How to Reheat Frozen Rice

If rice is a staple in your home cooking, undoubtedly you’ve come across a scenario where you were forced to freeze your leftovers.

It’s very easy to cook too much rice, and sometimes you need to store it so it doesn’t go to waste.

And now, you’ve got the perfect idea on what to do with it, only the problem remains: how do you reheat frozen rice?

Well, the method is quite simple! The easiest method is portioning out your rice into ziplock freezer bags, and once you’re ready to reheat it you simply pop it in the microwave for 1 minute with it slightly unzipped.

However, let’s go further.

Is reheating frozen rice safe?

It’s commonly believed that you should never reheat rice.

This of course, is far from the truth, but it is possible to do it unsafely. The way it’s stored, the way it’s reheated – it all matters for quality and safety.

Reheating rice is one of the main causes of at-home food poisoning for a lot of people. The bacteria B. cereus tends to favor living on rice, and when safety guidelines are ignored it’s allowed to fester and grow.

How to safely store rice for freezing?

If you’re intending on storing your leftover rice frozen, you’ll need to get a few things right along the way to ensure perfect safety.

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After you’ve cooked your rice completely, store it immediately in a safe container. Preferably a glass air-tight sealable container. Don’t let it sit out longer than at most, 1 hour.

Be sure to layer it thinly, in a shallow container.

If stored properly, your rice will stay safe for 3-4 months.

Should you defrost before reheating?

You technically can take your frozen rice straight to your cooking method, but it’s better to thaw it first.

When you toss your frozen rice into your meal or straight into preparations for another dish, it significantly increases the cooking time because the rice has to thaw out. It can also introduce more water and moisture to your dish, throwing off your preparations.

To avoid this, just toss your rice portion into the microwave for 1-2 minutes first. If you don’t want to reheat it fully in the microwave, just blast it for 60 seconds to get the ice melting and the rice ready to go.

Microwave in portioned bags

Oddly enough, the microwave is the absolute best method for reheating rice.

If you’ve prepared it properly, this is the fastest method to go and you very likely won’t lose out on any taste or texture.

  • Grab your portioned out rice from the freezer and unzip the bag about an inch
  • Pop the bag (or bags) into the microwave for about 2 minutes, checking every 30 seconds for doneness
  • Remove once thoroughly heated and serve, or begin preparations for further cooking if you intend to cook into a new dish
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Microwave in container

If you neglected to portion your rice out in freezer-safe ziplock baggies, you can also just use any microwave-safe container.

Method 1 – with a paper towel

  • Lay the rice out in an even layer on a microwave-safe plate
  • Cover the rice entirely with a damp paper towel, this will trap moisture under the paper towel and allow the rice to stay moist and fluffy
  • Heat for 2 minutes, checking for doneness every 30 seconds
  • Remove and serve immediately

Method 2 – with plastic wrap

This method is virtually identical to the paper towel method, with a few small adjustments.

  • Put your rice portion in a microwave-safe container or bowl
  • Add three tablespoons of water, or broth for flavor
  • Cover the bowl with cling wrap, being careful to avoid touching any rice with the plastic
  • Microwave on low for 2 minutes, keeping an eye on it
  • Once the plastic balloons upwards from the heat and steams up, you’ll know it’s done
  • Remove from the microwave and carefully take off the plastic wrap – don’t burn yourself
  • Serve immediately

Oven

The oven isn’t super ideal for rice, but if you just don’t have the time to babysit your reheating process and want to avoid the disastrous effects of microwaving for too long, the oven is definitely a good choice.

  • Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit 
  • Pour your rice into an oven-safe dish or baking sheet
  • Stir up your rice and break up any chunks
  • Flatten the rice into a smooth single layer
  • Cover with lid or aluminum foil
  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until the rice is thoroughly heated
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Stovetop

Another method that’s very easy! This is the way to go if you’re wanting to reuse your old rice to make fried rice.

  • Heat up the stove to medium-high
  • Add rice into saucepan
  • Add a tablespoon or broth or water
  • Stir in the broth or water, breaking up any large chunks of rice
  • Cover with lid
  • Lower heat to low
  • Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally

Final Thoughts

Reheating frozen rice can be quite difficult if you don’t know the tricks to it. Surprisingly, the microwave is the best option here, if you’ve prepped your rice and stored it properly.

While there are other methods to employ, these will suit you and your needs best – unless you’re doing something a little more niche with your leftover frozen rice.

Knowing how to reheat leftover rice is a skill that every cook needs to have. Because it can be tricky, unlike a lot of other types of food, use this guide to get the most out of your leftovers and serve a second helping of delicious and fluffy rice time and time again.

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