How to Reheat Leftover Rice
Just a little water and heat can help you bring your rice back to life
I once saw a dinner host throw all the leftover rice away and nearly lost my dang mind. It was ingrained in me at a young age that wasting rice—any food for that matter, but especially rice—was sacrilege.
My gracious host explained to me that leftover rice doesn’t reheat well so there’s no point in keeping it. I responded with an IRL 🤦🏻♀️ and jumped right into a lesson on how to reheat leftover rice in the microwave so that it’s just as good as it was fresh. I was never invited back (apparently, imparting unsolicited wisdom is rude?) but I hope you all take these tips to heart and never waste another grain of rice again.
Read on for how to store rice and how to reheat it using a microwave or stovetop.
Storing Cooked Rice
Cooled cooked rice should be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to five days or frozen for up to six months.
Rice Reheating Methods
To make the rice fluffy and soft again, you need to add moisture in the form of steam, which is water + heat. Sprinkle each cup of cold rice with 1 to 2 teaspoons of water (less for stickier types of rice and more for drier types of rice) and follow the instructions below for your heat source of choice.
Reheating Rice in the Microwave
Place the rice in a rice microwave-safe dish, breaking up any large clumps, sprinkle with water, and microwave on high heat for 1 to 3 minutes (depending on the amount of rice). Double the time for frozen rice. Alternatively, skip the sprinkle of water and cover your bowl of rice with a wet paper towel instead.
You may have seen a viral TikTok video that featured an ice cube tucked into a mound of rice before it’s reheated in the microwave. I gave it a go and do not recommend this method. Frozen water needs to melt before it can reach its gaseous state, a slow and unnecessary extra step. By the time the rice was heated through, the ice was just a quarter of the way melted (because microwaves heat food from the outside in). The melted water pooled at the bottom of the plate, not yet hot enough to turn to steam, which resulted in wet rice.
Reheating Rice on the Stovetop
Place the rice in a shallow saucepan, breaking up any large clumps, sprinkle with water, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and heat on low until the rice is warmed through, about 5 minutes.