My Instant Pot Vietnamese chicken congee makes a comforting and nourishing meal paired with all the delicious toppings.
Growing up in Vietnam, I loved cháo as as much as I did rice and pho. Cháo, is the ultimate Vietnamese comfort food. In America it’s known as congee or porridge, jook in Cantonese, zhou in Mandarin, juk in Korean, and arroz caldo in Filipino. My mom would cook a big pot of congee whenever someone wasn't feeling well. It also appeared at every single family celebration--birthdays, anniversaries, weddings. In its simplest form, rice is simmered with water for a couple hours until the rice breaks down, releases their starch, and the mixture thickens resulting in a warm bowl of creamy, comforting congee. Instead of taking hours on the stove, the Instant Pot shortens the cooking time to less than an hour. I’m so excited to share an easy pressure cooker version, my Instant Pot Vietnamese chicken congee, or cháo gà.
Why I Love Making Congee in the Instant Pot
- You don't need to pre-soak the rice.
- The cooking time using the Instant Pot is a fraction of the cooking time using the stove.
- The texture of the chicken congee comes out perfect each time. Cooking on the stove requires a little bit of babysitting. The rice can easily stick to the bottom of the pan and get burned if you don't stir it occasionally.
Tips For Making Congee in the Instant Pot
- Make the chicken broth first. Cooking the chicken first will give you a firmer texture compared to cooking the chicken along with the rice.
- Cook the chicken for 10 minutes on HIGH pressure. Let it naturally release for 5 minutes before manually releasing the rest of the pressure.
- Remove the fat on the surface for a healthier broth. The chicken will release quite a bit of fat. I usually remove at least 1 cup of fat for a 3-3.5 pound chicken.
- Strain the chicken broth for a clear broth.
- Use broken jasmine rice to get the best texture. Rinse it twice before adding it to the IP. Rinsing it too much will remove the starch necessary to thicken the congee.
- Add 6 cups of chicken broth and rinsed rice to the IP.
- Cook the rice and broth on HIGH pressure for 15 minutes. Let it naturally release for 10 minutes before manually releasing the rest of the pressure.
- Add the reserved chicken broth to thin the congee to the consistency that you like.
- Season with additional fish sauce and sugar to taste.
How to Prep the Chicken Meat
I like to use free range whole chicken for this recipe. You can also use chicken leg quarters instead of whole chicken if you don't feel like cooking a whole chicken. Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the Instant Pot and let it cool down for 25-30 minutes. Pull the chicken meat from the bones and discard the bones and skin. Shred the meat with your fingers. You'll get about 4 cups of meat. You can add the shredded chicken back into the pot of congee or serve it separately.
What to Serve Congee With
Beside the shredded chicken meat, there are so many wonderful savory toppings that you can pair with congee. For Vietnamese, we like to serve the chicken congee with sliced scallions, cilantro, Vietnamese coriander (rau ram), julienned ginger, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, bird's eye chili, and bean sprouts. The fried shallots lend a wonderful crunch against the creamy congee. My mom also makes a gingery dipping sauce to drizzle over the congee and to dip the chicken in. Last but not least, congee would be incomplete without giò cháo quẩy (fried dough sticks / Chinese crullers). My kids love dunking the dough stick into the congee but I prefer to cut them up and let the soup soften them a little bit. The topping options are endless so feel free to customize it to your liking.
How to Store Leftover Congee
Store any leftover chicken congee in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week. It's best to eat the leftover within three days. I only use ginger as the aromatic for the chicken broth so it lasts a bit longer. When I used onions and scallions in the broth I found the congee tasting sour after a few days. When ready to eat, reheat the chicken congee on the stove over medium-low heat. The longer the congee sits, the thicker it gets. Add more water or stock to thin it out. You can also reheat the congee in the microwave.
Humble yet nourishing and comforting, this Instant Pot chicken congee is perfect for any time of the day. The congee is creamy with a gentle note of ginger after cooking in the Instant Pot. Paired with all the delicious savory toppings, it makes a satisfying meal!
Instant Pot Vietnamese Chicken Congee
- 8-quart Instant Pot
- 1 3-3.5 pound whole range chicken
- 8 cups water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 oz ginger, smashed and cut into small pieces
- ¾ cup broken Jasmine rice
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- ½ tablespoon sugar
- ½ cup Vietnamese coriander (chopped)
- ½ cup sliced scallion
- ¼ cup cilantro
- 2 tbsps ginger, julienned
- 2 bird's eye chilis, sliced
- ½ tablespoon freshly ground pepper
- ½ cup fried scallions
- 4 giò cháo quẩy (fried dough sticks / Chinese crullers)
- 4 cups bean sprouts
- 1 lime, cut into small wedges
- Rinse the chicken and pat it dry with paper towel. Tuck in the legs and wings so it fits snugly in the pot. Place the chicken breast down in the inner pot of the pressure cooker.
- Add 8 cups of water, ginger, and salt to the inner pot.
- Lock the lid and pressure cook on HIGH pressure for 10 minutes. Let the steam naturally release for 5 minutes before manually releasing the rest.
- Remove the chicken from the pot and let it rest until cool enough to handle.
- Pull the chicken from the bones and use your fingers to shred the meat. Place the meat on a plate and set aside. Discard all the skin and bones.
- Skim the fat on the surface and discard. Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve.
- Transfer the rinsed rice to the inner pot. Add in 6 cups of the strained chicken broth.
- Lock the lid and pressure cook on HIGH pressure for 15 minutes. Let the steam naturally release for 10 minutes before manually releasing the rest.
- Add in the remaining 2 cups of reserved chicken stock to thin out the congee. Season with fish sauce and sugar.
- To serve, ladle the congee into bowls, top with shredded chicken, Vietnamese coriander, scallion, cilantro, ginger, ground pepper, bean sprouts, fried shallots, and giò cháo quẩy.
- Add a few slices of bird's eye chili and squeeze a little lime juice over the congee if desired.
- Serve the congee immediately.