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Can You Freeze Cooked Rice?

Frozen rice in zip-lock bags.

Rice can be a pain to cook. It’s easy to get wrong, and you can be sure it’ll happen when guests arrive. Wouldn’t it be nice to pre-cook a bulk load of rice and freeze it in portion packs? Then you can reheat the rice when it’s needed. We decided to do some research to answer the question, can you freeze cooked rice?

Does rice taste okay after freezingAfter testing a few different methods, we came to the following conclusion: rice can be frozen so long as it is stored correctly. We are about to give you the scoop on how to freeze rice, so that is tastes delicious once thawed. This hack has to be one of the best time savers (and sanity savers). You can boil a massive batch of rice, or any grain, then freeze it in one or two-cup portions.

Whatever your preferred grain is for cooking, it can be frozen. We had success with all the popular varieties, including white, brown, jasmine and basmati. Although we haven’t tested it, other cooks have had success freezing quinoa and lentils which are much smaller.

Cooked rice in a bowl on the table
Any type of rice is suitable for freezing.

How to freeze rice

If you use the following method, you’ll find the rice maintains its delicious flavor and texture without any major clumping issues. But, it will dry out quicker than freshly cooked rice, so once you’ve reheated it, serve immediately.

Step 1: Cook it

Use your usual technique for cooking the rice. It could be a traditional method like boiling rice on the stovetop or using a modern gadget like a rice cooker.

Step 2: Layer it

Take the cooked rice and dump it onto a baking tray. Gently spread it out evenly to create one thin layer. It helps to fluff it up a little to remove any clumps.

Step 3: Scoop it

Leave the rice to cool for 15-20 minutes then transfer the rice into plastic bags that are a suitable size for your portions. You’ll need to use freezer-safe bags too. Ensure the rice is in a nice even, flat shape to make stacking in the freezer easy. It is also vital that you close each bag securely to avoid air getting in.

Before freezing, label each bag with the current date, quantity of rice, and the type of rice. This step may seem like an unnecessary step, but it makes life much easier when you’re trying to remember how long it’s been in the freezer. Also, it is a challenge to work out the rice type once it’s frozen in a brick and covered in a thin icy layer.

Step 4: Freeze it

Place the bags in a stack at the back of the freezer. The front section experiences much more temperature ups and downs if the door is opened all the time. The back of the freezer maintains a more constant coolness.

Containers of rice in the freezer
An extra layer of plastic wrap is useful for keeping the moisture out.

How long will cooked rice last in the freezer

Cooked rice can be frozen for two months before it starts to dry out, and the texture starts to suffer. From a food safety perspective, rice can be frozen indefinitely if it is kept at a constant 0°F; but, the quality of the rice will be inferior.

How to reheat frozen rice in the microwave

These following steps are the best reheating option if you need the rice for a side dish, or it’s being eaten on its own. If you’re adding the rice to a casserole, soup, or spicy chili, then toss the frozen rice directly into the pot.

  1. To reheat, break the frozen rice block into pieces while it’s in the bag to avoid fragments of rice and ice through the kitchen. Empty the rice into a bowl.
  2. Cover the bowl with its lid or some plastic wrap and microwave on high for two minutes. Check the rice and if it is still cold in parts, heat for another 30 seconds. Be careful when removing the lid because hot steam will have built up.
  3. Remove the lid, fluff the rice with a fork, then serve immediately.
Rice and vegetables on a white plate.
Remember to fluff the rice after re-heating.

How to store rice in the fridge

If you have leftover rice and you’ll likely eat it within two days, then you’re better to refrigerate the rice. There are plenty of recipes for leftover rice meals that you can use to bring it back to life.

If you decide to store your rice in the fridge, keep in mind that freshly cooked rice is high in moisture content. This means you need to cool it down quickly. Allowing it to sit at room temperature for over two hours could result in bacteria growth. The best way to cool it down fast is the same way as freezing it – layer it on a baking tray.

Once cooled, add the rice to an airtight container and store in the fridge. It should last for two days before going hard and inedible.

To reheat the rice, microwave on high for 30 seconds, then gently stir and repeat for another 30 seconds if needed. You can also sprinkle a teaspoon of water onto the rice before heating to help loosen up the dried grains.

Rice in a bowl next to cutlery.
Organic rice in a bowl ready to eat.

Extra reading:
Slow cooker vs. rice cooker – find out which is best.
Try making our recipe for chili beans and rice.
What are the best millet substitutes?

Final words

Cooked rice is suitable for freezing up to two months in the freezer. After this time, the rice’s texture will start to diminish. The secret to bacteria-free rice is to cool it as quickly as possible by layering it thinly on a baking tray. The rice must be stored in an airtight container or bag to ensure the grains don’t turn hard and brittle. If you don’t do this, your next meal will be unpleasant.

If all this sounds like too much hard work, you may prefer to make fresh rice whenever it is needed. Doing this can be a headache if you have to boil rice in a pot each time. You could save yourself the hassle and use a rice cooker. Be sure to check out our review of the best Korean rice cookers. They are renowned for making high-quality cookers, and the appliances we tested were brilliant. Churning out fluffy, light rice with the press of a button was a cinch. What is not to love about that?