How to Reheat Rice

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There are few things more disheartening to find in the fridge than a container of cold, hard rice fused together like a crumbly brick. Luckily, if you use one of these rice reheating tricks, you can ensure that those precious grains stay fluffy.

Cooked white rice in grey bowl on counter.

There are few things more disheartening to find in the fridge than a container of cold, hard rice fused together like a crumbly brick. Whether it’s take-out rice or the most perfect homemade rice from a pot you made earlier in the week, it never looks promising when you pull it out from the refrigerator.

But luckily, there are a couple of ways to reheat rice. If you use one of these rice reheating tricks, you can ensure that those precious grains stay fluffy and don’t get gummy, lumpy, or dry. So go ahead — don’t just make enough rice for one dinner. Once you know how to reheat it, you can multi-purpose that pot of rice all week long.

Pouring cooked white rice from pan into serving bowl.

Best Ways to Reheat Leftover Rice

There are a few great methods available to us rice lovers if we want to reheat it. In this post, I go over the best way to reheat rice on the stove and in the microwave. Pro tip: if you don’t want to go these routes, there’s a secret third way to reheat your plain rice…Make it into some stir-fry!

How to Reheat Rice on the Stove

  1. Add water: To reheat rice in a pot on the stove, add a bit of water to the rice in the pot (about 2 tablespoons per cup).
Pouring water into pot of leftover cooked rice.
  1. Cover, then stir: Cover the pot and heat it over medium-low heat. Stir frequently until it is hot throughout. Don’t use a very deep pot — you want to be able to stir easily so that the rice reheats more quickly and doesn’t get all scorched and broken while you are stirring it.
Stirring rice in pot on the stove.

How to Reheat Rice in the Microwave

  1. Add rice and water to bowl: To reheat rice in the microwave, put it in a microwave-safe dish or shallow bowl. Use a bowl deep enough to allow you to stir without flinging the grains everywhere, but not so deep that it’s hard to stir the rice easily. Drizzle over a couple of tablespoons of water per cup of rice.
Adding water to glass bowl of leftover cooked rice.
  1. Use a damp paper towel: Cover the rice with a damp paper towel. This prevents moisture from escaping, which prevents the rice from drying out.
Covering glass bowl of rice with damp paper towel.
  1. Microwave: Microwave the rice for about 20 seconds per cup until it’s hot. For larger amounts of rice, stir occasionally once it gets hot on the outer edges of the bowl. The rice in the middle will still be cool, so you want to redistribute it so it heats more evenly.
Microwaving bowl of leftover cooked rice to reheat.

What Kind of Rice Can You Reheat?

These methods work with most kinds of rice: white, brown, basmati, jasmine, Texmati, black, and even wild rice. (Side note: Did you know that wild rice is actually a type of grass? And, did you know that varieties like jasmine and basmati also come in brown rice versions?)

You can use these methods to reheat risotto or other dishes made with Arborio rice. This also goes for other very starchy short-grain rice types, sticky rice, and glutinous rice. However, do know that if you do choose to reheat these types of rice, you will get hot rice, but not fluffy separate grains, since they weren’t fluffy or separate to being with.

Glass container of Cilantro Lime Rice.
Cilantro Lime Rice

Tips for Make-Ahead Rice

If you are making rice with the intention of reheating some of it later in the week, it’s a good move to cool it down quickly so it doesn’t get clumpy, sticky, or too soft sitting in the pot.

An easy way to do this is to spray a rimmed baking sheet or tray with nonstick cooking spray or cover it with parchment paper, and then spread whatever rice you plan to store on the sheet or tray. When it cools to room temperature, scoop it into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. This will help keep the rice more separate.

FAQs

Is it safe to reheat rice in the microwave?

Reheating rice in the microwave is not just safe, but it’s actually recommended. It’s fast, easy, and with a few handy tricks like adding water and covering the rice with a damp towel, your rice will come out just as fluffy as if it had been cooked the same day.

Can you reheat rice more than once?

Like all hot food, rice tends to attract bacterial growth — and the longer it sits on the counter uncovered, the more possible exposure to bacteria it might have. When reheating your rice, you open up that window of possible exposure even more. That’s why it’s generally a good idea to get your rice in the fridge as quickly as possible after cooking it and to only reheat it once.

What to Serve With Reheated Rice

Pouring shrimp over bowl of white rice.
Spicy Lemon Shrimp Over Rice

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5 from 1 vote

How to Reheat Rice

There are few things more disheartening to find in the fridge than a container of cold, hard rice fused together like a crumbly brick. Luckily, if you use one of these rice reheating tricks, you can ensure that those precious grains stay fluffy.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 People
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Equipment

  • Saucepan (for stovetop)

Ingredients 

  • Leftover rice
  • Water (as needed)

Instructions 

On the Stovetop:

  • Place the leftover rice in a pot, and add about 2 tablespoons of water for each cup of rice. Don’t use a very deep pot — you want to be able to stir easily so that the rice reheats more quickly and doesn’t get all scorched and broken while you are stirring it.
  • Cover the pot and heat the rice over medium-low heat. Stir frequently until the rice is hot throughout.

In the Microwave:

  • To reheat rice in the microwave, put it in a microwave-safe dish or shallow bowl. Use a bowl deep enough to allow you to stir without flinging the grains everywhere, but not so deep that it’s hard to stir the rice easily.
  • Drizzle over a couple of tablespoons of water per cup.
  • Cover the rice with a damp paper towel. This prevents hydration from escaping, which prevents the rice from drying out.
  • Blast the rice for about 20 seconds per cup until it’s hot. For larger amounts of rice, stir occasionally once it gets hot on the outer edges of the bowl. The rice in the middle will still be cool, so you want to redistribute it so it heats more evenly.

Notes

If you are making rice with the intention of reheating some of it later in the week, it’s a good move to cool it down quickly so it doesn’t get clumpy, sticky, or too soft sitting in the pot.
An easy way to do this is to spray a rimmed baking sheet or tray with nonstick cooking spray or cover it with parchment paper, and then spread whatever rice you plan to store on the sheet or tray. When it cools to room temperature, scoop it into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. This will help keep the rice more separate.
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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1 Comment

  1. Bob Schaefer says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, I am a widower and never learned to cook. I will be 80 in six months, bless your heart for your help-
    Bob