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How to Reheat Cooked Rice – 4 Absolutely Easy Ways

Cooked rice

Rice is one of the most popular foods in the world—in fact, most homes always have rice in their pantry, and it is not unusual to have leftover cooked rice in your refrigerator. Rice is a chameleon of a component that works with any cuisine. It makes vegetables taste better. We love rice with meat and seafood of all kinds. Its starchiness is perfect for casseroles, soups, and sauces. We even use it in desserts. (Who doesn’t love a creamy bowl of rice pudding?!)

But what do you do with your leftover cooked rice? Are you making the most of every precious bite? Chances are, you’re not. The truth of the matter is, how you reheat rice makes a huge difference. It is all too easy to get it wrong!

Reheated rice can lose its flavor, turn gummy, become too wet, too dry, or too hard. That can ruin your meal, or at least render it far less enjoyable. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Rice can be just as wonderful when you reheat it as it was the first time, but you have to do it right.

So, are you ready to learn how to reheat rice in your fridge properly?

The Best Methods for Reheating Cooked Rice

To reheat rice, you have some great options. You can use your oven, a microwave, a rice cooker, or a stovetop burner. You may use the method that works best for you. All of them can achieve excellent results!

The microwave will always be the fastest and will take only a few minutes. But if you want to learn how to reheat rice without a microwave, your oven or stove is an option, too. You might even prefer the timing of the oven or stovetop, which averages anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. Or you might opt for the easy convenience of a rice cooker.

The rice cooker is going to be the slowest—about an hour—but it is also a terrific appliance and the easiest and most foolproof way to both cooked rice and reheat rice. It doesn’t get much simpler than pressing a button, folks! Many people who own a rice cooker swear it’s the best choice overall, and I love rice cookers, too. Here’s a great one by Cuckoo that I’m absolutely crazy about. This would make an excellent addition to your kitchen!)

Preparing your Rice for Reheating

Never take your rice out of the refrigerator too far in advance before you reheat rice. Although that might be a good idea when you are about to cook proteins for even cooking, it is never a good idea for leftovers that have already been cooked.

Bacteria become more active as your food warms up, and that can give you food poisoning if not properly handled. (For the same reason, you should also always put your leftovers in the fridge as soon as they have cooled off.) Remove your rice from the fridge shortly before you want to reheat it

If your rice is combined with other items such as meat or vegetables, you should also separate those ingredients out before you begin reheat rice, if possible. It is always better to reheat components separately, as each one may need to be handled differently to achieve optimal results. (You’ll find a very helpful guide specifically for reheating chicken and rice dishes here!)

reheat rice in microwave

How to Reheat Rice in Microwave

  1. Remove your cooked rice from the refrigerator.
  2. Spoon out the quantity you need onto a microwave-safe plate. Break up any clumps.
  3. Spread the rice out evenly on the plate so that it is all the same height. You don’t want a big mound in the center because that will cause it to heat unevenly.
  4. Next, add a little water to the rice. This is very important because it will help the rice maintain its original texture. Add one tablespoon of cold water for every cup of rice that you are reheating. You can sprinkle it over the top, or pour it in the middle, as it will be absorbed evenly as the rice heats up.
  5. Cover the plate with a paper towel that has been very lightly moistened.
  6. Put the plate in the microwave.
  7. Next, set your microwave for four minutes on medium heat. (But you will check it at the three-minute mark. All microwaves can vary in speed.)
  8. After three minutes, use a food thermometer to check the rice’s temperature. (Every kitchen needs one of these!) Your goal should be a minimum of 165°F for food safety reasons. Any temperature above that is okay. If you are not up to the temperature yet, continue to reheat the rice for the last minute and check your temperature again.
  9. Once you’ve reached 165°F, your rice is ready to enjoy. Just give it a quick stir and dig in!

How to Reheat Rice in Oven

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Take the cooked rice out of the fridge and place the quantity you want into an oven-safe pot that has a well-fitted lid. (Foil can also be used if you don’t have a lid.) (I love using a dutch oven for this. It’s an invaluable piece of versatile cookware that no kitchen should be without. If you don’t have one yet, what are you waiting for?! Here’s a fantastic dutch oven by Lodge that is perfect for reheating and much more.)
  3. Break up any clumps and spread the rice out evenly across the bottom of the pot.
  4. Next, add a little water. This is very important because it will help the rice maintain its original texture and prevent it from burning on the bottom. Add one tablespoon of cold water for every cup of cooked rice that you are reheating. You can sprinkle it over the top, or pour it in the middle, as it will be absorbed evenly as the rice heats up.
  5. Cover the pot with your lid and make sure it is on tightly. (If the lid is ajar, steam will escape and you don’t want that. Steam is what makes your cooked rice heat up evenly.)
  6. Next, place your pot in the preheated oven. Your reheating time will vary depending on the type of pot you use and the quantity that you are reheating, but you can expect it to take an average of 20 minutes.
  7. Check your rice using a food thermometer after the first 15 minutes. (Every kitchen needs one of these!) Your goal should be a minimum of 165°F for food safety reasons. Any temperature above that is okay. If you are not up to the temperature yet, continue checking the rice every few minutes until you reach 165°F.
  8. Remove the reheated cooked rice from the pot, give it a quick stir, and enjoy!

How to Reheat Rice on Stove?

reheat rice on stove
  1. Choose an appropriately-sized skillet with a well-fitted lid and add the quantity of cooked rice that you want to reheat. (A dutch oven works great for this, too. They work just as well on your stovetop as in the oven!)
  2. Next, add a little water. This is very important because it will help the rice maintain its original texture and prevent it from burning on the bottom. Add two tablespoons of cold water for every cup of rice that you are reheating. (Note that this water ratio differs from other methods because the stovetop tends to need more moisture.) You can sprinkle it over the top, or pour it in the middle, as it will be absorbed evenly as the rice heats up.
  3. Cover your skillet with a lid and make sure it is on tightly. (If the lid is ajar, steam will escape and you don’t want that. Steam is what makes your cooked rice heat up evenly.)
  4. Next, put your skillet on the stovetop and turn it on low heat.
  5. Leave the pan covered and undisturbed for at least three minutes but not more than five minutes. Then, give it a brief stir and check the temperature with a food thermometer (Every kitchen needs one of these!) Your goal should be a minimum of 165°F for food safety reasons. Any temperature above that is okay. If you are not up to temperature yet, continue checking the rice every few minutes until you reach 165°F.
  6. Once you’ve reached the proper temperature, your rice is ready to serve.

How to Reheat Rice in Rice Cooker

  1. Add the quantity of cooked rice you want to reheat to your rice cooker. Break up any clumps.
  2. Next, add a little water to the rice. This is very important because it will help the rice maintain its original texture. Add one tablespoon of cold water for every cup of rice that you are reheating. You can sprinkle it over the top, or pour it in the middle, as it will be absorbed evenly as the rice heats up.
  3. Most rice cookers have a “reheat” setting. This is ideal for cooked rice and the setting that you want. If yours does not have a reheat button, you can also use the “keep warm” setting.
  4. Next, set a timer for one hour. After that hour has gone by, use a food thermometer to check the rice’s temperature. (Every kitchen needs one of these!) Your goal should be a minimum of 165°F for food safety reasons. Any temperature above that is okay. If you are not up to temperature yet, continue checking the rice every 15 minutes.
  5. Once you’ve reached 165°F, your rice is ready to enjoy. Just give it a quick stir and dig in!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to store cooked rice for future use?

Allow your cooked rice to come to room temperature. As soon as it has cooled off, place it in an airtight container or plastic bag and place it in your refrigerator or freezer.

How long can I safely keep cooked rice before I need to discard it?

It is safe to keep it for up to three days in your fridge. However, after that, it should be discarded for food safety reasons—even if it smells and looks fine. Why? Because bacteria is always present in your food. Your refrigerator slows down bacterial growth but it does not prevent it. After three days, bacteria levels begin to climb to unsafe levels. (We love leftovers, but we don’t love food poisoning, right?!) If you want to keep it longer than that, pop it into your freezer for up to six months.

Can you reheat rice twice?

Nope! For food safety reasons, you should never reheat your cooked rice more than once. Not only would you run the risk of increasing bacteria to unsafe levels (see above!) but you would also be overcooking it to the point where it develops an unpleasant texture and taste.

Are there other ways to use my leftover cooked rice beyond simply reheating it?

Absolutely! Leftover cooked rice can be repurposed in many different dishes. It makes perfect Chinese fried rice. (Yum!) You can add it to soups and stews, toss it into a stir-fry, and easily turn it into a salad with some veggies and a little dressing. And there’s no better treat than rice pudding. You’ll find lots of sensational recipes for your leftover cooked rice—and don’t be afraid to get creative and invent your own!

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