5 Ways to Use a Pot of Rice All Week

Tips

Rice really is a make-ahead food. Make more than you need for Monday's dinner, and you've got enough left for soup, salads, curries, and other rice-based dishes. It keeps well and just requires a little finesse to use again and again.

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Many of us make a pot of rice for a meal, and think, “Oh, I’ll make just the right amount for this dinner.” I’d like to make a case for intentional leftover rice.

A large pot of rice has so many potential uses all week long, you’ll be glad to have it on hand.

How to Make Rice in the Instant Pot fluff the rice

How to Make Rice in the Pressure Cooker

What Kind of Rice to Make?

There are a lot of rice varieties to choose from: white rice, brown rice, basmati, jasmine, even wild rice (which is actually a grass, but let’s not nitpick). Most well-stocked supermarkets carry quite a range of choices.

For your big pot of rice, pick a type that you like best. The good news is that week to week you can keep changing up the type of rice you cook—Brown basmati this week! Long grain white the next!—so that your dishes take on slightly different personalities and flavors.

Ways to Make Rice

Make your rice using whatever method you prefer. Here are two good ones!

How to Freeze and Reheat Rice

How to Store the Rice

If you are making rice with the intention of storing it for future use, it’s a good move to cool it down quickly, so it doesn’t get clumpy, sticky and too soft sitting in a pot.

An easy way to do this is to spread it out on a rimmed baking sheet, either sprayed with nonstick spray, or lined with parchment paper. Then transfer it to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. (You can also freeze rice for up to two months.)

How to Make Rice Without a Recipe

Easy Boiled Rice

Best Ways to Reheat Rice

Some of the recipe suggestions start with cold rice straight from the fridge, and some call for it to be reheated.

The best way to reheat cold rice on the stovetop is to put it and some water (about 2 tablespoons per cup) in a pot. Heat it, covered, over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until it is hot throughout.

To heat cooked rice in the microwave, put it in a microwave-safe dish or shallow bowl, drizzle over a couple of tablespoons of water per cup, cover it with a damp paper towel and microwave it for about 20 seconds per cup until hot. (This isn’t an exact science, mostly because microwave oven strengths vary.)

If you are microwaving a larger amount of rice, you may want to give it a stir midway through cooking.

If you want to freeze leftover rice and then reheat it, check out the instructions here.

WAYS TO USE A POT OF RICE ALL WEEK LONG

So this Sunday, make a big pot of rice, and then see how many ways you can put it in play over the coming week.

Here are my five favorite ways to use up a pot of rice — what are yours?

Easy Vegetable Fried Rice

1. Fried Rice

This is the single best use of leftover rice that I know of. The greatest part about it is that not only can you start with rice cold from the fridge, you should!

Reheating it first would just make the grains stick together more, and for this dish you actually want the grains to stay separated, so that they can absorb all of those great seasonings, and mingle nicely with whatever else you are featuring in your fried rice.

Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries and Pecans

Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries and Pecans

2. Rice Salads

Pasta salads tend to hog the spotlight a bit, but many other grains can anchor a good room temperature salad, and rice is a terrific choice.

Make sure to cut whatever you are incorporating into your rice salad into fairly small pieces so they can blend with the rice easily. And do make sure to bring the rice to room temperature before serving, which will provide the best overall taste and texture.

Taste before serving to see if you need to adjust the seasonings as the rice absorbs whatever dressing you’ve used.

BBQ Chicken Burrito Bowls

BBQ Chicken Burrito Bowls

3. Rice Bowls

Hot (or sometimes room temperature) rice in a bowl is a waiting to be base for all kinds of toppings. Bowl food is definitely the way many of us are happily eating these days, and you can match the type of rice you choose to the toppings and cuisine.

Jasmine and basmati are great choices for Asian rice bowls (though regular brown and white do just fine!), and the more traditional types are good paired up with Mexican or Tex Mex toppings (but there is a Texmati rice—kind of a cross between a long grain white and basmati, so it’s nutty and aromatic—available, so have at that!).

Easy Mexican Chicken and Rice Soup

4. Soups with Rice

Rice can be used as is in soups, where they lend a bit of bulk and a nice toothsome-ness. It can also be blended into pureed soups, which thickens the soup and lends delicate flavor.

Sometimes a recipe calls for cooking raw rice directly in the soup, but you can still use your premade rice. Just reduce the amount of liquid by a cup or two (since the cooked rice won’t absorb much liquid) and just add the cooked rice towards the end, since it will only need to be cooked long enough to reheat. Besides, too much time in the pot might cause it to get mushy.

Thai Green Curry

Thai Green Curry

5. Re-heat and re-serve your rice on the side!

Of course the most obvious use for leftover rice is to just heat it and serve it again with a new main course. See above for reheating directions, and then use it as a base or a side dish for a brand new dinner later in the week! So many dishes are great paired with rice—it’s one of my big go-to starches for everything. See below for just three examples!

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Katie Workman

Katie Workman is on a mission to make people feel more comfortable with getting weeknight dinners on the table and entertaining friends. As she developed solutions to making her family meals easier and more universally liked, she created The Mom 100. Her cookbooks are The Mom 100 Cookbook and Dinner Solved.

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8 Comments

No Image5 Ways to Use a Pot of Rice All Week

  • Sandy

    I’ve always used a lot of rice. It’s inexpensive and goes a long way and on limited budgets, that’s ideal. Here’s a couple things I do when cooking the original pot of rice: If I think I’m going to use leftover rice in savory dishes, I cook the rice in a low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth and if I plan on using the leftover rice in sweet dishes, I cook the rice in coconut water. Both of these seem to add a great deal of flavor. As a side note, the coconut water rice works really well in several savory dishes too. Thank you for these recipes; I plan on using several :-)

  • [email protected]

    I always make 6 or more cups of rice at a time. Then freeze the leftovers in portion freezer bags. Then use it to save time on the busiest of days.
    Works greats !

  • Marlena

    I always make extra, but it is nice to have these great tips, thanks

  • Violet Kulem

    Thanks for the tips. My kids loved leftover rice for fried rice. I’ll try some of your tips. Great!

  • Fran

    Made a pot of quick cooking brown rice on Monday to use with stir fried leftover rotisserie chicken & frozen Chinese vegetables & mushrooms ( enough for two for two nights!) and tonight the leftover brown rice will become brown rice pudding with raisins & cinnamon . A delicious end to the week!

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5 Ways to use a Pot of Rice5 Ways to Use a Pot of Rice All Week