This chicken pulao recipe is a quick and easy one-pot meal that is ready in just 20 minutes. Made with Indian spices and gluten-free ingredients, this chicken and rice casserole is both delicious and perfect for busy weeknights. With tender chicken, perfectly cooked rice, and subtle flavors from whole spices, this dish is sure to please the whole family.
What's great about this chicken pulao recipe is that it is highly customizable and can be adjusted to your preferences. Serve it with a side of vegetable raita and kachumber salad for a wholesome meal, or add more spice and heat for a bolder flavor. Whether you're looking for a quick and easy weeknight dinner or a dish to serve at your next gathering, this Instant Pot chicken pulao recipe is sure to be a hit with everyone. Give it a try and see why this dish is a household favorite!
Why you will love this chicken pulao recipe?
- This one-pot chicken pulao recipe is a great option for those looking for a simple and versatile meal that can be served for busy weeknights or special occasions. Whether you're serving it up for a cozy family dinner or bringing it to dinner parties and potluck, this dish is sure to impress.
- This gluten-free chicken recipe is a healthy and flavorful option that everyone can enjoy.
- Made with basic and simple ingredients and spices, this Instant Pot chicken pulao recipe is easy to prepare and perfect for a quick and satisfying meal.
Ingredients and substitutes
Chicken: I use chicken legs or drumsticks to make the pulao. You can use any cut with either bone-in or boneless chicken.
Rice: Use Basmati rice to make this chicken rice.
Spices: The whole spices I use are bay leaves, green cardamom, black cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon. The powdered spices I use are garam masala, turmeric, and chili powder.
Yogurt: Plain yogurt is used to marinate the chicken. You can also substitute it with Greek yogurt.
Onion, ginger, and garlic: The fresh ginger and garlic in this recipe can be replaced with ginger garlic paste.
Ghee: I make this pulao with ghee; however, you may replace it with any cooking oil of your choice.
Step 1: In a small bowl, add yogurt, ginger, garlic, turmeric, and red chili powder. Mix well (images 1 and 2).
Step 2: Add the chicken and mix well. Marinate the chicken for 30 minutes (images 3 and 4).
Step 3: Set the Instant Pot to saute mode and add ghee. Once it melts, add the whole spices (bay leaf, green cardamom, clove, black cardamom, and cinnamon stick). Saute for a few seconds on low heat (images 5 and 6).
Step 4: Add onions and fry until the onion is golden brown on medium heat (images 6 and 7).
Step 5: Add the marinated chicken pieces to the caramelized onions and mix well. Cover and saute for 5 minutes (image 8).
Step 6: Drain the water from the soaked Basmati rice and add the rice. Add garam masala powder, salt, and one cup of water. Mix well (step 9). Set the Instant Pot to pressure cook mode for 5 minutes on high pressure. Do a quick pressure release (image 10). Open the lid and gently fluff up the rice. Garnish with cilantro (images 11 and 12).
Alternate cooking methods
Here are some alternate ways of making this Instant Pot chicken pulao:
Stovetop: Use a frying pan or Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid to make chicken pulao on the stovetop. Sauté the ingredients, partially cooking the chicken, and then adding soaked rice and water to the pot. Bring it to a boil and cover with the lid. Cook over low heat until the rice is tender and the chicken is fully cooked (this may take 18-20 minutes).
Stovetop pressure cooker: Saute the ingredients and partially cook the chicken as per this recipe. Add the soaked rice and water to the pressure cooker. Cook on medium-high heat until the pressure builds, then reduce the heat and cook for 2 whistles. Allow the pressure to release naturally before opening the cooker.
Rice cooker: Sauté the ingredients and partially cook the chicken in a separate pan. Then transfer the partially cooked chicken, rice, and water to the rice cooker. Follow the instructions for cooking rice in your rice cooker, and let it complete the cooking cycle.
Slow cooker: For a hands-off approach, you can prepare chicken pulao in a slow cooker. Sauté the ingredients and partially cook the chicken on the stovetop, then transfer them to a slow cooker along with the soaked rice and water. Cook on low heat for 4-6 hours until the rice and chicken are fully cooked.
Oven: While not as common as the other methods, you can also prepare chicken pulao in the oven. Sauté the ingredients and partially cook the chicken in an oven-safe skillet or casserole dish on the stovetop. Then add the soaked rice and water and cover with the lid or aluminum foil. Transfer it to a preheated oven. Bake at 350 F (180 C) for 30-35 minutes or until the rice is tender and the chicken is fully cooked.
Yakhni pulao: Yakhni means broth and yakhni pulao is a flavorful variation where the chicken is cooked in a broth made with a blend of whole spices and onions. The rice is then cooked in this chicken stock, resulting in a rich and aromatic pulao.
Keema Pulao: Chicken keema pulao is made with ground chicken (keema) instead of chicken pieces. The keema is cooked with spices, onions, and tomatoes, and then the rice is added and cooked until done.
Lemon chicken pulao: In this variation, the chicken is marinated in a mixture of lemon juice, yogurt, and spices, which imparts a tangy flavor to the dish. The rice is then cooked with the marinated chicken, resulting in a zesty and refreshing pulao.
Coconut chicken pulao: The coconut chicken pulao recipe incorporates the richness of coconut milk. The chicken is cooked in a coconut milk-based gravy along with spices and aromatics, and the rice is cooked in this flavorful mixture.
Green chicken pulao: This variation uses a vibrant green masala made from cilantro, mint, green chilies, and spices. The chicken is cooked with this masala, giving the pulao a fresh and herbaceous flavor. You can find my recipe to make green vegetable pulao here.
Tomato chicken pulao: In this variation, the chicken is cooked in a tomato-based gravy along with spices and aromatics. The rice is then added and cooked together, resulting in a tangy and flavorful pulao.
Useful tips to make Instant Pot chicken pulao
A perfectly cooked pulao will have rice that is well cooked, not sticking together and the rice grains separated and free-flowing.
Use Basmati rice or a good variety of long grain rice to make this pilaf. When cooked correctly, the grains will be separate, non-lumpy, and will stick to each other.
Wash the Basmati rice thoroughly in running water until the water runs clear. Then, soak it for 20-30 minutes. Soaking the rice is an important step while making any kind of pulao. Washing and soaking the rice will help to remove excess starch from it and achieve a non-sticky texture to the pulao.
The water to rice ratio for this Instant Pot chicken pulao is 1:1. Adding more than this amount will make the rice sticky and mushy.
The whole spices are important to make the best-tasting pulao. You may skip the ones you don't have access to them but it will definitely change the taste of the final dish. You can also add one teaspoon of cumin seeds along with other spices.
Add green chilies along with onions to increase the heat. You can also add more red chili powder or cayenne to make a spicy pulao.
We add salt during the marination of the chicken. Make sure you adjust the amount of salt you add to rice accordingly.
Marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes. You can marinate the chicken for longer if you are planning ahead to make this dish. Place the marinated chicken in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight and then use it.
I use chicken legs or drumsticks to make the pulao. You can use any cut with either bone-in or boneless chicken. Adjust the saute time accordingly.
You may also like:
- Murg makhani.
- Collection of Indian chicken recipes made in Instant Pot.
- Skillet chicken pot pie.
- Turkey rice casserole.
Click here for more one-pot meals recipes. Also, check out my collection of Indian rice recipes in Instant Pot.
What to serve with chicken pulao?
Raita: Raita is a yogurt-based side dish that helps balance the spices in the pulao. Cucumber raita, onion raita, and mint raita are great options.
Salad: A fresh and crisp salad complements the flavors of chicken pulao. You can prepare a simple kachumber salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Alternatively, slice cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions and place them on a wide plate. Sprinkle salt and lemon juice and serve.
Papadums or Naan: Papadums (crispy lentil wafers) or naan bread are great options to serve alongside chicken pulao.
Green Chutney: Green chutney add a zesty and refreshing element to the meal. It can be served as a dip or drizzled over the pulao. Whisk it with a dollop of yogurt to make yogurt mint chutney.
Both biryani and pulao are rice-based dishes. The most important difference is in the assembly of the dish. In pulao, soaked rice is added along with vegetables/meat and cooked while in biryani, the rice is parboiled first and then layered with a gravy/curry made with vegetables/meat.
Basmati rice works best for this dish. Not only does Basmati rice have a great aroma, but it also has long grains that if cooked correctly, are separate, non-lumpy, and do not stick to each other.
Yes, a stovetop pressure cooker can be used. Follow this recipe and pressure cook for 2 whistles. Open the lid once the pressure goes down and mix the chicken and fluffy rice gently.
If you liked this recipe, please don't forget to give a 5-star rating and leave a comment below.
Instant Pot Chicken Pulao
For the marination:
- 4 chicken drumsticks
- ¼ cup yogurt
- 1 inch ginger grated
- 3 cloves garlic grated
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the pulao:
- 1 cup Basmati rice
- 2 tablespoon ghee
- 1 large onion thinly sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cloves
- 4 cardamom
- 1 black cardamom
- 1-2 small cinnamon sticks
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- ½-1 teaspoon salt adjust as per taste
- ¼ cup cilantro
Prep and marinate:
- Wash the Basmati rice thoroughly and soak it in water for 20-30 minutes.
- In a small bowl, add yogurt, ginger, garlic, turmeric, salt, and chili powder. Mix well.
- Add the chicken and mix well. Marinate the chicken for 30 minutes.
Make the pulao:
- Set the Instant Pot to saute mode and add ghee.
- Once it heats, add the whole spices (bay leaf, green cardamom, clove, black cardamom, and cinnamon). Saute for a few seconds.
- Add onions and fry until the onion is golden.
- Add the marinated chicken pieces and mix well. Cover and saute for 5 minutes.
- Drain the water from the soaked Basmati rice and add the rice.
- Add garam masala, salt, and one cup of water and mix well.
- Close the lid of the Instant Pot and seal the vent. Set the Instant Pot to pressure cook mode for 5 minutes.
- Do a quick release of the pressure. Open the lid and gently fluff up the rice. Garnish with cilantro (coriander leaves).
- Serve hot with raita.
Giangi Townsend says
Great recipe!! One of my favorite. Thank you so much for all your instruction pictures, they are helpful to me. So excited to make it for my family.
Thank you for sharing
Zhen of greedygirlgourmet says
So easy and delicious! I do love chicken recipes!
Dawn Conklin says
This chicken pulao is so delicious! Love how quick and easy it is to make in the Instant Pot too. It's the perfect dinner for us on a busy day and everybody loved it so I will definitely be making it again.
I love how easy this is to make! Super tasty and gluten-free! Thank you so so much! <3
Kayla DiMaggio says
This instant pot chicken pulao is so delicious! We loved it and it was such a hearty dinner!
I like how this recipe is done in 20minutes and only uses one pot to cook the recipe.
Such an easy and delicious recipe!
Gina Abernathy says
I love serving one pot meals. This easy chicken and rice is a breeze to make and the family loved it. Thanks for a great recipe.
Cindy Mom the Lunch Lady says
I had convinced myself I didn't need an instant pot, since I don't really have room for yet another small appliance in my kitchen. Then I see recipes like this one and realize I really do need to get on the instant pot band wagon. This looks like such a flavourful and easy meal to make!
I use my IP in so many dishes. I love how quickly I can finish cooking plus the clean-up is a breeze as it's just one pot!
I freaking LOVE Indian food like love - literally thought about needing a good Indian food recipe yesterday! Guess the universe is listening thank you for posting this!
I’ve tried other recipes in the past but this one is spot on! Really good! Thanks!
I am really glad you liked it, KK. Thank you for your feedback 🙂