Congee – Chinese Savory Rice Porridge

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Congee originates from Chinese cooking, and really is the easiest thing you could ever make. If you have rice, and water, you can make a large pot of congee to last you throughout the week.

Delta Blues Rice Congee Full Pot with Spoon and Bag

What are Rice Grits?

Someone once looked at me cock-eyed when I told them about rice grits. Contrary to popular belief, grits don’t solely originate from corn. Rice grits originated from the American South, distinctly from Carolina. As The Smithsonian explains in their article on rice grits, this variety became a local favorite.

Originally grown from fragile Carolina Gold rice, the whole grain was prone to breakage. Farmers exported the intact grains, and used the broken pieces, the rice grits, to serve to the local residents. In the past decade, chefs increasingly use this unique rice product in even high end restaurants.

Delta Blues Rice Congee with Spoon on Pot

How I Discovered Delta Blues Rice Grits

I’ve featured non-gmo Delta Blues Rice products here on my site many times. In fact, the Delta Blues Rice grits started my connection with this Mississippi company. Originally included in an American Gluten Free Box, I have come to love their various long grain, non-gmo rice varieties. They offer white and brown rice, which I used in my Tres Leche Rice pudding, and my Arroz Con Pollo.

Their Jasmine Rice works perfectly in Asian dishes, such as my Bi Bim Bap. I chose to use Delta Blues Rice Grits for my take on Chinese Congee. (Visit The Kitchn for an explanation on the difference between long, medium and short grain rice.) *Delta Blues Rice is no longer in business.

Delta Blues Rice Congee Bacon and Eggs

What is Congee? How do You Serve It?

Congee (also known as jookcháo or Arroz Caldo in other countries) involves two basic ingredients. Rice and a large pot of water. You may prefer to season it with salt, as I did. However, left plain, one likely can use it as baby food. Congee achieves a creamy, almost soupy porridge that comforts the ill and fills the hungry.

Plain congee becomes a base for any toppings you prefer. Are you a Disney fan? Remember the scene in Mulan when MuShu makes porridge for Mulan? That my friends, is congee. And above is my attempt at recreating it. This video suggests using quail eggs, which are impossible to find in Flint. So instead I used soft boiled eggs. What kid wouldn’t want a fun bowl of porridge like this?

Delta Blues Rice Congee Chicken and Green Onion

The Perfect Dish After Getting Glutened

Traditionally, families serve congee to those who are ill. Which makes it perfect for those with Celiac Disease. How often do we accidentally consume gluten, craving something warm and simple to soothe our stomachs? Use congee as a base for a gluten free take on chicken noodle soup, complete with a touch of tamari and ginger to settle your stomach.

My dish of congee also contains a smattering of peanuts and green onion for garnish. There are more variations of congee than you can shake a chop stick at. One can also cook it in any matter of liquid. Use chicken or beef stock. Some recipes even use milk!

Delta Blues Rice Congee Beef and Mushroom

Congee is a Great Way to Repurpose Leftovers

Leftovers make great congee toppings. That inspired my “beef tip” version of congee. Ever have leftover steak from a summertime grill? Have extra mushrooms that need to be cooked? I used marinated and quickly cooked beef stew meat, in addition to sauteed mushrooms on my congee bowl.

With a touch of Isola Imports Balsalmic Cream, this bowl of “plain” porridge is transformed into a marvelous meal. Feel free to used leftover pulled pork, or smoked salmon as well! While congee is normally savory, I’m tempted to make a sweet version using the topping from my mini apple cheesecakes, and cinnamon roasted almonds!

Delta Blues Rice Congee Beef on Spoon with Parsley

Tips on Making Congee

A few tips on making congee. I suggest making it in the largest pot you have. Depending on how thin you want it, one uses 6-8 cups of water for every one cup of rice. You need someplace for the steam and starchiness to go, so go big when it comes to the pot you choose to cook it in. I also suggest cocking the lid just slightly, to allow steam to escape.

Can I Make Congee In a Slow Cooker? Instant Pot?

Congee can be made in the slow cooker. However, cooking it on the stove allows you to stir it, which increases its creamy texture. If you’d like to make congee in an Instant Pot, try this Instant Pot Chicken Congee from Nut Free Wok.

Congee is a Great Food to Prep for the Rest of the Week

As someone whose stomach cannot tolerate oats (even purity protocol), I love congee all the more. I can see making a large pot at the beginning of the week when school starts. So quick and easy, it will make getting out the door at 7 am so much easier!

If you are not a fan of rice, or are intolerant, you can make porridge out of many different grains. Try this Creamy Amaranth Porridge from Meaningful Eats, or this Apple Cinnamon Buckwheat Porridge from Belly Mind Soul. Of course, if you can tolerate purity protocol oats, you could try this Savory Slow Cooker Oatmeal from Cotter Crunch.

Delta Blues Rice Congee Chicken and Green Onion


Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 5 minutes


  • 1 cup rice
  • 7-8 cups water
  • 2 tsp salt


  • If time permits, rinse rice prior to using. Run water through them until it comes out clean. 
  • Place rice in large 4 qt (or bigger) pot. Combine rice and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for one hour, or more. Keep pot covered, but with lid tilted so that steam can escape. This prevents the congee from boiling over. 
  • Stir congee every 10-15 minutes to prevent sticking, as well as aid in the breakdown of the rice. 
  • Serve congee with preferred toppings.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

** Delta Blues Rice is no longer in business. This post may contain affiliate links.**

First published July 2018


  1. Love this! A Chinese woman showed me how to make it years ago, I make it much thinner than that, but it turns out thick anyway, just translucent. I recently found a great price on rice ‘middlins’ which is a SE term for rice that was cracked or partly crushed during the process that removes the hulls. Rice grits is probably a nicer name for it. Another thing you can make with rice grits is a sourdough dumpling like bread called idly (or idli). The traditional bean flour used in idly is black gram flour but probably regular chickpea flour would work.

    For congee, I like to cook it in too much water, until the rice grains fall apart and become almost star shaped in a thick translucent liquid that’s a sponge for any flavors you add. I suspect it’s the base for egg drop soup, but I’m not sure.

    1. So love hearing how you learned to make it. I have a pot on the stove right now. I try to keep ours simple. Just water, rice and salt. Sometimes I put savory items on top, such as eggs and sauteed mushrooms. Other times I add stewed apples and nuts, and a pinch of brown sugar. The later is probably my favorite way to eat it in the fall.

  2. After I was first diagnosed (39 years ago) there wasn’t much to offer in the way of GF. I learned to eat cream if rice. Is congee similar to that?

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