Cooked way too much rice? Happens to the best of us.
You might think boxing up your leftover rice and leaving it in a pantry cupboard is good enough. Think again! Cooked rice is notorious for going bad quickly and you might come back to find the rice moldy, sour, or watery.
Instead, refrigerate your rice dishes. Refrigerating rice after cooking is the easiest way to keep it edible for longer. But how long does rice last in the fridge? A week, ten days, maybe even a fortnight?
This article aims to take out the guesswork and tell you how long you can keep rice in your fridge. You won’t have to meet a spoiled rice surprise for dinner, and our storage and reheating tips will keep your meal-prep rice soft and fluffy.
How Long Does Cooked Rice Last in the Fridge?
Everyone knows uncooked rice has a very long shelf life. When stored correctly (aka in an airtight container, kept in a clean and dry place) rice grains can keep for up to 5 years. But cooked rice is a whole different story.
How long does cooked rice last? If you leave rice out for an hour or two, you will notice the cooked rice release water and change texture, and taste a little strange. This change can happen even faster in hotter climates.
Your best bet is to stick your cooked rice in the fridge. How long does white rice last in the fridge? Most experts say that cooked white rice, like jasmine rice, can be kept in the fridge for 5-7 days. On the other hand, cooked brown rice keeps fresh in the fridge for just 4 or 5 days.
Meanwhile, wild rice will stay fresh in your refrigerator for up to a week. On this note, how long is cooked rice good for in the freezer? Well, in most cases, most kinds of cooked rice will keep for a whopping 6-8 months when stored in the freezer.
How to Keep Your Rice in the Fridge
Believe it or not, there is a right way to store cooked rice in the fridge. Putting hot rice in the fridge is a surefire way to turn your rice into a rock-hard mess later on. Instead, cool the rice first; either leave it in an uncovered pot or spread it on a large sheet pan.
Then, transfer the rice to an airtight container like Tupperware. Cover tightly with the lid and put it in the middle of your fridge.
Reheating the Refrigerated Rice
Rice will often lose its moisture when kept in the fridge. This is especially true if you don’t cover the storage container all the way, as it allows the water to escape. As a result, the rice becomes dry, tough, and crumbly.
But reheating rice properly can fix these issues and make the rice seem like it was served fresh from a steaming pot. Here’s how to do it right:
- Take out the rice from the fridge, and put it in a microwave-safe dish.
- For every cup of rice, you want to reheat, add one or two tablespoons of water.
- Cover the bowl and heat in the microwave for 3-4 minutes. The rice should be piping hot all throughout and should have an internal temperature of 165F.
- Serve hot and enjoy!
You can also steam your cold leftover rice on the stovetop like this:
- Place your rice in a saucepan or pot with 1–2 tablespoons of butter or oil.
- For each cup of rice, add a tablespoon or two of water. Cover with a lid and bring to a simmer. Your heat should be medium-low.
- Stir occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking or burning. Once the water has boiled off, use a probe thermometer to make sure the internal temperature is above 165°F.
- Take off the heat and serve piping hot.
Why Does Rice Need Refrigeration?
Why do you have to refrigerate cooked rice? Lots of other cooked dishes can survive being left out on the counter overnight. But rice left out overnight will definitely have a sour smell and taste off.
But why exactly does rice need to be refrigerated? Rice is moist and has high water content. Bacillus cereus is the culprit here. It thrives in damp environments and that is what rice is.
After the rice is cooked, the Bacillus cereus bacteria grows and multiplies in the moist, warm rice. Refrigeration slows down this process. And what happens if you eat bad rice? Food poisoning, which can leave you feeling terrible for days.
If your rice smells bad after cooking, it is a sign that it has already gone bad. This can happen much more quickly during the summer months, or if you live in a hotter climate. It will have a sour or musty smell, taste bad, and have a sort of crumbly texture.
In this case, it is best to throw out the rice and start from scratch. Leaving your rice warm and in a humid state will encourage bacterial growth, which will ruin it and make you ill.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here you will find answers to questions people tend to ask about storing rice in the fridge.
01. Does Rice Go Bad?
Rice goes bad because of microbial growth that comes from Bacillus cereus which is present in rice and other grains. The bacteria grow in damp and warm environments which makes it easy for rice to go bad quickly.
02. Does Uncooked Rice Go Bad?
While uncooked rice isn’t as perishable, it can go bad when stored in damp places, or if mold, insects, and pests get to them first.
03. How Long Can Cooked Rice Stay in the Fridge?
Cooked rice stays fresh in the fridge for up to a week for white rice. Brown cooked rice has a shorter fridge life and needs to be consumed in 5 days.
04. How Long Can Rice Sit Out and Be Safe to Eat?
You should not leave rice out on the counter for more than an hour or two. Anything longer than this will risk the rice going bad.
05. What are the Signs of Rice Gone Bad?
If your cooked rice goes bad, you will notice a sour and unpleasant smell. There may also be a change in color and texture. It will also taste-off, although you should not try tasting rice that seems to have gone bad.
Next time you cook a large batch of rice, you won’t have to ask yourself How long does rice last in the fridge? Refrigerating rice is the safest way to keep your meals safe to eat for up to a week.
On the other hand, if you want to meal-prep for the month ahead, freezing your rice in airtight containers is the best way to go.
So, are you going to start storing your rice in the fridge from now on?