This easy recipe for Instant Pot Pilau Rice rice makes a tasty spice-infused Indian side dish rice in 30 minutes with 3 minutes hands on time, perfect for a mid week meal. Tasty, quick and easy to make in your Instant Pot or other electric pressure cooker. Vegan and naturally gluten free.
I love the stove-top version of my easy pilau rice recipe. It’s straightforward as it is, but here’s an even faster & easier way of making this deliciously spiced rice dish by using an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker. Once the pot is heated it cooks under pressure for only three minutes, before 15-20 minutes of natural pressure release (NPR) using the keep warm setting.
Why Make Easy Instant Pot Pilau Rice?
- The flavour! Spicing up rice makes for a great side dish, full of flavour.
- It’s a no-hassle recipe. A few minutes to fry the onion and spices, and then the electric pressure cooker does the rest.
- The recipe is easy to remember – equal volumes of rice and liquid!
- Very time forgiving. The Instant Pot times the cooking, and the natural pressure release (NPR) time doesn’t have to be precise – a few minutes either way is fine.
- Never get a takeaway again. Know what you’re eating, and save money too by making easy to cook fakeaway curries.
- Freezes well – make a double back and cook once and eat twice!
What sort of rice should I use for Easy Instant Pot Pilau Rice?
Make this dish with a long grain rice, but do make sure that you don’t use a quick or easy cook or minute rice type, which will result in a mushy mess. I do get better results and flavour from upgrading to a quality Basmati rice, or, even better, an aged Basmati. So long as you use a regular white rice this recipe will work well.
How to Make Easy Instant Pot Pilau Rice
Step One – Measure out the ingredients. I find that doing this always saves time and reduces the chance of leaving something out.
Step Two – Pour the oil into the bottom of the Instant Pot cooking pot. Set the pressure cooker onto a low sauté setting. Crack the cardamom pods – in a pestle and mortar if you have one or if not on a chopping board with the side of a heavy knife. Add the cardamom, turmeric and cumin and fry for a minute until fragrant.
Step Three – Add the onion and fry until soft. When cooking recipes that use half an onion, I dice all of it, and freeze what I haven’t used, storing it in an airtight box. Onion cooks well straight from frozen.
Step Four– Switch off the sauté function and add the rice and stir until it well mixed with the onion, oil and spices.
Step Five– Pour in the stock, add the bay leaves and cinnamon stick and give a quick stir and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to deglaze it.
If the pot is still very hot and some of the stock boils off immediately add a little more water.
Add a little salt. Check that the seal is in the lid (I’ve left it out before now!), lock the lid onto the Instant Pot, and set the weight to the pressure cook setting.
Step Six– Set the Instant Pot to cook at high pressure for 3 minutes. Once the time is up, leave it on the warming setting for a natural pressure release (NPR) for fifteen minutes.
Rice and Wheat and the Difference between East and West
I’m fascinated by the theories about how the way we think was shaped by our history. Rice farming is a labour intensive activity, that demands collaboration between neighbours. Jobs such as maintaining irrigation canals, transplanting and harvesting rice mean that people have to work together in order to yield a crop. The output per acre/hectare is high, but the labour requirement is high too.
Wheat gives a lower yield, but needs much less work in the process. A family can farm wheat, but it takes a village to farm rice. This difference is suggested as one of the main reasons for a more collectivist mindset and stronger work ethic in rice growing parts of the world, compared to wheat growing areas.
Easy Instant Pot Pilau Rice – Tips and Tricks
- You don’t have to include the onion – simply leave it out for an even simpler and quicker dish.
- The great advantage of making this at home rather than getting a take away is that it’s easy to adjust the dish to your taste, for example, by varying the spices. I sometimes throw in half a lemon rind to make lemon rice.
- You can make this ahead, and it will reheat in the microwave, but I far prefer to make it fresh. There’s no real delay as it’s so quick to make.. If you do make it ahead, make sure the rice is cooled before placing it in the fridge. I only keep rice for one day, and I’m very careful about making sure it’s properly reheated before serving.
- Easy Instant Pot Pilau Rice can be frozen – this recipe has been written to make a double portion that will exactly fill two standard plastic takeaway trays. Pack leftovers into takeout trays, allow to cool and then freeze. Grab a tub from the freezer and defrost in the fridge then microwave from frozen. I’m a big believer in cook once eat twice!
Easy Instant Pot Pilau Rice – Trouble Shooting
I’m getting a burn error and the rice is sticking.
I’ve made this at least 10 times now and have always had perfect pilau rice.
Reasons for getting a burn error could include.
- There isn’t enough liquid
- Solution – Sauté on low and switch off before you add the rice so the pot cools down a little. If the pot is too hot the stock will boil when you add it too much will evaporate and you won’t have enough liquid. If this happens add another 1/4 cup of water.
- There was something stuck to the bottom of the pot
- Solution – After adding the liquid scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to deglaze.
Recipe converted to cup measurements and tested July 2020
Easy Instant Pot Pilau Rice
- 1 tbs (1 tbs) Vegetable Oil
- 1/2 Onion ((finely chopped))
- 1 tsp (1 tsp) Turmeric
- 1 tsp (1 tsp) Cumin Seeds
- 1 inch (1 piece ) Cinnamon Stick
- 5 (5) Cardamom pods
- 1 cup (1 cup) Basmati Rice (200g )
- 1 cup (1 cup) Vegetable Stock or Broth (240ml)
- 2 Bay leaves
- Pour the oil into the bottom of the Instant Pot cooking pot. Set the machine onto the low sauté function. Crack the cardamom pod in a pestle and mortar or on a chopping board with the side of a heavy knife. Add the cardamom, turmeric and cumin to the oil and fry for a minute until fragrant.
- Add the finely chopped onion along with the spices and cook with them until soft.
- Add the rice and stir until it is coated with the spice and oil mixture
- Pour over the stock, add the bay leaves and cinnamon stick and give a quick stir. Add a little salt.
- Programme the Instant Pot to cook on high pressure for 3 minutes with the keep warm function switched on.
- Once cooked allow a natural pressure release (NPR) for 18 minutes. The rice will have absorbed all the liquid.
- Fluff with a fork before serving.
- Sauté on low and switch off before you add the rice. If the pot is too hot the stock will boil when you add it too much will evaporate and you won't have enough liquid. If this happens add another 1/4 cup of water.
- After adding the liquid scrape the bottom of the pot to make sure there isn't any onion or spices stuck to the bottom.
- You can leave the onion out for an even simpler dish.
- When cooking recipes that use half an onion, I dice one whole onion, and freeze what I haven't used in an airtight container. Onion fries well from frozen; it's a great time saver.
- You can of course use different spices. How about half a lemon rind to make lemon rice?
- There is no need to rinse the rice. However, if you do rinse the rice then reduce the amount of stock by 2 tbs
- The rule for cooking rice in an Instant Pot is to use the same quantity of liquid to rice by volume.
- Make ahead, cool and keep in the fridge for no more than 48 hours.
- Leftovers can be frozen - Pack into an empty takeaway container, allow to cool and then freeze.
- Use hot broth or stock so the Instant Pot comes to pressure quicker and speeds up the total cooking time.
- You can increase quantities, but don't make less of this recipe as the Instant Pot needs a full cup of liquid to come to pressure. If in doubt check the user manual for your electric pressure cooker.
- This recipe is worth 8 Weight Watchers Smart Points per portion
This looks easy and delicious. I’m always on a hunt for recipes like these on a busy day !! Thanks for sharing !!
So easy to make this way.
A great method of making pilau rice. Such a tasty side dish for curry.
It is perfect with curry.
Using your Instant Pot is a really good idea. No fuss and easy to do. My kind of recipe.
Fuss free and easy.
Heidy L. McCallum
Your Pilau Rice looks wonderful, I bet my family would love this. Yum’d to save for later.
So easy but so tasty.
Karen @ Seasonal Cravings
Rice is one dish I can always get my kids to eat but I need new ways to mix it up like this. I love all of your step by step photos and that this can be made in the INstant Pot!
Thank you Karen, it really is so easy. I’m sure your children would devour it.
I love Basmati rice (or any rice for that matter) but I don’t eat it a lot. I can’t wait to try this — something different to spice up dinner on a weeknight.
It is a very tasty way of having rice.
I’m really loving my Instant Pot but still haven’t tried making rice in it. IP Pilau rice sounds so easy and looks very delicious!
Really easy to use your Instant Pot and works so well.
I think you like more Indian rice recipes , so come on my site to see all types of rice recipes. But your recipes are superb. Thanks for it.
Thank you. I always like looking for new recipes too.
I love all your reasons for making this rice, they all make perfect sense. I eat much less takeaway now, and would rather make food in my kitchen. Easy to make and a very tasty side dish.
All very satisfying to make your own food.
I used to always struggle to cook rice right. You’d think it was easy, but I can be proof that is can go horribly wrong. This looks perfect and a good easy recipe to follow. Thank you.
It can go horribly wrong, which is why I like a fool proof recipe like this. Good results every time.
This sounds so easy to make and looks great. I won’t buy ready made from the supermarket again.
Homemade is so easy and tastes great.
Pilau rice is a tasty side dish and so useful. Nice idea to make it in the Instant pot, which is why I really need to get one asap!
I am finding the Instant Pot a great addition to the kitchen.
This is a good idea for a quick and easy side dish. It looks great.
I’ve never thought of using my pressure cooker for rice, what a good idea though. It looks very successful.
This is a great time saving method for making tasty rice.
I mostly eat brown rice, but always chose basmati if I’m having white. This is an ideal way of cooking it, adding tasty flavors.
What a great way to make rice, such an easy method. Fool proof!
I really like the idea of making your own fakeaway food. I often prefer homemade, and you can get the portion size just right.
I tried this with the recommended quantity of liquid to basmati rice. It burnt twice. Checking the packet it says 175ml liquid per 75g rice which equates to 466ml liquid for 200g rice. When I adjusted the quantities it works well and very tasty.
Hi Steve – I have just tested the recipe again and it works perfectly in the electric pressure cooker. If you are cooking on the stove top you will need more water. If it is burning in the Instant pot you may be sauteing on too high a temperature so lots of the water evaporates when you add it, or have a burn at the bottom of the pot from frying the onions and spices.
This is a great method for quick and easy rice. Nice to get it just right, nothing worse than rice over or under cooked.
Pilau rice is just the thing to have with your curry on a Friday night. I don’t think I’ve made it myself before.
Help! I have ttried this recipe three times, and every time just as the instant pot switches to 3 minutes I get the message ‘Burn’. The rice is stuck on the bottom of the pot and has to be thrown away. What am I doing wrong?
I’m not sure what is going on as I’ve never had this happen for me. It is possible that you were sauteing at too high a temperature and too much of the water evaporated when you added it, or the onion and spices were stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Thanks. Maybe the spices stuck, or the pan was still too hot. I’m not giving up so shall try cooling the pan after sauteing, or frying the onion etc in a frying pan first.
if you get a great whoosh of steam when you add the stock, then add some more water. I’ll check it again next time I make it but equal volumes of rice and liquid has always given a perfect result for me. If it keeps happening maybe add some more water anyway?
Tried again. This time sauteing the onions and spices in another pan, then adding the rice and stock before putting in the instant pot. As soon as it came to pressure (and said 3 minutes) it changed to burn. So I did all the above and tried Steve’s way adding 466ml of stock. Same again. Could it be my pot? It’s new and this is the first thing I’ve cooked in it.
sorry for the delay in replying, I don’t understand what it going wrong as I’ve made this many times with equal volume of rice and liquid and it is always perfect.
this is a very good Instant Pot starter guide https://www.feistytapas.com/2018/09/the-instant-pot-uk-beginners-guide/
This was an easy, and authentic recipe. I am of Southeast Asian heritage, and it was so much easier than my mom’s stove top recipe, and was just as good. I did find that it needed a little salt, and the second time I made it, added it in with the broth step. Thank you!
Oh wow! thanks Leena. I’m conscious that I add too much salt to everything, and of course different broths will have very different amounts of salt.
I have not tried it yet but your recipe sound delicious. I have read all the comment and see some people are commenting that they are getting the burn notification, I am wondering what size of instant pot you use. I have a 8 quart and the size of the pot can be a problem. I have seen people comment on this as being a problem before. I want to try your recipe in my instant pot but have never had any success cooking rice in it. I may just have to try your stovetop version. Thanks for sharing your recipe
Mine is the 6 quart. I think you could add a little more water, or double the recipe and freeze the leftover rice.