You can and you should freeze rice to stop the growth of harmful bacteria in its tracks. 

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The freezer is often an underutilized tool in the kitchen. It's easy to forget about it, but it's really one of the best helpers for meal prepping, food storage, and for stretching your food budget to the max. Freezing cooked rice might sound strange, but it's actually the best way to store cooked rice because the freezing temperature prevents the growth of harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning. 

Can You Freeze Cooked Rice?

Yes, you can freeze cooked rice. In fact, it's actually preferable to storing it in the refrigerator, even if you plan to use it within a matter of days. This is because uncooked rice contains a spore-forming bacteria known as Bacillus Cereus. Once cooked, the bacteria in the rice is killed, but because the spores are so heat resistant, they will remain in the rice. 

When cooked rice is stored for some time, the bacteria can start to grow again, leading to food poisoning. However, storing the rice in the freezer prevents the formation of bacteria, making the safer option even for short-term storage. 

All types of rice freeze well, including white, brown, and even fried rice (containing meat and veggies). Batch cooking rice and freezing it for later can be a serious meal prep game changer. 

How Long Will Rice Last in the Freezer?

Rice can be stored in the freezer for up to one month for best results. After this, it can start to dry out and the texture will be altered significantly as a result. 

How to Freeze Cooked Rice

cooked white rice on baking sheet
Credit: Jacob Fox/Meredith

1. Spread Rice on Baking Sheet to Cool 

Spread your freshly cooked rice on a baking sheet in an even layer, using a wooden spoon or spatula to flatten it out. Allow the rice to cool on the baking sheet for about 20 minutes. You can also place the baking sheet in the fridge to speed up the cooling process. 

2. Transfer to Freezer Bag

Scoop the rice into a freezer safe bag(s) and label with the date, type, and amount (½ cup of cooked rice is equal to one serving). 

3. Freeze

Place the bags of rice in the freezer. To maximize freezer space, stack the bags one on top of the other and flatten, making sure to remove as much air from the bags as possible. Store in the freezer for up to one month. 

cooked white rice and fork in stainless steel KitchenAid saucepan on white background
Credit: Brie Passano/Meredith

How to Reheat and Use Previously Frozen Rice

Frozen rice can be cooked straight from frozen or thawed prior to use. To thaw rice, break the block of frozen rice into chunks and add them to a microwave-safe container. Cover the container and microwave on high heat for two to three minutes, or until rice is warmed through. 

You can also thaw frozen rice on the stovetop. Simply transfer the frozen rice to a saucepan, add a couple of tablespoons of water and cover. Cook on low heat, stirring throughout and adding more water as needed to prevent any burning or sticking. 

It's best to quickly thaw rice or cook it straight from frozen. Thawing rice in the refrigerator can give it a gummy texture. If you're adding frozen rice to a dish, increase the cooking time by a few minutes to allow the rice to heat all the way through. 

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