Chicken Biryani in a Slow Cooker

Author: Shelley Bennetts   Date Posted:26 July 2021 


Marinade the chicken overnight, then prepare all of the components and assemble for a slow cook biryani. Your home will fill with the beautiful smells of spices and aromatic basmati rice.




750 g chicken with bones (marylands or drumsticks)
½ cup oil 
3 tblsp ghee 
1 Large onion - chopped 
5 green chillis (chopped)
1 cup fresh mint leaves -finely chopped
1 cup fresh coriander leaves - finely chopped
7 strands saffron  
½ cup milk 
Juice of ½ lime


For the Chicken Marinade

1 tbsp. chopped ginger/paste
1 tbsp chopped garlic/paste
¼ tbsp turmeric powder 
1 tsp chilli powder 
2 tbsp coriander powder 
1tbsp mild curry powder
5 tbsp plain yoghurt 
Juice of 1 large lime
7 whole cloves 
1 whole cinnamon stick
6 whole cardamom pods
3 bay leaves or 1 sprig of curry leaves
Salt - to taste


For the Rice

2 ½ cups Basmati rice 
5 whole cloves 
1 cinnamon sticks 
4 whole cardamom pods
1 tbsp cumin seeds 
2 ½ cups water 
Salt to taste



  1. Fry the onions in the oil until they are golden brown. Strain and reserve the excess oil. 
  2. In a large bowl, mix all the chicken marinade ingredients. Also add the reserved onion oil, half the fried onions and half of the chopped coriander, mint and green chillis. Add the chicken pieces. Store the remaining fried onion and chopped herbs for later. 
  3. Mix everything with your hand and make sure each chicken piece is coated well with the marinade. Cover and put into the fridge. Allow it to marinate for 2-4 hours, or overnight. The longer, the better!
  4. Remove from the fridge to rest while you prepare the other components.
  5. In a heavy based pan, fry the chicken for 5 minutes or so on each side to brown slightly. 
  6. Preheat the slow cooker on high for 20 minutes.
  7. Wash the rice well and drain. Add the spices and water to the rice. 
  8. Notes: The rice needs to be 50% cooked, with no residual water before assembling the biryani in the slow cooker. Use equal parts water to rice. Either microwave on high for 10 mins, checking and stirring once, or cook on the stove top - but don’t overcook it. 50% cooked, 60% absolute maximum!  Drain off any residual water. Don’t cook the rice too early or it will become gluggy.
  9. Grease the inside of the cookpot with little oil or butter.


Assembling the Biryani

  1. Now spread the part-cooked chicken on the bottom. Put half of the rice on top of the chicken and garnish with some of the stored chopped coriander leaves, mint leaves, fried onions and green chillis. Reserve some for the second layer of rice. Melt the ghee and spread 1 ½ tablespoons on top of the rice and squeeze few drops of lime juice over.
  2. Repeat with remaining rice, fresh herbs and onion. Sprinkle with ghee and lime juice.
  3. Boil the milk along with the saffron strands and spread it on top of the top layer of rice. 
  4. Cover the cooker with foil and put the lid on over the foil. Seal all the edges thoroughly.
  5. Turn the slow cooker to low and cook for 2½ to 3 hours.
  6. Open after 1½ hours and give the top layer a light stir on the top. Gently separate any rice sticking to the sides of the cooker. But don’t stir the rice and chicken together at this stage. Sprinkle some water on top if you feel that the rice is very dry. By now the whole house will be smelling spectacular.
  7. Turn the cooker off and stir the rice and chicken together gently. The meat will be coming off the bones and it will be juicy and tender.

Serve hot with a cool cucumber raita.



Following the steps in order will achieve the perfect biryani.
Prepare the day before eating, or early on the same day for thebest result.



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