Biryani is a healthier version of my popular Chicken Biryani. It is cooked with brown basmati rice, chicken breasts, fresh herbs, and warm aromatic spices. Served with cooling raita this is a fav feel-good comfort food!
After posting my Instant Pot Chicken Biryani recipe I received so many questions on how to make this with brown rice. My initial thinking was that it is not going to work out with the flavors and moreover the textures with the chicken and Rice cooking together.
Then I started experimenting with brown rice. The more I started cooking with it, I figured out that soaking it can drastically change the cooking time, especially with Instant Pot. After a few tries, I was able to come up with this recipe that has tender cooked chicken with perfectly cooked brown rice.
I would have never thought of making Biryani with brown rice if not for you guys, so THANK YOU!! This delicious biryani is now on repeat in my kitchen.
- Brown Rice - brown basmati or jasmine rice
- Chicken - I have used lean chicken breasts in this recipe. Chicken thighs or drumsticks also work well.
- Aromatics - yellow onion, fresh ginger, and garlic
- Spices - bay leaves, cumin seeds, whole black peppercorns, turmeric, red chili powder, and garam masala. You can always more spices such as whole cloves, star anise, and cardamom if you like
- Yogurt - plain unsweetened yogurt works are a perfect base for the marinade
How to Make Brown Rice Chicken Biryani
1. Soak the Rice and Marinate the Chicken
- Rinse and drain the brown basmati rice thoroughly 2 times. Add 2 cups of warm water and soak the rice for 3 hours. (photo 1)
- Make the marinade by mixing garam masala, ginger, garlic, red chili powder, turmeric, mint leaves, half of the chopped cilantro, lemon juice, yogurt, and salt. Add chicken and coat evenly with the marinade. Keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. (photo 2)
2. Caramelize Onions
- Turn Instant Pot to Saute(Hi) mode and add half of the ghee. Add thinly sliced onions (photo 3)
- Cook stirring frequently for 10 to 12 minutes or until the onions are golden brown and caramelized. Take out half of the onion and keep it aside for garnishing the biryani (photo 4)
3. Saute Marinated Chicken and Deglaze
- Add the remaining ghee to the Instant Pot with half of the caramelized onions already in the pot. For extra spicy Biryani add sliced jalapeno. Add bay leaves. (photo 5)
- Add marinated chicken and mix well. Deglaze the pot with the liquids from the marinade. The deglazing step is important and will help take out the browning of the pot from sautéing the onions (photo 6)
4. Layer Rice and Pressure Cook
- Drain the rice and gently pour it over the chicken. Spread the rice evenly over the chicken. Add 1-½ teaspoon of salt. Add 1 cup of water. (photo 7)
- Using a spatula, evenly spread the rice under water and gently push all the rice from the sides of the pot under the liquids. (photo 8)
- Close Instant Pot and turn the pressure valve to sealing. Set to Manual mode for 10 mins. Allow Natural Pressure Release.
- Open the Instant Pot and gently fluff the top layer of the rice, if it looks slightly uncooked, simply close the instant pot and leave the Instant Pot on the keep warm mode for another 10 minutes.
- Garnish with the remaining caramelized onions, saffron, and cilantro.
Serve with yogurt-based raita, boiled egg, and a fresh lime wedge! I love serving Mango Lassi or homemade lemonade with this Biryani. It also can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. To reheat simply microwave.
Spicy foods always leave me craving something sweet and here are my go-to desserts that pair well with Biryani:
Pro Tips for the Best Brown Rice Chicken Biryani
- Soak the brown rice for 3 hours in warm water.
- Pat dry the chicken before marinating to avoid excess liquids. Marinate chicken breasts for at least 2-3 hours. Chicken can also be marinated overnight or for up to 12 hours
- Use plain full-fat yogurt for the marinade.
- Use fresh garam masala. Homemade garam masala works the best!
- Make sure all of the rice is under the liquids before closing the Instant Pot.
- It is normal for the top layer of the rice to look a bit undercooked. Simply fluff the top layer and then gently mix the biryani with a silicone spatula.
- This recipe makes medium spicy Biryani. For extra spicy add jalapeno. OR add another teaspoon of garam masala to the chicken.
- Lastly, although, the Sauté function on the Instant Pot works great for true one-pot cooking, you can also caramelize the onions using a stovetop in a non-stick pan. OR you can also air fry the onions. This will speed up the process and also will prevent the stainless steel insert from getting scorched which may lead to “BURN” notice on the newer Instant Pot’s.
- Allow natural pressure release so the rice continues to cook and the chicken breasts cook tender and juicy
Chicken drumsticks or chicken thighs can also be used in this recipe with the same pressure cook time
Yes! Marinade the lamb using the same ingredients as the chicken. Here are 2 options to adjust cook time for Lamb Biryani:
Pressure Cook the marinated lamb for 20-25 mins on the meat/stew setting. Then add the soaked brown rice and follow the remaining recipe.
Pressure Cook the marinated lamb for 15 mins on the meat/stew setting. Then add unsoaked brown rice, with an extra ½ cup of water, and cook for 20 mins with natural pressure release.
You can use any variety - brown basmati, brown jasmine, or short-grain brown rice such as Sona Masoori
Some of my readers have also made this recipe using instant cook brown rice which does not need to be soaked. Simply adjust the cooking time to 6 minutes followed by natural pressure release
I see "BURN" on the Instant Pot, HELP!!
Instant Pot is a smart pressure cooker and will show "BURN" if there are not enough liquids for it to come to pressure (Especially true for newer models). This happens for a few reasons:
- The recipe does not have enough thin liquids
- You forgot to add the liquids
- The sealing ring is loose or not secure
- You forgot to put the sealing ring on the lid
- The bottom of the Instant Pot got burnt during saute process.
How to avoid the BURN:
- Make sure your recipe has enough thin liquids
- Make sure that the liquids have not evaporated by the time you close the lid
- Make sure the sealing ring is on and properly secured. If your sealing ring has become loose, place it in the freeze for an hour.
- Lastly, deglaze the pot. In this recipe, after the onions are sautéed the bottom of the pot may get browned. So it is important to remove this browning which is called deglazing the pot. Turn the saute mode off and either using some of the marinated chicken or 2 tablespoons of water scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spatula. This will remove any browned bits from sautéing of the onions. This is an important step, especially for Biryani recipes, and will help the Instant Pot come to pressure and also prevent the “BURN” signal.
Here is the youtube video that shows how easy it is to make this brown rice chicken biryani:
Love one-pot Indian meals? Here are more Instant Pot Biryani recipes that we have on repeat!
- Easy and Authentic Instant Pot Chicken Biryani
- Weeknight favorite Vegetable & Paneer Biryani
- Instant Pot Shrimp Biryani in 30 minutes
- Instant Pot Fish Biryani
- Chickpea Biryani with vegan options
Enjoy brown rice? Check out this recipe that explains how to cook Instant Pot brown rice 2 ways!
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Brown Rice Chicken Biryani - Instant Pot
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 tablespoon ginger grated
- 1 tablespoon garlic grated
- 1 tablespoon kashmiri red chili powder
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ cup mint leaves
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro divided
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¾ cup plain yogurt
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 pounds chicken breasts cut each breast into 2 pieces
- Rinse and drain the brown basmati rice thoroughly 2 times. Add 2 cups of warm water and soak the rice for 3 hours.
- Make Marinade by mixing garam masala, ginger, garlic, red chili powder, turmeric, mint leaves, half of the chopped cilantro, lemon juice, yogurt and salt. Add chicken and coat evenly with the marinade. Keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours
- After about 2-½ hours, turn Instant Pot to Saute(Hi) mode and add half of the ghee. Add thinly sliced onions, cook stirring frequently for 10 to 12 mins or until the onions are golden brown and caramelized. Take out half of the onion and keep it aside for garnishing the biryani.
- Add remaining to the Instant Pot with half of the caramelized onions already in the pot. For extra spicy Biryani add sliced jalapeno. Add bay leaves and marinated chicken. Mix well and deglaze the pot with the liquids from the marinade. The deglazing step is important and will help take out the browning of the pot from sautéing the onions. Note: If you have an air fryer you can use it or perfect golden fried onions.
- Drain the rice and gently pour over the chicken. Spread the rice evenly over the chicken. Add 1½ teaspoon of salt. Add 1 cup of water.
- Using a spatula, evenly spread the rice under water and gently push all the rice from the sides of the pot under the liquids.
- Close Instant Pot and turn pressure valve to sealing. Set to Manual mode for 10 mins.
- Allow Natural Pressure Release. Once the pin drops, open the Instant Pot and gently fluff the top layer of the rice, if it looks slightly uncooked, simply close the instant pot and leave the Instant Pot on the keep warm mode for another 10 minutes.
- Gently fluff and mix the rice with the chicken on the bottom of the pan.
- Garnish with the remaining caramelized onions, saffron and cilantro.
- Serve with Raita (Onions and tomatoes mixed in yogurt), hard boiled egg and lemon wedges.
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Update Notes: This recipe was originally posted in Nov 2017, but was updated in Oct 2019 with new photos and information.