Need to know how to freeze cooked rice? With this best method, it only takes THREE simple steps to extend rice’s shelf life for up to FOUR months. Rice freezes easily while still maintaining that fluffy texture, so next time you have leftovers, don’t toss them—put them in the freezer instead!
Can you freeze cooked rice?
YES you CAN freeze cooked rice, whether it’s leftover white rice or brown rice from a stir fry, rice salad, or casserole. It’s pretty common to make more rice than you need, so freezing it is a great way to take care of leftovers and stash a quick meal for later. Here’s everything you need to know.
Here’s an idea: double the amounts in this Instant Pot Basmati Rice recipe OR switch it up with this Wild Rice recipe. Then, use some for a quick weeknight meal (like this Pumpkin Curry or Instant Pot Yellow Chicken Curry) and then follow the steps below to freeze the rest for easy meal prep.
How to Freeze Cooked Rice
Below, you’ll find the best method for freezing cooked rice:
1. Cook the rice, then let it cool to room temperature.
The best way to speed this step up is to spread it in an even layer on a baking sheet for about 20 minutes.
If you’re worried about the bacteria Bacillus cereus forming, place your rice in the fridge to let it cool down. Bacillus cereus can cause food poisoning if uncooked rice or cooked rice sits at room temperature too long.
2. Place the cooled rice in a freezer-safe airtight container.
When it’s time to put the rice in the freezer, you have a couple of options.
You can use a Ziploc bag to mold the rice into a flat sheet. This can make it easier to store in a small freezer. Be sure to remove as much air as possible by sucking it out with a straw or a vacuum sealer.
Additionally, you can portion sizes in individual containers or plastic bags. Freezing in small batches allows for an even quicker thaw when you’re ready to use it next, whether it’s for one person or a family.
3. Place the rice in the freezer for up to 3-4 months
Don’t forget to add a label with the date on your container or plastic freezer bags, so you don’t eat it past the 4-month mark.
Meal Prep and Storage
- How to thaw Frozen Rice in the microwave: Place it in the microwave on high for 2-3 minutes. Add an ice cube on top of the rice so it doesn’t dry out.
- How to thaw Frozen Rice on the stovetop: Place rice in a saucepan with a couple tablespoons of water, butter, or olive oil on medium heat for 4-5 minutes.
- When you don’t need to thaw Frozen Rice: Add frozen rice to soups or casseroles and it’ll warm right back up in no time.
Frozen Rice FAQs
Yes, freezing rice is safe as long as you do it soon after it’s cooked.
Rice lasts up to 4 months in the freezer.
It takes anywhere from 3-5 minutes to defrost frozen cooked rice on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Freezing rice can change the taste if you do not store and reheat it properly.
Expert Tips and Tricks
- Add water or ice cubes to your rice when reheating. This will ensure that your rice will not dry out and lose its fluffy texture.
- Cool the rice in the fridge. If you’re worried about Bacillus cereus, this will help you handle your rice properly.
- Freeze rice in smaller amounts. This will make it easier to know exactly how much rice to defrost—½ cup is a full serving.
What to serve with rice?
Need a new main dish to pair with your rice? Here are some favorite ideas:
- Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice
- Rainbow Sushi Rice Bowl (3 Sauce Options!)
- Instant Pot Wild Rice Soup
- Crock Pot Stuffed Peppers with Ground Turkey and Rice
- Avocado Roll (with Cucumber)
- Instant Pot Jambalaya
Favorite Rice Recipes
You’ll definitely want to try out these rice recipes to complement your weeknight dinners:
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How to Freeze Cooked Rice
- 2-4 cups rice
How to Freeze Cooked Rice:
- Cook the rice and then let it cool to room temperature. (Learn how to cook rice)
- Once cooled, place the rice in a freezer-safe tupperware container or in a Ziplock bag with the date written on the front. If using a plastic bag, ensure all of the air is removed by sucking it out with a straw or vacuum sealer.
- Place the rice in the freezer for up to 3-4 months.
To Reheat Frozen Rice:
- Warm up in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, stirring every minute, or until heated through. You can also reheat it on the stovetop in a large skillet or pot over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
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- Nutritional value based on 1/2 cup of cooked rice.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.