Instant Pot Vegetable & Paneer Biryani

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This Vegetable Biryani with Paneer is a complete meal with grains, veggies, and protein. It begins with a base of caramelized onions, then builds layers of flavors with aromatic long-grain basmati rice and a combination of vegetables cooked to tender perfection. Each bite is infused with delicately balanced whole spices and a bold finish with garam masala.

paneer & vegetable biryani with raita and lemon wedges

The recipe was originally posted in May 2017 and has been updated with new photos and video

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I have been trying to perfect my veg biryani in the Instant Pot for months now. After the success of my easy InstaPot Chicken Biryani recipe in just a few tries, I was surprised to see how different it was to cook vegetable Biryani in the pressure cooker. The key to making perfect Instant Pot Veggie Biryani is to choose the right kind of vegetables and to cut them right so they all cook within 5 to 6 mins of pressure cooking time without getting mushy.

paneer & vegetable biryani in white bowl

Inspiration and Technique

This simple Biryani recipe is inspired by my mom’s famous vegetable pulao recipe. She cuts her veggies in a certain size and shape, which I thought was to make the dish look gorgeous. But now I understand that it also helps them cook perfectly each time.

The same trick of cutting the veggies and choosing the right ones helped me with this easy vegetable biryani recipe. Then my talented cousin gave me the idea of adding Paneer to this dish which really took the Biryani to a whole new level.

Vegetables for biryani

Ingredients

To make the best and most authentic tasting biryani, use homemade ghee, choose the right vegetables or organic frozen mixed vegetables, and long grain basmati rice. The whole spices and the homemade garam masala will do their magic to add beautiful aromas and bring this delectable recipe together.

spices in white bowls for Vegetable and Paneer Biryani

Tips for perfect Biryani

  • Use fresh garam masala
  • Deglaze the pot using the liquids from the vegetables to remove any browned bits from the sautéing of the onions. This will help the Instant Pot come to pressure and also prevent the “BURN” signal. If you have an air fryer you can use it or perfect golden fried onions.
  • Make sure all of the rice is under the liquids before closing the Instant Pot
  • Although, Sauté (more) function on the Instant Pot works great for true one-pot cooking, you can also caramelize the onions using a stovetop in a non-stick pan. This will speed up the process and also will prevent the stainless steel insert from getting scorched which may lead to a “BURN” notice on the newer Instant Pot’s

Update to my original recipe

Certain brands of store-bought paneer can get chewy when cooked under high pressure. So I have modified the cook times for this recipe to 5 minutes on low pressure. Note: If your Instant Pot does not have the HI/LO pressure cook options, you can cook the biryani on high pressure and then gently stir in the paneer at the end.

Step by step instructions

Step 1 – Rinse and soak the rice in 2 cups of water for 20 minutes. Drain water after 20 mins. Set the Instant Pot to Sauté (more) mode and heat 1 tablespoon of ghee. Add thinly sliced onions and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the onions are lightly caramelized. Take half of the onions out and reserve them for garnish (photos 1 – 2).

steps showing sauteing onions in Instant Pot

Step 2 – Add remaining ghee, cumin seeds, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, and bay leaves. Cook for 30 seconds. Add all the veggies (carrots, green beans, mushrooms, red pepper, corn, paneer). Press cancel and deglaze the pot removing any browning. Use 1-2 tablespoons of water if needed. See the third picture below that shows how the bottom of the pot looks after properly deglazing. There should not be any browned bits stuck to the bottom (photos 3 – 4)

steps showing sauteing spices and veggies in Instant Pot

Step 3 – Add ginger, garlic, turmeric, red chili powder, garam masala, and half of the salt. mix well. Add mint, rice, and remaining salt. Add water. Mix well, making sure most of the rice is underwater (photos 5 – 8)

steps showing adding rice and water to veggies in Instant Pot

Step 4 – Close the Instant Pot with pressure valve to sealing. Select Pressure Cook(LO) and adjust the cooking time to 5 minutes. Follow with a quick release to stop overcooking the rice. Open the Instant Pot. Garnish with caramelized onions and cilantro.

How to serve vegetable biryani

Enjoy hot with yogurt or raita and a squeeze of fresh lemon. This spicy vegetable biryani goes well with refreshing watermelon juice, homemade lemonade, or mango lassi.

Loved the warm flavors of Biryani? Check out these Instant Pot Biryani recipes:

Thank you to all who have tried this recipe. It has become so popular that when I published The Essential Indian Instant Pot Cookbook, I was requested that I also include this recipe in the cookbook. I hope you will enjoy 75+ modern recipes with authentic Indian flavors in my best-selling book.

Vegetable and Paneer Biryani

Frequently asked questions

Can the recipe be doubled?

Yes, can be doubled in 6-QT or 8-QT Instant Pots

Why does my paneer become chewy?

Store-bought paneer can become chewy after pressure cooking. Here are a few options: 1. Adjust pressure cook time to 5 minutes on low-pressure mode. 2. Sauté the paneer in a non-stick pan and add it to the Biryani in the end 3. Use homemade Paneer.

Why do I get BURN on my 8-QT?

Press cancel before adding all the veggies. This will stop the pot from further overheating as you remove the browning from the bottom of the pot. Then add the veggies and deglaze the pot using the water contents from the veggies so that all the browning from sautéing the onions is removed. You can also use 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to remove the browning.

Can I use Quinoa instead of rice?

Yes. Follow the same recipe. No need to soak the quinoa. Just rinse thoroughly and drain all the water before adding it to the pot.

Can I make the Vegetable Biryani Dairy Free?

Yes. Substitute ghee with oil. Skip Paneer or stir in sautéed tofu in the end.

Do you love Indian food? Here are my top Instant Pot Indian Recipes to try:

  • Easy Chicken Tikka Masala – Creamy tomato-based curry with chicken marinated in yogurt, red chili powder, turmeric, and garam masala
  • Healthy “Butter” Chicken – Flavorful chicken in a creamy sauce with an orangish hue from the red chili powder and turmeric
  • Spicy Misal Pav – A popular Indian dish made with spicy sprouted bean curry served with lightly buttered dinner rolls
  • Tandoori Salmon – Tender, flaky salmon cooked in warm tandoori spices
  • Easy Shrimp Curry – Tender-sweet shrimp lightly spiced with aromatic whole spices and tropical flavors from coconut milk
  • Chicken Korma – A mild and healthy chicken curry cooked in whole spices and then braised in a yogurt-based sauce
  • Kheema Pulao – A flavor-packed one-pot meal with fragrant long grain basmati rice cooked in ground chicken and aromatic-warm whole spices
  • Madras Lentils/Daal Makhani – A creamy lentil dish cooked with whole black lentils and kidney beans, lightly spiced

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paneer & vegetable biryani

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Vegetable and Paneer Biryani – Instant Pot

Vegetable and Paneer Biryani is a classic Indian one pot meal that is full of flavors and aromas from whole spices, garam masala and the long grain basmati rice.

Prep Time30 mins

Cook Time20 mins

Total Time50 mins

Course: Entree

Cuisine: Indian

Servings: 6

Calories: 453kcal

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Rinse and soak the rice in water for 20 minutes. Drain water after 20 minutes. 

  • Set the Instant Pot to Saute(More) mode and heat half of the ghee. Add sliced onions and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the onions are lightly caramelized. Take half of the onions out and reserve for garnish.

  • Add remaining ghee, cumin seeds, cardamom, cloves, black peppers, and bay leaves. Cook for 30 seconds. Add all the veggies (carrots, green beans, mushrooms, red pepper, corn, paneer). Press cancel and deglaze the pot removing any browning. Use 1 to 2 tablespoons of water if needed.

  • Add ginger, garlic, turmeric, red chili powder, garam masala, and half of the salt. mix well. Add mint, rice, and remaining salt. Add water. Mix well, making sure most of the rice is underwater.

  • Close the Instant Pot with pressure valve to sealing. Pressure Cook(low-pressure) for 5 minutes followed by Quick release. Open the Instant Pot. Garnish with caramelized onions and cilantro. Serve hot with Raita or yogurt.

Notes

Notes:

  • Have an air fryer? Use it or perfect golden fried onions instead of caramelizing the onions in the Instant Pot.
  • Deglaze the pot using the liquids from the vegetables to remove any browned bits from the sautéing of the onions. This will help the Instant Pot come to pressure and also prevent the “BURN” signal.
  • You can make this recipe Vegan by using coconut oil instead of ghee and extra firm tofu instead of paneer
  • I have modified the cooking time for this recipe to 5 minutes LO pressure cook as sometimes store-bought paneer can get chewy when cooked under high pressure. If your Instant Pot does not have HI/LO pressure cook options, you can cook for 6 minutes under high pressure and then stir in the paneer in the end. 

Nutrition

Calories: 453kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 43mg | Sodium: 1200mg | Potassium: 365mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 4460IU | Vitamin C: 23.8mg | Calcium: 233mg | Iron: 1.7mg

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Author: Archana

Hey there! I am a techie turned recipe developer, cooking instructor, and food blogger. I love food and enjoy developing easy and healthy recipes for busy lifestyles. I live in New Jersey with my husband and two sons.


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