Thai Congee with Chicken Meatballs

Top view of bowl with Thai rice porridge with chicken meatballs. Garnishes in bowls behind.

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Made with juicy flavorful chicken meatballs, fragrant aromatics and herbs, and exploding with flavor! This Thai congee is easy to make with leftover cooked rice and super comforting and satisfying!



For the Chicken Meatballs:

  • 1 Asian Red Shallot – peeled, roughly chopped
  • 1 large Garlic clove – peeled, roughly chopped
  • 1 Red Chili (Thai Bird’s Eye or any other small hot red chili – note 1), to taste – destemmed, roughly chopped
  • 12 Thai Prik Kee Nu Green Chilies (optionalnote 1) – destemmed, roughly chopped
  • 2 Coriander (Cilantro) Roots – roughly chopped (use 4 coriander stems if roots are unavailable)
  • 260 grams / 9 ounces Ground Chicken – (or ground pork or turkey)
  • ½ TSP ground White Pepper
  • ½ TBLS Fish Sauce
  • ½ TBLS Low Sodium Light Soy Sauce
  • ½ TSP Sesame Oil

For the Thai Congee:

  • 1-inch piece Ginger – roughly chopped (about 2 tablespoons chopped)
  • 2 Garlic cloves – peeled, roughly chopped
  • 36 Red Chilies (Thai Bird’s Eye or any other small hot red chilies), to taste – destemmed, roughly chopped
  • 2 Asian Red Shallots – peeled, roughly chopped
  • 2 Lemongrass Stalks – outer tough layers removed, finely minced (substitute with 2 tablespoons lemongrass paste)
  • 3 Makrut Lime Leaves (note 2) – destemmed, finely minced into a powder like texture (substitute ½ TSP ground dried makrut/kaffir lime leaf)
  • 1 TBLS Canola Oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 946ml / 4 cups Water (note 3)
  • 3 cups / 390 grams cooked Long Grain Brown Jasmine Rice (or use white long grain Thai jasmine rice or other long grain rice)
  • 1 TBLS Fish Sauce
  • 1 TBLS Low Sodium Light Soy Sauce
  • ½ TSP Kosher Salt, to taste (use half the amount if using iodized table salt)
  • ½ TSP Thai Chili Powder (optional – leave out for milder flavor), to taste
  • To Serve (optional toppings): Chopped fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped spring onion (scallion/green onion), julienned ginger, ground white pepper, store-bought or homemade fried shallots or fried garlic, chili oil (homemade or store-bought)


For the Chicken Meatballs:

  1. Make the chicken meatball mixture: Roughly chop the shallot, garlic, red chili, prik kee nu green chiles (if using) and coriander roots. Using a mortar and pestle, pound into a coarse paste. (If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, finely chop the ingredients instead). Place the ground chicken in a medium mixing bowl. Add the aromatics paste, ground white pepper, fish sauce, low sodium light soy sauce and sesame oil to the bowl and mix until combined well. Using a large spoon, scoop the mixture up and drop it so it slaps against the bowl. Repeat a few times until the chicken mixture texture is smooth and everything has come together. Set aside. (Note: You may also mix the meat mixture using your hands, which is the traditional way. If doing so, I recommend using disposable plastic gloves to avoid irritating your skin.)

For the Thai Congee:

  1. Prepare the ingredients: Roughly chop the ginger, garlic, red chilies and shallots. Using a mortar and pestle, pound into a coarse paste and set aside. Finely mince the lemongrass and makrut lime leaves. The makrut lime leaves should be like a fine powder. If your rice is chilled, microwave it for 1 minute on high until hot. (This will help it to absorb more liquid easily.)
  2. Blend the rice with water: Add the rice to a blender jug along with 1 cup (237ml) of water. Blend briefly, about 8-10 seconds until a coarse texture but not a smooth puree is achieved. (I normally blend for 5 seconds, then uncover and mix before blending for 2-3 seconds again. If you prefer a thinner congee consistency then blend until desired consistency is achieved). Set aside.
  3. Sauté the aromatics: Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a Dutch oven or medium sized heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the smashed aromatics paste along with the finely minced lemongrass and makrut lime leaves. Sauté using a silicone spatula (note 4) for 1 minute until fragrant.
  4. Add the blended rice, water and seasonings: Pour the blended rice mixture into the pot. Rinse out the blender jug with the remaining water and pour it into the pot too. Stir in the fish sauce, low sodium light soy sauce, kosher salt and Thai chili powder (if using). Turn the heat up and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently once the congee starts to thicken to prevent it from sticking to the bottom.
  5. Cook the meatballs: Switch off the heat to prevent splattering. Use a teaspoon to scoop up the chicken meatball mixture and another to shape and slide it into the pot. Repeat until all of the meatballs are in the congee. Turn the heat back on and set to medium-low. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the meatballs are just cooked. Taste and adjust seasonings by adding more fish sauce, soy sauce or kosher salt if needed. Switch off the heat.
  6. To Serve: Ladle the congee and meatballs evenly into bowls. Top with desired toppings and serve.



  1. Chilies. Feel free to use less or more of both the Bird’s Eye and prik kee nu chilies. Thai prik kee nu chilies are optional as they are not only fiery hot (and should be used with caution if you are not used to spicy foods) but can be difficult to track down outside of Asia. You can leave it out or use any other type of hot green chilies instead.
  2. Makrut Lime Leaves. These fragrant leaves add a citrusy aroma to the congee. Find them in a Thai grocery store or substitute with dried makrut like leaves or the ground version if unavailable.
  3. Water. While I’ve used water for this congee, a homemade chicken stock without salt can be used too. If using store-bought low sodium chicken stock, adjust soy sauce, fish sauce and kosher salt amounts to taste.
  4. Silicone Spatula. I recommend using a silicone or rubber spatula to cook the congee as it allows you to gently scrape the bottom of the pot to prevent sticking without damaging the material that the pot is made of.
  5. Storage and leftovers. Store leftover congee in airtight sealed containers in the fridge for 3-4 days. It will thicken as it sits in the fridge so be sure to leave a little room at the top of the container to accommodate for this. When ready to eat, add a splash of water to thin it to your desired consistency if needed. Reheat in the microwave on high for 1-2 minutes or in a pot on the stovetop.
  6. To freeze. Once completely cooled, transfer to sealed airtight containers and wrap each container in a sheet of aluminum foil for an extra layer of protection against freezer burn. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat in the microwave or in a pot on the stovetop with an extra splash of water if needed to thin it.
  7. Recipe inspired by Hot Thai Kitchen.