Instant Pot Lamb Biryani is an aromatic one-pot dish made with long grain basmati rice and lamb and flavored with complex spices and caramelized onions, raisins, and nuts. This biryani rice is the pressure cooker version of a family recipe for mutton biryani.
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Many cultures around the world have a version of a rice and meat dish. Biryani (pronounced ‘bir-yah-nee’) is the Indian version of paella, jambalaya, or arroz con pollo i.e. meat, seafood, or vegetables cooked with rice.
If you love Indian food, you’re going to love this biryani rice recipe. It’s one of my favorite dishes; it’s an aromatic one pot meal that delivers a feast in every bite.
Different regions of India have different recipes for biryani. Essentially, biryani is meat, fish or vegetables layered alternately with long grain rice, and cooked slowly to make a delicious one-pot meal. Chicken biryani and mutton biryani (goat meat) are very popular versions.
Pakki biryani (prounounced ‘puck-ee’) is where the meat and rice are cooked separately and then alternately layered in a pot and cooked further. Dum biryani (prounounced ‘dhum’) is where rice and meat are steamed together.
This Instant Pot lamb biryani recipe was adapted from a stovetop recipe my mother-in-law makes for special occasions. The Instant Pot makes it much easier to cook this dum biryani.
❤️ WHY YOU NEED TO TRY THIS RECIPE
- It’s a family recipe that’s authentic.
- The rice and meat are cooked together for a one-pot meal.
- This lamb biryani recipe has amazing flavor!
- The Instant Pot makes it so easy to cook biryani with very little fuss.
💡 Tips for Making Instant Pot Biryani
Frying the onions
The most time-consuming part of this Instant Pot biryani recipe is frying the onions. Fried onions are an important ingredient in this Instant Pot biryani. You can cook them a couple of ways:
- Instant Pot: fry onions in Saute mode
- Stovetop: deep fry in a wok or saute in a frying pan
Although you can get decent results with the Instant Pot, the frying pan is better if you want crisp onions. Either way, they take time.
If you find the onions sticking to the bottom of the pot, deglaze ever often with a tablespoon or two of water. I keep a cup of water to the side that I use occasionally during the frying process.
The biryani spice mix is a prepared spice mix that’s readily available at any Indian grocery store. You can buy your choice of biryani masala (spice mix) or even make your own. These are some options:
Or you can make your own biryani spice mix:
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- ½ tsp black pepper powder
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp Kashmiri chili powder
Garam masala can be purchased at an Indian grocery store. If possible, use a homemade garam masala, preferably ground fresh. If you don’t have your own garam masala, here’s a quick way:
- 1 ½ tsp whole cloves (1 tsp ground cloves)
- 2 inch piece of cinnamon stick (1 tsp cinnamon powder)
- 30 cardamom pods (1 tsp cardamom powder)
- ¼ nutmeg (½ tsp nutmeg powder)
- 1 tsp fennel seeds (1 tsp ground fennel)
- 2 pieces star anise (1 tsp powdered star anise)
Grind in a coffee grinder or mix powders together and store in a cool dry place. The aroma is heavenly!!
To make lamb biryani Instant Pot recipe spicier, add a chopped jalapeno when you’re pressure cooking the marinated lamb. You could also increase the quantity of chili powder.
Avoiding the burn message
Before you cook the lamb, make sure you deglaze the inner pot so there’s nothing stuck to the bottom or you can have trouble with the Instant Pot not sealing.
Before you cook the rice and after pressure cooking the lamb, stir the curry and scrape off anything stuck to the bottom.
Marinating the meat
Although I prefer to marinate the meat for this mutton biryani Instant Pot recipe, there are times when I don’t plan ahead and I skip the marination. Things happen, and sometimes you do what you can! It still turns out quite tasty.
Substitute other meats
- For Instant Pot chicken biryani: use skinless, bone-in chicken legs and thighs instead of lamb, pressure cook for 6 to 8 minutes, and then proceed with the biryani recipe as written.
- For beef biryani: use beef stew meat and follow the recipe as written.
Based on reader feedback, I’ve changed the recipe instructions so you can try and avoid the burn message. You now add 1 cup of broth or water when adding the rice.
Make sure you deglaze very well after sauteing onions and cashews. When adding the rice in the second stage of pressure cooking, don’t stir the rice. Just push it down gently with a spatula.
Find out more about the Instant Pot burn message.
Yes, you can double the recipe. Keep the cooking time the same.
You can make the biryani ahead of time but garnish it when ready to serve. You can also just make the fried onions ahead of time and store them in the fridge.
I like to have a smooth marinade, so prefer to blend it. However, you can chop the ingredients finely if you want to avoid blending.
🧂 Instant Pot Lamb Biryani – Ingredients
- Biryani spice
- Garam masala
- Dried apricots
- Chili powder
- Lemon juice
More details in the recipe card at the bottom of this post
📝 How to make lamb biryani in Instant Pot (Step by Step Instructions)
- Marinate the lamb
- Saute onions, raisins, and cashew nuts
- Add lamb to Instant Pot
- Pressure cook lamb
- Add rice and pressure cook
- Stir lamb biryani
Marinate the lamb
- Blend the milk, yogurt, turmeric, biryani spice, garam masala, chili powder, salt, lemon juice, dried fruit, ginger, and garlic (or ginger garlic paste). Optional: WHITE poppy seeds (not black).
- Add cilantro and mint, and blend some more, until smooth.
- Transfer sauce and lamb meat to a medium bowl.
- Stir and refrigerate for 2 to 8 hours.
Saute onions, raisins, and cashew nuts
- In Saute mode, add ghee or oil to the Instant Pot inner pot. Add sliced onions to the ghee. Cook the onions until they are caramelized. Keep stirring so they don’t burn! This can take 20 to 30 minutes. It will take a long time to get the onions to be crisp and completely caramelized as shown above. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Add more ghee or oil to the Instant Pot if necessary. Add raisins and cashews and saute until the raisins puff up. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
- Make sure you’re keeping a close eye on the onions. If the onions begin sticking to the bottom, deglaze occasionally with a tablespoon or two of water or broth.
- You can probably fry the onions faster on the stovetop. I give Instant Pot instructions because some people want to make the whole meal in the Instant Pot.
Add lamb to Instant Pot
- Deglaze the inner pot with a couple of tablespoons of water so there’s nothing stuck on the bottom of the inner pot. Add back half the fried onions.
- Add the lamb with marinade.
Program the Instant Pot and release pressure
- Close the lid.
- Select Pressure Cook mode and cook on high pressure for 12 minutes.
- The display will go from On to 12:00. The float valve will go up after a few minutes. The display will count down to 00:00.
- Do a 10 minute natural release of pressure or a full natural release. Once the float valve goes down, the lid can be opened.
Add rice and pressure cook
- Add one cup of water or broth to the Instant Pot. Stir and make sure there’s nothing stuck on the bottom of the pot.
- Add rinsed basmati rice to the Instant Pot. Press down with a spatula so the liquid covers the rice, but don’t stir. Close the lid and pressure cook on high pressure for 6 minutes. Do a 15-minute natural pressure release.
Stir the lamb biryani and let it rest
- Stir the lamb and rice carefully with a rice paddle or large silicone spatula.
- Let the biryani rest for about 10 minutes and sprinkle the remaining fried onions, raisins, cashews, cilantro, and mint.
If there’s too much liquid, let the rice rest a little longer and it should thicken up. Serve this easy Instant Pot recipe with raita (Indian yogurt relish).
Instant Pot Tips and Tricks
Learn about how to use the Delay Start feature, which allows you to begin pressure cooking at a future time.
Pot in Pot
Find out how to use the Pot in Pot cooking method, which allows you to cook multiple foods together.
Find out how long to cook any type of food in the Instant Pot and what method of pressure release to use.
More Easy Instant Pot Indian Favorites
- Instant Pot Beef Curry is a popular South Indian recipe that’s going to please your entire family! Delicious, simple and it can be eaten as a stew too!
- Instant Pot Chicken Curry is juicy chicken simmered with aromatic spices, and tangy tomatoes for a quick weeknight curry made easily in the pressure cooker.
- Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala is an easy recipe with chicken cooked in a rich, creamy tomato sauce flavored with warm Indian spices like coriander, cumin, and garam masala.
Instant Pot Lamb Biryani Recipe
- ½ cup milk
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 ½ tablespoon biryani spice prepared mix
- 1 teaspoon garam masala preferably home-made
- ½ tsp Kashmiri chili powder optional
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 10 dried apricots optional – can also use prunes or dried figs
- 1 tablespoon ginger chopped coarsely
- 2 tablespoon garlic chopped coarsely
- 1 teaspoon white poppy seeds optional – don’t use black poppy seeds
- ¼ cup cilantro packed
- 7 mint leaves
- 2 lbs lamb (1 kg) cut into 1 ½ inch cubes – can use beef too
- 3 tablespoon vegetable oil or ghee
- 3 cups onions sliced
- ¼ cup raisins
- ¼ cup cashews preferably raw
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups Basmati rice
- ¼ cup cilantro chopped
- 1 teaspoon mint chopped
- Blend the milk, yogurt, turmeric, biryani spice, garam masala, chili powder, salt, lemon juice, dried apricots, ginger, garlic and white poppy seeds.
- Add cilantro and mint and blend some more, until marinade is smooth.
- Stir together lamb and marinade in a medium bowl, and refrigerate for 2 to 8 hours.
- Heat the Instant Pot in Saute mode, and add oil or ghee to the Instant Pot inner pot when it’s hot. Add sliced onions and fry the onions until they are caramelized and brown, but not burnt! This can take 20 to 30 minutes. Remove onions with a slotted spoon, and set aside. This step can also be done in a frying pan.
- Add raisins and fry until plump (add more ghee or oil if needed). Remove with a slotted spoon, and set aside. Add cashews and fry until they’re golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Both steps can also be done in a frying pan.
- Press Cancel to turn off the Instant Pot and deglaze the inner pot with a couple of tablespoons of water so there’s nothing stuck to the bottom of the inner pot.
- Add back half the fried onions to the inner pot. Add in the lamb with marinade.
- Close the Instant Pot and pressure cook for 12 minutes on High Pressure.
- Do a 10-minute natural release or full natural release (if you have the time) and open the lid. [Read More: The Different Pressure Release Methods]
- Stir the bottom of the Instant Pot and make sure there's nothing stuck to the bottom. Pour the water into the bowl that the lamb was marinated in, and swirl around to pick up any remnant marinade. Pour this water into the inner pot and stir to combine.
- Rinse the rice and add to the Instant Pot. DON'T stir, but press the rice down into the gravy. This helps prevent the Instant Pot burn message.
- Close the lid and pressure cook for 6 minutes. Do a 10 minute natural pressure release. Open the Instant Pot and stir up the biryani carefully.
- Let the biryani rest for about 10 minutes and sprinkle remaining fried onions, raisins, cashews, cilantro and mint.
- If the onions begin sticking to the bottom, deglaze occasionally with a tablespoon or two of water.
- Onions may also be cooked on the stovetop, in a frying pan.
- It’s important that you don’t stir the rice when you add it to the Instant Pot, or you could have issues with the Instant Pot not coming to pressure. Just press down to cover with liquid.
- If you don’t have access to biryani masala (spice mix), substitute the following: 2 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp cumin powder, ½ tsp black pepper powder, ½ tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp Kashmiri chili powder.
- See the blog post for more detailed recipe tips, including homemade garam masala.
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I am not a certified nutritionist. I provide my best estimate of nutritional information merely as a courtesy to my readers. If you depend on nutritional information for dietary or health reasons, I suggest using your favorite online nutrition calculator to confirm the nutritional value of this recipe based on the actual ingredients that you use.
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✅ Why Trust Neena at Paint the Kitchen Red?
Neena has extensive knowledge and lifelong experience in using pressure cookers. The years of practice have honed her skills in maximizing the potential of a pressure cooker, resulting in consistently delicious and well-cooked meals. Her Instant Pot expertise enables her to provide valuable insights, troubleshooting advice, and innovative recipe ideas, making her a reliable source for all things Instant Pot!