It’s not at all surprising that “How to reheat rice” has become one of the most frequently asked questions. Rice is an incredibly versatile staple food that has found its way into the cuisines of many countries all across the globe. From Japanese sushi rice, Chinese long-grain rice, to Italian risotto, it is a staple food enjoyed everywhere— not just in Asia as most people tend to believe.
Rice is also cooked in bulks, so it’s not unheard of to have leftover rice that you must put into the fridge. And although reheated rice doesn’t have the best reputation for tastiness or even safety (more on that later,) if you know how to reheat rice just right, the quality can actually become quite close to freshly-cooked!
Best Way to Reheat Rice
1. Can You Reheat Rice?
It is an old myth that half-eaten rice cannot be reheated and can make you sick if you try to eat them. Rice can most definitely be reheated and safely eaten.
However, the myth isn’t without its basis: there have been many cases of food poisoning as a result of eating old, reheated rice before. This is because old rice may carry a type of bacteria called Bacillus cereus.
When contracted, they can cause a small range of symptoms from nausea and stomach pain to diarrhea. In the worst case scenario, a Bacillus cereus infection could cause lethal acute liver failure, though this is not a common occurrence.
As frightening as this may sound, it is entirely possible to prevent contamination with just proper food cooking and storing techniques. While cooking the rice, make sure that you cook it at high temperatures (well beyond 140°F). The high temperature will kill off any bacteria living on the grains.
When you’re done eating and got some leftover, place the rice into a food container, seal the lid tightly, and throw it into the freezer. Do not leave the rice in open air and unattended for more than an hour. If the rice has been in the open for more than two hours, it’s best that you dispose of it rather than save it for later.
Rice should be stored at temperature below 40°F, according to a USDA guideline. If preserved in a refrigerator, the rice can last for about two days before it must be disposed of.
2. Can You Reheat Frozen Rice?
Freezing is actually the best way to preserve your rice. Compared to refrigerating, which will only extend the shelf life of your rice to two days, frozen rice can last for up to three months.
Only thing is that it’s slightly more complicated to reheat and take longer since you would have to let it thaw first.
3. The Many Methods
The most popular way to reheat rice is with a microwave as it is the easiest method. It can give you piping hot rice in a couple of minutes and would be a fitting avenue for making small meals out of leftovers.
But as quick as it is, microwaves are notorious for drying out food. Thus, the rice may feel quite chewy and tough. If you have a high standard for taste and texture, a microwave may not be the best choice for you. Instead, go for the stove-steaming method.
In this method, you will be steaming the cold rice in either a dash of vegetable stock or water. The gentle heat coupled with the moisture will make the rice fluffy and light. The rice is going to taste almost as good as it was the day before.
Microwaving and stove-steaming are only suitable for small, individual meals. If you have a lot of leftover rice and want to prepare them for a large gathering (family, for example,) use an oven. The oven can dehydrate the rice just like a microwave, but on the bright side, its large chamber means you can reheat more rice at once.
How to Reheat Rice In Microwave
Cold rice will stick together into a solid block, so the first thing that you need to do is to break them into smaller squares. We recommend putting the rice block into a clean plastic bag and break it apart with your hands. The bag would make it less messy.
Allow the rice to reach room temperature. This can take between 20 to 30 minutes.
Place the rice onto a microwave-safe plate or bowl and put it into the cooking chamber. Use a spray bottle or similar implements to spritz some water onto the rice to make sure that the grains have enough moisture by the time they get out. Ideally, for every cup of rice, you should spray it with two tbsp of water.
Use a damp paper towel to cover up the rice.
Power on the microwave and, using medium heat, cook the rice in short 30-second bursts. Do this until the rice is adequately warm, which should take about two minutes.
Burst heating is the preferred method for reheating just about everything in the microwave. The high accuracy it provides will make sure that you won’t accidentally overcook the food.
First let the rice reach room temperature by letting it sit for 20 to 30 minutes. Once that’s done, place the rice either in a saucepan or a skillet along with a dash of water or vegetable stock. Put the rice on low heat and put the lid on.
Allow the rice to cook for three to five minutes. Use a spatula or similar tools to stir the rice every once in a while to prevent clumps from forming.
Do not cook for more than five minutes or the rice will be charred.
The same basic concept can also be applied to reheat other food and recipes. For example, one of the entries in our guide on how to reheat lasagna leftovers is almost identical to this!
Spread the rice (should already be at room temperature) evenly across a large baking tray. Spray an appropriate amount of water or vegetable stock onto the rice then cover everything up with an aluminum sheet.
Bake it in the oven at 300°F for roughly 20 minutes. Shut down the oven and leave the rice in the oven until it comes time to serve. The leftover heat inside of the oven will keep the rice warm until it can be placed on a dish.
Baking with the oven is a surprisingly versatile way to rewarm food. Not just rice, you can reheat corn on the cob by broiling or baking in the oven, too.
How to Reheat Fried Rice
Reheating fried rice is a little bit different from reheating plain rice. The method is the same but with a few small twists. The best way to reheat fried rice is using the stovetop.
Put the fried rice into a frying pan with a thin layer of oil. If you are watching your diet and are wary of all the extra oil, you can substitute it with either water or vegetable stock.
On medium-high heat, cook the rice until hot. This should take about 10 minutes.
Rice can be enjoyed by anyone, anywhere. Throwing them away after just a single night is quite a waste. We hope this short guide on how to reheat rice has been of help with bringing all that leftover back to the table.
If you’re interested in learning more about food reheating, here are some other reheating guides worth reading:
- The Best Way to Reheat Fried Chicken: crunchy, juicy, and incredibly indulging. Fried chicken is unquestionably a cult classic. But don’t throw the leftovers into the trash if you can’t finish it up. It’s possible to reheat and restore a good portion of its original deliciousness.
- How to Reheat Steak the Right Way: a good cut of steak is expensive and takes a lot of effort to make. So, it would be a huge waste to just dispose of it if there’s still leftover from dinner. You can easily make an extra meal out of it by reheating.
- How to Reheat Prime Rib: ribs can actually be enjoyed together with rice. If you have both of them together in the fridge, reheat, and you will have a satiating meal on the table.
- The Best Way to Reheat Rotisserie Chicken: similar to prime rib, rotisserie chicken can be a good companion to a bowl of rice. Reheat it well and you’ll solve the question of what to eat for dinner for another day.
- Can I Reheat Chicken Wings? — Best Ways to Reheat: no matter the recipe, chicken wings always pack a huge amount of flavors. Prepared in Buffalo-style and it’ll taste tangy with a hint of spice. Hot chicken wings will get your blood pumping. When taken together with rice, you’ll also get the fulfilling sense of rice starch, too.
- How to Reheat King Crab Legs: king crab legs aren’t something you get to enjoy every day. If you already paid the hefty price tag and went through the effort of preparing it, throwing the leftovers away would feel terrible. Fortunately, you can — and should — reheat king crab legs.
- How to Reheat Salmon Like a Chef: salmon has a subtle, but highly refreshing and unique taste. Though well-loved everywhere, salmon is not at all affordable and a good cut can be very expensive. Therefore, you should make an effort to reheat salmon whenever you have leftovers. You can learn how to do it chef-style in our short guide.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.