Comfort in a Bowl: The Ultimate Chicken Congee Recipe

Fact Checked By: Macaria Valerie

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Chicken congee, a classic comfort food prevalent in many Asian cuisines, epitomizes culinary simplicity and nourishment. At its core, this traditional rice porridge combines humble ingredients—rice, chicken, and broth—to create a dish that is far greater than the sum of its parts. Revered for its creamy texture and soothing qualities, chicken congee has transcended its cultural origins to become a beloved meal in households around the world.

As a versatile canvas for flavors and textures, chicken congee welcomes countless variations and personal touches. Whether you’re seeking a warm, easy-to-digest meal on a chilly day, a gentle dish for convalescence, or simply a hearty and comforting bowl of goodness, chicken congee invariably delivers. With its ability to be both unassumingly plain and richly flavorful, this dish is a testament to the power of culinary simplicity and tradition.

In this article, we’ll explore the art of making chicken congee, from selecting the right type of rice to achieving the perfect creamy consistency. We’ll also delve into tips for customization and storage, ensuring that this dish not only nourishes but also caters to the diverse palates and needs of its enjoyers. Join us as we uncover the secrets to crafting the perfect bowl of chicken congee, a dish that warms the heart as much as it satisfies the appetite.

Chicken Congee Recipe

Chicken congee is a nourishing and simple rice porridge made by simmering rice in chicken broth until it breaks down into a creamy consistency. The dish typically includes tender shredded chicken, ginger, and garlic for flavor. It’s seasoned with salt and often garnished with ingredients like sliced green onions, cilantro, fried garlic, soy sauce, and sesame oil. This comforting meal is popular for its soothing texture and can be easily customized to suit individual tastes.

Chicken congee is a comforting and simple dish to prepare. Here’s a basic recipe to get you started:


  • 1 cup jasmine or short-grain rice
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt, to taste
  • Optional garnishes: sliced green onions, cilantro, fried garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil


  • Rinse the Rice: Wash the rice thoroughly under cold water until the water runs clear. This removes excess starch and helps prevent the congee from becoming too thick.
  • Cook the Chicken: In a large pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add the chicken breasts, ginger, and garlic. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the chicken is fully cooked, about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken, shred it, and set it aside.
  • Make the Congee: Add the rinsed rice to the broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the rice is fully broken down and the congee has a thick, creamy texture. This can take 1 to 1.5 hours. Add more water or broth if it becomes too thick.
  • Season: Season the congee with salt to taste.
  • Serve: Divide the congee into bowls. Top with shredded chicken and your choice of garnishes such as sliced green onions, cilantro, fried garlic, a drizzle of soy sauce, and a few drops of sesame oil.

Enjoy your chicken congee warm, perfect for a comforting meal! Feel free to adjust the recipe to suit your taste preferences, adding more or different garnishes as desired.


Here are some tips to enhance your chicken congee recipe:

  • Rice Choice: Use jasmine or short-grain rice for a creamier texture. Long-grain rice doesn’t break down as well and can result in a less creamy consistency.
  • Rinsing Rice: Thoroughly rinse the rice until the water runs clear. This removes excess starch and prevents the congee from being too thick or gluey.
  • Broth Quality: The flavor of your congee largely depends on the broth. Homemade chicken broth is ideal for a richer flavor, but store-bought broth works well too. For added depth, consider using a combination of water and broth.
  • Ginger and Garlic: Don’t skimp on these aromatics. They add a significant depth of flavor. You can add them whole and remove them after cooking, or mince them for a more integrated flavor.
  • Consistency Control: Congee’s thickness can vary based on personal preference. If it’s too thick, add more broth or water. If too thin, cook it longer. Remember, it will thicken as it cools.
  • Low and Slow Cooking: Simmer the congee on low heat and stir occasionally. This prevents sticking and ensures even cooking. The slow process allows the rice to fully break down, creating a smooth texture.
  • Chicken Preparation: Poaching the chicken in the broth infuses it with flavor. Shred or cut it into bite-sized pieces for easy eating. Alternatively, you can use leftover cooked chicken.
  • Seasoning and Garnishes: Season with salt to taste. Garnish with green onions, cilantro, fried garlic, a drizzle of soy sauce, and sesame oil to add layers of flavor. Other popular toppings include crispy shallots, roasted peanuts, or a soft-boiled egg.
  • Serving: Serve hot. Congee is often eaten for breakfast but is suitable for any meal, especially when feeling under the weather or needing a comforting dish.
  • Variations: Feel free to add vegetables like mushrooms or carrots, or change up the protein with beef, or tofu for variation.

Remember, congee is a versatile dish, so don’t hesitate to adjust the ingredients and cooking methods to suit your taste and dietary preferences.

Why This Recipe Is Just So Good…

Chicken congee is a beloved dish for several reasons:

  • Comforting Texture: The creamy, smooth texture of congee is inherently comforting. It’s often associated with warmth and nourishment, making it a go-to meal for cold days or when someone is feeling unwell.
  • Simple Ingredients, Rich Flavor: Despite its simple ingredient list, chicken congee is rich in flavor. The combination of chicken, ginger, garlic, and a savory broth creates a comforting and satisfying taste.
  • Digestibility: Congee is very easy to digest due to its soft, porridge-like consistency. This makes it an excellent choice for people with digestive issues, the elderly, children, or those recovering from illness.
  • Versatility: Chicken congee can be easily modified to cater to different dietary needs or flavor preferences. It’s a versatile base that works well with a variety of garnishes and additions.
  • Nourishing Properties: The dish is not only comforting but also nourishing. Chicken provides protein, while the rice offers carbohydrates. When prepared with a bone-in chicken or homemade broth, it can also provide minerals and other nutrients.
  • Cultural Significance: Congee has a special place in many Asian cuisines, often associated with home cooking and family. Its cultural significance adds an emotional dimension to its enjoyment.
  • Ease of Preparation: Although it takes time to cook, chicken congee is relatively easy to prepare with minimal active cooking time. This makes it a convenient option for a wholesome meal.
  • Adaptability for All Meals: Congee can be served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, making it a versatile dish suitable for any time of the day.

In essence, chicken congee’s appeal lies in its comforting nature, nourishing ingredients, simplicity, and adaptability, making it a cherished dish in many cultures.

Storage Instructions

Storing chicken congee properly is important to maintain its quality and ensure food safety. Here are some guidelines:

  • Cooling Down: Allow the congee to cool to room temperature before storing. Do not leave it out for more than 2 hours to prevent bacterial growth.
  • Refrigeration: Store the cooled congee in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep well for 3 to 5 days. If you’ve added fresh garnishes, it’s best to remove them before storing and add fresh ones when serving.
  • Freezing: Congee can be frozen for longer storage. Place it in a freezer-safe container, leaving some space at the top as it will expand when frozen. Properly stored, it can last for up to 3 months in the freezer. For ease of use, consider freezing in individual serving sizes.
  • Thawing and Reheating: Thaw frozen congee in the refrigerator overnight. When reheating, add a little bit of water or broth, as congee tends to thicken when chilled. Heat it on the stove over low heat, stirring frequently, until it’s hot all the way through. You can also reheat it in the microwave, stirring occasionally to ensure even heating.
  • Check Consistency: After reheating, if the congee is too thick, you can adjust the consistency by adding a bit more water or broth and heating it a bit longer.
  • Safety Check: Always check leftovers for any signs of spoilage before consuming. If it smells off or you’re unsure about its safety, it’s best to discard it.

By following these storage and reheating instructions, you can safely enjoy your chicken congee over several days.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Here are some expert-level questions and answers regarding chicken congee:

Q: How can I enhance the umami flavor in chicken congee?

A: To boost umami, consider adding ingredients rich in natural glutamates such as dried shiitake mushrooms, a small piece of kombu (dried kelp), or a splash of fish sauce. Simmering these ingredients with the broth enhances the depth of flavor.

Q: What kind of rice is best for chicken congee?

A: Jasmine or short-grain rice is typically preferred for congee because it breaks down well and creates a creamy texture. Long-grain rice is less ideal as it doesn’t break down as easily.

Q: How long does it take to cook chicken congee?

A: Cooking time can vary, but it generally takes about 1 to 1.5 hours to cook congee on the stovetop. The goal is to cook until the rice is completely broken down and the mixture has a thick, creamy texture.

Q: Can I use leftover cooked chicken for the congee?

A: Yes, you can use leftover cooked chicken. Simply add it towards the end of the cooking process just to heat it through, as it’s already cooked.

Q: How can I store and reheat leftover congee?

A: Cool the congee to room temperature, then store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave, adding a bit of water or broth to adjust the consistency if it’s too thick.

Q: Can I add vegetables to my chicken congee?

A: Absolutely! Vegetables like mushrooms, carrots, or bok choy can be great additions. Add them during the cooking process so they become tender and flavorful.

Q: Is chicken congee gluten-free?

A: Congee made with just rice, chicken, and broth is naturally gluten-free. However, be cautious with added sauces or garnishes like soy sauce, which may contain gluten.

Q: Why is my congee too thick/thin?

A: If your congee is too thick, add more water or broth to thin it out. If it’s too thin, continue cooking it for a longer time to allow more rice to break down and thicken the mixture.

Q: What are some common garnishes for chicken congee?

A: Popular garnishes include sliced green onions, cilantro, fried garlic, a drizzle of soy sauce, sesame oil, or a sprinkle of white pepper. You can also add a soft-boiled egg or roasted peanuts for extra flavor and texture.

Q: What rice-to-liquid ratio is best for the perfect congee texture?

A: A common starting point is a 1:8 ratio of rice to liquid for a creamy consistency. However, this can vary based on the rice type and desired thickness. Adjust the ratio to your preference, remembering congee thickens as it cools.

Q: Can I use brown rice instead of white rice?

A: Yes, brown rice can be used but it will result in a different texture and longer cooking time. Brown rice retains a firmer texture and requires more liquid and cooking time to break down.

Q: How can I make a vegetarian version of chicken congee?

A: For a vegetarian version, use vegetable broth and substitute the chicken with tofu, tempeh, or additional vegetables. Add these protein sources towards the end of cooking to maintain their texture.

Q: Is it possible to cook chicken congee in a slow cooker or pressure cooker?

A: Yes, both appliances are great for making congee. In a slow cooker, cook on low for 6-8 hours. In a pressure cooker or Instant Pot, cook under high pressure for about 20-30 minutes followed by natural release.

Q: How do I prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot?

A: Stir the congee occasionally, especially towards the end of cooking. Using a heavy-bottomed pot and maintaining a gentle, consistent simmer helps prevent sticking and burning.

Q: What are some health benefits of chicken congee?

A: Chicken congee is easily digestible, making it ideal for those with digestive issues. It’s hydrating, comforting, and can be a good source of energy, protein, and essential nutrients, especially when made with a nutrient-rich broth.

Q: How can I quickly cool down congee for storage?

A: Transfer the congee to a wide, shallow container to increase the surface area for faster cooling. Stirring occasionally also helps dissipate heat.

These expert tips and answers can help you tailor your chicken congee recipe to specific needs or preferences, and ensure you get the best results from your cooking.


In conclusion, chicken congee stands as a testament to the beauty of simplicity in cooking. This comforting rice porridge, with its roots deeply embedded in Asian culinary traditions, has won hearts globally for its versatility, ease of preparation, and soothing qualities. Whether it’s served as a warm breakfast, a light lunch, or a comforting dinner, chicken congee adapts to fit any mealtime with grace.

Through this exploration of chicken congee, we’ve learned not just about a recipe, but about a dish that carries with it the warmth of home and the essence of comfort food. Its ability to be customized means it can be enjoyed in countless ways, each bowl offering a unique experience to the diner. Whether you stick to the classic recipe or venture out with your own mix of flavors and toppings, chicken congee remains a reliable, nourishing option.

As we wrap up, it’s clear that the true magic of chicken congee lies in its simplicity and the joy it brings to those who cook and savor it. This humble dish, with its rich flavors and textures, continues to be a symbol of comfort and nourishment across diverse cultures. So the next time you find yourself in need of a comforting meal, remember the humble chicken congee – a dish that promises not just to fill your stomach but to soothe your soul.

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Macaria Valerie

About the author

With over 15 years of experience in the culinary world, Macaria Valerie has developed a unique niche expertise in the art and science of rice cooking. Born in Taipei and raised in San Francisco, Macaria's passion for perfectly cooked rice is a blend of her Taiwanese roots and modern culinary techniques. She has traveled across Asia, gathering traditional rice recipes and cooking methodologies. Macaria is not just about plain rice. She's explored the depths of risotto in Italy, paella in Spain, biryani in India, and sushi in Japan. Yet, she believes that the core of these dishes lies in mastering the basic foundation - the rice. In her popular blog, "Expert Reviews Best Rice Cooker", Macaria shares not only her favorite rice recipes but also reviews the latest in rice cooker technology. She's been a consultant for major kitchen appliance brands, aiding in the development and testing of their rice cooker lines. In her spare time, Macaria conducts workshops and classes, ensuring that the art of cooking perfect rice is accessible to everyone. Whether you're aiming for a simple bowl of fluffy white rice or venturing into the intricate world of flavored rice dishes, Macaria Valerie is your go-to guide in the rice cooker niche.

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