Inspired by the famous Hainanese chicken rice, this easy one-pot recipe stands out for its simple approach and delectable flavours. You can make it in a regular pot, an instant pot or a rice cooker.
Note: This blog post has been revised with an improved recipe, more cooking tips and additional instant pot and rice cooker methods.
I really love one-pot meals! Not only are they time-saving, but also the flavour of each ingredient combines very well when cooked together (Think Chicken Chow Mein, Pork Fried Rice, etc.). Today’s recipe, One-Pot Chicken Rice, has a firm place on the rotating dinner menu in our Red House.
Tender pieces of chicken accompanied by fragrant rice and a refreshing scallion ginger sauce, they’re all cooked in a single pot. The flavour combination is so irresistible!
Inspired by Hainanese chicken rice
My recipe is inspired by Hainanese chicken rice (海南鸡饭), a classic dish named after Hainan, the southernmost province of China, but popular in Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, etc.
Believed to be invented by Chinese immigrants, this humble-looking yet scrumptious dish consists of four components: A poached whole chicken sliced into pieces, rice fried in chicken fat then steamed in chicken stock, scallion, ginger or chilli based sauces and a vegetable garnishing.
The easy one-pot approach
It’s time-consuming and laborious to make Hainanese chicken rice following the traditional multi-step process (the taste is impeccable though). So when I’m craving it but short on time, I use the one-pot method instead. It’s much simpler to make and the result is just as satisfying.
Here are the changes I make to save time and effort:
- Use skin-on chicken thigh pieces instead of a whole chicken.
- Cook the chicken on top of the rice in the same pot. Its fat and flavourful juice will fall onto the rice during cooking.
I’ve tested this method in three different cooking vessels: a regular stovetop pot, an instant pot and a rice cooker. They all produce great results, with the instant pot being the most efficient and hassle-free.
Here is what you need to cook this one-pot chicken rice:
- Chicken thighs. I prefer skin-on pieces for their richer flavour. Skinless pieces are fine too.
- White rice. I usually use jasmine rice. Short grain white rice works too.
- Scallions, ginger and garlic. The classic aromatic trio is used to flavour both the rice and the sauce.
- Light soy sauce, lime and sesame oil. They’re used to enhance the taste of the sauce. Add some chopped fresh chilli if you like a little kick of heat.
- Cucumber. You may also serve other vegetables on the side, e.g. blanched Bok Choy, Gai Lan, etc.
- Neutral cooking oil
- Salt and whiter pepper
Firstly, I’m going to explain how to cook this dish step-by-step in a regular pot. In later sections, I’ll give tips on how to adapt the procedure when using an instant pot or rice cooker.
Step 1: Marinate the chicken
Coat the chicken thighs with salt and white pepper. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes or so.
Step 2: Fry the aromatics
Over medium heat, fry finely chopped scallions, minced ginger and garlic in oil until fragrant.
Use a spoon to transfer about ⅔ of the fried aromatics to a small bowl to be used as the sauce.
Step 3: Fry the rice
Add rinsed and drained rice. Stir fry for about half a minute to coat the grains evenly with the oil.
Pour in water and add a little salt. Use a spatula to scrape off any rice stuck to the bottom of the pot.
🛎 NOTE: When using a stovetop pot, the rice water ratio in VOLUME is about 3:4. For making about 4 servings, I use 1½ cups of rice and 2 cups of water.
Step 4: Cook the chicken with the rice
Place the chicken pieces flat over the rice without overlapping. Leave the pot uncovered and let the water come to a very gentle boil (small bubbles appear on the surface).
Then cover with a tight lid and turn the heat down to the lowest. Leave to cook undisturbed for 20 minutes.
When the time is up, turn off the heat and let it sit for a further 10 minutes. Don’t skip this resting process as the heat inside the pot will continue to cook the rice and chicken.
🛎 TIP: If using an electric burner of which the temperature doesn’t go down immediately, remember to remove the pot from it to avoid burning the food.
The instant pot method
If you have an instant pot, this is a perfect dish to cook in it. Here is how you adapt the above procedure:
- Use the “Sauté” function for step 2 & step 3. Fry the aromatics and rice in the pot. Add water of the same volume of the rice which is less than what you’d need in a regular pot (e.g. use 1½ cups of water for 1½ cups of rice).
- Use the “Pressure cook” function for step 4. After putting the chicken pieces in, cancel “Sauté” and choose high pressure (if the “Keep warm” button is on automatically, turn it off). Set the timer to 5 minutes then seal the valve.
- When the time is up, allow the pressure to be released naturally for 10 minutes then perform a manual release before opening the lid safely.
The rice cooker method
It’s easy to make this dish in a rice cooker too.
- Use a regular pan/skillet to fry the aromatics and rice then transfer into the rice cooker.
- Add water following the same rice-to-water ratio you normally use when cooking rice. Place in the chicken and close the lid. Turn on the usual rice cooking program to cook.
- When it’s done, wait for 10 minutes then uncover and serve.
Serve with sauces and veggies
Now, let’s serve the dish the Hainanese chicken rice way!
- Remove the centre bone of the chicken thighs then cut them into bite-sized strips.
- Scoop out the rice and put it on individual serving plates. Place the chicken on the side, along with sliced cucumber.
- Remember the fried aromatics you saved earlier? Stir in some light soy sauce, fresh lime juice and a dash of sesame oil to form a sauce. Add finely chopped fresh chillies if you like some heat.
Other all-in-one meals
Looking for other one bowl dishes? Check out these popular recipes:
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card below & if you REALLY like it, consider leaving a comment as well!
One-pot Hainanese chicken rice
BEFORE YOU START
For the chicken
- 4 pieces chicken thighs, skin on - about 180g/6.3oz each (see note 1)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 pinch ground white pepper
For the rice
- 1 ½ cup jasmine rice, or short grain white rice - about 310g
- 2 tablespoon neutral cooking oil
- 4 stalk scallions, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For the sauce
- 2 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- fresh chilli, finely chopped - optional
You also need
- cucumber, sliced - or blanched green vegetables, such as Bok Choy, spinach, etc.
Marinate the chicken
- Put the chicken thighs into a bowl then sprinkle with salt and white pepper. Rub to evenly distribute. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes or so.
Cook the rice and chicken
- Rinse the rice with cold water then drain well. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a pot over medium heat on a stove (see note 2 & 3 if using an instant pot or a rice cooker). Add chopped scallions, minced ginger and minced garlic. Fry until fragrant (do not burn). Scoop out about ⅔ of the aromatic to a small bowl for later use.
- Put in the drained rice and fry for 30 seconds or so. Add 2 cups of water and ¼ teaspoon of salt (see note 4). Use a spatula to scrape the bottom to loosen any grains stuck to the pot. Place the marinated chicken pieces on top of the rice without overlapping.
- Leave to cook uncovered until the water starts boiling very gently. Put on a tight lid and turn the heat to the lowest. Leave to cook for 20 minutes.
- Turn off the heat when the time is up. Let it sit for another 10 minutes (see note 1). Remember not to open the lid during the cooking and resting process.
Serve the dish
- Take out the chicken thighs. Remove the centre bones. Then slice them into bite-sized strips.
- Put the rice onto individual serving plates. Place the chicken on the side, along with cucumber slices.
- Add light soy sauce, lime juice, sesame oil and fresh chilli (optional) to the fried aromatics you saved earlier. Serve it as a dipping sauce or pour it over the chicken.
- Marinate the chicken as usual. Use the “Sauté” function to fry scallions, ginger, garlic and rice following the same instructions explained above.
- Turn off the “Sauté” button. Add 1½ cup of water (the same volume of the rice). Scrap off any rice stuck to the bottom before laying the chicken over.
- Put the lid on and turn the valve to “Seal”. Choose to cook on high pressure for 5 minutes (turn off the “keep warm” button if it’s on automatically).
- After the cooking is done, allow 10 minutes for the natural release of the pressure. Then, manually let off the remaining pressure.
- Follow the same instructions above to marinate the chicken and fry the aromatics and rice in a regular pan/skillet.
- Then transfer everything into the rice cooker. Add water following the same rice-to-water ratio you normally use when cooking rice.
- Place in the chicken and close the lid. Use the usual rice cooking program to cook.
- When it’s done, wait for 10 minutes then uncover and serve.
NUTRITION DISCLOSURE: Nutritional information on this website is provided as a courtesy to readers. It should be considered estimates. Please use your own brand nutritional values or your preferred nutrition calculator to double check against our estimates.