How to Make Crock Pot Biryani


Let’s start at the top. What is biryani?¬†

Biryani is an Indian rice based dish made with spices and a protein such as chicken or lamb.

There are at least seven different versions of biryani from Pakistan to New Delhi, but the most famous is from Hyderabad. I am originally from Hyderabad and I take my biryani very seriously.

It is a labor intensive dish to prepare, which is why I was so  motivated to learn how to make crock pot biryani.

I first heard of making biryani in the crock pot from Anupy Singla, author of The Indian Slow Cooker. Lentils, chickpeas are all great, but biryani in the slow cooker? Now, that is revolutionary!

The following is an adapted version. The original was made with lamb, I used chicken. She recommends a shorter cooking time for rice, I cooked mine a bit longer. She didn’t add any spices to the rice, I threw in a couple.

Is this dump and dash? No. Is it authentic? YES!

Open your senses to the aroma of turmeric, cloves and ginger bringing a bit of the East to the West.

Cut up one whole chicken and add all the spices. Marinate overnight. You can marinate for a shorter time, but you really want all those flavors infused into the chicken.
slow cooker biryani

Pour some oil on the bottom of the crock pot. Spread the sliced onions. After mixing the chicken with yogurt place in one layer on top of the onions. Squeeze them in! They will shrink in cooking.
slow cooker biryani

Tricky, tricky oh soooo tricky!

This is what makes or breaks biryani..the rice! I cooked mine until it was almost 70% done. The original recipe recommends 50%, but I think that’s just not enough. Push one piece of rice between your fingers, it should have a tiny hard piece on the end left and than you know it’s ready!
crock pot biryani

Using a slotted spoon remove the rice and cover the top of the chicken completely. It will seal all the chicken and spices underneath. I used this 6 Quart Hamilton Beach Stovetop Slow Cooker.
crock pot biryani

Mix it a couple times while the rice is cooking with the chicken. Serving in rustic bowl is optional.

Crock Pot Chicken Biryani


  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 4 inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
  • 2-4 green chilies, stems removed
  • 2 Tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 medium yellow onions peeled and sliced very thinly in strips
  • 4 Tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 1/2 cups uncooked basmati rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron strands, soaked in 2 Tablespoons milk (optional)


  1. Mix together ginger, garlic, green chilies, garam masala, red chili powder, turmeric, teaspoon of salt, cilantro and mint. Add the chicken and mix to coat. Marinate at least two hours in refrigerator or overnight.
  2. After marinating, add the yogurt to the chicken and mix well.
  3. Turn the slow cooker on low. Add onions, 2 tablespoons of the oil and the marinated chicken to the slow cooker. Cook for 3 hours.
  4. On the stove top, bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the rice and teaspoon of salt and turn the heat to low. Allow the rice to simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, at which point most of the water will have evaporated, check the rice for almost 70% done. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the rice to the slow cooker. Discard any water remaining in the pot. Level the rice in the slow cooker with the back of a spoon. Drizzle the rice with the remaining oil and the saffron/milk mixture, if desired.
  5. Cook for 1 hour, fluffing the rice once or twice and bringing the sauce from the bottom to the top.
  6. Serve with yugurt or raita.

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  1. I’m always looking for a new crock pot recipe to try and this sounds amazing! I love anything with fresh ginger. Thanks for sharing. Yum!

    • Isra Hashmi says:

      I love fresh ginger too Candice! It’s not a hard dish to make, but does have some steps involved. :)

      • Isra, I am also of Hyderabadi descent(, in fact yr Mom is my mom’s 1st cousin) and this is actually called ‘Kachay gosht ki biryani’….makes it tastier if you add the juice of a lemon and add the yogurt straight away while marinading the meat. When I make it, I use fried onions.

  2. I don’t think I have ever heard of this dish. I love chicken and anything I can cook in my slow cooker, I REALLY love. Thanks for sharing! I might try this soon!


    • Isra Hashmi says:

      I’d love to know how you like it! This recipe is very spicy, if you don’t like heat I would cut it down a bit.

  3. Oh my Isra! You just brought back so many memories!!! I’ve been looking for this recipes ever since I moved to OH, but could never remember the name of the dish! Thank you so much!

  4. Ah you know how we British love our curries! I use my crock pot a lot but always cook the rice separately. I will be trying your method next time.

  5. I haven’t heard of Biryani before…sounds pretty yummy. I absolutely love using my slow cooker, so I will have to try this out. Thanks!

  6. This looks delicious! How would you make it vegetarian? Maybe change out the chicken for tofu or chickpeas? Hmmm…

  7. I had no idea what this was, but you did a great job explaining it! I’m allergic to chicken, but this is a recipe I would definitely like to try using the lamb option.

  8. Thanks, so much I’m going to make this next week!

  9. This looks really good. I love trying new ethnic dishes.

  10. Walter F. Clark says:

    The Beary Community is a small Muslim Community from Dakshina Kannada with a very distinctive cuisine. The biryani is a ubiquitous feature of the Beary feast and no major celebration is complete without it- from Eid to weddings. The lesser known Beary biryani is famous along the west coast as it is light, less spicy and is easy to digest. Beef, chicken, mutton, fish and prawns are the usual meat used for the Beary Biryani. Though Mutton is the first choice meat. The basmati rice is cooked separately and flavored with ghee and spices like star anise, cinnamon, cardamon and cloves. The meat is cooked separately with onions, garlic, ginger, fresh coriander leaves. When the gravy thickens, the rice and the meat are layered, topped with caramelized onions, fresh mint leaves, roasted cashew nuts and sprinkled with ghee and saffron water. The Biryani is then steamed. This cooking process ensures that the rice in the biryani is fluffy and light without requiring too much ghee or oils while the meaty juices are incorporated into the rice. Beary biryani is served with chicken kebabs and raita. It tastes best when left to sit for a few hours or overnight.

  11. Thank you for sharing (and explaining) this. I like new things, but need descriptions to understand what I’m getting myself into. This sounds good!

  12. Never heard of Biryani, but this looks and sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing.

  13. I love Indian food but have been too intimidated to make it. I think I can do this!

  14. I’ve never heard of Biryani before but I love rice dishes & if I can do it in the crock pot, I’m game!

  15. I hadn’t ever heard of Birayani either, but it certainly does look delicious! Hubby would love it!

  16. I haven’t had biryani in some time. I would be scared to death to ever make any rice dish in the slow cooker. I didn’t even realize you could! I really love your recipe and maybe, oh maybe I will be brave enough to try it some time. Thanks for sharing :)

    • Isra Hashmi says:

      I totally know what you mean. I was so ready for a major fail. This is actually the second time I made it in the crock pot, the first time, the rice was way undercooked. But this time, I pre-cooked it a little more and mixed it a couple times while it was cooking, and it came out really good!

  17. I’ve wanted to make Hyderabadi Biryani for so long but was never sure how… this was really detailed and easy to follow and I am planning on making it this weekend :)

    A quick question – at what heat do you keep the crockpot? I have two options – high and low – and so I just want to be sure that I am not burning it or undercooking it.

    Thanks again!!

  18. Love you line “I take my biryani very seriously.” hahaha! love it!!!

  19. Mix together ginger, garlic, green chilies, garam masala, red chili powder, turmeric, teaspoon of salt, cilantro and mint. Add the chicken and mix to coat. Marinate at least two hours in refrigerator or overnight.
    After marinating, add the yogurt to the lamb and mix well.

    first line says chicken and second says lamb

  20. Thank you for this recipe. It was great because I did not have to worry about the food burning. The flavor of the chicken was good, but my rice turned out soggy. I tried to follow everything exactly as written. Also, I was not sure whether I should have removed the green chill before adding the rice. By the time everything was cooked, the green chill had disintegrated. Some of my guests who do not like very spicy food found it too hot and I wondered if they ended up with pieces of green chill?. Should I have removed the green chill before adding the rice? Also, my ginger did not taste nicely cooked. I really could detect the ginger as it did not seem to have mixed nicely with the other flavors. I marinated for the chicken for 2 hours. I also sealed the crockpot with foil inside the lid. Since this was for taking to a function, I wanted to be very sure it was cooked and not slightly raw and so I know that the foil would help to keep the pot well sealed. Thank you for your help. About how much ginger in tablespoons would you say I should have from the 4 inch piece of ginger? Overall, I think it tasted great. Thank you.

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