Christmas Congee

published Dec 26, 2023
Christmas Congee Recipe

Top this comforting congee with any holiday leftovers you have in your fridge.


Prep15 minutes

Cook40 minutes to 45 minutes

Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Overhead shot of congee in a shallow light brown bowl, topped with pork floss, bacon, cornbread pieces and green onion.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: James Park

I grew up in a Chinese-American household where the love language was food. My family would gather around the table every night to eat together. It was no question that for the holidays, we’d pull out all the stops to create an extravagant meal that told our tale of two cultures, Chinese and American, merging together. There’d be a baked ham sitting next to a bowl of soy sauce-braised pork belly, and pickled Chinese cabbage right beside mashed potatoes. And, after a night of eating, laughter, and slightly too much discussion about my sister and I’s career paths, I could always count on my mom to take whatever we didn’t finish from the night before and make a delicious congee out of it. 

This year, I’m introducing my riff on my mom’s tradition. Meet: Christmas congee. Here, the leftovers from dinner the night before turn a seemingly simple dish into a carousel of flavors that never stop surprising you with every bite. For this recipe, I reach for leftover cornbread and cooked ham, but you can use whatever’s in your fridge. Not only is it easy and delicious, but it’s also a great way of clearing out your fridge of holiday leftovers. I hope that this dish brings you the same warmth and comfort as it did for me growing up.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: James Park

How to Make Christmas Congee Your Own

One of the most amazing things about congee is its versatility. Traditionally, we’d use ingredients like pork floss, century eggs, and slow-braised beef, but really anything goes when it comes to congee. When using up your Christmas leftovers, here’s some tips for making your congee unique and special:

  • Roasted veggies work wonders as a topping. Just make sure to heat them up in the oven with a tad more oil, which helps retain their crispy texture!
  • Anything goes when it comes to the bread. This recipe uses cornbread, but really anything from leftover dinner rolls to hearty stuffing could work. Be sure to break it up into small pieces so you can get a little on every bite.
  • Any leftover proteins will work. In place of (or in addition to) the ham, leftover turkey, chicken, and even duck are fair game. Again, make sure you’re chopping whatever protein you use into small pieces — you don’t want a whole turkey leg on your spoonful of congee!
  • Try turning it into dessert. My mom used to put ginger and sugar in her congee as it would cook.  For sweet toppings, you could use anything from leftover cranberry sauce to crumbled apple pie. It’ll be the most comforting rice pudding you’ll ever have.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: James Park

Christmas Congee Recipe

Top this comforting congee with any holiday leftovers you have in your fridge.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 40 minutes to 45 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 1 cup

    medium or long-grain white rice

  • 8 cups


  • 1 (1-inch) piece


  • 3 cloves


  • 1

    medium scallions

  • 1 cup


  • 4 ounces

    cooked ham

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • Salt

  • Ground white pepper

  • 1/4 cup

    Chinese pork floss (also known as pork sung)

  • Toasted sesame oil, for drizzling


  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400ºF.

  2. Place 1 cup white rice in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold water until the water runs mostly clear. Place the rice in a large saucepan and add 8 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

  3. Meanwhile, peel and thinly slice a 1-inch piece of ginger. Peel and thinly slice 3 garlic cloves. Thinly slice 2 medium scallions on a slight diagonal, keeping the white and green parts separate. Reserve the green parts for garnish.

  4. When the congee is boiling, reduce the heat as needed to maintain a brisk simmer. Add the ginger, garlic, and scallion whites. Stir to combine. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally and making sure to scrape to the bottom of the saucepan, until very creamy and thickened, 30 to 35 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the toppings.

  5. Cut up cornbread into pieces no larger than a small crouton (about 1/2 inch) until you have 1 cup. Place the cornbread, including any crumbs, on a baking sheet and spread out into an even layer. Bake until the pieces are golden-brown and the crumbs are deep golden-brown, 7 to 9 minutes.

  6. Cut 4 ounces cooked ham into small dice (about 1 cup). Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and starting to pop like popcorn, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

  7. When the congee is ready, taste and season with salt and white pepper as needed. Serve garnished with the cornbread croutons, ham, pork floss, and reserved scallion greens. Drizzle lightly with toasted sesame oil.

Recipe Notes

Storage: The congee can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. The toppings can be refrigerated in separate airtight containers for up to 1 week. Reheat the congee over medium-low heat, and add a splash of water to thin out if too thick.