Can You Freeze Cooked Rice? (Plus Leftover Rice Recipes!)

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Odette Modified: July 20, 2022
Can You Freeze Cooked Rice? (Plus Leftover Rice Recipes!)
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Can you freeze cooked rice? Yes! Miscalculating how much rice to use has happened to many of us. So,  instead of binning it, learning how to freeze rice is a good option to save them. Besides, freezing rice can help you to turn leftovers into a delicious plate of curry fried rice. After all, your freezer is one of the best kitchen appliances that can help you with food storage and ultimately extend your food’s shelf life. Whether you’re looking to save leftover rice or simply want to cut down on food prep for busy weekdays, here is everything you need to know on how to freeze rice properly. 

How to Freeze Cooked Rice

Learning how to store cooked rice and extend its shelf life is actually quite easy. Before we start, however, note that this method works best if you store it as soon as possible after meals, or as soon as you finished cooking it.

Can You Freeze Brown Rice?

  • Aside from white rice, can you freeze brown rice as well? All types of rice - white, brown, basmati, and even fried rice with meat and veggies freeze well.

Freezing rice maintains your rice texture and halts any nasty bacteria growth in its tracks. However, remember that reheating frozen cooked rice also tends to dry out. To avoid that, store it in a freezer container or vacuum-sealed zip lock bag. Here’s what you have to do: 

Step 1: Spread Cooked Rice On a Baking Sheet

Before freezing, always remember to cool down cooked rice to room temperature level first. Doing so can prevent your rice from clumping up to maintain its fluffy texture. To help cool it down faster, divide and flatten cooked rice on baking sheets. With a wooden spoon or spatula dipped in water, gently spread leftover rice on a baking sheet making sure to flatten it evenly. 

Leave the sheet pan on the kitchen counter to cool. At room temperature, cooling takes about 20 minutes. If you want to speed up the cooling process, store it in the refrigerator for 10 minutes, before freezing in the freezer. And here’s a tip – never leave your cooked rice in the rice cooker to cool down. Bacteria thrive at room temperature and cooling rice in the rice cooker overnight creates room for bacteria growth. 

Step 2: Divide Rice Into Ziplock Bags

Using a spatula dipped in water, scoop cooled-down rice into ziplock bags. Flatten it evenly throughout the bag and label the bags with the date you froze them, the amount of rice (in any sort of measurements you wish), and what type of rice is in the bag. This step is just as important to help you distinguish between different varieties of rice you freeze and when you froze them. 

Step 3: Place Bags in the Freezer

Before placing them in the freezer, make sure you remove as much air from the bags as possible. To save freezer space, flatten it or use a vacuum sealer or a straw to draw out the air. After this, stack the bags of rice in the freezer. Frozen rice can stay in the freezer for 1 to 3 months. To retain freshness and a fluffy texture, however, it is best to keep rice frozen for only 1 month. 

How to Reheat Frozen Rice

reheating rice in the microwave

After freezing cooked rice, what can you do to reheat or thaw it? Employ the help of your microwave or even a bamboo steamer!  Here are a few guaranteed and easy methods to reheat frozen rice:

Using a Microwave

  1. First, leave the rice on the counter just until it defrosts and the ziplock bag comes off. 
  2. While in the bag, break them into little chunks and transfer them into a bowl.
  3.  Sprinkle a little bit of water to add moisture to the frozen rice. 
  4. Cover it with a paper towel and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, or until fully heated. 

Using a Steamer

  1. Again, leave the rice on the counter until it defrosts and the ziplock bag comes off. 
  2. Break into chunks and transfer the rice to a ceramic or stainless steel bowl.
  3. Prepare your steamer by filling it with water and bringing it to a boil. 
  4. Once boiling, stack the steamer basket and load it with your bowl of rice. 
  5. Steam until fully defrosted and warm. 

Did You Know?

  • You should only reheat frozen rice once. Reheating repeatedly can cause nasty bacteria growth as well. Any leftover rice after reheating should be thrown out.

READ ALSO: How to Use a Bamboo Steamer Guide

Stews and Soups

Chicken Wild Rice Soup

Adding frozen rice directly to your dishes is also a good alternative to thawing. In particular, this method is for when you’re adding cooked rice directly to dishes with liquids like stews and soups. 

For this method, you have to break the rice into chunks before adding them to the likes of a simmering pot of chicken and rice soup. You can also use the liquid from the rice to your advantage. If you’re using this method, you have to add a couple more minutes to the cooking time for the rice to completely heat through! The soup is also cooled down a little bit since you’re adding a cold component. So simmering it a bit more than what the recipe instructed is important.

More Leftover Rice Recipes

brown fried rice recipe

Leftovers, to your surprise, can actually create some of the most flavorful dishes. Leftover rice, in particular, is actually a great ingredient to use, especially for fried rice! Now that you know how to freeze and reheat cooked rice, explore some of these recipes to make full use of your leftover rice:

  • Instant Rice Pudding Recipe – Pudding is a classic dessert made of rice mixed with milk. This leftover rice idea is the perfect way to use up that stock because it takes away the dryness of the frozen rice.
  • Pork Fried Rice Chinese Style – This Chinese-style fried rice uses leftover rice to its advantage. It also has pork, soy sauce, and sesame oil for savory elements!
  • Garlic Fried Rice – Garlic fried rice is a quick and easy version of fried rice. A huge batch whips up in as little as 25 minutes.

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Odette is a content writer and proofreader by day, and living her inner artist as a poet and singer by night. She's also a former member of a publication who she now mentors from time to time. She likes how sharing a tiny bit of her life and her journey can help others in return. And because she is a curl embassador, she finds joy in empowering fellow curlies to embrace their natural curls. She also loves doing random acts of service to people she loves by cooking for them during her free time. This girl loves anything pasta and French cuisine though she just went through her Japanese and Korean cuisine phase.