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Can You Freeze Cooked Rice?

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By Ross Young

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Rice is a true staple to many dishes and an essential side dish. But can you bulk prepare rice and freeze cooked rice? Or should you avoid it altogether?

Can You Freeze Cooked Rice?

Yes, you can freeze cooked rice for up to 3 months. To freeze cooked rice, it can be stored in freezer bags as soon as it reaches room temperature. Do not leave cooked rice out on the worktop for an extended period.

Does Cooked Rice Freeze Well? Yes

Can You Refreeze Cooked Rice? No

How to Freeze Cooked Rice

When it comes to freezing cooked rice, we would only recommend doing so when you know full well when, where and how the rice was cooked. In other words, only do so with rice that you have personally cooked yourself.

Below is the best method for freezing cooked rice:

Cook Rice for Freezing

1) Cook Rice: If you haven’t done so already then cook the rice. You can cook any sort of rice using your favourite method here. There’s no need to stick to plain white rice.

Cool Rice

2) Cool: Once it has cooked, spread the rice out on a baking tray or place it into a cool, glass bowl, in an even layer to cool it to room temperature as quickly as possible.

Bag Rice Up

3) Bag Rice Up: As soon as the rice is at room temperature, you need to portion it into bags. Spoon the rice into freeze-safe bags and label with the contents and date.

Freeze Cooked Rice

4) Final Freeze: Finally, place the bags into the freezer. Try to lay them flat initially so that they freeze into slabs instead of big clumps as this will make it far easier to store your cooked rice for the long term.

Rice is most likely to attract bacteria when it is left at room temperature. That’s why you mustn’t deal with it later in the day but get on with it as soon as possible.

This method will work for any rice, from plain basmati to brown and wild rice varieties.

Don’t hesitate to add some vegetables to the rice too and freeze it this way also.

Can You Freeze Rice Dishes?

Yes, you can freeze a range of rice dishes. The method remains roughly the safe as freezing cooked rice on its own. Once cooked, cool it as quick as possible before bagging it up and then freezing it.

We’ve written extensive guides on freezing a range of rice dishes including:
Paella, risotto, jambalaya, pilaf, kedgeree, biryani and even rice pudding!

Can You Freeze Rice Dishes

Can You Freeze Takeaway Rice?

No! You cannot and should not freeze takeaway rice. Now, this might seem extreme, but you don’t know the process that the rice has gone through.

Generally speaking, you should only reheat rice once. The problem with a takeaway is that you don’t know if they have already reheated the rice – chances are they have as it’s more efficient for them.

So if you’re looking to freeze cooked rice, only do so when you can be 100% confident of the process that rice has been through from day 1.

With takeaway rice, this is simply impossible to do, so instead, you need to either eat it all on the day you got it or throw it away.

Can You Freeze Takeaway Rice

4 Tips for Freezing Cooked Rice

Now you know how to freeze it, we’ve got our 4 top tips which we strongly recommend following when freezing cooked rice to have the best results:

Avoid Takeaway Rice
As discussed above, we would advise freezing takeaway rice. It’s impossible to know what process that rice has been through in the past. 

Freeze Cooked Rice Pouches
Freeze cooked rice in small pouches that are the perfect size for one portion. You can grab a portion as and when you need a side of rice. Don’t forget, you can flavour the rice too. 

Create Complete Meals
You can freeze cooked rice with sliced chicken thighs and vegetables to create complete meals that can be reheated and enjoyed with ease.

Try Other Varieties
Don’t just limit yourself to plain long-grain rice. The method for freezing cooked rice can be applied to a range of rice varieties, including jasmine, basmati, brown and wild. 

How Long Can You Freeze Cooked Rice?

Generally, rice can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months for it to retain its nutrients and texture. Beyond this and you should dispose of the rice you have frozen.

Remember, as always, to carefully and clearly label any frozen rice with a use-by date, so you know which frozen products need using up first.

How Do You Defrost Cooked Rice?

Rice can actually be used straight from the freezer, depending on how you plan on using it.

If you’re using the rice in a soup or stir fry, then add your frozen rice to the dish and allow it to warm through and break apart. This should only take a matter of minutes over a medium to high heat.

If you want just plain rice to use as a side dish, then place the rice in a saucepan with a splash of water. Place the pan over low heat and gently warm through until the rice is at the right temperature.

Use a fork to break the rice apart carefully. Don’t be too heavy-handed here, as you can break the individual rice grains.

Can You Refreeze Cooked Rice?

We would strongly recommend not refreezing cooked rice. Cooked rice can already harbour bacteria if it is not dealt with correctly. Refreezing rice will only risk this happening further. 

Instead, follow our method for freezing rice in suitable containers in portions so you can grab a portion at a time. 

Is It Safe to Freeze Cooked Rice?

Yes, freezing cooked rice is perfectly safe. There is this misconception that freezing rice and reheat it is dangerous but this is far from the case.

The problem with rice is how it cooled and how it is then stored. It must not be left to cool slowly nor must it be left out at room temperature for long periods. This is when bacteria can begin to form.

Does Cooked Rice Freeze Well?

Unless you warm the rice for too long, you’ll be hard pushed to tell the difference between freshly cooked and frozen rice. There is a risk the rice becomes mushy if you don’t keep an eye on it.

But if warmed correctly, it’ll be as good as if you had just cooked it. You’ll also save loads of time! When you reheat the rice, you only want to get heat into it, you don’t want to do any cooking, so always keep an eye on it.

Related FAQs

If you’ve still got questions about freezing cooked rice or rice in general, then these may help:

Can You Freeze Egg-Fried Rice?

Cooked rice can be frozen with a range of additions, and this includes eggs. If you have leftover egg-fried rice that you want to freeze, then allow it to cool, bag it up, seal and freeze. That’s all there is to it. 

Can You Freeze Boiled Rice?

Yes, you can freeze boiled rice. It doesn’t matter how you have cooked the rice. The important part is cooling it safely before getting it frozen ASAP.

Can You Freeze Rice Salad?

Yes, rice salad can be frozen but it is best to do so without any dressing or any soft leaves and herbs which will not freeze well.

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