How Long Is Rice Good for in the Fridge

By Luna Regina | Updated
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Rice doesn’t seem like something that could do a lot of harm compared to poultry, meat, or seafood. But you may be surprised to learn that improperly-stored rice can still give you food poisoning, just like undercooked meat or seafood. Eating bad rice can make you nauseous in as quickly as 30 minutes.

That’s why learning the answer to important questions such as how long is rice good for in the fridge can save you a lot of grief. If you don’t yet know, this short article can tell you!

How Long Is Rice Good for in the Fridge
(By Getty Images)

How Long Is Rice Good for When Refrigerated?

The answer varies depending on the type of rice and whether you have cooked the rice or not.

Cooked Rice

Cooked rice can be stored in the fridge for 4 to 6 days if you cook and refrigerate it immediately on the date of purchase.

However, not everyone cooks and refrigerates rice right after they buy it. For this reason, you shouldn’t reheat the rice after it has spent more than 4 days in the fridge.

The type of rice you cooked also makes a small difference here. Generally, white rice will last longer than brown rice (only by a day or two). Brown rice is neither milled nor polished, so it has a higher oil content. The extra oils make the grains become rancid much more quickly than their white counterpart.

How Long Is Cooked Rice Good for When Refrigerated?
(By JCC Food)

Uncooked Rice

Uncooked rice lasts significantly longer when refrigerated than cooked rice. A package of uncooked rice can be stored for more than 6 months when properly refrigerated. If you want to store it for even longer, freezing can extend its shelf-life to several years.

How Long Is Uncooked Rice Good for When Refrigerated?
(By Foods Guy)

Why Does Rice Cause Food Poisoning?

For most food, you don’t need to cook it at any higher than 212°F for it to be cleared of dangerous bacteria. The same thing, unfortunately, cannot be said for rice.

Rice may contain the spores of a dangerous bacterium called Bacillus cereus. When you eat rice that is contaminated by this bacteria, it can cause severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

The spores of Bacillus cereus are extremely resilient. In wet heat (such as steaming or boiling), the food must be subjected to 250°F heat for 5 minutes to kill all of the spores. In dry heat (for example, grilling or roasting), you must give the food at least 1 hour in 248°F heat for them to be eliminated.

The problem would become worse if the rice wasn’t properly refrigerated.

The spores of bacillus cereus germinate at temperatures higher than 50°F. Alarmingly, some strains have been noted to be able to germinate at temperatures as low as 39°F. This is even lower than the temperature that most refrigerators are set to (40°F).

After they have germinated, the bacteria produce enterotoxins. Enterotoxins attack your digestive system, causing you to exhibit stomach-related symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

How to Safely Refrigerate Cooked Rice

The key is to throw the rice into the fridge as quickly as possible. When you know that you cannot finish all of the rice in time, pack it up. Do not let it stay out for longer than necessary. If the rice has spent over 4 hours at room temperature, you will have to throw it away.

Step 1: Wait for the Rice to Cool Down

If the rice is still hot, wait for it to cool down. If you put the rice into the fridge immediately, the heat will cause condensation to form and make the grains wet. The extra moisture (coupled with the residual heat) creates a favorable environment for bacteria to grow.

Step 2: Package It Up

Transfer the rice into an airtight container or an airtight Zip-Loc bag. This will keep out moisture from the fridge. The container will also protect the rice from being contaminated by bacteria from other foods inside the fridge.

Packaging to Safely Refrigerate Cooked Rice
(By Simply Recipes)

Step 3: Put the Rice on the Lower Shelf of the Fridge

As mentioned earlier, bacteria like bacillus cereus are capable of thriving at temperatures colder than 40°F. Don’t take any chances. Store the rice on the lower shelves of the fridge, which tend to be colder. Cold air has a tendency to sink.

Step 4: Reheat Only When Necessary

Rice shouldn’t be reheated more than once. Reheating rice two or three times increases the risk of bacterial infection. Bring it out to reheat only when necessary.

If you have a lot of leftover rice, separate it into portions. Bring just enough out to finish and leave the rest in the fridge for another day.

Once again, as a reminder: make sure you finish everything in less than 4 days. Pass this point, and you will have to throw it all out.

Is It Possible to Eat Cold Rice?

Not up for reheating? It is completely safe to eat cold rice straight from the fridge. The texture could be a bit of a problem, however. Refrigerated rice tends to be a bit tough and dry due to dehydration. Aside from the lackluster texture and the cold mouthfeel, there’s no problem if you want to skip the reheating part.

Is It Possible to Eat Cold Rice?
(By The Fork Bite)

Signs of Expired Rice

Unfortunately, it is not easy to tell when rice has turned bad. An infection of bacillus cereus leaves no discernible signs on the rice. Despite it looking pretty okay, eating days-old rice could still make you sick regardless. The best defense is to simply avoid old rice.

For other issues, such as spoilage or staling, there are a couple of signs you can watch out for.

Smell

This sign is especially useful when inspecting brown rice. When the oils within the grain turn rancid, they will release a very unpleasant smell. Fresh rice won’t have this smell, so you will know immediately with just a whiff.

Expired white rice has a distinctive sour smell, too, due to fermentation.

Slimy, Oily Texture

When rice expires, it will have a very oily, gooey coat on the surface instead of having a fluffy texture like before. Touch the rice and, if you feel the slime underneath your fingers, the rice is most definitely off.

Discoloration

If you leave the rice for too long, mold will grow on it. It is very easy to tell when rice has turned moldy. Watch out for the black, blue, or green spots on the grains.

Conclusion

To recap, you have to put the rice into the fridge in less than 4 hours after it has come out of the cooker. Then, make sure that you finish all of the leftover rice in less than 4 days from the moment you put it into the fridge.

Rice is a favorite of many due to its simplicity. But this grain has many intricacies that you have to be aware of if you don’t want to end up with a bad case of food poisoning.We hope this short article has provided a satisfactory answer to your questions (namely, how long is rice good for in the fridge)!

Since we’re on the topic of refrigerators, if you have plans to upgrade your fridge, we have here some of the best counter depth refrigerators in 2021. Check them out if you’d like!

Luna Regina

A writer and entrepreneur, Luna’s day doesn’t start at the computer keyboard, but in the kitchen.

Half of her working hours are spent on mixing ingredients for her recipes. The other half involve working with the tech team to research and test the tools and appliances that promise to make kitchen work effortless and mess-free. From a kitchen knife or water filter to the Instant Pot, if it can help save time and effort for the home cook, Luna and her team are on it.

Luna’s extracurricular pastimes include camping, travel, and photography.