So many things are better as leftovers: pizza, rotisserie chicken, and even baked potatoes. Unfortunately, rice is definitely not one of them. When you leave rice in its takeout container overnight in the fridge, it becomes dry and utterly unappetizing. So how do you reheat rice to make it just as delicious and fluffy as when it first came out of the pot? Lucky for you, we’ve covered the many methods for reheating rice, including how to reheat it with and without a microwave.
How to Store Cooked Rice
The key to keeping rice tasty after you’ve cooked it is first storing it properly. If you know you’re going to use the rice within a day or two, put it in the fridge. Leftover rice that won’t be used right away can go in the freezer.
How to Store Rice in the Fridge
Rice that’s stored in the fridge should be used within a few days. For that, it should be stored in an easy-to-grab container and be ready for cooking. Here’s how to store rice in the fridge in two easy steps.
- Cool the rice down as soon as possible. Cooked rice is moist rice, which means it’s a breeding ground for bacteria if you let it sit for a few hours at room temperature. Spread the rice on a baking sheet or immediately stick it in the fridge to cool it. By doing this, you can protect yourself and your family from any icky bacteria that will make you sick.
- Once your rice has chilled, put it in either a plastic container or a zip plastic bag, making sure to remove excess air before sealing. Then, place it in the fridge.
How to Store It in the Freezer
How long does frozen rice last in the freezer? The good news is that it’ll keep for up to three months. After that, it may develop freezer burn. Here’s how to store rice in the freezer in two easy steps.
- This step is the same for storing rice in the freezer as it is for storing rice in the fridge.
- Put rice into a freezer bag. Squish the bag to get rid of extra air before sealing. Place it flat in the freezer so that it takes up less space and defrosts faster. Depending on the recipe, frozen rice doesn’t need to be thawed before using.
Best Way to Reheat Rice
After you use this calorie-slashing cooking method for rice, portion out what you and your family will be eating, then store the rest in a zip-lock bag while the rice is still warm. Seal the bag tightly and put it in the fridge. When you’re ready to reheat your leftovers, pop the bag in the microwave for one minute with a one-inch crack in the zip top. Reheating the rice this way steams it so you get that airy, just-cooked texture you love. Happy reheating!
NOTE: Make sure that you’re using Ziploc Storage or Freezer Bags for this trick, not their sandwich bags, as those aren’t meant to be used in the microwave. If you’re using a different brand of storage bag, check the box and their website for information about heating their bags.
How to Reheat Rice in the Microwave
Of all the microwave hacks you need to know, how to reheat rice in the microwave is near the top. If you’re pressed for time, reheating rice in the microwave is the best method for quickly warming up rice. But because it’s nearly impossible for people to agree on something, there are several methods for how to best reheat rice in the microwave. Here’s how to reheat rice in the microwave using a paper towel, plastic wrap, or a glass of water.
How to Reheat Rice in the Microwave With a Paper Towel
- Put rice on a plate in an even layer.
- Cover the plate with a damp paper towel. This will trap moisture, leaving you with plump, moist rice.
- Microwave for two minutes, checking periodically. You can remove the rice early if it’s evenly heated.
With Plastic Wrap
- Scoop rice into a large bowl, making sure there’s enough room for steaming.
- Pour in three to four tablespoons of water. You can use chicken broth for extra flavor.
- Place plastic wrap over the bowl and microwave it on low for a couple minutes. When the plastic starts to balloon and steam up, you’ll know it’s ready.
- Remove the plastic wrap carefully so the escaping steam doesn’t burn you.
- Stir the rice so every piece is warmed.
With a Glass of Water
- Pour rice onto a plate or into a bowl.
- Fill a glass with two-thirds cup of water.
- Microwave the glass of water and rice together for two minutes.
- Check that the rice is evenly heated; microwave it again if it’s still cold.
How to Reheat Rice Without a Microwave
If you don’t have a microwave and you want to reheat rice, you have two alternatives: the stove or the oven. Taking a hands-on approach to reheating rice gives you more control, as opposed to putting it in the microwave and walking away. This means you won’t have to worry about removing your rice only to find you’ve zapped it too long and it’s become rock hard. That said, reheating rice this way will require a bit more patience and a watchful eye. Here’s how to reheat cooked rice either on the stove or in the oven.
How to Reheat Rice on the Stove
- Dump your rice into a sauce pan.
- Add a few tablespoons of water.
- Break up any large rice chunks.
- Cover tightly with lid.
- Cook over low heat, stirring occassionally.
How to Reheat Rice in the Oven
- Pour rice into oven-safe dish.
- Separate any chunks of rice.
- Cover tightly with lid or aluminum foil.
- Bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes, or until rice is warm all the way through.
How to Reheat Fried Rice
If you frequent the Chinese restaurant down the street for those late-night dinners, you need to know the best way to reheat fried rice. Instead of tossing this golden goodness just because it’s become a little hard after sitting in the fridge, you can save your fried rice for another dinner — or even make it the base of a brand-new dish. Here’s how to reheat rice that’s been fried in five easy steps.
- Heat a pan over medium-high heat.
- Add a splash of olive oil or butter.
- Pour your rice into the pan once the oil or butter has warmed up. When you’re reheating fried rice, you can choose to add all sorts of delicious toppings like egg, meat, or extra veggies.
- Stir everything for five to 10 minutes, or until it’s warm all the way through.
- Plate your rice and enjoy!
How to Reheat Frozen Rice
Can you reheat rice that’s been frozen? Yes you can! If you froze a big batch of rice and now you’re not sure whether you need to thaw it before cooking, we’ve got your answer. And if you’re worried you won’t end up with fluffy rice because it’s been frozen, there’s nothing to be afraid of. To reheat rice that’s been frozen, you need to follow many of the same steps for reheating rice in the microwave. Here’s how to reheat frozen rice in two easy steps.
- Put bag of frozen rice in the microwave and open it about an inch. If you’re concerned that the plastic bag isn’t microwave-safe, transfer the frozen rice to a plate or bowl. As the rice thaws, moisture in the bag steams the grains, giving you that warm, fresh-from-the-pot taste.
- Enjoy your rice as a side or mix it with meat and veggies for a well-balanced meal.