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Lately, I’ve been loving international food flavors more and more. From homemade za’atar to Vietnamese spring rolls. I’ve learned to be more adventurous, and that includes when it comes to my tastebuds! This chicken biryani is the latest flavorful dish on my menu.
It does have a few more ingredients and is a little more involved than some of my other weeknight standbys. Instead of throwing everything in the skillet at once, the dish is cooked in stages to bring out all the flavors. Chicken biryani is still pretty simple though and makes a great main dish.
What is Chicken Biryani?
Traditionally this Indian rice dish is made with bone-in chicken with caramelized onions and rice. The meal is cooked in layers with cooked chicken on the bottom and par-broiled long-grain rice on the top. One of the most popular versions, Hyderabadi biryani, comes from the region of Hyderabad.
This recipe maintains all the flavors of the original but in a slightly easier dish. Instead of par-boiling the rice I just soak it and I use cut-up boneless chicken pieces for a faster cook time. You could use drumsticks or chicken thighs if you prefer though.
Like most Indian recipes it’s packed with layers of flavor thanks to the ground and whole spices.
Marinating the Chicken
A lot of the delicious, spiced flavor comes from the marinated chicken. It’s soaked in plain yogurt which helps tenderize and soften it. I use plain Greek yogurt, but regular yogurt works too. If you can’t find a healthy store-bought version, then try making your own homemade yogurt!
The spices soak into the chicken and release as it’s cooking. The marinade also helps the chicken get rich caramelization as it cooks to sear the juices inside. Then we add sliced onions and caramelize for an added sweetness.
Pick Your Garnish
Chicken biryani tastes good enough on its own but feel free to add some toppings. Chopped fresh mint or cilantro leaves are a popular topping. I also like to add some toasted chopped nuts to mine.
Raita is a traditional Indian food condiment that also goes well with this dish. It’s basically yogurt with chopped veggies, herbs, and spices. Raita with it’s creamy yogurt base and crisp veggies helps cool down a spicy meal. Our family likes a little bit of a kick, but you can easily adjust the spice level of your chicken biryani.
One Pan Chicken Biryani
Here’s a healthy one-pan chicken biryani recipe that can also be adapted for an Instant Pot.
- fresh cilantro leaves (chopped, optional)
- sliced almonds or cashews (toasted, optional)
In a bowl, combine the chicken pieces with the yogurt and marinade spices. Mix well and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes to several hours. The longer it marinades the better the flavor.
While the chicken is marinating, wash the rice and let it soak for 30 minutes.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil or ghee.
Once the oil is warm, add the sliced onions and sauté until golden brown.
Add the marinated chicken to the skillet and cook until it’s no longer pink and is golden brown on the outside, about 5-7 minutes.
Add the green chilies, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves, and bay leaf and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the drained rice and stir well to combine with the chicken, fried onions, and spices. Cook for about 2-3 minutes to lightly toast the rice.
Pour in the 2 cups water or chicken broth and add salt to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to low heat. Let simmer covered for 15-20 minutes, or until the rice is soft.
Fluff the rice with a fork and add whatever garnishes you prefer before serving.
One Pan Chicken Biryani
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories from Fat 117
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Trans Fat 0.02g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 7g
Vitamin A 114IU2%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
You can also make this dish in the Instant Pot or pressure cooker too. See below for instructions.
Instant Pot Directions
Want to make chicken biryani in your Instant Pot or pressure cooker instead? Here’s how!
- Follow steps 1 through 5 from the above recipe.
- Place the chicken mixture in the instant pot and add the rice, chicken broth, and salt.
- Cook on “manual” for 5 minutes at high pressure.
- Allow a 10-minute natural pressure release before opening the lid.
- Fluff the rice with a fork and add any desired garnishes.
The total prep and cook time for the Instant Pot version is the same as the stovetop, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Does your family enjoy trying different foods and flavors? Leave a comment and share below!