How to Reheat Rice—Three Easy Ways

Have leftover rice from your favorite take-out restaurant? Made too much Spanish rice last night? We'll show you how to reheat rice in the microwave, by steaming it on the stovetop or stir-frying it in a wok.

Rice is definitely a pantry staple around my house. It’s easy to make and can be combined with so many different ingredients to create easy healthy weeknight meals. I usually try to make a few extra portions to store in the fridge for leftover meals, but it always dries out so quickly. Even if I made perfect rice, the refrigerator dehydrates the kernels, turning them tough and sticky. (Find out how to fix sticky rice!)

Knowing how to reheat rice and using the right reheating methods are the keys to recreating rice’s fluffy, light texture.

Can you reheat rice?

You can definitely eat leftover rice, but you do have to be careful to make sure it’s safe. Rice may contain a bacteria called Bacillus cereus. Unlike other leftovers, this particular bacteria isn’t always killed during the cooking process. The best way to avoid getting a foodborne illness is to cool leftover rice down as quickly as possible. Store cooked rice in the refrigerator for no longer than four days, and make sure to reheat it to at least 165°F.

Can cooked rice be frozen and reheated?

Cooked rice is only good for about four days in the refrigerator, but it will last two months in the freezer. It’s a good idea to let the rice cool completely before popping it into the freezer. You can freeze it in any type of container, but we like scooping single servings into freezer-safe bags. These types of bags stack flat, making freezer organization a cinch! When you’re ready to reheat it, break the rice into chunks and use one of the cooking methods below.

How to Reheat Rice in the Microwave

The microwave might not be the most glamorous method for reheating food, but it’s definitely the fastest. Place the rice in a microwave-safe container and add a tablespoon of broth or water for every cup of rice. Break up any clumps of rice using a fork and cover the container with a lid or a damp kitchen towel. This step ensures the steam created by reheating the rice stays trapped in the container, keeping the rice moist. Cook the rice on full power for a minute or two, stirring the rice to make sure it’s heated all the way to the center.

How to Steam Rice on the Stovetop

The key to getting next-day fluffy rice is reheating it with plenty of moisture, so steaming is the perfect option! Add the rice to a small saucepan and add a tablespoon of broth or water for every cup of rice. You can also add a pat of butter to add extra richness. Break up any clumps of rice using a fork and cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid. Cook the rice over low heat for three to five minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice is heated through.

How to Stir-Fry It in a Wok

This last method is a great way to reheat rice if you’re adding additional ingredients, like egg, meat or veggies. To make fried rice, start by heating a tablespoon of oil in a large wok or skillet over high heat. Add the rice, breaking up any clumps and moving the rice around the pan so the oil coats each granule. Cook the rice, uncovered, until it’s plump and heated through, about three minutes. Add in your favorite ingredients to make it a filling meal.

Did you know that long-grain rice cooks differently from short-grain varieties? Check out our beginner’s guide to cooking all kinds of rice to learn more.

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Lindsay D. Mattison
Lindsay is a professional chef, recipe developer, writer and developmental editor. After years of working in restaurant kitchens, she turned to writing to share her skills and experience with home cooks and food enthusiasts. She's passionate about using local, organic ingredients and teaching others how to incorporate seasonal food into their diet. Lindsay still cooks professionally for pop-up events, writes for several publications and is the co-author of two books about Ayurveda.