Chicken Pulao (Instant Pot & Stovetop)
Chicken pulao recipe – One pot flavored chicken pilaf cooked with mild Indian spices. Pulao is a delicious dish made of basmati rice, meat or veggies, spices & herbs. This chicken pulao is super easy to make for a weeknight dinner. It is mildly spiced and not heavy like the Chicken biryani.
Traditionally a Biryani is made by layering marinated meat and partially cooked rice. The pot is then sealed and dum cooked to trap the flavors. Making a good chicken biryani takes a considerable amount of time to plan & cook.
This chicken pulao comes to my rescue most often when we crave for a flavorful chicken & rice dish. It is not only super quick to make but very flavorful and tastes delicious.
There are so many ways of making a chicken pulao. Some people use stock to cook the dish while in the south many people use coconut milk. But most times I make it with water alone.
This is a kids’ friendly recipe too as it requires only a few spices. Chicken pulao is best served with a yogurt Raita or a simple salan.
Methods of making chicken pulao
Chicken pulao can be made in a regular pot, traditional pressure cooker or instant pot. You can find all the 3 methods in this post.
More Chicken recipes,
Easy Chicken curry
Easy Chicken fried rice
How to Make Chicken Pulao (Stepwise Photos)
1. Wash and soak rice for about 20 minutes, if using normal rice soak for 30 minutes. Drain off the water and set aside.
2. Marinate chicken with turmeric, chili powder, salt, ginger garlic paste, 1 tsp oil and then yogurt. You can also add a tsp of good garam masala powder. This is optional. Yogurt makes the chicken tender. If using coconut milk for the recipe, skip using yogurt for marination.
3. Set this aside till we need.
4. Pour oil to a pressure cooker or pot. When it turns hot, add dry spices including fennel powder. Saute till the spices begin to sizzle.
5. Add onions and fry until lightly golden. You can lightly brown them as well.
6. Saute chicken on a medium flame.
7. Chicken should turn white in color and partially soft cooked for about 3 to 4 minutes. Otherwise chicken may turn hard after adding tomatoes.
8. Next add chopped tomatoes. Fry till the tomatoes turn mushy, soft and completely cooked.
9. Add chopped coriander and mint leaves. Stir and fry until the mixture begins to smell good.
10. Continue to cook till the moisture from tomatoes evaporate.
Make Chicken Pulao
11. Add stock or water or thin coconut milk. Also add salt. We have already added salt to marinate, take care not to add too much.
12. When it comes to a boil, add drained rice.
13. Stir well. If cooking in a pot, then cover and cook on a low heat until the rice is done.
14. If cooking in a pressure cooker, cover the lid and cook for 1 whistle on a medium heat.
15. When the pressure releases, remove the lid and leave it for about 5 minutes. Fluff up gently.
Serve chicken pulao with onion raita.
1. Always wash rice at least thrice. This prevents the rice grains in the chicken pulao from turning mushy & sticky.
2. Next soak basmati rice for at least 20 mins. This helps the rice grains to expand well while cooking. So you can soak the rice and set aside until you are done with the other preparations.
3. Using whole spices is the key to this chicken pulao. However if you do not have then just replace them with any store bought chicken masala powder or garam masala. Follow the instructions on the pack for the quantity to use.
4. I prefer to use 1 to 2 tbsps of yogurt to marinate the chicken. This enhances the dish a lot and the chicken comes out very juicy & succulent without drying out. However you can skip this.
5. Mint leaves are a not to miss herb while making a chicken pulao as it takes the entire dish to a new level. if you do not have it then replace with cilantro or coriander leaves.
Chicken Pulao (Instant Pot & Stovetop)
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
To Marinate (for tenderizing)
- 250 grams chicken (about half pound) cubed
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste or crushed or grated
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon red chili powder or smoked paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon turmeric
- ⅛ teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons yogurt or curd
Whole spices (skip whatever you don’t have)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 star anise
- ½ teaspoon cumin (or shahi jeera)
- 6 cloves or laung
- 2 inch cinnamon or dalchini
- 4 green cardamoms or choti elaichi
- ¾ teaspoon saunf powder (fennel powder) optional
- 1 black cardamom (optional)
- 1 strand mace optional
other ingredients for chicken rice
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 medium onion ( thinly sliced)
- 1 medium tomato (optional, chopped )
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon Salt (adjust to taste)
- 2 tablespoons mint or pudina (chopped finely)
- 2 tablespoons coriander leaves or cilantro (chopped finely)
- 1 ½ cups basmati rice (I use lalquilla old malai)
- 2 ½ cups water (1¾ cups for instant pot) or stock or coconut milk
- Wash basmati rice a few times to get rid of starch.
- Then soak it for 20 minutes. This helps to cook the rice grains fluffy. Drain and set aside.
- Marinate the chicken with ginger garlic paste, salt, turmeric, red chilli powder, garam masala, & yogurt. This helps to tenderize. Set this aside till we use it.
How to Make Chicken Pulao (stovetop)
- Heat a pot or cooker with oil. Add whole spices – bay leaf, star anise, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, mace, cardamoms and fennel powder.
- Saute till the spices begin to smell nice.
- Add onions & green chili. Fry stirring often until the onions turn lightly golden.
- Transfer marinated chicken and fry until it turns pale and white.
- This takes around 3 to 4 minutes. Next add tomatoes.
- Fry until the tomatoes turn mushy, pulp and looks completely cooked through.
- Add mint and coriander leaves and fry until it smells good for a minute or two.
- Make sure tomatoes are cooked, blended well with the mixture, then pour stock or water or thin coconut milk.
- If your coconut milk is creamy or thick, dilute it with water and measure.
- When it comes to a boil, add salt and drained rice. Mix well
- If cooking in a normal pot, cover and cook on a low heat until the chicken rice is done completely.
- If cooking in a whistling pressure cooker, cover & cook for 1 whistle on a medium heat.
- When the pressure releases, fluff up the chicken pulao & serve with raita or plain yogurt.
Instant pot Chicken Pulao
- Press SAUTE button. Pour oil to the inner pot of the Instant pot.
- Add all the whole spices & saute for 30 to 60 seconds. Then add the onions and chilli. Saute until transparent or golden.
- Next add then chicken and saute for 3 to 4 mins until chicken turns pale.
- Add tomatoes, mint, coriander leaves and saute the tomatoes turn mushy. Ensure the moisture dries up at this stage.
- Then drain the water from the rice completely and add it to the pot.
- Also pour 1¾ cups water and add in little more salt. Mix everything well.
- Press CANCEL button. Scrape off the bottom of the pot with a spatula to release any bits of spices stuck in there.
- Secure the Instant pot with the lid. Position the steam release handle to sealing.
- Press the PRESSURE COOK button (high pressure) for 5 mins.
- When the IP finishes, it will beep. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 2 to 3 mins.
- Then release the rest of the pressure manually with the help of a spoon by moving the steam vent from sealing to venting.
- Gently fluff up with a fork. Do not stir the chicken pulao a lot when it is too hot. Just allow to cool down a bit.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills.
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Delicious recipe! I have tried many chicken pulao recipes earlier but one is the easiest with great results. Used stock for added flavor and was ready under 30 mins. This goes to my rotation menu. Thank you!!!
So glad to know Nikita. Thanks for trying and sharing back here.
Hi Swathi, Very simple and tasty recipe, my family loved it. Thank you so much for sharing. Beatrice
Glad you all loved it. Thank you!
Hello Swasthi, seems like a yummy recipe. I am going to try this in a day or two. I am wondering, if it is ok to marinate the chicken in yogurt and spices overnight by keep it in the refrigerator. Please let me know. Keep up the great work you are doing. Rom
Hello Rom garu,
Thank you. Yes you can keep it overnight in the refrigerator. Keep it outside before you begin to prepare the ingredients. Hope you like it.
Swasthi, thanks very much
Hi can I use mutton instead of chicken?
The recipe for mutton pulao is different and this recipe won’t work with mutton.
Have u shared the recipe for same ?
No I haven’t shared yet. I have a one pot Pressure cooker Mutton biryani/pulao. It is actually like a pulao. I have shared it as recipe 3 in this post – Mutton biryani. Scroll down to the end and check.
I have tried this recipe many times, it tastes really very good… Today I tried it using brown rice, it too turned out well… Thanks a ton for this yummy and easy recipe…
Thanks for trying Richa. Glad you like it.
Loved your recipe , am gonna definitely try. Can you suggest me ,can I use the pro-rata quantities for 30 people.
How big vessel might be required for it?
I haven’t made this for so many people anytime. Can’t help you with that.
I’ve made your chicken curry a few times and the first time I made it it get came out so well but eventually not sure, but it came out wrong.. I like to get a nice gravy consistency but I get watery gravy and flavourless chicken on the bone. For a biryani, how do you endure there’s a nice flavour on the chicken and it doesn’t get lost with added water to rice.
I do enjoy following your recipes. Nice and easy! Thanks.
I can help you with that. Chicken curry – Make sure the onions are fine chopped and sautéed well. Also cook the onion tomato masala really well. This makes the gravy bind together and thicker. If you like more gravy you can increase the onions, tomatoes, ginger garlic and spices proportionately as this is what makes the curry thicker. Since there is no marination process in the recipe, you have to cook the chicken on a really low flame so it absorbs the flavors. Is it the garam masala? Not sure what kind of garam masala you are using? It has to be flavorful and you may try increasing the quantities.
Chicken Biryani – Marinate the chicken longer and ensure it is cooked fully with the spices. Only then you will pour water and rice.
Since you feel the chicken is bland I guess it is your garam masala. Try with a different brand. I hope this helps
can I still make this recipe without tomatoes? Let me know.
Yes you can make. Add some lemon juice before serving
I tried this today but the rice came out very mushy and the chicken was dry. I followed it as written but not sure what went wrong. It tasted well but the rice texture was a spoiler. Don’t know where I goofed up.
Gina, I think it is the quality of rice. Use the same amount of water as you use for plain rice. It turns out perfect.
I’m keen to try this! Can you tell me approximately how long the rice will take to cook? (Stovetop method). Thanks 🙏
It depends on what kind of rice you use. It takes the same amount of time as the regular rice.
Swasthi.. YOU are a staple in my kitchen. I love all your recipes. They are always easy to follow. Thank you !
Chicken pulao is one of our favourites .. we make it often and it always turns out yum.
Thank you for all the time you put into posting a recipe .. you include the little details and I’m grateful 😊
So happy to know! Thank you so much!
After trying your chicken keema which is a routine menu now,i tried this too and now this one too became my Hubby’s favourite dish. We enjoyed it. Thank you so much.
Glad to know Vidya
I tried this recipe. It turned out very good. Thanks Swasthi.
Chicken pulao recipe is very good. However 1/8 th TSP of salt for marination was quite less for chicken on bone.
Glad to know! You can use as per your taste.
I like this pulao thank you for this recipe swathi
Thanks for taking the time to not only post your recipes but for also responding to questions! I have childhood memories of eating chicken pulao with aloo. How can I modify this recipe to include potatoes along with the chicken. I would prefer to cook in my instant pot. Thank you!
Use 2 medium potatoes. Quarter them and add along with the chicken. Sometimes potatoes soak up water & throw a burn message. So pour 2 to 3 tbsps more water. Hope this helps
I like your simplicity and clarity. Excellent stuff !
I am a recently divorced dad of 2 kids living in USA, a few months ago I didn’t even know how to boil an egg thanks to all your recipes & very easy instructions I cook Indian food about 3-4 times a week. Thank you for all of your delicious recipes.
You are most welcome! Glad the recipes are useful. Thanks for leaving a comment.
Hi Swasthi.. thanks a bunch for this wonderful recipe. Easy n delicious ?
Thank you so much for your recipe…
I tried it few times and every time it came out delicious..
I tried biryani couple of times and i don’t know why it was never successful but this recipe was super easy and yummy too.
I tried ur chocolate ice cream too and my son loves it and now he wants only homemade ice cream.
Welcome. Glad to know.
I can help you with the biryani. Actually if you are able to make this one, even biryani should come out the same way. Let me know how it turned out exactly so I can help you further.
Nice to know your son loves the ice cream too.
Hi Swasthi, thank you so much for the recipe, it turned out really good.