If you’ve got some leftover rice, you’re probably wondering how long you can keep it in the fridge or freezer.
Lots of folks face this question daily, so it’s best to really know how long you can keep cooked rice, with any storage method.
And yes, it does matter if your rice is plain or fried or has an extra sauce on it.
How long does cooked rice last in the fridge ?
Cooked rice will last for 4 days in the fridge if stored properly. It can last up to 12 hours on the corner, and up to 8 months in the freezer. So depending on when you plan to eat the leftover rice you must store it accordingly.
Brown rice will go off quicker than plain white rice.
How long your rice will keep, and what is the safety limit depends on the temperature you keep the rice at, and what you store it in.
Ideally, you should keep your cooked rice – all foods, actually – at a temperature as close to zero as possible. This is to slow the growth of harmful bacteria and preserve freshness.
Here’s what I mean.
Read Also:Should You Wash Rice Before Cooking ?
How to store cooked rice on the counter
When cooking rice, you’re bringing it to a high temperature. When you’re done with it, it’ll start to cool down. Keeping it on the counter will only reduce the internal temperature to room temp.
That’s usually around 22 C/71 F, not ideal to store things for more than a few hours.
Now, if you keep it on the counter for up to 12 hours it should be fine, because the bacteria in question doesn’t grow that fast, it needs a couple of days.
While keeping the rice on the counter for 24 hours is possible, it’s not recommended. If you cook it in the afternoon, leave it on the counter, and put it in the fridge the next morning, it’s alright.
But leaving it out for 24 hours isn’t really safe, even if it might sound easier. While the bacteria haven’t fully grown yet, they’re starting to take hold.
How to store cooked rice in the fridge
Keeping your cooked rice in the fridge is pretty much the best thing you can do.
In the fridge, it can keep up to four days, assuming you’ve placed it in an airtight container. Otherwise it will start to absorb the smells in the fridge and this will change the flavor of the rice.
It’s best to let the rice cool down before placing it in the fridge. This way you’re avoiding getting too much condensation on the lid of the container, and it’s also better for your fridge and the foods around the rice.
That being said, there are cases where a rice-based food was kept for 3-4 days in the fridge and it went off. I recommend checking the rice before eating it, and if you’ve got even a small doubt about it – throw it out.
More info on how to tell your rice went off can be found after a few paragraphs.
How to store cooked rice in the freezer
Cooked rice can last up to 8 months in the freezer if stored properly. However, it is not recommended to keep it for so long because the quality may suffer so it would be best to eat it in the first 3-4 months in order to keep most of its quality.
To freeze cooked rice you must let it cool completely before storing it in the freezer. You can place it for a few hours in the fridge before putting it into a zip-top or an airtight container and getting it to the freezer.
Plain white rice vs flavored rice
Gauging the state of your cooked rice is much easier to do if you’ve got plain, white rice, as opposed to rice with sauce or some food where the rice is in the main dish.
Plain rice keeps better because there are less ingredients involved. Vegetables go bad faster than grains, and with plain rice all you’ve got is just rice and salt and water.
Also, since it’s plain and white, this kind of rice will show any moldy spots really quickly. The mold on this rice is almost always blue, so you’re definitely going to see it.
Rice that’s part of a dish (see examples below) not only has more flavors, but is almost never white. Meaning that if any mold were to grow on it, you wouldn’t immediately notice.
Also, due to more ingredients being used, like vegetables and meat, it may go bad a little quicker than plain rice.
Both plain white rice and saucy, colored rice will get condensation on the inside of the container. It’s not pretty, but it’s not dangerous.
We should really talk about why rice goes bad in the first place, so you can really understand what’s happening with your food.
Why cooked rice can go bad
Like pretty much everything, rice can develop harmful bacteria that if ingested may cause food poisoning.
This isn’t the rice’s fault. It’s not your fault either. It’s just something that’s present on every surface, food, bed, carpet and so on.
We live in harmony with these tiny creatures, and they don’t bother us most of the time. But, sometimes if we’re not careful, they can get a little out of hand.
This is why keeping food fresh is important, and for this we need to keep it at low temperatures, to stop the bacteria from growing.
The fridge is our best friend here, but not every food item is meant to be kept in the fridge.
Back to cooked rice, if you leave it at room temp for 3-4 days you’ll notice mold growing on it. If you do this experiment, I suggest you get an airtight, clear container and never open it.
Those bits of mold, if left alone, will grow all over the container and the rice.
How to tell when rice is going bad
You don’t have to let your rice get to that terrible, furry stage to figure it’s not edible and should be thrown out. Here’s a few signs you can look for when deciding if your should keep the cooked rice.
1. Does it smell weird ? Your sense of smell is one of the best markers of quality, aside from tasting it. Please do not taste any foods you’re unsure of.
If your rice smells weird ,a little sour or like feet, throw it out.
And exception is basmati rice, which has a strong smell even when it’s fresh.
2. Does it look/feel dry and hard ? Cooked rice can dehydrate and become really tough, and it’s no longer any good.
You can’t rehydrate it and expect it to be alright, because the entire structure of the rice grain has changed.
Dry rice will be less white, and may develop some brown edges as well.
3. Is it slimy ? This is a result of the moisture trapped within the container, and it turns slimy only after a few days (2-3), especially fi it hasn’t really been kept cold enough.
4. Does it have any mold on it ? This one is obvious, but really if you found any mold on the rice, throw all of it out.
The spores are on the rest of the food now, and you never know where else it started to bloom. No point in trying to find out.
Make sure you store the rice properly
Storing your rice properly isn’t difficult, but there may be a few key elements you’re missing.
As with pretty much everything that’s been cooked (read: heated through), you need to store it in an airtight container. Even placing a lid on the pot you cooked it in is enough, as long as the lid is secure and the entire pot can fit inside your fridge.
Never store rice on the counter for more than 12 hours. Even so, it’s better to set an alarm for yourself or schedule a text for later to remind you to put the rice in the fridge when it’s cooled.
Always store the rice alone, without any other foods. So if you’ve got some takeout, store the rice and the food separately. This keeps the rice fresh longer, and makes sure the food isn’t contaminated if mold grows on the rice.
Read Also:Best Basmati Rice Substitutes
Make sure you don’t keep cooked rice for more than four days in the fridge if you want to be on the safe side. Cooked rice is such a common food item that it really pays off to know when it’s going bad.
I hope this post helped you out, and now you know when or if to throw out the rice.